20 - 24 June 2016



The UN needs to appoint a special expert to defend LGBT rights globally

Around the world, from Orlando to Bangladesh, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people face violence and discrimination. It’s time for the UN to do more to help tackle this problem – appointing an independent expert to defend LGBT rights will help write ISHR Pooja Patel and Pan-Africa ILGA Jacobus Witbooi... more

ishr advocacy

Groundbreaking Model Law to recognise and protect human rights defenders

Developed in consultation with over 500 human rights defenders from around the world, and with help from 27 leading human rights experts and jurists, the Model Law – launched at a side event last week - provides authoritative guidance to States on how to implement the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders at the national level. It also provides an influential new tool for civil society to promote, evaluate and report on implementation... more

SOGI Expert Now! Joint statement of 601 NGOs from 147 countries on sexual orientation and gender identity 

ISHR has joined calls by more than 600 NGOs for the UN to appoint an Independent Expert to address violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. A number of other NGOs representing different regional groups and gender diversity also highlighted the need for the Human Rights Council to ensure systematic and institutionalised response to violations against LGBT people...more 


As the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle comes to an end, ISHR launches a strategy paper on its vision on how to guarantee the UPR's standards improve, civil society' s role becomes more central and its output have a more positive impact on the behaviour of State and non-State actors. This strategy was presented to the Human Rights Council in a statement earlier this week... more

Wife implores UN to speak up for imprisoned Chinese dissident

The wife of an imprisoned Chinese dissident has called on the international community to urge China to allow her husband to receive life-saving medical treatment. Her words were shared in a statement delivered by ISHR to the Human Rights Council... more

Singapore: Civil society should have key role in follow-up to rights review

At the adoption of recommendations made during Singapore's UPR, ISHR reiterated its call for the government to enact legal and policy changes to support and facilitate the important contributions of civil society and human rights defenders... more

Sierra Leone: Safeguard civil society space and improve the working environment for human rights defenders

During the UPR of Sierra Leone, ISHR and the Human Rights Defenders Network Sierra Leone called on the Government to repeal restrictive laws on freedom of expression and assembly, and  ensure prompt and transparent investigations and accountability in relation to attacks and violations against defenders... more 

Paraguay: Protect defenders, protect rights, implement UPR RECommendations 

ISHR calls upon Paraguay to implement the 13 recommendations received on human rights defenders in order to ensure implementation of its UPR obligations and do more to guarantee the security of human rights defenders, journalists and campesino leaders... more

Niger: Implement UPR recommendations and enact law to protect defenders

Niger should develop and enact a specific national law on the protection of human rights defenders and fully implement recommendations made in the context of the UPR to provide a safe and enabling environment for defenders' work, ISHR has told the Human Rights Council... more

South Sudan: Provide accountability and protect human rights defenders

In a statement delivered at the Human Rights Council, ISHR called on the newly formed Commission for Human Rights in South Sudan to immediately investigate reported acts of intimidation and reprisals against civil society organisations and defenders who engage with it... more

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL'S President: Call on member States to cooperate in good faith

The president of the Human Rights Council should ensure full State cooperation with the Council and its human rights experts, including timely responses to allegations of rights violations... more 

NATIONAL defenders demand respect and protection for civil society space

Frontline human rights activists from across the world participating in ISHR's Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme have joined forces at the UN to demand that governments respect their work and implement laws and policies for their protection... more

Egypt: International community must act as civil society faces existential threat

The international community must act, including through the Human Rights Council in Geneva, to end a crackdown in Egypt which threatens to eliminate independent civil society, warn 11 of the world's leading human rights organisations... more

Bahrain: President Choi expects 'concrete steps' against reprisals 

On 24 June at a meeting with civil society representatives, the president of the Human Rights Council Ambassador, Choi Kyonglim, reiterated his encouragement to NGOs to report any cases of intimidation and reprisals to his office. The president was asked about steps taken to ensure that human rights defenders - including a number of Bahraini defenders blocked by arrests and travel bans from attending the 32nd session of the Council - can freely and safely participate in the work of the Council... more


human rights defender profile

JACOB'S Witbooi: human rights defender from Namibia

Jacobus Witbooi is a human rights defender working on the rights of lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) people. He  just completed ISHR's Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme. He spoke to ISHR about his work at the Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association... more  


Interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in CÔTE D'IVOIRE

The Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire will present his report on the human rights situation in the country following his fourth visit. The report highlights the significant progress made by the country in the area of economic growth and the protection of human rights.

