HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN MEXICO: AN INCREASING CONCERN FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Daniel Joloy, Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights
The adoption of the final report of Mexico’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reflected the increasing concern of the international community regarding the situation of human rights defenders.
Although some positive steps have been taken during recent years, the Mexican Government has done too little to put an end to increasing violence against human rights defenders... more
Human rights defender profile
SHIN DONG-HYUK: NORTH KOREAN HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDER
‘People in political prison camp lead life less than animals. They are treated worse and treated with life less than dogs raised in the camp. What I wish to tell them is that despite inhumane life conditions, they have to survive, so that they can see for themselves what kind of outside world we have and people who live in it.’
Shin Dong-Hyuk was born and spent the first 23 years of his life in prison Camp 14 in North Korea. In the camp he was ill-treated, dehumanised and made to witness the public execution of his mother and brother. Not only did he not enjoy freedom, he says, but he had no idea what freedom meant. Courageously, Shin escaped from the camp in 2005 and remains the only known person to have done so... more
Our work to support human rights defenders
KEY OUTCOMES FROM THE 25TH SESSION OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council concluded with the adoption of significant resolutions in relation to human rights defenders, peaceful protest, and accountability for gross human rights violations in North Korea, Sri Lanka and Syria... more
COUNCIL CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE CONTEXT OF PROTESTS
The UN Human Rights Council has adopted an important resolution underlining the responsibilities of States to protect the human rights of protesters and laying the ground for greater guidance on how to put that protection into practice. The resolution calls upon States to promote safe environments for protests and ensure that national legislation and practices comply with international human rights law... more
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS CRUCIAL RESOLUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a crucial resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. The resolution calls on States to protect human rights defenders from attacks and reprisals and ensure that national laws and policies support and enable their work. The resolution also renews the mandate of an independent international expert tasked with supporting and protecting human rights defenders... more
LEADING NGOS URGE STATES TO REJECT PROPOSALS FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO WEAKEN RESOLUTION ON PEACEFUL PROTEST
A coalition of leading non-governmental organisations has called on governments to reject proposals made by South Africa and others that would undermine a Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests.
A letter calling for a rejection of the proposed amendments was sent to representatives of all UN member States in Geneva. The NGO letter expresses deep concerns regarding the proposed amendments, which would weaken protection of the right to protest compared with a resolution on the same topic passed by the Council last year... more
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DEATH OF CAO SHUNLI
A group of independent UN human rights experts has issued a joint statement expressing deep regret at the death of Cao Shunli and calling on China to fully and promptly investigate the circumstances leading to Ms Cao’s death.' The death of Ms Cao is a tragic example of the results of criminalization of the activities of human defenders in China and reprisals against them. It is unacceptable that civil society activists pay the ultimate price for peaceful and legitimate interaction with the United Nations and its human rights mechanisms,' the experts said... more
CHINA INTERRUPTS MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR CAO SHUNLI AT THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
China must end a pattern of intimidation and 'deadly reprisals' against human rights defenders who seek to expose and ensure accountability for human rights violations at the United Nations. In a statement to the Human Rights Council on 20 March, ISHR called on the human rights community to observe a moment of silence to remember Cao Shunli and other human rights defenders who have died or been killed as a consequence of their advocacy at the UN... more
‘MY FAVOURITE WORD IS FREEDOM’ – ISHR SUPPORTS SHIN DONG-HYUK TO GIVE EVIDENCE TO THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
'When I turned 14, my mother and my older brother were publicly executed before my father's and my eyes....'
ISHR is proud to have supported North Korean human rights defender and the only known escapee of Camp 14, Shin Dong-Hyuk, in giving witness testimony to the UN Human Rights Council about gross human rights violations in North Korea... more
UN EVENT SPOTLIGHTS THE PROTECTION NEEDS OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
‘States and United Nations entities must take concrete steps to protect and support women human rights defenders, ' said panellists at a high-level UN event on 13 March. The event –‘Protect Women Human Rights Defenders: from resolution to solutions' - took place on the opening day of the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
ISHR PROJECT CONTRIBUTES TO HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRESS IN MANO RIVER UNION COUNTRIES
The UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process can be an important catalyst for coordination between States, national human rights institutions and human rights defenders, and can contribute to concrete human rights change on the ground.
