Human Rights Monitor Monthly - Issue 1 2013
MAY, 2013






NGOs have a right to receive foreign funding

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s Executive Director

When people join together to advance a political perspective, they gain confidence in their views and power in their collective voice. But when society is atomized, fear is more likely to dominate, and individuals acting alone have a harder time making their voices heard... more



Masa Amir, Nazra for Feminist Studies

Masa Amir is an Egyptian women human rights defender working with the organisation Nazra for Feminist Studies in Cairo. Masa’s work to promote and protect the human rights of women has involved her in advocacy at domestic, regional and international levels… more

Our Work to Support Human Rights Defenders

Promoting implementation of the UN resolution on human rights defenders at the national level

At its last session in March 2013, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. Among other provisions, the resolution expressly calls for States to review and amend laws and policies to ensure that they are consistent with international human rights standards and do not unduly hinder or limit the work of human rights defenders.

The International Service for Human Rights was one of a number of NGOs that worked with States to draft this important resolution and, with the text having been adopted by consensus, we are now working to promote its concrete implementation on the ground, including through training, advocacy, policy development and legislative reform. For further information on the resolution and our work to ensure its effective implementation at the national level, please contact our Human Rights Council Advocacy Manager, Michael Ineichen

Accreditation procedure threatens to undercut civil society participation at UN meeting 

A group of leading international human rights organizations, including the International Service for Human Rights, has called on States to reject a procedure that could result in the exclusion of non-government organizations (NGOs) from a high-level international meeting on human trafficking. … more


Apply now for ISHR’s Geneva Training Course 2013

ISHR’s Geneva Training Course 2013 will be held from 26 May to 7 June in parallel to the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council. The course offers an opportunity for participants with existing advocacy experience at domestic or regional level to expand their knowledge and skills, and over the 2-week period in Geneva directly engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN level. A description of the course, what is expected of participants, and instructions on how to apply are available here

Our Work to Strengthen Human Rights Systems

Human Rights Council’s 22nd session

The 22nd session of the Human Rights Council saw ISHR pursuing its goals to promote and protect human rights around the world by supporting human rights defenders and strengthening human rights systems. ISHR played a key role in some of the most successful outcomes of the session… more


UN must act to strengthen human rights treaty body system

The UN must act to strengthen the human rights treaty body system and ensure that reforms lead to greater human rights protection on the ground. NGOs are calling for a series of reforms that would help develop the treaty body system into one capable of enabling individuals to better enjoy their rights under the international human rights treaties… more

African Commission must call on States to protect defenders against reprisals 

ISHR calls on the African Commission to ensure protection against reprisals for human rights defenders who engage in the session. The Commission was in session from 9-23 April 2013.. .. more

human rights dEVELOPMENTS

In Brief

Egyptian law aims to restrict foreign funding for NGOs

An Egyptian draft law will, it is feared, restrict the legitimate and important work of civil society organisations. A group of United Nations independent human rights experts has urged the Egyptian Shura Council, the parliament’s upper house, not to adopt the law. Amongst them, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, stated that, ‘the draft law gives excessive power to the authorities and this may well ultimately impede associations from fulfilling their crucial function in the promotion and protection of human rights’.  

High Commissioner condemns use of death penalty in Iraq

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, has condemned the execution of 21 individuals in Iraq and said she was appalled by reports that a further 150 people may be executed in the coming days. She pointed out that around 150 countries have now either abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, or introduced a moratorium, and called on the Government of Iraq ‘to halt executions, conduct a credible and independent review of all death row cases and disclose information on the number and identity of death row prisoners, the charges and judicial proceedings brought against them, and the outcome of the review of their cases’.

US STATE Department releases annual HUMAN RIGHTS report

The latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices from the US Department of State highlight the continuing repression and attacks against civil society and human rights defenders, including through the adoption of restrictive laws by governments, and intimidation, harassment or killing of activists. This issue, along with continuing discrimination and violence against women, girls and LGBT persons, is identified as one of the US government’s major global priorities. 

