CIVICUS and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Uganda welcome the adoption of the UPR report on Uganda and express their appreciation to the government of Uganda for collaborating in the process.

Human Rights Council 34th Session

CIVICUS and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum welcome the Government of Zimbabwe’s continued cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process, including its acceptance of a number of important recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the country.

However, the greatest sign of commitment by the government is not merely attending UPR sessions and accepting recommendations. The ultimate evidence of commitment is positive change in the human rights environment.

Human Rights Council 34th Session

We address the Human Rights Council on behalf of CIVICUS in consultation with 170 Venezuelan civil society organizations.

The majority of countries participating in the UPR drew the attention of the Venezuelan State to the undermining of a broad spectrum of human rights, lack of cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, and its refusal to invite representatives of Special Procedures to the country.

Human Rights Council: 34th Session
Adoption of South Sudan’s UPR Outcome

Oral Intervention by East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) & CIVICUS

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS have very little to welcome in South Sudan’s UPR process. Out of 33 recommendations made to the Government of South Sudan to improve its catastrophic human rights situation, only 4 have been accepted.

34th session of the Human Rights Council 

Since the creation of the Council CIVICUS has appealed to States present here today to collectively address violations of the civic freedoms which they have all committed to uphold and protect.

34th session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS is deeply alarmed by the report of the Commission on South Sudan about continued mass atrocities, violence, killings and crimes against humanity at a time when the country is plagued by the worst famine. South Sudan is on the verge of an ethnic war that can destabilise the entire region.  In fact, there is a real risk of genocide. 

34th session of the Human Rights Council  

CIVICUS expresses serious concerns that the human rights situation has not improved since the last time we presented a statement here in response to the report of the Independent Experts about human rights in Burundi on 27 September 2016.

34th session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS expresses its appreciation to the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea for the work she has done to highlight the worst human rights violations and the overall dire situation in Eritrea.  We also laud the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) for the findings and recommendations presented in the report of the Commission. 

34th session of the Human Rights Council
8 March, 2017

Thank you Mr. President,

High Commissioner, CIVICUS welcomes your annual report and update. We are consistently awed by the breadth of work undertaken by your offices across the world. In this period where restrictions of civil society groups and HRDs are becoming increasingly normalized, CIVICUS vigorously endorses your call for the allocation of greater resources to strengthen and bolster OHCHR’s mandate and operations. 

Re: Support consensus renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

7 March 2017

Your Excellency,

The undersigned 93 civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The work of human rights defenders is vital to promoting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. Despite this critical role, the Special Rapporteur notes that defenders are under ‘unprecedented attack’ with ‘the number killed around the world continuously rising’.

34th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy
7 March 2017
Delivered by Tor Hodenfield

Thanks you Mr. President,

CIVICUS welcomes the report of Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. We applaud the Special Rapporteur and his team for undertaking a frank and much needed assessment of the characteristics of the international legal framework surrounding governmental surveillance. It is clear from these reflections that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is more essential than ever.

34th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child
2 March 2017
Delivered by Matthew Reading-Smith

CIVICUS welcomes this opportunity to address the Vice President of the Council and the other distinguished panelists. We applaud the Council´s commitment to an integrated approach to the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. These two frameworks beckon the highest degree of international cooperation and reveal common areas of social, economic and environmental interdependence.

Two thirds of the activities of the United Nations system takes place in Geneva, making it a key centre of international co-operation and multilateral negotiation. CIVICUS’ main focus currently concentrates on the human rights mechanisms, most notably the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Special Procedures, but also on the Treaty bodies. CIVICUS also works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

UN Human Rights Council - 26th Special Session
Special Session on South Sudan

CIVICUS welcomes this Special Session following the findings and recommendations recently put forward by the Expert Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.  We agree with the assessment that South Sudan is on the verge of an unprecedented spate of violence which has strong ethnic connotations.  

The event will contribute to the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law on “Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making” by strengthening recognition and deepening the understanding  among participants of how young human rights defenders play a key role in widening the role and participation of young people in  public decision-making  as a means to contribute to sustainable peace and development. 

