News

24 Jul

Following a request by ISHR and ACAT France, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) is urging Morocco to end reprisals against a leading Sahrawi human rights defender who submitted a complaint to the CAT.

08 Jul
Photo of participants of HRDAP18

We look back at all that the 14 dedicated human rights defenders participating in our 2018 Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) achieved during their packed time in Geneva.

06 Jul

ISHR has published a ‘scorecard’ for Iceland that is seeking election to the UN Human Rights Council for 2018-2019.

09 Jul

In high-level dialogues around the third anniversary of China’s ‘July 9 Crackdown’, the European Union must press the Chinese government for the release of detained activists, say human rights groups. 

06 Jul

Civil society groups welcomed significant outcomes of the Human Rights Council's 38th session, including the adoption of resolutions protecting civil society space and peaceful protests. Another success worth mentioning is the adoption of resolutions protecting women and girls from violence,  in addition to Council action on a number of countries such as Eritrea, Belarus, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Cuts to UN human rights monitoring threaten efforts to protect victims of abuse and ensure accountability

29.06.2018

In the UN’s finance committee, horse-trading and deal-making are the norm. Efforts to improve the effectiveness of UN programmes collide with plans to shape spending to match national interests – which often means, not spending at all.

But today, says ISHR, the UN member States have a stark choice to make.

Delegates can back up their rhetoric about how human rights are an essential part of preventing violence and building peace, and pass a budget accordingly.

Or they can ignore the UN’s third pillar, and risk destabilizing the system and all that is has worked for.

As ISHR reported earlier this year, deep cuts to the proposed biennium budget have already forced decisions directly affecting human rights activities. 

“The Secretary-General’s Rights Up Front initiative is already under pressure. With the latest round of proposed budget cuts, it would be gravely undermined,” says Eleanor Openshaw, ISHR’s New York director.

“Even worse, the discussion are happening, literally, in a back room – with little or no access for civil society to take part.”

The 2018-2019 budget negotiations within the UN’s Fifth Committee have been characterized by coverage from Foreign Policy and the New York Times as a power play by China and Russia that takes advantage of a pugnacious U.S. stance to UN spending.

“China has made clear, in New York and in Geneva, that it wants a say about how money is spent in the UN – and that has meant, in practice, funding security and development at the cost of human rights,” says Sarah M Brooks, ISHR advocate in Geneva.

“Setting aside China’s political ambitions, the reality of this policy on the ground is that it costs not just human rights, but may also cost human lives.”

Defenders from around the world have emphasized how important the UN human right presence is in areas of conflict.

Hassan Shire, Executive Director of African NGO DefendDefenders, emphasizes:

"Human rights components are indispensable elements of UN peacekeeping missions. Without respect for fundamental rights, there can be no sustainable peace.

"That repressive states are moving to get rid of human rights work in the UN’s peacekeeping architecture is no surprise. States that are committed to these goals, including the fight against sexual abuse, should now step in and provide the UN with the necessary resources."

Openshaw concludes, “A decision to defund human rights is so short-sighted. It could have damaging, long-term impacts.

All States who want to see the UN act effectively to protect human rights, and to keep their commitments to ‘never again’, should keep this in mind.”

Contact:  Eleanor Openshaw, Co-Director NY Office  e.openshaw@ishr.ch

Photo:  ISHR 

Cuts to UN human rights monitoring threaten efforts to protect victims of abuse and ensure accountability

29.06.2018

In the UN’s finance committee, horse-trading and deal-making are the norm. Efforts to improve the effectiveness of UN programmes collide with plans to shape spending to match national interests – which often means, not spending at all.

But today, says ISHR, the UN member States have a stark choice to make.

Delegates can back up their rhetoric about how human rights are an essential part of preventing violence and building peace, and pass a budget accordingly.

Or they can ignore the UN’s third pillar, and risk destabilising the system and all that is has worked for.

As ISHR reported earlier this year, deep cuts to the proposed biennium budget have already forced decisions directly affecting human rights activities. 