ISHR has recently completed a three-year Irish Aid-funded project in the Mano River Union countries of Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The purpose of the project was to bring together key human rights stakeholders from each of the countries - including government representatives, civil society actors and national human rights institutions - with a view to preparing for the UPR and collaborating on the implementation of recommendations... more
SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION: CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO ACT ON EGYPT
A cross-regional group of 27 States (including Germany, Switzerland, the US, Japan, Turkey and Ireland, among others) responded to an NGO appeal by delivering a joint statement to the Human Rights Council on the situation in Egypt. The statement expresses 'concern about the restrictions on the rights to peaceful assembly, expression and association, and about the disproportionate use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators which resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries' and calls for proper investigations and accountability in this regard... more
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MUST COMBAT DISCRIMINATION, END IMPUNITY AND EXPAND CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE
The UN Human Rights Council must do more to combat discrimination, end impunity for attacks on human rights defenders, and protect and expand civil society space. In a statement to the Council's 25th session in response to the High Commissioner's Annual Statement and Report, ISHR expressed deep regret at the passage of laws in Russia, Nigeria and Uganda which effectively criminalise the work of defenders who advocate for equality and against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity... more
PROFILES OF REPRESENTATIVES OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS FIGHTING TO OBTAIN ECOSOC CONSULTATIVE STATUS TO THE UN
ISHR is publishing a series of profiles of representatives of NGOs fighting to obtain Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status to the UN through the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs.
Consultative status is required to attend and participate in many UN meetings, including those of the Human Rights Council. We hope these profiles will help expose the Committee's dysfunction, share the struggles of human rights defenders that are repeatedly blocked from bringing their experiences and insights on critical issues to policy-making at the UN, and ultimately help secure consultative status to the UN for these credible NGOs carrying out important and valuable human rights work.
The first profile features Rachel Arinii, Executive Coordinator of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights... more
The second interview features Rikke Nöhrlind, Executive Director of the International Dalit Solidarity Network... more
Human Rights developments
UNITED NATIONS EXPERT URGES CôTE D’IVOIRE TO ALLOW RIGHTS DEFENDERS TO PLAY THEIR ROLE FOR RECONCILIATION AND PROGRESS
On 7 March 2014, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Doudou Diène, called on the government to take all necessary measures to allow human rights defender organisations to play their role for the reconciliation and consolidation of progress in the country.
'Civil society should be strong, independent and have sufficient resources to play a central role in guaranteeing a democratic multiparty system, a role that should have full political recognition and appropriate legal protection’ Mr. Diène said... more
SRI LANKA RELEASES HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS WITHOUT CHARGE AFTER INTERNATIONAL OUTCRY
Sri Lankan human rights defenders Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen were held for 48 hours and released without charge on 19 March 2014. The two had been arrested for 'terrorism' and 'causing discomfort to the government and earning money by sharing information with foreign countries' on 16 March 2014... more
DISTURBING LEVELS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBTI PERSONS AND DEFENDERS IN THE AMERICAS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has urged the Organization of American States to adopt urgent and effective measures to prevent and tackle violence against LGBTI human rights defenders... more
HIGH COMMISSIONER NAVI PILLAY DEPLORES DIRE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
On 20 March 2014, two months after the Human Rights Council’s special session on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), Navi Pillay warned that the CAR still 'lacks a coherent national army, police, or justice system’ and ’the intern-communal hatred remains at a terrifying level’... more
Conferences and events
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER ADVOCACY PROGRAmme 8 – 21 June 2014, Geneva
ISHR's Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme equips defenders with the knowledge and skills to make strategic use of the international human rights system. It also provides an opportunity for participants to directly engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN level to effect change on the ground back home... more
ISHR: SERIES OF BREFIENG PAPERS ON STATES UNDER REVIEW SCHEDULED FOR THE 19TH AND 20TH SESSIONS OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
ISHR has recently published a series of briefing papers on the situation of human rights defenders in Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (for the 19th session of the UPR in April-May), as well as Italy, Angola, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Iran and Egypt (for the 20th session in October). The papers are intended to assist States and other stakeholders to formulate questions and recommendations regarding the protection of human rights defenders during the UPR.
The series of briefing papers will be continually updated and is available on ISHR's website.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH LAUNCHES NEW ‘VOTES COUNT’ WEBSITE
‘What happens in Geneva shouldn't stay in Geneva. This website gives citizens and journalists access to monitor and act on their governments’ performance,’ says Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch.
Her comments came as Human Rights Watch launched a new website ‘Votes Count’ which analyses and exposes the votes of member States of the Human Rights Council taken on situations of human rights violations in certain countries since 2012.
WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS: LAUNCH OF A REPORT TO PROMOTE COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO PROTECTION
WHRDs face a variety of risks and violations that require differential support programmes and gender-specific protection measures. The report emphasises the need for an integrated concept of security that takes into account how WHRDs experience human rights violations differently because of their gender and other economic, social, and cultural factors.