SPEAKERS

Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi-United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth 

Ms.  Ayesha  Munu -Girls’ Rights  Defender  

Mr.  Carlos  Andres-Environmental  Rights  Defender   

Chaeli Mycroft -Ability activist 

Ms. Madeline Wells-Indigenous Peoples Rights Defender  

Peggy  Hicks-  Director  at the UN's

human rights office

DATE AND VENUE

21 November 2016, 13:15 – 14:45, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Room XXIII

ORGANISED BY

Amnesty  International,  CIVICUS,  Defence  for  Children  International,  KidsRights and World Vision

REGISTRATION

If you do not have a UN badge please register for the Forum here and upload a  letter of accreditation  by Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 6 pm, Geneva time in order to access Palais des Nations, once the accreditation is approved.

The  event  will  be livestreamed through  our Facebook  page  and  will  provide the  opportunity for  people who are not in Geneva to engage with the event and send questions. The hashtag  #YoungHRDs  will  also be used on Twitter to gather inputs and solicit questions in the lead up to and during the event.

Background:
The intergovernmental working group was mandated to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.

We remain deeply alarmed by the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation across Syria. The renewed and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian Government and its allies on the besieged areas of Eastern Aleppo have had devastating consequences for its civilian population and the city’s remaining social infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Aleppo, largely deprived of access to potentially life-saving relief.  The attack on a humanitarian convoy last month and the bombing and shelling of hospitals, rescue structures and schools are against the minimal provisions of international humanitarian law and, if done deliberatively, constitute crimes against humanity.

In advance of the start of the 3rd cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in April 2017, CIVICUS has made joint and stand-alone submissions examining the environment for civil society in 11 countries. The submissions specifically highlight a broad range of unwarranted legal and extra-legal restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and the work of human rights defenders. To compliment these narrative reports, CIVICUS and its partners provide an analysis of the State under Review’s level of domestic implementation of recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle in May 2012 and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

Countries examined: Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Tunisia

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project thank the Independent Expert on Somalia for his report. 

As Somalia prepares for its electoral process later this year, we take this opportunity to welcome steps taken by the government to strengthen its human rights framework in preparation for the election.

While recognising this progress, we call on Somali authorities to make a concerted effort to  address undue restrictions on freedom of expression. In particular, we call on Somalia to ensure that government officials’ threats and intimidation of media workers are swiftly and effectively investigated. In June 2016, Puntland Ministry of Information issued a directive restricting journalists from interviewing persons linked to pirates and terrorists, and in an audio recording, the Minister of Information threatened to use force and to kill journalists who violate the order. Although Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the majority of violations committed against media workers, the Government should cease its practice of closing radio stations and arresting journalists deemed critical. 

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

We are concerned that even though the Swaziland government has committed to consider 72 recommendations, there has been no consultation with civil society on the recommendations. We continue to witness violations (e.g. the right to freedom of association, expression and assembly) 

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the final report of the Independent Experts and commends them for their clear analysis of the shocking situation of human rights in Burundi. 

We note that the report concedes that violence against human rights defenders, journalists and ordinary citizens continues unabated and those who are behind the violence act with unacceptable impunity. 

Mr. President, we agree with the findings of the report on the enforced disappearances, abductions, killings, torture, arrests and detentions of those perceived to be opponents of the regime.  Human rights defenders, journalists and ordinary citizens have been killed, others been abducted and taken to unknown locations.  Those fortunate enough to be released alive are tortured before they are released.

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the report of the Independent Expert and recognizes the Council’s continued vigilance in addressing the human rights situation in Sudan.  

The report presented today clearly articulates that the Government has failed to take adequate and swift measures to realize its human rights obligations under international law.

Indicative of the Government’s unwillingness to seriously address persistent human violations is its resistance to launching an independent judicial investigation into the killings, excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests of scores of peaceful protestors in September 2013 in response to oil-subsidies imposed by the State. The codification of impunity for the National Intelligence and Security Services under the 2010 National Security act presents a nearly insurmountable barrier to ensuring accountability for the gross human rights violations committed by security forces in response to the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly.

