Human Rights Monitor Monthly - July 2016
July/August 2016

So another session of the Human Rights Council has concluded – or has it?

A disappointing but steady stream of obstructionist posturing and filibustering resulted in Friday’s sitting stretching well into the evening and the session has been extended into this week to tie up the loose ends. 

ISHR's Human Rights Council advocacy director, Michael Ineichen, takes a look at the highs and lows of the 32nd session
... more
Historic VOTE at UN / un human Rights Council creates a Special Expert to help protect the rights of LGBT people around the world

After an epic three hour debate, the UN Human Rights Council voted last Thursday evening to create an Independent Expert dedicated to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) issues. The expert will work to combat and prevent violence, hatred and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people around the world. 'This is a tremendous outcome and very timely. In all countries, in all regions, from Orlando to Bangladesh, LGBT people are subjected to hate and violence and it must be combatted at every level including at the UN,' said ISHR's Pooja Patel... more


civil society space / Human RIghts Council urges respect and protection
The UN Human Rights Council has issued a clear policy blueprint for countries around the world to follow in order to value and protect the important contributions of civil society groups and human rights defenders... more


Corporate accountability / Resolution at UN Human Rights Council falls short

The work of human rights defenders is central to accountability for business-related human rights abuses, so it was disappointing to see the Human Rights Council falling behind the curve when it comes to business and human rights standards... more


Côte d’Ivoire / UN Human Rights Council should continue to support, push and monitor progress

The Human Rights Council has renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire, but with a troubling ‘sunset clause’... more


Bahrain / NGOs call for women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer to be released

After a prominent women’s rights defender was sentenced to a further year in prison, international human rights and feminist organisations have called on the Bahraini Government to stop imprisoning women human rights defenders in violation of their right to free expression, and instead to follow through on international commitments to empower women... more


South Sudan / Provide accountability and protect human rights defenders

States and civil society organisations expressed deep concern during the interactive dialogue at the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council at the ongoing threats, harassment and killings of human rights defenders in South Sudan... more

Mali / Significant step towards the legal recognition and protection of human rights defenders

Mali has moved a significant step closer to becoming the second country in Africa to adopt a specific law on the protection of human rights defenders after the Minister for Justice and Human Rights pledged to forward a draft law prepared by civil society to the National Assembly for debate and adoption... more

UN Human Rights Council / Call on member States to cooperate in good faith

In a statement to the Human Rights Council's 32nd session, ISHR highlighted that 12 of the Council's members had ignored concerns expressed at alleged violations in their countries by rights experts. ISHR called on the Council's president to ensure full State cooperation with the Council and its human rights experts... more

Special Procedures / Enhance access, transparency and security for human rights defenders

A joint civil society submission, coordinated by ISHR and reflecting the views of leading international and regional NGOs, has outlined practical changes that would enhance the UN Special Procedures' ability to ensure an effective and accessible platform for the promotion and protection of human rights globally... more

Treaty Body Strengthening Process / NGOs highlight issues in joint submission

The UN's expert committees responsible for monitoring State implementation of their human rights treaty obligations should take action to promote better compliance and cooperation by States and better engagement and protection of civil society, ten leading NGOs have said in a joint submission on strengthening the treaty bodies... more

Secretary General Election / Civil society calls for promotion and protection of human rights defenders to be at heart of UN’s agenda

Eighty civil society organisations from across the world have signed an open letter to the candidates for the UN's Secretary General role outlining a range of recommendations  to ensure an safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders  to operate globally and within the UN itself... more

NGO Committee / Political interests continue to distort the decisions

The Committee that decides which organisations can formally engage with the UN is in desperate need of reform. The world finally seems to be waking up to this fact... more

Venezuela / Revoke emergency decree and comply with UN Human Rights Council membership standards

More than 124 human rights and civil society organisations from around the world have urged the international community to press Venezuela to revoke a recent ‘State of Exception and Emergency Decree’... more

Brazil / In midst of political crisis, increased risks for human rights defenders

In a joint briefing paper sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, ISHR and Brazilian NGO Terra de Direitos have highlighted a disturbing lack of protection for at-risk activists in the country... more

Economic, social and cultural rights / Civil society alerts UN Committee to risks facing defenders

A cross-regional coalition of over 300 civil society organisations has called upon the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to respond to the grave risks and hindering obstacles facing human rights defenders who work on these rights... more


IVette Gonzalez / Mexico
Ivette Gonzalez works as a strategic engagement associate for Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research in Mexico. Ivette was in Geneva recently to participate in ISHR’s Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme in June, which coincided with the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council... more 

Recommended summer reading


As the UN Human Rights Council celebrates its 10th year, ISHR has taken the opportunity to reflect on its successes and failures and outline a series of reforms to make the Council more accessible to rights holders, more protective for victims of human rights violations, and more effective in holding States and non-State actors to account. This special publication features an impressive line-up of human rights defenders, national and international policy makers, political leaders, and human rights experts from all regions… more

Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Developed in consultation with over 500 defenders from every region, and settled and adopted by 27 of the world’s leading human rights experts and jurists, the Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders 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

Human Rights Defenders in National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights

Defenders play a critical role in promoting business respect for human rights; identifying, preventing, mitigating and ensuring accountability for corporate human rights abuses’. This practical guide from ISHR highlights why and how States should consult human rights defenders in the development of their National Action Plans and ensure that these plans include protections for defenders… more 

Human rights defenders Appeal

Help us equip the next generation of human rights leaders from around the world

The interactive online training and strategy platform we are developing will help take our the training to defenders around the world  - including to human rights defenders who face travel bans or have safety concerns regarding reprisals in their home countries if they travel to Geneva.

Can you help us boost our reach by supporting our Human Rights Defenders Appeal? / Donate Now



The UN Office of the High Commissioner for human rights has published a new practical guide on how States can develop both effective and efficient national mechanisms for reporting to and following up with the international human rights protection framework... more

amnesty  INTERNATIONAL report / Torture of women in mexico 

Amnesty International has released a report focusing on stories of 100 women who survived torture or other forms of violence, inflicted by police or military... more


Kenya / Abducted Human Rights Lawyer Found Dead 

On July 1, Willie Kimani, a human rights lawyer, was found dead along with his client and a taxi driver. Three of them were abducted on June 22 on the way from Mavoko court where the client had filed charges against Administration Police officer for corruption... more 

China / activist to stand trial after visiting Tiananmen victim's grave

Chen Yunfei, a human rights defender from Sichuan province, can face up to 10 years in jail for visiting the grave of a young photographer killed in the 1989 Tiananmen massacre... more

Egypt / Authorities ban WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST from travelling to Beirut

Mozn Hassan, the founder of Nazra for Feminist Studies, was not allowed to leave the country to attend a human rights meeting in Beirut... more

Russia / First criminal case of violation of the Foreign Agent Law 

On 27 June 2016, Valentina Cherevatenko, a Russian human rights defender was criminally prosecuted for the alleged violation of the Foreign Agent Law... more

Upcoming opportunities for engagement

There are a number of upcoming opportunities for civil society groups to engage with the UN human rights systems. For example, the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held in September, various committee sessions will be taking place later this month, six upcoming UN country visits are scheduled and the UPR working group will be reviewing a number of countries next year. Get all the info and dates for your diary here
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