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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 www.treatybodywebcast.org.
Expert mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples
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
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.