News

21 Feb

The Human Rights Council President has initiated a restructuring of the programme of work of the Council in order to decrease the meeting times due to budgetary restrictions for 2018. ISHR participated in informal consultations held on 12 February and 19 February and raised concerns about the lack of consultation with non-Geneva based organisations and the potential limiting of space for civil society participation. 

16 Feb

The challenges facing human rights defenders globally are exacerbated when those individuals and organisations seek to protect and promote rights of migrants and refugees and others ‘on the move’, says a new report released yesterday by a UN human rights expert.

13 Feb

The Egyptian government has trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections for the planned 26-28 March vote for president, ISHR along with 13 international and regional rights organisations said today.

14 Feb

New UN Human Rights Council President Vojislav Šuc spoke about his key objectives for the Council during the welcome reception hosted by ISHR on 31 January 2018. The President emphasised his will to ensure greater effectiveness of the Council through cooperation, dialogue and increased civil society participation. He also highlighted his intention to develop closer ties with the New-York-based Third Committee and with regional human rights organisations - for greater impact on the ground. Read the Council's President full speech below. 

31 Jan

The appalling human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been the subject of consensus UN resolutions for many years.  Cooperation from partners with expertise on the country should be invaluable to the UN, but relevant NGOs have faced multiple deferrals of their applications for accreditation.  Will the ECOSOC NGO Committee finally open the door to these NGOs?  

Other UN Bodies

22.11.2007
 

In this section, we provide information and analysis on human rights-related developments and outcomes in the United Nations (UN) bodies other than the Treaty Bodies as well as the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms and procedures.  

Most of these 'other' UN bodies undertake their work in New York at the UN headquarters, including the Third Committee of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Human rights defenders can also find information on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in this section.

UN Secretary-General calls for submissions to report on reprisals against human rights defenders

08.05.2013
 

(New York - 8 May 2013) - The UN Secretary-General has called for contributions to his annual report on reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders. The report will focus on attacks and retaliation against persons for their cooperation or attempted cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms or representatives.

“Reprisals against human rights defenders undermine human rights and the rule of law,” said Madeleine Sinclair of the International Service for Human Rights.

ISHR urges human rights defenders to submit cases of reprisals to the UN.

“By making cases of reprisals public, the Secretary General’s report can provide protective publicity and contribute to the fight against impunity,” said Ms Sinclair.

“Public accountability with regard to reprisals and intimidation against human rights defenders for cooperation with the UN assists to curb these unacceptable practices,” Ms Sinclair said.

The call comes on the heels of disturbing reports of reprisals against human rights defenders in Russia for cooperating with the UN. The charges have been brought by Russian authorities against the NGO Anti-Discrimination Centre (Memorial ADC) in retaliation for submitting a report on torture and ill-treatment in Russia to the UN Committee Against Torture. Memorial ADC has been charged with breaching a controversial new law requiring groups that carry out ‘political activities’ and receive international funding to register as ‘foreign agents.’

“A very real concern about cases such as that of Memorial ADC is the chilling effect on human rights defenders’ engagement with the UN,” Ms Sinclair said.

“The UN human rights system relies on accurate information from civil society and non-government organisations to fully understand and respond effectively to the human rights situation on the ground. Unfortunately those who expose human rights abuses often face retaliation from governments intolerant of criticism. In this way, reprisals against those seeking to hold governments accountable at the UN amount to an attack on international human rights, the rule of law, and the UN itself,” said Ms Sinclair.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has asked for submissions by 15 June 2013 to reprisals@ohchr.org. The Secretary-General’s report will cover the period from 15 June 2012 to 15 June 2013 and follow up information on cases included in the 2012 and 2011 reports.

To provide first-hand information about cases of reprisals or intimidation for cooperating or attempting to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, download the Reprisals questionnaire. For more information see ISHR’s new manual on preventing and redressing reprisals against human rights defenders available here.