33rd session of the Human Rights Council
Joint Oral Submission
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and CIVICUS

Next month marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements, which set out a framework for peace in Cambodia based on a multi-party democracy guaranteeing human rights; however, the past year has seen the pillars of Cambodian democracy come under attack.

Despite the Council’s call in October 2015 for the government “to promote a pluralistic and democratic process”, political opposition have systematically been targeted: last October two opposition lawmakers were brutally beaten by members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit; opposition leader Sam Rainsy faces charges for defamation and remains in self-imposed exile; and earlier this month acting opposition leader Kem Sokha was sentenced to five months imprisonment following a criminal investigation widely considered to be politically motivated. 

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS has the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of CIVICUS Youth Action Team and three members organisations of the alliance: Amnesty International, Zimbabwe National Association of Youth Organisations and Young Diplomats of Canada. We thank the Council for organising this important discussion and the panellists for their insightful interventions. 

Mr President, in 2016 CIVICUS reported that the enjoyment of at least one of the three core civic freedoms ― freedom of association, assembly and expression ― was threatened in one hundred and nine countries. Youth-led civil society groups and human rights defenders, routinely at the forefront of rights-based movements, remain particularly susceptible to these unlawful restrictions and draconian persecutions.

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes Hungary’s commitment to engage with the Universal Periodic Review process and takes seriously the recommendations made by states and other stakeholders during the 2nd cycle review.

We urge the Government of Hungary to accept all recommendations made, and draw particular attention to those recommendations related to the recent erosion of respect for fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report on the rights of indigenous peoples and its contribution towards the development of a stronger guiding framework on the relationship between business and human rights. We especially applaud the Special Rapporteur’s thematic analysis of the impact of international investment agreements on the rights of indigenous peoples within the context of achieving greater coherence between international investment law and international human rights standards to safeguard the fulfilment of states’ duties to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.

CIVICUS remains deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Syria and the continued suffering of its people. Yet last week’s cessation of hostilities and the attendant reduction in violence and airstrikes has again engendered hope that humanitarian access will be granted to besieged areas. This cessation of hostilities agreement - the second since February -  is also a rare opportunity to move towards a negotiated political solution to Syria’s devastating conflict. We call on all sides to ensure with utmost political will that this opportunity is not wasted. There is also a pressing need for the voices of Syria citizens and civil society to be heard and fully included in any transitional justice and peace process.

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes this opportunity to address the High Commissioner and the Council on the evolving discussion to develop a more robust guiding framework to protect and promote the right to participate in political and public affairs. We applaud the High Commissioner and Council for facilitating an inclusive process, including the recent expert working group meeting, to enable wide engagement among a diverse range of stakeholders.

We fully endorse the High Commissioner´s caution against populist demagogues in Europe and the United States, who fuel hatred and bigotry against minority groups, refugees and entire religious communities. We applaud his continued attention to the precipitous backsliding on basic public freedoms undermining important human rights gains and democratic consolidation in many regions of the world.

We equally deplore the lack of access given to his Office and Special Procedures to many countries in an attempt to block or evade human rights scrutiny.

Specifically, CIVCUS reiterates the High Commissioner’s deep concern about the grave and escalating violations of human rights in Ethiopia in the context of peaceful protests. We urge the Council to rapidly dispatch an international, independent and transparent investigation into the use of excessive and lethal force against protesters, which has resulted in hundreds of extra-judicial killings and thousands of arrests.

CIVICUS thanks the Special Rapporteur on access to safe drinking water and sanitation for his very innovative report, for looking through the gender lens on the myriad challenges women face in tackling the material and structural determinants of gender inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene which could serve as an entry point to address gender inequality more broadly. We particularly thank him for making the link to participation, not only as a right in itself, but also imperative for fulfilling other rights. We concur that.the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that meet women’s and girls’ needs can be largely attributed to the absence of women’s participation in decision-making and planning.

