News

12 Dec

Five years after the kidnapping of human rights defender Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues, 15 NGOs* stand in solidarity to remember them and call on the UN and international and regional actors to actively facilitate an investigation into what happened to the four human rights defenders. Join the world in acknowledging Zaitouneh’s outstanding contribution to human rights by visiting and sharing a website documenting her work. 

11 Dec

ISHR joins dozens of organisations and individuals today, ahead of a key U.S. congressional hearing, to call on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to respond meaningfully to broadly-held human rights concerns and cancel Project Dragonfly, Google's censored search app project.

09 Dec

States have a responsibility to protect fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The international community should refuse to turn a blind eye to gross and systematic human rights violations committed against women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. 

10 Dec

‘Women human rights defenders have flooded the streets, the airwaves, and the internet with their energy and their testimonials, bringing to light truths that are too often buried in darkness’ said a group of UN experts, recognising the important leadership role of women activists.

10 Dec

Today is Human Rights Day. Today is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a day to say thanks and contribute to a better world through 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 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 

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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