The report acknowledges the creation of a separate Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties, and the Ministry of National Solidarity, as well as the improvement of the security in the country. The report also highlights some human rights challenges, including recent intercommunity violence in Bouna. 

Among recommendations made, the Independent Expert calls on the Ivorian authorities to publish a report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to enact the implementation decree on the law on the protection of human right defenders, to reinforce the National Human Rights Commission and to resource the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties.

The Council will also consider a draft resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert for a further year. The resolution proposes to renew the mandate for one final year to align its completion with the departure of the UN peacekeeping forces in June 2017. This is a point of debate between the country and Council members. 

Interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Burundi

The Human Rights Council will hold an interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Burundi. During the dialogue, pursuant to the resolution, the High Commissioner for Human Rights will present a report on the human rights situation in the country. The report covers the period from April 2015 to April 2016.

While it highlights a decrease in extrajudicial killings, the report also documents serious violations of human rights including torture and ill treatment, poor detention conditions, gender-based sexual violence, the violation of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, extrajudiciary killings and forced disappearances.
The report details 134 killings by non-identified gunmen, 36 forced disappearances, 3'477 arbitrary arrests, suspension of the activity of 10 NGOs by the State prosecutor in December 2015 and the freezing of the account of 13 NGOs.



Chile, Ireland, Japan, Sierra Leone, and Tunisia presented a draft resolution on the protection of civil society space to be considered for adoption at this session. The resolution was developed through broad consultation with States and civil society, and in the past was adopted by consensus.

The resolution is an opportunity for Member States to support the crucial role a healthy and vibrant civil society plays in contributing to human rights, sustainable development, peace and security. It is imperative to safeguard the ability of civil society actors to the unhindered exercise of the rights to freedoms of expression, opinion, assembly and association, and to participate in democracy and public life.

The text highlights good practice in protecting and supporting civil society's contribution to peace, security and sustainable development and provides guidance for States to ensure national laws and policy protect civil society actors.

During resolution negotiations, a number of States including the Russian Federation, India, China and Egypt, have sought to remove many of its essential elements and impose restrictions to civil society actors’ right to access resources for their vital work, and remove calls on States to prevent and tackle impunity for acts of intimidation or reprisals against civil society actors. 

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The draft resolution identifies freedom of association as an enabling right and as central to democratic societies. It renews the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, whose work ISHR has recognised as an indispensable tool in identifying the interlocking elements of shrinking civil society space. The resolution also invites consideration of the role and contributions of professional associations across the three pillars of the United Nations.

resolutions concerning Women human rights defenders

The resolutions recognise the importance of Human Rights Council engagement through the Special Procedures, and seek to ensure that the Working Group on discrimination against women and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women can continue their work.

The resolutions include the role of civil society organisations and women human rights defenders of all ages, including indigenous women, in advancing gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the elimination of root causes of discrimination and violence. 

Business and Human Rights

Despite significant support globally for the recognition and protection of human rights defenders working on corporate accountability, the Human Rights Council's text on 'State-based judicial remedy' falls short.

The serious threats against those defenders working on land, labour, environment and other business-related abuses are not acknowledged, nor are the significant challenges they face when, individually or collectively, they seek remedy for those abuses.

The text encourages States to improve overall access to remedy, and asks the UN to hold two consultations in years 2017-2018 to discuss non-judicial and other forms of remedy.

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