News

28 Jul

Individuals who submit individual complaints to UN human rights bodies are at risk of harassment and reprisals. Treaty Bodies and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights must make use of all relevant resources to mitigate and counter those risks. 

28 Jul

Following a joint NGO letter, ECOSOC members call on the NGO Committee to fulfil its requirements and support NGO engagement with its procedures, including by meeting and hearing from civil society representatives.

28 Jul

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Time is pressing so let's go straight to the point: there is no other option for Cameroonian authorities than to promptly release human rights defenders Felix Agbor Balla, Dr Fontem Aforteka’a Neba and journalist Mancho Bibixy. That is, if Cameroon intends to live up to its international human rights commitments or at least show minimum regards to basic human rights standards. Because as we all know, arbitrary and lengthy detention of peaceful protesters is a major blow in the face of human rights. 

24 Jul

A joint NGO letter calls on ECOSOC members to ensure that its subsidiary body the NGO Committee supports NGO engagement and convenes at least one meeting with NGOs before each NGO Committee session.

26 Jun
Group photo of HRDAP17 participants

We look back at all that the 17 inspiring human rights defenders participating in our 2017 Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme achieved during their intense time in Geneva.

NGO Forum Agenda_ACHPR60

ECOSOC to consider webcasting NGO Committee

15.04.2017

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

12.04.2017

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.

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Opinion:

Imagine being killed for defending your land, your livelihood or the environment. Worse still – if worse exists: imagine that the murderer won’t be prosecuted. This sounds totally absurd and yet, as a new report by Global Witness shows, this is happening more often than ever. Read on. 

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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