GLOBAL RIGHTS: INTER-AMERICAN SYSTEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS – PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR NGOs
Global Rights has published a practical guide for NGOs on how to do advocacy at the Organization of American States and its different bodies, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Spanish version of this publication is available here, while the English version will follow in a few months.
THE EGYPTIAN INITIATIVE FOR PERSONAL RIGHTS LAUNCHES A NEW REPORT ON SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
ISHR is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael H. Posner to its Board.
'We are very pleased to have Mike Posner join the organisation in a non-executive leadership role,' said ISHR Director Phil Lynch. 'Mike brings almost 40 years experience as a human rights defender and a globally renowned expertise on issues of human rights, NGO management, international relations and government affairs.'… more
Our work to strengthen human rights systems
MEXICO’S UPR: WOMEN DEFENDERS SAY IT’S TIME FOR IMPLEMENTATION AND PROTECTION
With Mexico accepting the majority of its recommendations from the second cycle of the UPR, a group of activists led by women human rights defenders from across the country held a side event to analyse Mexico's 'progressive diplomacy, normative advances and human rights violations'.
The defenders stressed that Mexico's progressive stance in multilateral forums, such as the Human Rights Council, should not deflect from the necessity of the State to implement real solutions to human rights issues in a country... more
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HAS A DUTY TO STRENGTHEN RESPONSE TO REPRISALS
Acts of intimidation or reprisals against human rights defenders and others who cooperate with the United Nations are unacceptable in all circumstances, ISHR has said in a statement to the Human Rights Council. 'The Human Rights Council, its President and Member States have a moral and legal duty to ensure that all persons are free to access the UN human rights system without hindrance and without fear of harassment and attacks... more
NGOS HIGHLIGHT ESSENTIAL CRITERIA FOR EXPERT ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
ISHR, together with a coalition of NGOs, has developed a checklist that sets out the requirements prospective candidates should meet for the position of UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression... more
PROMOTING GOOD PRACTICE IN PROTECTING CIVIL SOCIETY SPACE
Promoting and protecting civil society space, including by guaranteeing the safety and freedom of journalists and human rights defenders, is crucial to democracy and the rule of law, ISHR told the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of a coalition of NGOs, including Amnesty International, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project... more
STATES MUST ENSURE A SAFE AND ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
States must ensure that human rights defenders are able to operate in a safe and enabling environment, free from restrictions and attacks, ISHR has said. Delivering a statement during the Human Rights Council’s dialogue with the current UN expert on human rights defenders, ISHR welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s report as a comprehensive articulation of the laws, policies and practices that States should implement to protect defenders, and called on States to take immediate steps in this regard... more
GENERAL ASSEMBLY THEMATIC DEBATES AND HIGH LEVEL EVENTS
The General Assembly will hold thematic debates on the role of partnerships and their contributions, on 9 and 10 April; and ensuring peaceful and stable societies, on 24 and 25 April. High-level events will also be held on human rights and the rule of law from, 9 to 10 June.
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILD
The Committee on the Rights of Child will meet in Geneva from 26 May to 13 June. The deadline for submission of NGO information will be posted here.
The Committee will review the reports of India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, and Saint Lucia. India, Jordan, and the United-Kingdom will be reviewed under the optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. India and Jordan will also be reviewed under the optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
The pre-sessional working group of the 68th session of the Committee will be held from 16 – 20 June. It will consider the reports of Colombia, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, United Republic of Tanzania, and Uruguay.
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women will meet in Geneva from 30 June to 18 July. The schedule of country examinations will be posted here.
The Committee will review the reports of the Central African Republic, Georgia, India, Lithuania, Mauritania, Peru, Swaziland, and Syria.
The pre-sessional working group for the Committee's 60th session will take place from 21 to 25 July. It will consider the reports of Azerbaijan, Denmark, Ecuador, Eritrea, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, and Tuvalu.
111TH SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Human Right Council will hold its next session in Geneva from 7 to 25 July. The Committee will review the reports of Chile, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, and Sudan.
Countries under review of Country Report Task Forces for the adoption of list of issues: Cambodia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, France, Russian Federation. Countries under review of Task Forces for the adoption of the list of issues prior to reporting: Mexico and Poland.
The deadline for submission of the NGO information with respect to States upon which List of Issues and List of issues prior to reporting will be adopted is 25 April 2014 (electronic form) and 13 June (hardcopies). The deadline for information on State parties to be examined by the Committee electronically and in hardcopy is 13 June 2014. The deadline for registration is 27 June.
