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Human Rights Council Monitor - 27 May-3 June 2013

 
Council Monitor
27 May-3 June 2013 2013
International Service for Human RIghts
 

ISHR IN THE NEWS

Global community must act to protect human rights defenders from restrictions and attacks... more

 

Opinion

Council must denounce rape and other forms of sexual violence against women defenders

Eleanor Openshaw, Coordinator of ISHR’s work on women human rights defenders


Sexual violence against women is pervasive in our societies. When directed against a woman human rights defender, it has a particular potency.
 
Women defenders are attacked for both who they are and what they do. Sexual violence against women defenders aims at intimidating and overpowering them as women...
more

 

ISHR VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS


Panel on Business and Human Rights (at 1:26.45)

Interactive dialogue on Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Working Group on Business and Human Rights (at 2:28.19)

General Debate on Update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (at 1:11.55)

 

Key Developments AT THE COUNCIL

In Brief

COUNCIL HOLDS URGENT DEBATE ON SYRIA

Following further deterioration of the situation in Syria, in particular in Al Qusayr, the Council last week held an urgent debate on the situation. Member States adopted a resolution condemning all violence in the country, and calling on the Syrian authorities to meet their responsibility to protect. The Commission of Inquiry is also requested to carry out an investigation into the events in Al Qusayr. 36 States voted in favour of the text, with 1 vote against (Venezeula) and 8 abstentions (Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Uganda). This is the lowest level of support to date for a resolution on Syria.

Germany, Switzerland, Montenegro, Costa Rica, Norway, Botswana, France, Croatia, Honduras, and Ecuador all regretted that the resolution did not include a call for referral to the International Criminal Court. Ecuador (which abstained from what it called a ‘biased’ text) nevertheless criticised the ‘political interests’ behind the failure to include reference to the ICC in the resolution.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of association and assembly, Mr Maina Kiai, drew attention in his report to restrictions on the funding of non-governmental organisations. Mr Kiai urged States to involve independent civil society voices in the drafting of laws that affect their activities.

Many States adopted a defensive attitude to the criticisms made by Mr Kiai. Egypt effectively denied any problems with its own draft NGO law, acknowledging the importance of funding for NGOs, stating that undue restrictions on funding should not be imposed, and adding that a national dialogue is underway in relation to the draft legislation. Mr Kiai observed that the States most critical of his report were those that have not yet responded to his request for an invitation to visit.

Opportunity to build on landmark resolution against criminalisation of human rights defenders

In March 2013, the Council adopted by consensus a landmark resolution calling on States to amend legislation and policy that undermines or hinders the work of human rights defenders, and 'ensure compliance with international human rights law'.

At the current session of the Council, States are discussing a resolution proposed by Mexico on the human rights of migrants. In that context, a provision calling on States to repeal laws that criminalise irregular crossing and/or staying, or the work of those individuals that provide humanitarian assistance and defend human rights of irregular migrants, has faced some opposition, including from States that have not only co-sponsored but played a key role in the adoption of the March resolution on the protection of human rights defenders.

The outcome of these negotiations will be a key test of the Council's ability to ensure consistency in its resolution, and of States' willingness to protect human rights defenders and their work irrespective of the rights that they defend.

In Depth

UN’S HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF UPDATES THE COUNCIL ON HER LATEST ACTIVITIES

The urgent need for the international community to take action on the situation in Syria dominated the opening dialogue of the Council’s 23rd session. The UN’s human rights chief urged referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court as well as reflecting on developments in the context of the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action … more

COUNCIL CALLED UPON TO TAKE ACTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

In a series of events the Human Rights Council has been called upon to better support and protect the work of human rights defenders who work on issues of corporate accountability.

In a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, ISHR expressed concern at the harassment and reprisals faced by human rights defenders for their work investigating, protesting, and seeking access to remedies for victims of alleged abuses linked to business activities.…
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ISHR ADVOCACY

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST ACT TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ISHR called on the UN Human Rights Council to act to protect human rights defenders, at the opening of the Council’s 23rd session earlier this week… more


STATES MUST INVESTIGATE ATTACKS AGAINST DEFENDERS WORKING ON CORPORATE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

ISHR has called on the Human Rights Council to ensure that it implements the landmark resolution on protection of human rights defenders that it adopted in March. The working group on business and human rights reported to the Council on harassment, attacks and reprisals against human rights defenders working on corporate human rights abuses… more


COALITION OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, INCLUDING ISHR, OUTLINES RISKS TO WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, of which ISHR is a member, has called on the Human Rights Council to focus attention on the protection of women human rights defenders, particularly during situations of political transition… more

NEXT ON THE AGENDA

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women is due to present her latest report to the Council on 3 June examining State responsibility for eliminating violence against women. Ms Rashida Manjoo calls for an understanding of State responsibility to ensure systemic protection, for example through legislation and awareness raising campaigns, and the obligation to ensure individual protection on a case by case basis, for example by providing women with services such as shelters, restraining orders, and financial aid, as well as assisting them to rebuild their lives by relocating or finding a job.
 

FIRST REPORTS ON ERITREA AND BELARUS

The first reports from the special rapporteurs on Eritrea and on Belarus will be presented to the Council on Tuesday. The creation of both of these mandates was controversial, and both Governments have refused access to the mandate holders. Both mandates are up for renewal at this session. In the case of Eritrea there is a desire on the part of civil society to see a strong resolution that renews the mandate, that condemns the abuses documented by the special rapporteur, and urges the Government to grant access to the special rapporteur.
 

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The UN’s expert on freedom of expression reports to the Council on 3 June on how surveillance techniques affect the right to privacy and to freedom of expression. Mr Frank La Rue reports that human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable to having their communications scrutinised, which limits their freedom of expression. Adding that such surveillance threatens the foundations of democratic society, Mr La Rue calls for strong legal protections to ensure that monitoring of communications takes place only under the most exceptional circumstances.

SIDE EVENTS

All events take place in the palais des nations, geneva


Safety of Journalists: 4 June, 13:00, room 25

Political Transitions and Women’s Rights: 4 June, 13:00, room 22

Freedom of Expression: 4 June, 14:30, room 24

Human Rights in Burundi – implementation of UPR recommendations: 4 June, 14:30, room 27

UPR and Special Procedures for Newcomers: 5 June, 15:00, room 25

Evaluating conditions for peaceful, transparent, free, and fair elections in Zimbabwe: 7 June, 10:00, room 9

Citizens of Nowhere: the impact of statelessness on human rights: 7 June, 13:00, room 22

Wrap up of the Human Rights Council: 12 June, 13:00, room 25

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