Contact: Madeleine Sinclair, Manager and Legal Counsel, International Service for Human Rights at m.sinclair@ishr.ch or +1-212-490-2199.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

06.12.2007
 

ISHR has been closely monitoring discussions and developments at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues since its first session in 2002. With the release of our new Human RIghts Monitor Quarterly in 2010, we will now publish our analytical overview of each session of the Permanent Forum in that publication.

Latest reports and news stories:

  • ISHR's article on the 9th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues the evolution of a hybrid organ in the UN's human rights system, 19-30 April 2010. The article charts the evolution of the Permanent Forum into a hybrid organ within the UN's human rights system. It argues that the UN treaty body system and special procedures have heavily influenced the working methods of the Permanent Forum, as shown by the Permanent Forum's interactive dialogue with the Governments of Bolivia and Paraguay at its 9th session. These dialogues enabled members to follow-up on their official visits to both countries in 2009 to investigate forced labour and servitude in indigenous communities in the Chaco region. The effectiveness of these visits was increased by the inclusion of the relevant UN country teams, as well as specialised UN organisations like the International Labour Organisation and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This has added a new and potentially far-reaching dimension to the way the Forum will work with States and the UN system in the future.
  • ISHR's news story entitled NZ and US Governments rethink their opposition to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights, which was filed during the 9th session of the Permanent Forum (last updated 23 July 2010).
  • The eighth session  of the Permanent Forum on Indigneous Issues was held from 18 to 29 May 2009 at UN Headquarters in New York. Please click here for our full report.
  • For ISHR's reports on all sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues prior to 2009 (8th session), please visit our PFII archive.

Background information

Created in 2000, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the ECOSOC and is composed of 16 independent experts, eight nominated by governments and eight by indigenous peoples. It addresses indigenous issues in the areas of economic and social development, environment, health, human rights, culture, and education. According to its mandate, the Permanent Forum provides expert advice to ECOSOC and to UN programmes, funds, and agencies; raises awareness about indigenous issues; and promotes the integration and coordination of activities relating to indigenous issues within the UN system.

 

Further reading

More information is available on the UN's webpages on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

18.02.2008
 

ISHR has been closely monitoring discussions and developments at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues since its first session in 2002. With the release of our newHuman RIghts Monitor Quarterly in 2010, we will now publish our analytical overview of each session of the Permanent Forum here.

Latest reports and news stories:

  • ISHR's article on the 9th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues the evolution of a hybrid organ in the UN's human rights system, 19-30 April 2010. The article charts the evolution of the Permanent Forum into a hybrid organ within the UN's human rights system. It argues that the UN treaty body system and special procedures have heavily influenced the working methods of the Permanent Forum, as shown by the Permanent Forum's interactive dialogue with the Governments of Bolivia and Paraguay at its 9th session. These dialogues enabled members to follow-up on their official visits to both countries in 2009 to investigate forced labour and servitude in indigenous communities in the Chaco region. The effectiveness of these visits was increased by the inclusion of the relevant UN country teams, as well as specialised UN organisations like the International Labour Organisation and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This has added a new and potentially far-reaching dimension to the way the Forum will work with States and the UN system in the future.
  • ISHR's news story entitled NZ and US Governments rethink their opposition to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights, which was filed during the 9th session of the Permanent Forum (last updated 23 July 2010).

Archived reports:

Below please find our related New York Updates, from 2002-2009, in reverse chronological order:

  • 8th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations, New York, 18 to 29 May 2009
  • 7th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations New York, 21 April to 2 May 2008
  • 7th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: implemetation of the Declaration New York, 21 April to 2 May 2008
  • 7th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: climate change New York, 21 April to 2 May 2008
  • Adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Issues, New York 13 September 2007 (extract from the chapter on standard setting, Human Rights Monitor 2007)
  • New York Update on the status of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples New York, 25 May 2007
  • New York Update on the 6th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Special Theme: Territories, Lands and Natural Ressources New York, 14 to 25 May 2007
  • 4th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations, New York, 16 to 27 May 2005
  • 3rd session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations, New York, 10 to 21 May 2004 (Also available in French)
  • 2nd session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations, New York, 12 to 23 May 2003
  • 1st session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: key outcomes and recommendations, New York, 13 to 24 May 2002

