ISHR AND THE STRUGGLE FOR A RESPONSIVE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM
Over 30 years ISHR has achieved much, not alone but in coalition with countless others. It has contributed to the enormous public activism for human rights now evident in every country on Earth, amplifying the voice of human rights defenders. However, the UN must do more to hear them and protect them, writes Chris Sidoti... more
COUNCIL MUST CONTINUE TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY
Joint editorial by the Permanent Representatives of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay
In 2011 the Human Rights Council adopted for the first time ever a resolution by any international body on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. Three years later, based on increasing evidence of violence and stigma, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay felt that it was high time for the Council to take up the subject again and proposed a new resolution... more
Anatomy of success
The resolution that almost wasn’t
John Fisher, ARC International
It is ironic to think that one of the most successful initiatives at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council almost never happened.
When the Council adopted the first UN resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in June 2011, it seemed a turning point had been reached in the international protection of LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination.
But as June 2012, 2013 and 2014 each came and went with no signs of a follow-up initiative, many began to question when – and even whether – the Council would again take up its responsibility to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the end, many factors came together leading into the September session to transform an initiative that had almost stalled, into a positive outcome that built bridges across diverse perspectives and laid the groundwork for further follow-up... more
Our work to support human rights defenders
SRI LANKA: INVESTIGATE AND REMEDY VIOLATIONS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, SAY UN EXPERTS
The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concern over widespread reports in Sri Lanka of intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and clergymen by State officials... more
In a report to the Human Rights Committee, together with FORUM-ASIA, ISHR had earlier expressed grave concerns for the systematic pattern of attacks against those working to promote truth, justice and accountability for around 40,000 civilian deaths in Sri Lanka during 2009… more
EGYPT CALLED TO RELEASE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY
The International Service for Human Rights strongly condemns the conviction of Egyptian activists and other individuals on 26 October on charges of breaching a draconian anti-protest law and other baseless accusations... more
BAHRAIN SHOULD RELEASE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER NABEEL RAJAB WITHOUT CHARGE OR DELAY
More than 100 international, regional and national non-governmental organisations, including the International Service for Human Rights, have joined to call for the immediate and unconditional release of leading human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, in Bahrain… more
MARTIN ENNALS AWARD HONOURS COURAGEOUS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FROM MEXICO, CHINA AND BANGLADESH
Three courageous activists have been recognised for their work to promote and protect human rights at great personal risk with the conferral of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award at a ceremony in Geneva on 7 October 2014… more
Human rights developments
ARBITRARY DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER LEYLA YUNUS NEEDS TO END
Leyla Yunus, a prominent and outspoken activist in Azerbaijan, has been held under pre-trial detention since July 2014. A hearing was attended in the week of October 20 (the date was not specified) to decide on whether to extend this. In letters Ms Yunus sent to her husband and in meetings with her lawyer, she reported ill-treatment by both guards and other inmates… more
BROADCASTING ACT CHALLENGES INDEPENDENCE OF ONLINE NEWS MEDIA IN SINGAPORE
In Singapore, a law approved in 2013 is threatening freedom of expression. The Broadcasting Act requests online news media to register to the Media Development Authority in order to obtain the license to publish articles online. The terms of the licenses give officials unlimited authority to force the removal of content they consider inappropriate and place onerous restrictions on news websites… more
RULING BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS REJECTED BY DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
In the week of 20 October, a ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called on the Dominican Republic to provide redress to Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitians for abuses such as illegal deportation, denial of identity documents and arbitrary deprivation of nationality. Nevertheless, one week later, the government formally rejected the court’s ruling… more
PROTESTERS AGAINST AUSTRALIA’S INTERVENTION IN IRAQ ALLEGEDLY ABUSED BY POLICE
On 2 October, eight peaceful protesters landed on Swan Island, Australia. They were there to carry out a non-violent protest against the Australian government's ‘rushed’ decision to participate in the war in Iraq. While four of them were arrested by the local authorities, the other four activists were allegedly stripped and threatened with drowning, rape and kicking… more
WORRYING ATTACKS AGAINST HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN BAHRAIN
On 14 October, activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was eight months pregnant, was attending a court hearing on charges of ‘destroying government property’ after tearing a picture of Bahrain’s king at a protest in 2012. During the hearing, she was once again arrested, as she displayed a picture of Bahrain’s King and appealed for the freedom of protesting against ‘oppression and oppressors’… more
BAN IMPOSED ON TV CHANNEL IN PAKISTAN
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority suspended for 15 days the broadcast of ARY TV, a Pakistani private TV channel. As Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International noted, ‘ARY TV must be immediately allowed back on air. There is simply no justification for the Pakistani authorities to silence sections of the media solely because of their political leanings’… more
Conferences and events
ISHR 30TH ANNIVERSARY & HIGH-LEVEL LEGAL BRIEFING 20 November 2014, Palais des Nations, Geneva
For the last 30 years, ISHR has worked to support human rights defenders and to build and strengthen human rights laws and systems for their protection. We're delighted to invite you to two exciting events in honour of our important anniversary... more
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING PROGRAM
The international human rights training program organised by Equitas will take place in Montreal, Canada, from 7 to 26 June 2015. Deadline for application is 17 November 2014. You can find more information on how to apply here.
INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AND FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights will take place in Geneva from 27 February to 8 March 2015... more
KUMULIKA - Report on the african Commission
The 55th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights was held from 28 April to 12 May 2014 in Luanda, Angola. The new issue of Kumulika, ISHR’s analytical publication on the African Commission, covers key developments at the 55th session and the NGO Forum which preceded it. The guide is available in English and French.
PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN FRENCH
The Permanent Mission in Geneva of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), in collaboration with the Presidency of the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has recently published a practical guide in French about the mechanism and procedures of the Human Rights Council. The electronic version of the guide is available here. Paper versions can also be requested to the Permanent Mission of the OIF.
UPR BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN STATES UNDER REVIEW
ISHR has published a series of briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders, which are intended to assist States and other stakeholders to formulate questions and recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders during the UPR.
VACANCY: SPECIAL ADVISER ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS - INTERNATIONAL SERVICE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
ISHR is seeking a Special Adviser on Human Rights Defenders to join our dynamic team. This is a new position, based predominantly in Paris, and will involve working with and reporting to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mr Michel Forst, on a day-to-day basis.
The aim of the position is to strengthen the capacity and profile of the mandate and expand its range of activities, with a view to contributing to enhanced protection and a more enabling operating environment for human rights defenders, particularly those most exposed or at risk.
Applications close 9 November 2014. To find out more, click here.
VACANCY: DIRECTOR - CHILD RIGHTS CONNECT
Child Rights Connect is looking for an inspirational Director to lead its international network in implementing an integrated and coherent strategy linking the international human rights system to national level advocacy and greater respect of children’s rights.
Applications close 6 November 2014. To find out more, click here.
Human Rights defender profileS
Founder of the International Service for Human Rights
Born and educated in Geneva, ISHR founder Adrien Zoller’s lifelong commitment to non-governmental and human rights work began as a hobby. Adrien spoke to ISHR about what drove him towards his human rights vocation, and about ISHR’s founding and profound impact to the global human rights movement... more
SHEILA B. KEETHARUTH
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, and ISHR training alumni
Human rights defenders are the first in line in gauging the ‘human rights pulse’ at the national level. They are able to access information about human rights violations in a timely manner, acting as whistleblowers or giving early warnings. It is through their monitoring, documentation and advocacy that egregious human rights violations are brought to the attention of the world... more
Our work to strenGthen human rights systems
HIGH COMMISSIONER CALLS ON GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ‘DEAL WITH THE MESSAGE NOT THE MESSENGER’
‘Deal with the message not the messenger’, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged States in his inaugural address to the UN General Assembly, condemning attempts to silence human rights defenders. The High Commissioner, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, was firm in his support for human rights defenders as ‘critical players in the promotion and protection of human rights, complementing States’… more
STATES MUST ENSURE DESIGNATION OF UN-WIDE FOCAL POINT ON REPRISALS, SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TELLS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Presenting his inaugural report to the General Assembly, the new UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, provided Member States with a vision for the mandate and proposed new working methods to maximise his effectiveness. Reflecting on the UN’s role in protecting defenders, he noted that ‘the UN depends entirely on free and safe cooperation with civil society for its effective functioning,’ without which it loses legitimacy… more
STATES SHOULD USE UPR TO ADDRESS ONGOING REPRESSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN EGYPT
States should send a signal to Egyptian authorities that repression of human rights defenders and civil society actors must stop now, said a group of international NGOs, including ISHR, in a letter addressed to members and observers of the UN Human Rights Council… more
NEW MEMBERS ELECTED TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST UPHOLD HIGHEST HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
The 15 new members to the UN Human Rights Council that were elected by the General Assembly on the 22 October must uphold the highest human rights standards and fully cooperate with the Human Rights Council, says ISHR. This includes taking effective measures to address violations of human rights for which they are responsible, committing to end attacks and intimidation against human rights defenders, and supporting a strong and vibrant civil society… more
