21 Feb

The Human Rights Council President has initiated a restructuring of the programme of work of the Council in order to decrease the meeting times due to budgetary restrictions for 2018. ISHR participated in informal consultations held on 12 February and 19 February and raised concerns about the lack of consultation with non-Geneva based organisations and the potential limiting of space for civil society participation. 

16 Feb

The challenges facing human rights defenders globally are exacerbated when those individuals and organisations seek to protect and promote rights of migrants and refugees and others ‘on the move’, says a new report released yesterday by a UN human rights expert.

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?  

ECOSOC to consider webcasting NGO Committee


All eyes will be on the ECOSOC on Wednesday as it considers a resolution - to be introduced by Chile - on webcasting the open sessions of its subsidiary body, the NGO Committee.  The Committee considers requests by NGOs for consultative status with the UN, in particular those from the global south.  The lack of webcasting of NGO Committee open sessions, has meant that NGOs that cannot travel to New York to follow the consideration of their case in person, are at a great disadvantage. 

States such as Chile, Mexico and Uruguay have made statements at ECOSOC in favour of webcasting.   Last year 230 NGOs called for webcasting of sessions

‘Webcasting sessions would help the working of the Committee become better known and – critically – assist all NGOs the world over to follow the consideration of their applications', said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw. 'We urge all 54 ECOSOC members to support this resolution.’ 

In addition to the draft resolution on webcasting, ECOSOC will consider a draft resolution granting accreditation to the UK-based NGO, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).  CSW has had its application for accreditation deferred by the Committee for 8 years.  In January, a vote was called at the NGO Committee to grant CSW accreditation but it was defeated.  A vote in favour by ECOSOC next week, would overturn the Committee decision. 

CSW is supported by five UN Special Rapporteurs.  In their letter of the 5 April, the independent experts expressed ‘deep concern at the current working methods of the Committee, in particular the arbitrary deferral by the Committee of applications for consultative status of NGOs’.  The experts are  the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

It is still to be seen what action ECOSOC members may take related to NGO Committee recommendations  to close applications of and withdraw accreditation from a group of Turkish NGOs or NGOs recently working in the Turkey. A group of NGOs expressed grave concern about the lack of due process afforded to these organisations through the practice of the NGO Committee, and have called on ECOSOC to reverse the Committee recommendations.  


Venezuela | The right to freedom of assembly must be respected


Decisions of the Venezuelan Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice to severely reduce the powers of the Venezuelan National Assembly are the most recent attempts to restrict the functions of the Assembly.  They have been roundly criticised.  The Attorney General noted that the Court’s  March decisions represented a rupture of the constitutional order.  The Inter-American Commission condemned the rulings as ‘a usurpation of legislative functions’.

Whilst these recent decisions were revoked, constitutional checks and balances remain at risk. 45 national civil society organisations have expressed concern over a weakening of the rule of law and threats to the separation of powers in the country. A state of exception, declared in January 2016, remains in place. 

In this context, demonstrations have taken place in the cities of Venezuela.  Reports of disproportionate use of force against demonstrators prompted the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States to express grave concern over ‘the use of repression, intimidation and terror as a tool of the enforcement of power’. The Inter-American Commission has also condemned the repression of demonstrations and urged the State ‘to respect and guarantee the necessary conditions for the exercise of political rights, freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly of those protesting in the country'.

ISHR has previously expressed concern about the lack of respect of fundamental freedoms in the country and of the stigmatisation, criminalisation and arbitrary detention experienced by some human rights defenders. ‘In this current climate, it is essential that the Venezuelan government take steps to ensure people can demonstrate peacefully and work for the respect of human rights without fear or hindrance,' said ISHR's Eleanor Openshaw.  

Please find the CIVICUS and ISHR alert here.

Photo: Commons Wikipedia




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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