Peacebuilding Commission

06.12.2007
 

Latest news

ISHR's second edition of the Human Rights Monitor Quartery (June 2010), provides an overview of the  five-year review of the Peacebuilding Commission. It includes the d'esired outcomes' of the review which were prepared by the three co-facilitators that were appointed by the President of the General Assembly to undertake the review (Ireland, Mexico, South Africa).

The co-facilitators presented their report entitled “Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture”, in July 2010.

The Security Council and General Assembly considered the report on the five-year review and each adopted resolutions on 29 October 2010. The UN News Centre also issued a press release.

For meetings of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) this month at United Nations (UN) headquarters, see the calendar on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission website.

For this month's latest PBC news, see PBC Update, a NGO-run website tracking PBC developments at UN headquarters and in the field.

Background

The PBC was set up by the Security Council and General Assembly in 2005 as an inter-governmental advisory body that focuses on the transition of States from conflict to sustainable and lasting peace.   

The  main purposes of the PBC are:

  • To bring together all relevant actors to marshal resources and to advise on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery

  • To focus attention on the reconstruction and institution-building efforts necessary for recovery from conflict and to support the development of integrated strategies in order to lay the foundation for sustainable development

  • To provide recommendations and information to improve the coordination of all relevant actors within and outside the United Nations, develop best practices, help to ensure predictable financing for early recovery activities, and to extend the period of attention given by the international community to post-conflict recovery

It is not an operational body and does not have an enforcement mechanism. It will not undertake peacebuilding activities itself. Rather, its aim is to produce advice for the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and engage all actors involved in the peacebuilding process, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The PBC intends to bring together the UN's different experiences, as well as the actors involved in a particular peacebuilding process to devise comprehensive strategies aimed at achieving sustainable peace and development. Its main focus is therefore on 'improving coordination and reducing duplication' among actors involved in a post-conflict country, including governments, civil society, external development actors, donor countries, and international financial institutions.

Further reading

  • ISHR's report on human rights developments in the Peacebuilding Commission in 2008: Human rights emerges as key element in the PBC's work, but concrete results are spotty across countries. In this report, the PBC's mandate, its position within the UN system, and its key outputs are reviewed in the light of the human rights dimensions of its work. This review looks at developments in 2008, although it will also refer to some key documents drafted by the PBC in 2007 when necessary.  Successes and challenges are highlighted, in particular those that relate to civil society and human rights defenders.

    The PBC update website provides updates about PBC meetings, what's happening in the countries on the PBC's agenda and how civil society is making a difference

  • The Peacebuilding Initiative website shares knowledge within the peacebuilding policy community and supports information management efforts within the United Nations and the peacebuilding community at large

  • The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission website provides comprehensive  information on the UN peacebuilding architecture

  • ISHR's Guide to the Peacebuilding Commission, available in French and English

Guide to the Peacebuilding Commission

18.02.2008
 

The below guide explains in simple terms how the Peacebuilding Commission was established, what it is, what it does, and how civil society can participate.

General Assembly Alert: Forecast for the 67th Session

12.10.2012
 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ALERT FOR THE 67TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The New York office of ISHR will monitor and report on key human rights developments at the Third Committee, which meets at UN Headquarters in New York from 8 October until 28 November 2012. The General Assembly delegates most of its human rights-related work to its Third Committee, including the endorsement of the annual report of the Human Rights Council; interactive dialogues with invited special procedures and treaty body chairpersons; and the negotiation of some 50 human rights resolutions. This Alert outlines the key issues and potential flashpoints.

