23 Jun

At the close of HRC35, leading civil society groups welcome commitments by States to strengthen membership and outcomes of the Human Rights Council. Welcoming the dispatch of a team of experts to the DRC's Kasai region, the groups called for full access to the country as a step towards accountability. 

24 Jun
Inauguration of 47th General Assembly of OAS

ISHR joins CEJIL and over 100 civil society organisations in welcoming the decision taken at the Organisation of American States (OAS) to improve the financial stability, capacity, autonomy and independence of the Inter-American System for the protection of Human Rights.

22 Jun

The UN and States must take visible and sustained action against acts of intimidation and reprisal against those engaging or seeking to engage with the UN, says ISHR in a new report.

22 Jun

In a Statement to the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR called for a stronger focus on the implementation of Universal Periodic Review recommendations and the development of processes to ensure that civil society can freely engage without fear of intimidation and reprisal.

20 Jun

The Martin Ennals Foundation and the ten human rights organisations that make up the jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA), today renewed their appeal to the government of the United Arab Emirates to release immediately and unconditionally Ahmed Mansoor, the last remaining human rights defender in the UAE who had previously been able to criticise the authorities publicly.

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





Webcasting sessions of the NGO Committee is an important exercise in transparency, accountability and accessibility at the UN, write the Permanent Representatives of Chile, Mexico and Uruguay to the UN in New York.

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