DEFENDING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE: A GOVERNANCE CHALLENGE FOR OUR TIMES
Ambassador Keith Harper, US Representative to the UN Human Rights Council
Human rights begin 'in small places, close to home'. Those words from Eleanor Roosevelt are every bit as true today in our modern digitally interconnected world as when originally written over a half-century ago. Throughout history, the personal engagement of individuals and communities - human rights defenders and organizations dedicated to the promotion of human rights - has been the driving force for progress on human rights and democratic governance… more
ishr 30th anniversary
This year ISHR celebrates its 30th anniversary. We were therefore thrilled to receive the following message from the departing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who has commended ISHR for its work supporting human rights defenders.
"I congratulate the International Service for Human Rights on its 30th anniversary. ISHR has provided invaluable support to the human rights movement: providing training and capacity building, bringing news and analyses of the UN human rights system to civil society actors, even to those working in remote or risky locations, and performing a leading role in advocacy and protection of human rights defenders.
"I particularly commend ISHR’s role in facilitating direct access to important human rights bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, for human rights defenders to come and share their human rights experiences and recommendations in person.
"I send my personal good wishes to everyone working at ISHR for their exemplary work to strengthen and support human rights defenders everywhere."
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGO ENGAGEMENT
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: CRIMINALISATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN THE AMERICAS
The Inter-American Commission’s Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders is calling for submissions to inform his upcoming report on the criminalisation of human rights defenders through the misuse of criminal law. The deadline for submissions is 16 September 2014. It presents an important opportunity to highlight the ways in which law is used and abused to suppress dissent and silence and stifle freedom of expression and association… more
SPECIAL SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAQ
The Special Session on ‘the human rights situation in Iraq in light of abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups’ will take place on 1 September, at 10.00 am in room XX, Palais des Nations. NGOs wishing to submit written statements for the Special Session are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for submission guidelines.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The Human Rights Council’s 27th session is scheduled for 8 to 26 September. The opening meeting will be convened on 8 September at 9.00 am in room XX of the Palais the Nations.
The list of reports for the session as well as the tentative programme of work can be found here and the note verbale from the Council’s Secretariat here. ISHR will provide weekly updates through its Human Rights Council Monitor.
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILD
The 69th pre-sessional working group of the Committee will be held from 22 to 26 September. It will consider the State reports of Ethiopia, Ghana, Mexico, Nepal and the Netherlands. Cuba and Honduras will be reviewed under the optional protocol on the sale of children (CRC-OP-SC) and Cuba, Honduras, Nepal and the Netherlands will be reviewed under the optional protocol on children in armed conflicts (CRC-OP-AC). NGOs can send their submissions to email@example.com by 1 September 2014.
NGOs are also encouraged to send their submissions for the 70th pre-sessional Working Group (February 2015) to the same e-mail address by 1 November. The Working Group will consider reports of Bangladesh, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Poland, Timor-Leste, United Arab Emirates. Countries reviewed under the CRC-OP-SC and the CRC-OP-AC will be Lao People's Democratic Republic and Latvia.
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will meet in Geneva from 15 September to 3 October for its 12th session. The Committee will consider the reports of Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Mexico, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. It will adopt the list of issues for Croatia and Czech Republic.
The 2nd pre-session of the Committee will be held from 7 to 10 October. The Committee will adopt the list of issues for the Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Mongolia and Turkmenistan.
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The 59th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will take place from 20 October to 7 November. The Committee will consider the reports of Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, China, China (Hong Kong), China (Macau), Ghana, Guinea, Poland, Solomon Islands and Venezuela. The provisional agenda is available here.
The pre-sessional Working Group for the 61st session of the Committee will take place from 10 to 14 November. The Committee will consider the reports of Bolivia, Croatia, Gambia, Namibia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Spain and Vietnam.
NGOs wishing to provide written submissions to any of these sessions should do so by 3 October.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Human Rights Committee will meet for its 112th session from 7 to 31 October. It will examine the reports and country situations in Israel, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Montenegro, Malta and Burundi. The deadline for both electronic and hardcopy information on States to be examined by the Committee is 12 September.
Representatives of NGOs wishing to attend the session must register online before 29 September at CSO-Net.
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.
NGOs may submit written information for the examination of the State party's report by the 17 October. Click here for the tentative programme.
COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The 53rd session of the Committee 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 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will take place from 1 to 5 December. The Committee will consider the reports of Chile, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda and Venezuela.
