The Law and Development Research Group at the University of Antwerp organized a series of round tables on 19 and 20 September to discuss issues related to the local relevance of international human rights norms. Experiences from a number of different geographical regions were analysed and participants from government, civil society and academia were able to exchange views concerning the opportunities and obstacles that they have encountered in their work on human rights and sustainable development at the local, national, regional and international levels.

Joanna Bourke-Martignoni presented some of the findings from our DEMETER research concerning the relevance (or lack thereof) of international human rights law to local practices, the role of intermediaries such as civil society organisations in framing claims for gender equality and rights to food and land, and the way in which hybrid forms of governance and legal pluralism challenge many of the conventional policy-making and advocacy strategies used by international human rights actors.

There was also a lengthy discussion of research methodologies and the need for greater attention to be paid to ethical considerations and the active participation of local communities in defining, undertaking and monitoring the outcomes of local human rights-related research.

Picture: October the 16th, 2015. Ceremony for the World Food Day with the participation of delegates of the Ministry of Agriculture, FIsheries and Forests (MAFF) and of the Minister himself, of representatives of the World Food Programme and FAO. Credit: Fenneke Reysoo.