News

22 Sep

On 1 August 2018, ISHR filed a communication with the Commission on the Status of Women, calling for it to address U.S. visa denials of approximately 50 women invited to attend the CSW’s 62nd session last March. 

24 Sep

The world’s top human rights body should only be composed of States who have a genuine commitment to protecting human rights. At the upcoming Human Rights Council elections, UN Member States should refrain from voting for candidates that blatantly fail to uphold the highest standards of human rights and fail to fully cooperate with this Council.

20 Sep

Human rights defenders must be able to access the UN freely and safely so that the UN can do its crucial work of monitoring countries’ compliance with human rights obligations and protecting victims from abuses. This requires States to stand up for defenders and denounce other States who attack and intimidate them. 

18 Sep

Governments should support the work of human rights defenders, not undermine it. Yet in Burundi, the situation of human rights defenders remains alarming and still deserves the Human Rights Council’s full attention. In Burundi, defenders are systematically criminalised in a deliberate and continuous attempt to silence civil society voices.

19 Sep

Last week in New York and Geneva, nine candidate States publically spoke to their pledges as an incoming Human Rights Council member for 2019 – 2021, they also faced questions on pressing human rights issues.

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 

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.

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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