All NGO submissions to the Committee must be done a month and a half before beginning of the session with respect to States for examination, and two months before the pre-sessional working group with respect to States upon which list of issues will be adopted. 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 now 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.
The deadline for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to receive written contributions from the stakeholders of the countries to be reviewed during the 22nd session of the UPR is 15 September 2014. List of States under review: Belarus, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, United States of America, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, Libya.
MEETING OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS/REPRESENTATIVES/INDEPENDENT EXPERTS AND CHAIRPERSONS
The 21st session of the meeting of Special Rapporteurs, Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairpersons of Working Groups of the Human Rights Council will take place from 29 September to 3 October.
WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN LAW AND PRACTICE
The Working Group accepts information throughout the year on allegations of discrimination against women in law and practice. The next session of the Working Group will be held in Geneva from 13 to 17 October.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MARCH 2015 SESSION REPORT
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is preparing a report for the March 2015 session of the Human Rights Council on the theme, ‘Towards a better investment in the rights of the child’. NGOs are invited to contribute information on the main challenges related to the mobilisation, allocation and spending of resources for children.
Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 October and must be less than 5 pages. For further information: email@example.com
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.
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW BRIEFING PAPERS ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
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.
New Tactics in Human Rights has developed a Strategy Toolkit to support the important work of human rights advocates. The tool kit is available online and is accompanied by videos, exercises and worksheets. The purpose of the kit is to help advocates be clear about where they are starting from, where they want to get to, and the steps needed to get from one to the other.
HRW REPORTS ON THE RAB’A MASSACRE AND MASS KILLINGS OF PROTESTERS IN EGYPT
On 12 August 2014, Human Rights Watch released a report on alleged crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations in Egypt.
SRI LANKA MUST END REPRISALS AGAINST THOSE WHO COOPERATE WITH THE UN
Sri Lanka must end a series of attacks against human rights defenders for cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, says a coalition of leading non-governmental organisations. A UN Human Rights Council mandated inquiry is currently investigating alleged violations of international humanitarian law, as well as gross and systematic human rights abuses, committed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam… more
UN Working Group concerned by restrictions on human rights defenders in azerbaijan
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has expressed grave concern at restrictions on human rights defenders and NGOs working on issues of business and human rights in Azerbaijan. The comments came after ISHR called on the Working Group to ensure that 'the situation and protection of human rights defenders' was 'the key priority' during the Group's first-ever mission to Azerbaijan, which took place 18 to 27 August... more
NIGER MUST PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WORKING ON ISSUES OF CORPORATE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
ISHR, together with a coalition of NGOs, has issued a statement in response to the arrest of activists who had been advocating for greater transparency and fairness in dealings between the government and extractive industries… more
USE ‘POLITICAL WILL’ TO REVIEW ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY LAWS IN MALAWI
ISHR has welcomed an assurance to the UN given by the Government of Malawi that authorities will not arrest people in relation to same-sex relations until laws criminalising homosexuality have been reviewed. The Human Rights Committee, the UN’s expert body on the situation of civil and political rights in countries, received assurances from Malawi’s Secretary for Justice and Solicitor-General, Janet Chikaya-Banda, that ‘political will’ existed to improve national legislation relating to homosexuality… more
UGANDA CALLED TO STRENGTHEN PROTECTION OF LGBTI DEFENDERS FOLLOWING CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION
The Government of Uganda should respond to a landmark Constitutional Court decision to strike down the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act by legislating to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, and to protect human rights defenders who advocate for LGBTI rights, ISHR has said… more
AUSTRALIA SHOULD DROP DRACONIAN ‘ANTI-PROTEST’ BILL
The Australian state of Tasmania should dump a repressive bill that will criminalise protests against mining, logging and other business operations, says ISHR. The Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Bill is due to be considered by the Tasmanian Parliament… more
VIET NAM AND UN SHOULD INVESTIGATE AND ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR REPRISALS
Both Viet Nam and the UN should investigate and ensure accountability for the intimidation and harassment of individuals who sought to meet with the UN's expert on freedom of religion during his recent mission to the country. The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, was due to visit Viet Nam from 21 to 31 July, but his planned visits to An Giang, Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces from 28 to 30 July were forced to be abandoned… more
LEADING LGBTI ORGANISATION RECEIVES UN ACCREDITATION
A leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights advocacy organisation, ARC International, has had the doors to the United Nations finally opened to it through the accordance of UN ‘consultative status’. The development follows a recent successful vote for ARC International by the UN’s Economic and Social Council… more
OUR WORK TO strengthen human rights systems
Security Council SHOULD focus on human rights to prevent conflict
The UN Security Council should strengthen its relationship with civil society and its focus on the promotion and protection of human rights if it is to more effectively discharge its mandate in the area of conflict prevention, says ISHR.