For timely information during the 67th session of the General Assembly and its Third Committee, subscribe to our General Assembly updates: subscribe. You can also follow us on our website General Assembly, Facebook www.facebook.com/ishr.geneva and Twitter @ishrglobal.

In the next edition of the Human Rights Monitor Quarterly (due out in early 2013), ISHR will publish an analytical overview of the 67th session.

ISHR has also published two fact sheets on the General Assembly and its various committees, including the Third Committee.

Human Rights Monitor Quarterly: Issue 1, Vienna +20, 2013

25.02.2013
 

Please find below the table of contents for Issue 1, 2013, covering news and events from August to November. Chapters can be downloaded individually, and the full publication is available to download here (pdf, 2 MB).

Editorial

Introduction to the Vienna +20 issue

Thematic Focus

Vienna Declaration & Programme of Action

International Developments

General Assembly Third Committee

Universal Periodic Review

Human Rights Committee

Committee against Torture

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Regional Developments

African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights

Resources

Quick reference guide

Opportunities for NGO engagement

Useful links

Calendar of upcoming events - February - June 2013

ISHR thanks Irish Aid and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands for their support to this issue of the Human Rights Monitor Quarterly. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and cannot be regarded as reflecting the views of the project sponsors

Invitation: Discussion of pledges by candidates to the Human Rights Council

16.10.2012
 
The International Service for Human Rights and Amnesty International invite you to attend an event on Friday 19 October entitled: Human Rights Council Elections: A Discussion of Candidates' Aspirations and Visions of Membership.
 
The event is being held together with the support of the Permanent Missions of Mexico and Switzerland, and is taking place in advance of the Human Rights Council elections on 12 November 2012.
 
 
The General Assembly resolution that created the Human Rights Council decided that members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. The General Assembly also decided that, when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.
 
The event is intended to give candidates an opportunity to present their vision of membership on the Council and respond to questions on how they would realize the pledges and commitments they have made in seeking election. 
 
The following eight candidates will discuss the pledges and commitments they have made and that they consider make them worthy prospective Council members:Argentina, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Montenegro, Sweden, USA.
 
 
The event will be held on Friday 19 October 2012 at the UN in New York from 1 to 3pm in North Lawn Building (Conf. Room 6). 

Cancelled: side event: 31 October, New York. 'Restrictive laws and the Repression of Human Rights Defenders'

17.10.2012
 

EVENT CANCELLED

Please note that due to circumstances related to Hurricane Sandy, this event has unfortunately been cancelled.

______________________________________________

On Wednesday, 31 October, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), CIVICUS, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the Norwegian Mission to the United Nations will hold a public panel discussion in New York entitled 'Restrictive laws and the repression of human rights defenders'.

The event will be held in New York at the  offices of the Baha'i International Community, at 866 United Nations Plaza (one block north of the UN), between 1.15pm and 2.45pm, local time. Lunch will be provided.

The discussion will focus on Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya’s report to the 67th General Assembly, and the experiences of human rights defenders in Bahrain, Zimbabwe, the DRC, and other countries.

The report of the Special Rapporteur focuses on how national legislation is being used to regulate and limit human rights defenders' work and activities.

It includes concerns about the arrest and prosecution of human rights defenders under the guise of combating terrorism; the excessive use of force on assemblies; the use of legislation to curb activities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender defenders; the loss of licenses by lawyers who defend individuals prosecuted under national  security laws; the use of personal information on human rights defenders obtained through social networking and websites; and the wrongful use of defamation laws to charge human rights defenders with defamation and blasphemy.

If you wish to attend this event please RSVP to +1 212 490 2199 or to m.evans@ishrny.org.

Pages

Opinion:

The cases of Wang Quanzhang, Gui Minhai and Liu Xia - just three cases out of dozens that ISHR and its partners are tracking on a regular basis - show the ways in which China is using detention and disappearance to intimidate activists and their families. The international community must respond to this widespread and systematisied crackdown on human rights and their defenders in China, writes Sarah Brooks. 

Browse our articles:

Region

Country

Topic

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