News

17 Sep

In a devastating report, a group of independent UN experts on Venezuela outline evidence of crimes against humanity carried out in the country at the direction of high-level State authorities, with the active participation of President Maduro and Ministers of the Interior and of Defence.  What will the Human Rights Council now do to ensure accountability for such crimes and justice for victims?

15 Sep

The right to non-discrimination and the right to life are essential to all societies. At the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council, ISHR and ten Swiss-based NGOs* called today on Switzerland to ensure accountability in police violence cases.

15 Sep

Denmark delivered a cross-regional joint statement today at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of 32 States* raising their concerns over the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

14 Sep

The UN Secretary-General released his annual report today on reprisals and intimidation against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN on human rights. Once again, the report identifies a very concerning number of threats and attacks aimed at silencing human rights defenders in retaliation for engaging with the UN, with evidence that a number of States have a strategy or systematic approach to obstructing and punishing those who give information, evidence or testimony in relation to human rights.

14 Sep

This week in an online event, nine candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 250 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2021 – 2023. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.

Council called upon to take action on human rights defenders and corporate accountability

03.06.2013
 

In a series of events the Human Rights Council has been called upon to better support and protect the work of human rights defenders who work on issues of corporate accountability.

In a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, ISHR expressed concern at the harassment and reprisals faced by human rights defenders for their work investigating, protesting, and seeking access to remedies for victims of alleged abuses linked to business activities.

In a statement made to the Panel on Business and Human Rights, ISHR urged the UN and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are interpreted and applied consistently with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. In ISHR’s submission, this requires: that States enact legislation to protect civil society organizations and human rights defenders from harassment, persecution and reprisals linked to their corporate accountability work; that corporations consult with human rights defenders about the human rights risks and impacts of their work; and that both States and corporations provide access to an effective remedy for victims of corporate human rights violations.

Finally, in a side-event on business and human rights defenders jointly sponsored by ISHR and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a group of four expert panelists (Clement Voulé, expert member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights working group on extractive industries and human rights; Sapna Malik, Partner at Leigh Day; Gerald Staberock, Secretary-General of the World Organisation Against Torture; and Lene Wendland, Adviser on Business and Human Rights in OHCHR) outlined the ‘particular risks’ that human rights defenders who work on issues of corporate accountability face. The panelists concluded that the Human Rights Council should better protect and support the work of such defenders and proposed a range of actions in this regard, including a joint study or report on the issues by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and developing a resolution on business and human rights defenders for adoption by the Human Rights Council. All panelists agreed that there is a more pressing need for full and effective implementation of both the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at the national level than for the elaboration of a new treaty or declaration on the issues.

New report shows need for States and business to prevent and redress corporate human rights abuses

30.05.2013
 

(Geneva - 30 May 2013) – A new report by the UN’s Working Group on business and human rights highlights the need for global action to prevent and redress corporate attacks on human rights defenders, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

‘We are disturbed by the Working Group’s reports of the harassment, persecution and reprisals faced by human rights defenders for their work investigating, protesting, and seeking redress for victims of alleged corporate human rights abuses,’ said ISHR’s Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy, Michael Ineichen.

The harassment of human rights defenders working on issues of corporate accountability is expressly prohibited by the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provide that States and corporations must not obstruct or impair the legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders.

‘We urge States to investigate any alleged acts of intimidation or reprisal against human rights defenders working on issues of corporate accountability. Where such abuses occur, States must also ensure that those affected have access to an effective remedy,’ Mr Ineichen said.

In a statement to the UN’s Human Rights Council, ISHR welcomed the Working Group’s recognition as to the important and legitimate role of civil society organisations, trade unions and human rights defenders in raising awareness of the human rights impacts and risks of business enterprises and activities.

‘The recent building collapse and loss of more than 1,100 lives in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh tragically demonstrates the consequences that can flow from the failure of corporations to meaningfully consult with human rights defenders to identify, prevent and mitigate the adverse human rights impacts of business operations,’ said Mr Ineichen.

ISHR is calling on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure effective national implementation of an historic resolution adopted by consensus in March 2013 which recognises the important role of human rights defenders in promoting and protecting human rights and which calls on States to respect, protect and support their activities.

‘The work of human rights defenders – including journalists, lawyers and advocates – is crucial to uphold human rights and the rule of law. Increasingly, this involves investigating, protesting against and ensuring accountability for corporate human rights abuses,’ said Mr Ineichen.

‘It is imperative that States increase their protection and support for civil society organizations and human rights defenders that work on issues of corporate accountability.’

ISHR’s statement to the UN Human Rights Council is available here.

First Human Rights Monitor

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

ISHR 30 years of impact

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

Pages

Opinion:

If the United Nations (UN) is to effectively monitor State compliance with human rights obligations and protect victims from abuse globally, it is crucial that human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations can access and communicate with the UN freely and safely. Unfortunately, ‘free’ and ‘safe’ are not hallmarks of the experience for many defenders and victims who seek to engage with the UN. 

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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