UK’s annual human rights report emphasises importance of an effective international human rights system

The UK’s annual Human Rights and Democracy Report includes, for the first time, a section on promoting human rights at and through the United Nations. Affirming the importance of the UN human rights system for strengthening dialogue between States, and providing a platform both for scrutiny and for provision of practical assistance, the report sets out the steps the UK has taken towards strengthening the effectiveness of the system.

UN experts urge World Bank to adopt human rights standards

A group of UN experts, including experts on extreme poverty and Indigenous peoples, called on the World Bank to adopt human rights standards as part of its review of its environmental and social policies. Meanwhile civil society activists pushed the Bank as part of its review to consider the impact of its programmes on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’s rights. The World Bank has commissioned a study on the economic impact of homophobia which will be available by the end of the year.  

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities holds 9th session

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held its 9th session from 15-19 April during which Australia, Austria, El Salvador, and Paraguay appeared to answer questions on their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A panel discussion on women and girls with disabilities saw speakers examine the vulnerability of these groups to sexual exploitation and abuse both inside and outside the family.

In Depth

Progress at 53rd Session of the African Commission hindered by a lack of State reporting

The 53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has closed with some positive developments, including initiatives advancing the interpretation of African human rights instruments... more

Historic conference on sexual orientation and gender identity endorses calls for UN mechanism

An historic conference in Oslo saw over 200 delegates from 84 countries, representing States, civil society and the UN, come together to discuss the international community’s response to violations and discrimination against LGBT persons. The conference concluded with an endorsement by the co-chairs, South Africa and Norway, of the need for the UN to establish a mechanism to monitor and report on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity… more

Human Rights Committee’s 107th session concludes in Geneva

The Human Rights Committee reviewed the situations in Angola, Hong Kong and Macao, Paraguay, Peru, and Belize at its 107th session. Non-compliance with the Committee’s work remained an issue, as Belize was reviewed in the absence of a delegation and a report, but in other instances the Committee made strong and relevant recommendations to States…more

Committee on Enforced Disappearances reviews first State reports

Uruguay and France were the first countries to be examined by the Committee on Enforced Disappearances as it moves past defining its methods of work and rules of procedure and into the substantive phase of its work. A constructive interaction with Uruguay marked a good start to the Committee’s work, but the issue of non-compliance was starkly illustrated when the Chair announced that to date only five countries have submitted their initial reports, out of the twenty whose reports were due at the end of last year… more


Opportunities for NGO Engagement

In Brief

Human Rights Council’s 23rd session

The Council’s 23rd session will take place from 27 May to 14 June. NGOs with ECOSOC status can organise events to take place alongside the plenary session. The deadline for booking a room for an event is 6 May. NGOs who wish to make written submissions to the Council should send their statements by 10 May. The online form for requesting speaking slots will open on 24 May at 2pm. More information and forms can be found here.

NGO forum on treaty body strengthening

The next NGO hearing of the intergovernmental process on treaty body strengthening will be held on 6 May 2013 in New York, with videoconferencing to Geneva. Instructions for registering will go out some weeks before the hearing from the Civil Society Section of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. You can subscribe to email updates from the Civil Society Section here.  Please note that you must register in order to participate in the hearing, whether your NGO has ECOSOC status or not. As the date approaches, check the daily UN Journal for times and locations.

16th session of the Universal Periodic Review underway in Geneva

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. From 22 April until 3 May the 16th session of the UPR will take place in Geneva. The following countries will be reviewed:  Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan, Tuvalu, Germany, Djibouti, Canada, Bangladesh, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Cuba and Cameroon. Click here for the reports submitted by each country, and a live webcast. An analysis of the session will be included in the next edition of the Human Rights Monitor.

The deadline for submission of information to OHCHR for the 18th session of the UPR is 17 June 2013 for Afghanistan, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Yemen, and 24 June 2013 for Cambodia, Comoros, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, the FYR of Macedonia, and Slovakia. Information on future deadlines can be found here.

Committee on NGOs

The Committee on NGOs reviews the applications by NGOs for ‘ECOSOC status’. ECOSOC status provides NGOs with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, various human rights mechanisms including the Human Rights Council, and to a number of other fora including special events organised by the President of the General Assembly. The next meeting of the Committee will be held from 20-29 May during which States will consider new NGO applications, applications deferred from previous sessions, along with the quadrennial reports of NGOs with ECOSOC status. Information for participants is available here.