“The Secretary-General’s Rights Up Front initiative is already under pressure. With the latest round of proposed budget cuts, it would be gravely undermined,” says Eleanor Openshaw, ISHR’s New York director. “Even worse, the discussion are happening, literally, in a back room – with little or no access for civil society to take part.”

The 2018-2019 budget negotiations within the UN’s Fifth Committee have been characterised by coverage from Foreign Policy and the New York Times as a power play by China and Russia that takes advantage of a pugnacious U.S. stance to UN spending.

“China has made clear, in New York and in Geneva, that it wants a say about how money is spent in the UN – and that has meant, in practice, funding security and development at the cost of human rights,” says Sarah M Brooks, ISHR advocate in Geneva. “Setting aside China’s political ambitions, the reality of this policy on the ground is that it costs not just human rights, but may also cost human lives.”

Defenders from around the world have emphasised how important the UN human right presence is in areas of conflict.

Hassan Shire, Executive Director of African NGO DefendDefenders, emphasises:

"Human rights components are indispensable elements of UN peacekeeping missions. Without respect for fundamental rights, there can be no sustainable peace.

That repressive States are moving to get rid of human rights work in the UN’s peacekeeping architecture is no surprise. States that are committed to these goals, including the fight against sexual abuse, should now step in and provide the UN with the necessary resources."

Openshaw concludes:

“A decision to defund human rights is so short-sighted. It could have damaging, long-term impacts.

All States who want to see the UN act effectively to protect human rights, and to keep their commitments to ‘never again’, should keep this in mind.”

Contact:  Eleanor Openshaw, Co-Director NY Office  e.openshaw@ishr.ch

Photo:  ISHR 

Flyer_Event_YP+10

Call for nominations

Call for nominations

HRC | US withdrawal from Human Rights Council decision of US administration alone

22.06.2018

Read the joint letter below.

Read ISHR's analysis of the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council as amounting to, and being symptomatic of, a retreat from a commitment to human rights, multilateralism and the rule of law here

 

Dear Ambassador Haley,

We write in response to your letter of 20 June 2018, in which you suggest that NGOs are somehow responsible for your decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council. The decision to resign from the Council was that of the US administration alone. We had legitimate concerns that the US’s proposal to reopen the Council’s institutional framework at the General Assembly would do more harm than good. We see it as our responsibility to express those concerns and would do so again.

Although the Human Rights Council is not perfect, it does play an essential role. It makes a significant contribution to strengthening human rights standards, providing protection and justice to victims, and promoting accountability for perpetrators. The Council and its mechanisms have played a key role in securing the freedom of detained human rights defenders, and investigating rights violations in Syria, Yemen, Burundi, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sri Lanka and North Korea, to name but a few. It continues to address thematic issues of global concern including non-discrimination, freedom of expression online and offline, freedom of assembly, housing, migration, counterterrorism, and the protection of the rights of women, rights of LGBTI people, and rights of people with disabilities.

As you know, we are independent organizations that do not work on behalf of any government. We focus on building support for policies we believe will better the lives of those most affected by abuse -  which does mean we are sometimes opposed to proposals laid out by certain governments, or the proposed means of pursuing them, especially when we believe such an initiative could be more harmful than not.  With regard to the Council, our goal continues to be strengthening and supporting reform efforts that are ongoing in Geneva to ensure that they are informed by the experience and expertise of national and regional level actors, including rights-holders, human rights defenders and other civil society actors, victims, survivors (and their representatives).

We are committed to the international system, including the Human Rights Council, and to ensuring the system is fit for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights. We will continue to work towards those goals.

Signatories:

  1. Amnesty International
  2. ARTICLE 19
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia)
  4. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
  5. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  6. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  7. Child Rights Connect
  8. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  9. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  10. Human Rights Watch
  11. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  12. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  13. International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
  14. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)
  15. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  16. International Women’s Health Coalition
  17. OutRight Action International
  18. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

 Photo: ISHR

 

 

Pages

Opinion:

By Nicolas Agostini, Representative to the United Nations, DefendDefenders 

The world’s top human rights body needs members with a genuine commitment to protecting human rights. Electing States should ensure that candidates with a record of systematically violating rights and failing to cooperate with the Council receive no support in the ballot.

Browse our articles:

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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