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.
19TH SESSION OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
From 28 April until 9 May the 19th session of the UPR will take place in Geneva. The following countries will be reviewed: Norway, Albania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Portugal, Bhutan, Dominica, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Qatar, and Nicaragua.
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.
EXTENSION OF DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION TO 21ST AND 22ND UPR SESSIONS
Stakeholder deadlines for submitting a written contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the UPR documentation of countries to be reviewed during the 21st and 22nd sessions, have been extended.
For the 21st session the deadline is now 15 June 2014. States under review: Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana, and Kuwait.
For the 22nd session the deadline is now 15 September 2014. States under review: Belarus, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, United States of America, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, and Libya.
Stakeholders' submissions should be sent using the new 'On-line UPR submissions system'.
WORKING GROUP ON DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
The Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice accepts information on allegations of discrimination against women in law and practice throughout the year. The next session of the Working Group will be held in Geneva from 5 – 9 May.
WORKING GROUP ON TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS
The 8th session of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises will take place in Geneva from 5 to 9 May. Submissions in relation to the Working Group’s mandate are accepted throughout the year.
DRAFT GENERAL COMMENT ARTICLE 9 - CALL FOR COMMENTS
The Human Rights Committee invites interested stakeholders to comment on the draft General Comment on Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Right to liberty and security of person and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The deadline for the submission is 1 June 2014.
MEETING OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS, REPRESENTATIVES, INDEPENDENT EXPERTS AND WORKING GROUP CHAIRPERSONS
The annual meeting of special rapporteurs/representatives, independent experts and chairs of working groups of the Human Rights Council will take place from 2 – 6 June.
The 26th session of the Meeting of Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies will take place in Geneva from 23 to 27 June. It provides a forum for members of the ten human rights treaty bodies to discuss their work and consider ways to enhance the effectiveness of the treaty body system as a whole.
EXPERT MECHANISM ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
New members of the UN's Committee on Non-governmental Organizations will be elected from April 23 to 25 by the Economic and Social Council in New York. Committee members are elected for four years, on the basis of equitable geographical representation.
OPINION: FOXES GUARDING THE HENHOUSE – CIVIL SOCIETY DESERTED BY DEMOCRATIC STATES IN UN
The governments of Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela have a lot in common. Besides imposing an ever-tightening noose around domestic civil society in recent years, all of them plan to run for election to a UN body that regulates civil society access. A seat on the 'Committee on Non-governmental Organizations' is highly desirable as it means controlling which civil society groups secure the coveted 'consultative status', a standing which bestows special UN rights and privileges to organisations that obtain it... more
ISHR's 30th Anniversary
Director of the Colombian Commission of Jurists; ISHR Board member; Chair of the Board of the Center for Justice and International Law - CEJIL - in Washington, DC; UN Independent Expert on human rights in Haiti.
What does ISHR mean to you?
I got to know ISHR at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, and I was really impressed with all the activity the Service was involved in. There were thousands of delegates from all regions of the world, and the organisation was always at the centre of activities, helping to drive NGO participation and collaboration. It was from that point on that I became more actively involved in ISHR’s work.
One of the most significant and memorable projects we worked on together was a campaign to enable national level organisations to be granted consultative status with the United Nations, enabling them to participate in and contribute to key international human rights discussions. Until then, only international organisations could be accredited by the UN.
For the purpose of the campaign, ISHR brought together and coordinated national organisations from all regions of the world. ISHR’s leadership resulted in the adoption of resolution by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) allowing for national organisations to apply for and be recognised with UN consultative status. That was a huge accomplishment and, as a result, the Colombian Commission of Jurists was able to apply for and was awarded accreditation.
ISHR was also instrumental in advocating for the creation of the UN mandate of Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; and the elaboration of the international Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
In the mid-90s I joined ISHR’s board and became more involved in the organisation’s direct activities in the regions – particularly in helping to deliver several training courses to human rights defenders in Mexico.
Our relationship continued, with ISHR providing support and playing a networking role which contributed to the Colombian Commission of Jurists’ own advocacy success. After 7 years of lobbying at the UN, facilitated by relationships we made through ISHR with other human rights defenders, we finally saw the establishment of an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia. So, I see ISHR as an important, supportive and collaborative player in the international human rights scene.
special procedures' country visits
Special Rapporteur on violence against women
31 March - 15 April
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons
18 May - 24 May
Special Rapporteur on migrants
19 – 26 May
Working Group on people of African descent
30 June - 4 July
To find out how you can support the visits, please contact the respective mandate-holder at their email, found in the directory