Human Rights

Many global governance challenges can also be understood as human rights challenges. Climate change affects the right to food, adequate housing, and health. War and counterterrorism threaten absolute rights, such as the right not to be tortured. The worldwide enjoyment of human rights remains a distant goal despite an array of international treaties and global institutions created to promote, monitor, and enforce them. There is, in short, a compliance gap.

Non-compliance is not the only obstacle. Human rights were originally codified to regulate state conduct, but today non-state actors such as international organizations, multinational corporations, and transnational NGOs have unprecedented influence on individual lives. State and non-state actors interpret, adapt, refine, and review human rights norms continuously. While this is welcome, challenges to core features of the universal human rights regime are on the rise.

At GPPi, we consider human rights pertinent to global governance across the board. With our research, consulting and debate, we seek to contribute to effective human rights policies that foster international standards and concretely help individuals at risk.

Funding & Clients

In addition to a five-year grant from the Volkswagen Foundation as well as a grant from the Mercator Foundation, our work on human rights has been supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. For past and current doctoral projects, we have received funding from the Villigst Foundation and the German National Academic Foundation. We are also engaged in advisory work for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the German Federal Foreign Office.

Featured Publications


Here is How German Courts Are Planning to Prosecute Syrian War Crimes

by Pauline Brosch
The Washington Post


The EU Must Keep Up with New Technologies

by Matthew Abbey


Without Democracy, No Human Rights and No Peace

by Katrin Kinzelbach


German Human Rights Policy in a Multipolar World

by Katrin Kinzelbach, Garima Mohan
Amnesty International Netherlands


How to Ensure a Global Refugee Response

by Julia Steets, Julian Lehmann
Deutsche Welle


The Human Rights Council Has Floundered. What Now?

by Janika Spannagel

Policy Paper

Excuse Me, What’s the Fastest Way Out of Dublin?

by Julian Lehmann

Policy Paper

Can Shaming Promote Human Rights?

by Katrin Kinzelbach, Julian Lehmann
European Liberal Forum

Policy Paper

Set Political Prisoners Free

by Katrin Kinzelbach, Catherine Wolf


The EU’s Human Rights Dialogue with China

by Katrin Kinzelbach