The deadline for new applications for ECOSOC status is 1 June 2013. More information on the application process is available here.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

From 29 of April until 17 May CESCR will convene its 50th session in Geneva. Countries under examination are: Japan, Iran, Jamaica, Azerbaijan, Togo, Rwanda, Denmark.

Committee against Torture

The 50th session of CAT will be held from 6 to 31 May. Bolivia, Estonia, Guatemala, Japan, Kenya, Mauritania, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom will be reviewed.

Committee on the Rights of the Child

The 63rd session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child will be held in Geneva from 27 May – 14 June. The Committee will consider State reports from Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Rwanda, Slovenia, and Uzbekistan. Under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography, and the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, the Committee will review the situation in Armenia, Rwanda and Uzbekistan.
From 17-21 June the pre-sessional working group of the Committee will develop lists of issues for discussion in the yet to be scheduled reviews of Congo, Germany, Holy See, Portugal, Russian Federation, and Yemen.
1 July is the deadline for NGO submissions for input to development of lists of issues for India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan and St Lucia. Lists of issues will also be developed for the United Kingdom, India and Jordan under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and for Cuba, India and Jordan under the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict.

Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee will hold its next session in Geneva from 8-26 July 2013. Countries to be reviewed are: Albania, Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. Lists of issues will be adopted during the session for Chad, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Nepal and Sierra Leone.
The deadline to submit information on countries to be reviewed closes on 26 April, while it is possible to submit information for the countries for which lists of issues will be developed until 14 June 2013.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will meet in Geneva from 8-26 July 2013. The countries to be reviewed are Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Serbia and United Kingdom. The deadline for submission of NGO information on these countries is 24 June 2013.

Webcasts of treaty body meetings

If you are unable to attend relevant treaty body meetings, you can now watch these sessions live online. A group of Geneva-based NGOs, including ISHR, has coordinated to make this possible. The webcasts can be viewed at

Expert mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) will hold its 6th session from 8 to 12 July in Geneva. The Expert Mechanism provides the Human Rights Council with thematic advice, in the form of studies and research, on the rights of Indigenous peoples as directed by the Council. The Expert Mechanism may also suggest proposals to the Council for its consideration and approval.

In Depth

A look ahead to the Human Right Council’s 23rd session

The Human Right Council’s 23rd session will take place in Geneva from 27 May to 14 June. Sexual orientation and gender identity will be top of the agenda as the Council considers how to follow up on its historic 2011 resolution on the subject… more

Forthcoming country visits by Special Procedures


Special Rapporteur on torture 8 to16 May 2013


Working Group on disappearances 8 to 17 May 2013

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Special Rapporteur on cultural rights 13 to 24 May 2013 


Working Group on mercenaries 20 to 25 May 2013

Republic of Korea

Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders 29 May to 7 June 2013


Special Rapporteur on housing 30 May to 11 June 2013


Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons 17 to 21 June 2013


Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation 10 to 18 July 2013


Special Rapporteur on sale of children 15 to 26 July 2013

New Resources for human rights defenders

The right of NGOs to funding

The World Organisation against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights have published a report on ‘Violations of the right of NGOs to funding: from harassment to criminalisation’. The report provides a detailed picture of the issues concerning NGOs and funding.

Equal Rights to Family Life

The tenth volume of The Equal Rights Review, a biannual publication of The Equal Rights Trust, focuses on equal rights to family life. It contains, among other pieces, articles on the legal recognition of same-sex couples, marriage equality, and discrimination and reproductive rights.

Revised handbook on NGO participation in the UN Human Rights Council

A practical guide to engaging with the Human Rights Council has been revised to reflect recent developments that allow NGOs to participate in Council sessions by video statements. The guide can be accessed in all UN languages here.

New annual journal on implementation of rights of persons with disabilities

The International Disability Alliance has launched the inaugural edition of its new Human Rights Publication Series. The annual journal will share information and practices relating to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The first edition is devoted to the right to participate in political and public life.

Keep up-to-date with ISHR

For more information, please visit our website:
or contact us:

If you would prefer not to receive emails from ISHR, simply click here