This follows the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2171, expressing the Council's 'willingness to strengthen its relationship with civil society' and acknowledging the importance of civil society organisations in matters of peace and security... more.
NGOS WELCOME APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AT THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has announced the appointment of a new Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Edison Lanza. Mr Lanza, a Uruguayan journalist and lawyer, has been appointed for a 3-year term, renewable once. He will take office on 6 October ahead of the 153rd Session of the Commission… more
STRENGTHEN PROTECTION OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN MEXICO AND MESOAMERICA
Governments in Mexico and Mesoamerica should strengthen national laws and mechanisms to protect human rights defenders, including through the adoption of gender-specific provisions and policies to better recognise and protect women human rights defenders, according to ISHR and Just Associates (JASS Mesoamerica)… more
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST ACT TO PROTECT CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE
Laws to protect human rights defenders and journalists, adequate resources for non-governmental organisations, internet freedom, and respect for the right to peaceful protest have all been identified as key elements of democracy and development in a significant new UN report to be considered by the Human Rights Council in September… more
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE RESPONDS TO NGO CALLS TO STRENGTHEN RESPONSE TO REPRISALS
The effort to combat reprisals has taken an important step forward with the appointment of a member of the UN Human Rights Committee as Rapporteur on reprisals. The Committee has acted quickly to implement recommendations made by NGOs, and endorsed by Treaty Body Chairpersons, aimed at a more consistent, systematic and coordinated approach to preventing and responding to reprisals… more
human rights defender profile
HENRI TIPHAGNE: INDIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
People’s Watch has been fighting the suspension of its registration by the Indian government, under the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act, for nearly two years. Despite this, the Tamil Nadu-based human rights NGO continues to promote and protect human rights by monitoring human rights violations, undertaking strategic advocacy and demonstrating solidarity with peoples’ struggles.
Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People’s Watch, speaks to ISHR about the challenges faced by human rights defenders in India... more
HUMAN RIGHTS DEVELOPMENTS
CRACKDOWN ON HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN AZERBAIJAN
Prominent human rights defenders such as Intigam Aliyev and Leyla Yunus have been placed under a three month pre-trial detention. Authorities in Baku have said the charges against the activists are based on illegal financial activities of the NGOs they run. NGOs believe this is an attempt to repress recent activism to expose Azerbaijan’s human rights record… more
CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER RELEASED
After two-and-a-half years of isolation and imprisonment, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been released from prison. The lawyer has lost considerable weight and several teeth. Gao’s attorney Jarod Genser is seeking permission for him to leave China and join his family in California, where they have sought political asylum… more
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF POLICE TACTICS IN MISSOURI
Amnesty International has deployed a 13-person human rights observer mission to Ferguson, Missouri in the United States to observe police and protester activity and to gather testimonies. Amnesty International USA executive director Steven W. Hawkins is calling for ‘a thorough investigation into Michael Brown's death and the series of events that followed’… more
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS TARGETED BY BANGLADESHI POLICE
Human rights defenders have increasingly been targeted in Bangladesh in the context of an on-going hunger strike by garment workers. Activists who have attended protests have been beaten and arrested by police… more
conferences and events
PROTECTING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE AND PREVENTING REPRISALS: NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
Friday 19 September
from 9.15 - 11.45
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Room XXIV
Please join ISHR for this important Human Rights Council side-event with international experts and national human rights defenders to discuss recent development and next steps in the protection of civil society space and the prevention of reprisals… more
PREVENTING RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INDIA: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES AFTER THE 2014 ELECTIONS
Tuesday 16 September from 12.00 – 14.00
Palais des Nations, Room XXI
Following up to recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders relating to the protection of defenders working on inter-communal harmony in India, as well as the unofficial visit of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief earlier this year, this event seeks to discuss means of strengthening social cohesion and mutual respect amongst religious communities in India.
FORTHCOMING COUNTRY VISITS BY SPECIAL PROCEDURES
Working Group on Discrimination Against Women 11 – 19 September
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 7 – 13 September
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
1 - 10 November
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
4 – 11 December
Working Group on Discrimination Against Women
9 - 19 December
To find out how you can support the visits, please contact the respective mandate-holder at their email, found in the directory