The Intersectionality of Human Rights Violations and Multiple Grounds of Discrimination

What forms do intersectional human rights violations and multiple discrimination take and how could the United Nations’ human rights protection mechanisms better address these issues?


Combinations of numerous violations of human rights and multiple forms of discrimination – defined as intersectional human rights violations – have a particularly devastating impact on their victims. To date, however, these situations have not been sufficiently considered within the international human rights system. This project will use a multidimensional case study approach to analyse different types of intersectionality in order to map the dynamics and consequences of these combinations of violations. It will also consider current institutional responses to these situations in order to identify obstacles, challenges and possible avenues for change.

The research aims to clarify the multiple dimensions of intersectional human rights violations and, in collaboration with several experts from international human rights and civil society organisations, to formulate strategic proposals to better address them. Applying an interdisciplinary approach, it will bring together some of the lived experiences of intersectional human rights violations with the recent practice of UN human rights mechanisms. The results of the study will be fed into the UN treaty body strengthening process as well as other relevant national and international mechanisms, thereby contributing to improving institutional responses to these situations.


  • International human rights law
  • Multiple discrimination
  • Multiple violations
  • United Nations mechanisms
  • Intersectionality


  • Anthropology
  • Human rights
  • Law
  • Philosophy


International Organisations:

  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • United Nations Human rights Conventional mechanisms
  • Special procedures of the Human Rights Council

Non-Governmental Organisations:

  • ATD Quart monde

Relevant Countries

  • All countries


This project, started in 2013, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Patrice Meyer-Bisch
University of Fribourg

Adriano Previtali
University of Fribourg

Johanne Bouchard Neff
Principal Member
University of Fribourg

Joanna Bourke Martignoni
Principal Member
University of Fribourg

Ivona Truscan
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Emmanuel Decaux
Associated Member
Université Panthéon Assas (Paris 2)

Christophe Golay
Associated Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Barbara Wilson
Associated Member
University of Lausanne