 

A group of civil society organizations (CSOs) have written to the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to draw the delegation's attention to grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia, including the recent crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. 

They call on the delegation of the 33rd HRC session to prioritise and address through joint and individual statements the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia. 
Read the letter here
 

 

12 international, regional, and Cambodian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), urge the Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution addressing Cambodia's gravely deteriorating human rights situation.

States must implement crucial UN Human Rights Council resolution on civil society space, and cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and of association.

The CSI is committed to engaging with governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the international human rights standards adopted at the HRC are implemented nationally, to enhance the enabling environment for civil society, and to defend that space where it is at risk. 

Read the full statement here

Thank you, Mr. President,

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Burundi.

We note with extreme concern the dire deterioration of the situation, including restrictions on fundamental freedoms and arbitrary arrests and detentions, cruel and inhumane treatment, torture and extrajudicial executions, perpetrated by the armed forces and the Imborenakure.  This -as the report mentions- has created a climate of fear and intimidation, fuelled by high levels of impunity.

Re: Call for your support and solidarity in rejecting amendments to HRC32 draft resolution protecting civil society space (A/HRC/32/L.29)  

Open Letter to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council  29 June 2016  

Your Excellency,  

We, the undersigned 244 civil society organizations, spanning across all regions of the world, call on your delegation to stand in solidarity with civil society by supporting the draft resolution on the protection of civil society space, to be considered for adoption at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council (on 30 June or 1 July).[1] We urge you to cosponsor the draft resolution, reject all amendments, and vote in favour of the resolution if a vote is called.

CIVICUS remains deeply alarmed by both the increase and severity of restrictive laws, policies and practices being used to undermine and enfeeble civil society across the globe. In a report launched this week, CIVICUS has documented serious threats to civil society space in 109 countries in 2015, representing a roughly 15 percent increase over the past year.

This statement is delivered by CIVICUS together with our national partner organization, the Sierra Leone Campaign for Good Governance. We commend Sierra Leone for its global leadership on promoting and protecting civil society and in particular its sponsorship of Human Rights Council Resolution 27/31 on the protection of civil society space.

We further recognise the challenges Sierra Leone faces in rebuilding its democracy and infrastructure since the end of the brutal civil war and most recently the ebola outbreak. We note however that restrictions on fundamental freedoms continue to impede efforts to advance democratic consolidation.

CIVICUS applauds Somalia’s cooperation and engagement with the UPR process. We also take this opportunity to remember the passing of Ambassador Bari Bari and the important contributions he made to the advancement of human rights both within the Council and at home.

While acknowledging the very real and substantial challenges the Government of Somalia faces in consolidating democratic space and creating accountable State institutions inflicted by 20 years of civil war, we also urge the Government and the international community to take concerted measures to realize the important progressive civic space recommendations accepted by Somalia’s during its UPR.

Thank you, Mr. President, 

CIVICUS welcomes Special Procedures’ comprehensive report on Communications with States that brings to light human rights situations on which the Council has remained largely silent. 

We refer to Communications to Ethiopia in December 2015 on the violent repression of peaceful protests organized by students throughout the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In response to the protests, the Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily arrested thousands of people and several hundred people have been summarily killed by the security services while participating in the protests. 

Human Rights Council: 32nd Session

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS welcome this enhanced interactive dialogue with national, regional and international stakeholders on the grave situation in South Sudan.

Mr President, the establishment of a Commission on human rights in South Sudan at the 31st Session of the Council and the appointment of Commissioners last week represent a welcome step towards accountability for the victims of grave human rights violations in Africa’s newest nation. The Commission represents an important opportunity for regional and international cooperation in response to one of the most brutal conflicts happening in the world today.

Human Rights Council: 32nd Session

CIVICUS and Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea welcome the report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Eritrea. 

