News

13 Feb

The Egyptian government has trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections for the planned 26-28 March vote for president, ISHR along with 13 international and regional rights organisations said today.

14 Feb

New UN Human Rights Council President Vojislav Šuc spoke about his key objectives for the Council during the welcome reception hosted by ISHR on 31 January 2018. The President emphasised his will to ensure greater effectiveness of the Council through cooperation, dialogue and increased civil society participation. He also highlighted his intention to develop closer ties with the New-York-based Third Committee and with regional human rights organisations - for greater impact on the ground. Read the Council's President full speech below. 

31 Jan

The appalling human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been the subject of consensus UN resolutions for many years.  Cooperation from partners with expertise on the country should be invaluable to the UN, but relevant NGOs have faced multiple deferrals of their applications for accreditation.  Will the ECOSOC NGO Committee finally open the door to these NGOs?  

30 Jan
Rainbow flag photo credit: Common Wikimedia Ludovic Bertron

ISHR and ILGA have updated their factsheets on different UN experts – check out the references to LGBTI persons and recommendations that these Special Procedures have made.

29 Jan

A group of regional and international human rights NGOs was blocked from making a statement at the UN NGO Committee session today.  Despite a precedent set two years ago for the delivery of a general statement, all requests since have been refused.  Read here the NGOs' call for leadership and reform.

Flyer Test

NGO Committee | Will the UN benefit from full participation of NGOs expert on North Korea?

31.01.2018

Update: the NGO Committee voted against recommending accreditation to the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) by 9-5, with two abstentions and three members absent. In calling for the vote, the US noted that the organisation had responded in good faith to questions from the Committee, several repeated, and that it was time to bring the case to a head.  Several Committee members stated that they still had further questions to ask the NGO. 

With the consensus adoption of another UN General Assembly resolution on North Korea a month ago, the States restated their concern about ‘the grave human rights situation, the pervasive culture of impunity and the lack of accountability for human rights violations’ in the country. UN monitoring of the situation on the ground in the DPRK has been made deeply challenging through the DPRK refusal to cooperate with UN mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council’s 2013 Commission of Inquiry and the Council’s Special Rapporteur on North Korea.

Means to monitor the situation on the ground have relied on the work of NGOs, including the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). 

HRNK describes its work as making 'use of satellite imagery analysis, escapee testimony, expert analysis, and open source research to paint an accurate picture of the Government’s systematic abuses.'

These methods have made HRNK an authority on the human rights situation in the country. The group has worked closely with the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK and has been cited as an expert voice, in a report by the Secretary General.

HRNK seeks UN consultative status 

HRNK seeks to participate as fully as possible with UN processes, and as such applied for UN accreditation. 

‘HRNK is seeking accreditation in order to increase its effectiveness in implementing its one and only mission: documenting the status of DPRK compliance with fundamental human rights standards embedded in UN treaties and documents, and sharing that information with relevant actors, in particular UN agencies and Member States’, explains Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu.

However, their application for accreditation has been repeatedly deferred since it was first considered by the UN's NGO Committee in May 2016. 

HRNK has faced questioning from a small group of countries. Committee member Russia has asked HRNK whether it had reported North Korea’s successful human rights practices, particularly in education and healthcare.  Russia and China have both questioned the group’s independence and sources of financing.

Whilst the NGO Committee has an important job in assessing an NGO’s compliance with the spirit, principles and purposes of the UN, Committee members are known to go beyond the Committee mandate and use their position on the Committee to block NGOs who they fear will challenge their interests. 

“These sorts of questions can be used by member States of the NGO Committee to block access or malign the organisation,” says Eleanor Openshaw of ISHR. ‘They keep the NGO in limbo in regard to their accreditation.’

Given the depth of the challenge faced by the UN in addressing the human rights situation in the DPRK, the obstruction of an eminently qualified human rights organisation by one of the UN's own Committees, is deeply troubling.

‘NGOs operating in line with the UN Charter have a right to engage with the UN for a reason - the cooperation of NGOs is immensely valuable.  There are few human rights situations where expert assistance could be of more help to the UN than that of the DPRK.’ said Openshaw.  ‘The UN cannot afford to allow critical and constructive voices to be sidelined.’  

Tomorrow HRNK's application will be considered once again by the NGO Committee. 

 

Contact:  Eleanor Openshaw e.openshaw@ishr.ch

Photo: ISHR

 

 

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Opinion:

The cases of Wang Quanzhang, Gui Minhai and Liu Xia - just three cases out of dozens that ISHR and its partners are tracking on a regular basis - show the ways in which China is using detention and disappearance to intimidate activists and their families. The international community must respond to this widespread and systematisied crackdown on human rights and their defenders in China, writes Sarah Brooks. 

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Mechanism

1984

ISHR commences work to develop an international Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders

1988

ISHR publishes first Human Rights Monitor, connecting human rights defenders on the ground with international human rights systems and developments

1993

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

1994

ISHR provides training, technical assistance and support to its 1000th human rights defender

1998

After 14 years of ISHR lobbying, advocacy and negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on Human Rights Defenders

2000

UN Secretary-General appoints Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, strengthening protection of human rights advocates at risk worldwide.

2004

ISHR leads a successful campaign for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

2005

ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions, including the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network

2006

ISHR contributes to the establishment and institution building of a new global peak body for human rights issues, the UN Human Rights Council

2007

ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthening legal recognition and protection of LGBT rights worldwide

2011

ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation faced by human rights defenders leads to adoption of landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning and strengthening protections against reprisals

2012

Working with key NGO partners such as Amnesty International, ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies, prevent their weakening and better connect their work with victims and human rights defenders on the ground

2013

Working with supportive states and NGOs, ISHR advocacy leads to adoption of historic Human Rights Council resolution calling on all States to review and amend national laws to respect and protect the work of human rights defenders