During the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 29 February – 24 March 2016, CIVICUS and its partners raised a number of pressing country specific and thematic civic space concerns. CIVICUS’ joint and oral statements and advocacy letters provided an important opportunity to urge Members and Observer States of the Council to address persistent and acute restrictions on human rights defenders and civil society. CIVICUS further held a series of joint panel discussions to examine the environment for civil society in several countries and assess emerging global civic space trends.

Oral statements

Annual High-Level Panel on the 2030 Agenda:  Enhancing meaningful participation of CSOs to ensure broad ownership and accountability in the review and monitoring process

Coordinating Committee on UN Special Rapporteurs: Developing greater engagement among UN member states and UN Special Procedure mandate holders.

Eritrea: Notes with extreme concern the Government of Eritrea’s failure to implement recommendations on grave restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms.

Freedom of assembly: Welcomes the Council’s increased attention to the need to protect and promote the right to freedom of assembly 

High-level segment on civil society space:  Raises alarm that civil society activists and organisations are becoming the target of a concerted global campaign to restrict civic space.

Human rights in Burundi:  Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; delivered by Pierre Claver Mbonimpa on behalf of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders, Protection International, and CIVICUS

Interactive dialogue with High Commissioner for Human Rights: Expresses concern over the introduction of a spate of national legislation undermining the rights to freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs.

Joint end of session statement: Reiterating the need to implement decisions made during the 31st Council Session

Rwanda: CIVICUS and DefendDefenders call on the Government of Rwanda to implement UPR recommendations related to civic space

South Sudan: CIVICUS and DefendDefenders urge the Government of South Sudan  to cease restrictios on civil society and ensure accountabilty for widespread human rights violations 

Syria, Egypt, Bahrain: Expresses concern over the severe escalation of civic space restrictions through repressive laws and practices

UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs: Calls on States and all other stakeholders to embrace the core seven principles on promoting and protecting human rights defenders 

Joint panel discussions

Burundi: Ensuring transparent and effective accountability for human rights violations

Democracy, Development and Human Rights: Indicators for SDG16: Ensuring robust civil society participation in the implementation of the SDGs

Ethiopia: Addressing use of excessive force and mass arrests to disperse peaceful protests in the Oromia region

Iraq & Syria: The Human Rights Council’s role in protecting Human Rights Defenders 

Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Ensuring adequate protection of human rights denfders working on economic, social and cultural rights 

Saudi Arabia & Qatar: Addressing civil society restrictions 

Sectoral equity for civil Society: Enhancing sectoral equity among civil society and the business sector

Joint advocacy letters

Ethiopia: Calls on the Council to address on-going crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region 

Human Rights Defenders:  Urges the Council to support the adoption of the resolution on the protection of human rights defenders working to promote economic, social and cultural rights 

Libya: Calls on the Council remain seized of the human rights situation in Libya

Right to protest: Urges States to reject amendments to Human Rights Council resolution on “the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests”

South Sudan: Urges the Council to address lack of accountability for severe, widespread and ongoing violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law  

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