We remain deeply concerned by the findings presented in the CoI’s report, including those amounting to crimes against humanity, which indicate that there has been no material improvement in human rights situation on the ground. We note with particular alarm that extensive violations of freedom of expression, assembly and association continue unabated. The absolute and violent repression of all forms of dissent and civil society freedoms in Eritrea is emblematic of the extreme consequences of denying people the right to participate in the development of the state.

CIVICUS on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative  welcomes the High Commissioner’s presentation of its landmark report on protecting and promoting civil society space.

We are seriously concerned by the growing implementation gap between states’ international human rights obligations and commitments, including those set out in HRC Resolution 27/31, and national realities facing civil society. CIVICUS has documented serious human rights violations against civil society in 109 countries in 2015. ICNL has documented 153 restrictive legislative initiatives since 2012. This underscores the urgency of an international response to prevent the closing of civic space.

WILPF has the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of 27 CSOs. We applaud the ambitious and complementary thematic priorities proposed by the Special Rapporteur in her first annual report to the Council and we congratulate her in her appointment. 

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s attention to: 1) closing the implementation gap on violence against women under the aegis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and; 2) the use of data as a tool for prevention through the establishment of “femicide watch”.

Joint NGO Oral Statement by Save the Children, CIVICUS and 17 NGOs

A strong, diverse and independent civil society is also a space for children. Children, who constitute more than 30% of the world’s population, have the right to be heard and participate in different spheres of society. Children want to participate in public processes. We need them to speak out to better respond to their situation. Despite this, children’s voices are often marginalized.

To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), write to express our grave concern about the Eritrean Government’s continued and egregious violations of human rights. We urge your delegation to co-sponsor a resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea and supporting the establishment of robust accountability mechanisms to facilitate access to justice to the victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Eritrea during the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC).

As the 32nd Session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opened in Geneva on 13 June, Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain's most high profile human rights defender, was arrested after dozens of police officers raided his home at around 5am and confiscated his electronic devices. The day before, Bahraini human rights defenders and victims of violations were prevented from flying to Geneva.

32nd Session of the Human Rights Council

While religious fundamentalism continues to dominate international headlines and many of the proceedings of the Council, we urge all states to acknowledge how various iterations of fundamentalism undermine the realization of human rights, including the right to assembly and association. While less visceral than religious fundamentalism, market, political, cultural and nationalism forms of fundamentalism, must assume greater prominence within discussions at the Council.

CIVICUS welcomes the High Commissioner’s comprehensive update this morning. We share his myriad concerns and laud his continued support for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society at both the Council and nationally.

Mr. President, six out of seven people live in countries where civil society groups and HRDs face substantial challenges in exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression. Under the guise of safeguarding state sovereignty, combating terrorism and the preservation of morals, governments in both the Global North and South are adopting regressive legislation and engaging in illicit surveillance, deadly forms of harassment and threats to silence voices of dissent.

CIVICUS welcomes this extraordinary panel on the 10th anniversary of the Council and salutes all its Presidents.

Since its establishment, the Council has emerged as a principled leader in supporting and expanding space for civil society both within its corridors and at the national level. In the last year alone it has adopted several landmark resolutions and reports articulating specific protections for human rights defenders, freedom of assembly and civil society space, while vigilantly protecting NGOs’ right to contribute to each of these initiatives. 

Ethiopia statement banner

Dear President, High Representative, Dear Commissioners,

The Prime Minister of  Ethiopia will be visiting Brussels for the 2016 European Development Days. We urge you to express serious concerns about the Ethiopian Government’s violent repression of the Oromo protests, and its escalating crackdown on human rights defenders, independent media, peaceful protesters, and members of the political opposition under the 2009 Ethiopian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Since December 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive, unnecessary and lethal force to disperse and suppress peaceful protests in the Oromia region. The protesters, who have been advocating against the dispossession of land without adequate compensation under the government’s Integrated Development Master Plan, have been subjected to widespread rights violations. According to international and national human rights groups, at least 200 demonstrators, including children and university students, have been killed during the protests. It is also widely reported that hundreds of people have suffered bullet wounds and beatings by the police and military.

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