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ALERT: FORECAST OF KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR THE 69TH SESSION
The Third Committee of the General Assembly meets at UN Headquarters in New York from 7 October to 26 November 2014. The General Assembly delegates most of its human rights work to its Third Committee. Read about the key resolutions, interactive dialogues, and other developments expected at this session… more
UN CALLED TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION AND COMBAT REPRISALS
The United Nations and its Member States have a legal obligation to strengthen civil society participation, radically overhaul the system for accreditation of non-governmental organisations and combat reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN. So says a major new report prepared by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Maina Kiai… more
COMBAT IMPUNITY AND ENACT LAWS TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, CALLS UN EXPERT
The need to combat impunity for attacks against human rights defenders, together with the enactment of specific laws and policies to protect their work, have been identified as key priorities by the new UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, in his inaugural report. The report sets out a vision and priorities for the mandate over the coming three years… more
opporTunities for ngo engagement
COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances welcomes civil society reports for its 8th session, which will be held from 2 to 13 of Febrary 2015. The written information should be sent before 1 December to email@example.com. More information can be found here.
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
The 53rd session of the Committee Against Torture will take place from 3 to 28 November. The Committee will consider the State reports of Australia, Burundi, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Ukraine, the United States of America and Venezuela. It will adopt the list of issues for Armenia, Gabon, Qatar, Senegal and Togo.
COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The 53rd session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will take place from 10 to 28 November. The Committee will consider the State reports of Finland, Guatemala, Montenegro, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Vietnam.
The pre-sessional Working Group for the 54th session of the Committee will take place from 1 to 5 December. The Committee will consider the reports of Chile, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda and Venezuela.
Organisations may send representatives to attend the above events, however the accreditation request form must be submitted at least ten days before the beginning of the session or the pre-session.
WEBCASTS OF THE TREATY BODY MEETINGS
If you are unable to attend relevant treaty body meetings, you can watch them live online. A group of Geneva-based NGOs, including ISHR, has coordinated to make this possible. The webcasts can be viewed at www.treatybodywebcast.org.
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
The 21st session of the UPR Working Group will take place in Geneva from 19 to 30 January 2015. The States under review: Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana, Kuwait.
Please consult this webpage as well as a Practical Guide for Civil Society on the Universal Periodic Review for further information and guidelines.
The UPR pre-sessions for the 21st session of the UPR will take place from 1 to 4 December at the Centre International de Conférences Genève.
FORUM ON MINORITY ISSUES
The 7th session of the Forum on Minority Issues will focus on ‘Preventing and addressing violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities’. The meeting will be held from 25 to 26 November, in room XX of the Palais des Nations, Geneva. For more information on this Forum session, including practical and substantive information, please visit the Forum's website.
FORUM ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The 3rd session of the Forum on Business and Human Rights will take place from 1 to 3 December. Statements and submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and the online registration can be done here. For further information, please visit the Forum’s website.
UNITED NATIONS DEMOCRACY FUND
The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) invites civil society organidations to apply for funding for projects to advance and support democracy. Project proposals may be submitted online between 15 November and 31 December on the UNDEF website.
Special procedures' country visits
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
1 - 10 November
Côte d'Ivoire Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence
10 - 20 November
Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders
14 – 25 November
Special Rapporteur on cultural rights
14 – 26 November
Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons
17 – 21 November
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
21 – 28 November
Working Group on People of African Descent
1 – 5 December
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
4 – 11 December
Working Group on Discrimination against Women
9 - 19 December
Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association
19 – 30 January 2015
To find out how you can support the visits, please contact the respective mandate-holder at their email, found in the directory