News

23 Mar

The third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review should be marked by an increased focus on the participation and protection of human rights defenders and other civil society actors, both in the process itself and through the implementation of recommendations at the national level.

23 Mar

ISHR expresses concern over the degrading situation for defenders and journalists in South Sudan and urges States to support the renewal of the UN Commission on Human Rights in the country. 

20 Mar

The UN Human Rights Council and its member and observer States should push for reform of the UN committee responsible for accrediting NGOs, ISHR said today. The dysfunctional practice of the ECOSOC NGO Committee prevents many human rights NGOs from accessing the UN and deprives the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms of their valuable inputs and expertise. 

17 Mar

ISHR and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights call on the Zimbabwean Government to improve the situation of human rights defenders and align domestic laws with international human rights instruments and protections guaranteed in the Constitution.

17 Mar
Photo of person protesting Anti-Homosexuality Act

The Ugandan Government must repeal domestic laws that restrict the work of human rights defenders and should refrain from criminalising their legitimate activities, say ISHR and the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum.

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ISHR submission to CERD

Attempt to stop debate on country situations rejected by UN committee

(New York) In an unprecedented step at a session of the UN General Assembly's Third Committee - which is tasked with considering social, humanitarian and cultural matters, Belarus introduced a no-action motion on an entire agenda item – relating to country situations on Iran, DPRK (North Korea), Syria and Crimea – in a move to stop discussion and action on these resolutions.  This attempt was roundly rejected and the Committee went on to adopt resolutions on all these country situations.

‘The Third Committee has reasserted the value of debate on country situations by rejecting this no-action motion, and by adopting a new country resolution on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol,’ said ISHR’s Madeleine Sinclair. 

Introducing the no-action motion, Belarus argued that country resolutions were ‘an arbitrary instrument of coercion’ and a ‘haughty voice of reprimand and intimidation’.  Furthermore, country resolutions were useless if the country in question wasn’t on board. The Belarus Ambassador noted that either the world was in ‘utter denial’ of the counterproductivity of country resolutions, or simply didn’t care.  Other States supported Belarus noting that they were in favour of ‘cooperation and dialogue’ which they claimed only the Universal Periodic Review ensured.

These positions were strongly rejected by other States, including Saudi Arabia who noted that the no-action motion deprived Member States of the ‘important opportunity’ to decide the merits of an individual resolution.  To remove all four resolutions under discussion, which had collected over 160 sponsors, would be an ‘unconscionable decision’, the Ambassador noted.

Days earlier NGOs had expressed concern at the use of the no-action motion noting that, if successful, it would signal that the UN was not a place where freedom of expression is respected, nor open debate encouraged. 

With the no-action motion rejected (101 to 32, with 37 abstentions) the Third Committee considered country resolutions.  On the resolution on their own country Iran noted that ‘our imperfection is no greater than any other country’ and didn’t merit a country resolution.  Both Brazil and Mexico abstained noting that they felt that a focus on technical assistance in the resolution would have been more helpful.

In regard to the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the DPRK described the resolution an ‘illegal document’ on which they saw no need to call a vote.  They did not consider there to be consensus on the text and called on all States to disassociate themselves from it.  No vote was called so the resolution was adopted by consensus.  

All other resolutions – on Crimea, Iran and Syria  were put to a vote and adopted.  The adoption of the new resolution on Crimea was met with elation by supporters in the room. 

Vote records on country resolutions:

  • Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol: 73 – 23 (76 abstentions)

  • DPRK: consensus

  • Iran: 85 – 35 (63 abstentions)

  • Syria:  116 – 15 (49 abstentions) 

Article year: 
2016

Letter Honduras

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Opinion:

Human rights defenders play a key role in advancing the rule of law, yet they are often at risk because of their work. Sierra Leone has the potential to show international leadership by becoming the first anglophone country in West Africa to enact a specific human rights defender protection law, writes Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Catherine Campbell.

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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