Bob Last » Senior Human Rights Advisor, UK Mission human rights team

Marching On

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I hope you’re feeling fit and strong in time for this session. As I don’t have much time for exercise these days, I’ve been trying to get in shape before the Council by pushing my household chores to my physical limit. I’ve managed to improve my  stamina, reactions and speed with new personal bests for double child carrying (with at least 3 bags, and assorted winter paraphernalia), high-pressure nappy changing, and … Read more »Marching On

Wearing Orange for Outrage

Tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As lead on women’s rights at the UK mission, my colleague Kate Kyriakides has kindly agreed to write a guest blog. Wearing Orange for Outrage Working on human rights at the UN in Geneva makes you realise how lucky you are. Our inboxes are full of harrowing tales from around the world. A week ago I listened to … Read more »Wearing Orange for Outrage

Back to the future

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I don’t get much time to read any books of my own these days. With two young children, most of the literature that comes my way tends either to have sparkly shapes, no more than about 10 words a page or contain clearly accessible lessons in morality. Which makes them the exact opposite of Human Rights Council resolutions. Reading with my kids at bedtime is my favourite part of the … Read more »Back to the future

Nations United

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It’s been an interesting week to be a Brit at the UN. No matter what else has been going on in the rest of the world, all anyone wanted to talk to me about was Scotland. Mostly people just wanted to hear my prediction of what the result was going to be, as though I have special soothsaying powers. I tried to invoke the spirit of Paul, the result-predicting world cup … Read more »Nations United

Universality under attack

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For those of you who may have noticed me looking a little down in the mouth last week, this had little to do with work and almost everything to do with the temporary disappearance of our pet cat. She was obviously not getting enough attention having to compete in our household with two small children as well as the start of the Council session. I am not sure if it … Read more »Universality under attack

September Strawberries

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This year has been the summer that never was. Usually by the time the September Council session comes around, colleagues look relaxed, healthy even, after enjoying the Geneva sunshine and seem genuinely happy to see each other after a decent break. But a combination of bad weather and incessant work has left many of us looking pale, haggard and grumpy.  While the UK was enjoying one if its best summers … Read more »September Strawberries

Zeitgeist and Poltergeists

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It’s been a difficult month. Like many other Council goers I’ve been trying to find enough time for the essential trinity of work, family and football. This is a struggle at the best of times but I feel that however many late-night shifts I’ve put in trying to make time for my council workload, my insomniac children and watching the world cup on telly, no one has really got enough … Read more »Zeitgeist and Poltergeists

Human Rights and Carbohydrates

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I wonder what Napoleon Bonaparte would have made of the Human Rights Council.  I suspect the man who said an army marches on its stomach would ask how on earth we all survive. By week 2, the typical Council diet goes something like this: Breakfast: coffee, and gummy bears (5 minutes). Lunch: a sandwich that curls up at the corners and if truth be told, you’d rather not be eating … Read more »Human Rights and Carbohydrates

Bursting at the Seams

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The Human Rights Council is getting too big for its trousers. I know how this feels as I have had to buy a new more spacious suit recently. June sessions used to start slowly, simmer in the second week and come nicely to the boil in week three. But this year week one has begun at such a frantic pace that by Friday delegates were left looking stunned, as though … Read more »Bursting at the Seams

Coming to the surface

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It’s hard to convey quite what it’s like to go through a March Council session. The four-week experience is a prolonged assault on the mind, body and soul and while the end of the session is a cause for elation it also feels distinctly post-traumatic. The process of stress-decompression and re-entering normal life needs to be handled carefully, like surfacing from a deep sea dive or returning to earth after … Read more »Coming to the surface