PROTECTION OF THE FAMILY RESOLUTION INCREASES VULNERABILITIES AND EXACERBATES INEQUALITIES
States must reject the proposed ‘Protection of the Family’ resolution introduced to the Council this session as one that is unhelpful in furthering the human rights discourse in any meaningful way and serves only to undermine hard gained advances... more
Human Rights defender profile
Alejandro Gonzalez – Mexican corporate accountability human rights defender
Alejandro Gonzalez, a human rights lawyer with PODER, talks to ISHR about his work to empower local communities in negotiations with the government and the private sector in Mexico... more
STATES MUST RELEASE ARBITRARILY DETAINED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
States in all regions should release human rights defenders and others arbitrarily detained in connection with their exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and protest, ISHR said the UN Human Rights Council's opening session... more
UN WORKING GROUP ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: PUSH FOR ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ATTACKS ON DEFENDERS
ISHR calls on the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights to urge States and companies to promote the rights and protection of activists advocating for corporate accountability... more
STATES MUST ADDRESS ONGOING CHALLENGES TO FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS
Challenges to fundamental freedoms remain, both online and off, and pose dangerous threats to the work and security of defenders, ISHR said on 18 June. In this context, the Council must continue its strong support for civil society and for the independence of Special Procedures mechanisms, despite attacks on their ‘credibility’... more
ANNUAL FULL DAY DISCUSSION – WOMEN
Governments must support and safeguard genuine inclusion, engagement and expression of WHRDs in international spaces, including at the Council, the General Assembly, the Commission on the Status of Women and in discussions about the Sustainable Development Goals... more
STATES MUST ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY TO COMBAT IMPUNITY AND ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR REPRISALS
Panelists at an event focusing on reprisals and attacks against human rights defenders urged for impunity to be dealt with beyond regional and territorial boundaries and the establishment of minimum standards on addressing attacks on HRDs... more
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT TO Freedom of association IN THE EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY
At a discussion on Freedom of Association and Natural Resources, held on Thursday 18 June, panelists discussed challenges and hopes for the extraction industry, and, in particular, how to hold corporations and States accountable for human rights violations... more
Leading up to the 29th session
Informal briefing with the High Commissioner for Human Rights
For the first time, the organisational meeting for the 29th session of the Council was followed by an informal Human Rights Council briefing with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The informal offers an important new platform for the Council to respond rapidly to global human rights concerns, and to interact more effectively with the High Commissioner... more
2014 Annual report of the OHCHR
In presenting the 2014 OHCHR 2014 Annual Report, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke of the successes in terms of civil society space, but expressed his concern for the human rights violations in Azerbaijan and Burundi... more
Special Procedures: Recommendations to strengthen State cooperation and combat reprisals
At the 22nd Annual meeting of Special Procedures, ISHR called on the Special Procedures mandate holders to protect those who cooperate with the UN from acts of intimidation and reprisal and be more active in publicly exposing States which engage in such acts... more
UPCOMING SIDE EVENTS
All these events are held at Palais des Nations, Geneva
Voices of LGBTI defenders, Tuesday 23 June, cosponsored by ISHR, ILGA, Civicus and others. This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:30 in Room VIII.
Other Key Events
Human rights and corruption, Tuesday 23 June, led by Penal Reform International. This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:00 in Room XXII.
Human Rights in Eritrea, Wednesday 24 June, led by Human Rights Watch. This event is scheduled for 15.00 – 16.30 in Room XXV.
Human rights in Pakistan, Friday 26 June, led by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:30 in Room XXV.
Please note – this is a selection of the events from the full program of NGO parallel events (as at 4 June 2015) which can be found here.
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism is scheduled to present his annual report to the Human Rights Council on Monday 22 June. The report (available in English only) focuses on the challenges and applicable laws and principles associated with the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. The interactive dialogue, scheduled for Monday 22 June, will also present an opportunity to raise the cases of human rights defenders addressed by the Special Rapporteur.
In this regard, the joint communications report includes cases transmitted by the Special Rapporteur on, inter alia: the incompatibility of counter-terrorism laws with the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Kenya and Cameroon; attacks against the Joint Mobile Group, a human rights NGO in Russia; excessive use of force against protesters and corporate accountability activists in Nicaragua; and the arbitrary detention of bloggers and other human rights defenders under anti-terrorism laws in Ethiopia.
Presentation of Special Procedures Joint Communications Report
On Thursday 25 June, the Special Procedures Joint Communications Report (here in English only) is due to be presented to the Human Rights Council. The report covers all urgent appeals, letters of allegations and other letters sent by Special Procedures mandate holders between 1 December 2014 and 28 February 2015, as well as replies received between 1 February and 30 April 2015. The report reveals both individual and systemic allegations of violations, across a range of country and thematic mandates.
Approximately 50 percent of these communications about human rights defenders, freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association received no replies from States. Therefore the presentation of the report provides an important opportunity for NGOs and UN member States to call for better cooperation with the Special Procedures – the ‘jewel in the crown’ of UN human rights protection system – and for States to update the Council on their efforts in addressing the alleged violations.
OHCHR Report on sexual orientation and gender identity
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' report on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity is due to be presented on Monday 22 June. An opportunity for States and civil society to comment will follow the presentation of the report. This is the second study of its kind to be presented to the Council. The report notes that 'while some progress has been made since the first study in 2011, the overall picture remains one of continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions'.
The UPR Working Group's report of Kuwait is due to be considered and adopted on Friday 26 June. The report contains a number of recommendations pertinent to human rights defenders, including on the restrictions on public gatherings, the need to establish a national human rights institution, the need to end reprisals and cooperate with UN mechanisms, on the arrest of bloggers, and the need to address discrimination against LGBT persons.
The adoption will also provide an opportunity for States and the President of the Human Rights Council to follow up on cases of reprisals against human rights defenders, such as Nawaf Al Hendal, in association with their advocacy at the Human Rights Council and in the context of the UPR. Al Hendal was arrested, detained and subject to travel bans, following his participation in the UPR of Kuwait in January 2015 and the delivery of statements at the Council in March.
The report of the UPR of Kenya is due to be considered and adopted on Friday, 25 June. The report of the UPR Working Group contains a number of recommendations related to human rights defenders, such as the repealing of restrictions on NGO access to foreign funding; repealing the Information Communication Amendment Bill and Media Council Bill; guaranteeing due process for all parties listed as terrorist groups under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; the need to address discrimination against LGBTI persons; and the need to address all forms of reprisals and impunity.
The critical, constructive, essential voices of human rights defenders in Kenya must be both safeguarded and encouraged and the acceptance of recommendations must result in their implementation or evidence of the political will to implement them.
The UPR Working Group's report of Spain is due to be considered and adopted on Thursday 25 June. The report contains important recommendations regarding the freedoms of assembly, association and expression and the need for Spain to take steps to safeguard civil society space and regulate the use of force against protesters.
NGOs and social movements will be watching closely in the hope that Spain make commitments in this regard, at a time when regressive laws are about to enter into force in the country, which would severely hamper the right to protest and conditions for human rights defence.