human rights council

 

  • Nicaragua: Resolution adopted at Human Rights Council

    Resolution on Nicaragua adopted at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Nicaragua: The Council must establish an investigation and accountability mechanism at its next Session

    High Commissioner’s intersessional update on Nicaragua

    Delivered by Debora Leao, CIVICUS Monitor Research Officer for the Americas

     

  • Nicaragua: UN must take action as over 100 activists remain in prison

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council delivered by Amaru Ruiz, Fundación del Río

    The crisis in Nicaragua persists and systematic repression of demonstrations has effectively suppressed mobilisations. As a result, the CIVICUS monitor has included Nicaragua on its Watchlist of countries. Human rights defenders, journalists, and political opponents face criminalisation and harassment from security agents and pro-government civilian groups. At the end of 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that there were still more than 100 political prisoners in Nicaragua.

    While hundreds of political prisoners were released in 2019 and 2020, many are still subjected to surveillance, retaliation and re-imprisonment. In recent months there has been an increase in the use of common criminal charges, such as possession of drugs and weapons, to convict those perceived as opponents of the government while denying their status as political prisoners.

    The Nicaraguan authorities have tried to silence the independent press, including by arresting journalists and seeking to curtail their activities. Since late 2020, pro-government lawmakers have stepped up attacks on civil society, enacting a series of laws designed to reduce the space for freedoms of association, assembly and expression. Such laws include the Foreign Agents Law, the Special Law on Cyber ​​Crimes, and an amendment to the country's Penal Code that allows preventive detention without charges for up to 90 days.

    A recent report on freedom of association by Fundación del Rio and Fundación Popolna revealed the process of systematic deterioration of an enabling environment for social organisations, with patterns of lack of access to justice and due process. This situation is leading to the eventual forced closure of several Nicaraguan civil organisations and the departure from the country of international organisations unwilling to submit to the legal framework of criminalisation that has been institutionalised.

    With elections set for later this year, we are seriously concerned that repression will escalate, putting human rights defenders and broader civil society at even greater risk.

    The member states of the Human Rights Council should support a strong resolution calling for greater monitoring by the High Commissioner to promote accountability processes and prevent the situation from deteriorating further as Nicaragua heads toward elections.


     Nicaragua is rated as 'Repressed' by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Nicaragua: Violence and repression continue

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    -Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on Nicaragua
    -Joint statement from CIVICUS & RedLad

    It has been more than a year since the crisis began in Nicaragua, and violence and repression continue unabated. Thousands have been arbitrarily detained and hundreds have been criminalized for exercising their right to peaceful assembly. A recent report, “The Articulation of Social Movements of Nicaragua,” identifies two new phases of political repression during 2019: harassment of activists, restriction of public freedoms and extrajudicial executions.

    CIVICUS and REDLAD welcome the recent release of political prisoners. However, the Amnesty Law under which they were released establishes that no investigation will be carried out to investigate the use of lethal violence by the State to repress the protests, perpetuating impunity for those responsible for these crimes. The report of the Articulation of Social Movements of Nicaragua indicates that there are still 121 political prisoners and prisoners held by the Nicaraguan State.

    Further attacks on civic space are ongoing. Repression of dissenting voices through arrest, shutting down of protests and closing of organisations represent an alarming unwillingness of the government to engage with and listen to those it governs.

    Human rights violations remain widespread in rural and cross-border territories of the country.  The environment for those who live in communities under militarized police forces is particularly dire, resulting in persecution of citizens who participate in protests, sieges by the National Police, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and harassment of authorities of opposition municipalities.

    Like the High Commissioner, we are concerned at the lack of political will to guarantee truth, justice and reparation for the victims of repression and their families. There are no guarantees that the negotiations will be restarted, which were canceled unilaterally by the government, or that the commitments agreed between the parties will be fulfilled.

    In this climate, international scrutiny on Nicaragua remains as crucial now as ever. Nicaragua is falling far short on its responsibility to ensure accountability and justice. We welcome the OHCHR’s continued monitoring and reporting on Nicaragua and call on the Council to establish an independent investigative mechanism as the first step towards accountability for crimes and redress for those affected.

     

  • Niger : Recommandations sur l'espace civique pour l'Examen Périodique Universel des Droits de l'Homme

    CIVICUS présente des contributions conjointes à l'Examen Périodique Universel (EPU) des Nations Unies sur l'espace de la société civile au Niger

    L'Examen Périodique Universel du Conseil des Droits de l'Homme des Nations unies est un processus unique qui consiste à examiner le bilan des 193 États membres des Nations unies en matière de droits de l'homme tous les quatre ans et demi.


    CIVICUS, le Réseau ouest-africain des défenseurs des droits humains et le Réseau nigérien des défenseurs des droits humains mettent en évidence le niveau de mise en œuvre des recommandations reçues par le Niger lors de son précédent examen en 2016. Malgré les garanties constitutionnelles sur la liberté de réunion pacifique, d'expression et d'association, le gouvernement nigérien a pris pour cible les défenseurs des droits humains et les a soumis à des arrestations arbitraires et à des persécutions judiciaires. Les rassemblements pacifiques sont réprimés et les manifestations prévues sont interdites, tandis que des journalistes sont détenus pour avoir fait des reportages sur des questions touchant l'État. Des lois restrictives comme la loi de 2019 sur les cybercrimes sont utilisées pour poursuivre les représentants de la société civile.

    Lire l'intégralité des recommandations
    https://www.civicus.org/documents/NigerUPRSubmission.FR.2020.pdf 

     

  • Nigeria: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review Report

     

    UN Human Rights Council – 40th Session
    15 March 2019
    Oral Statement

    The Nigeria Network of NGOs and CIVICUS welcome the Government of Nigeria’s engagement in the 3rd cycle of the UPR process, including accepting a range of recommendations presented by the UPR Working Group in November 2018.

    We note that since the 2nd UPR review, the government has worked towards strengthening security operations through retraining law enforcement personnel in interrogation. However, we urge Nigeria to put effective measures in place to curb police brutality through a comprehensive reform of the police force.

    It is disappointing to note that despite the continued harassment of the press and of civil society organisations, the national report of Nigeria barely addressed the issue of restrictions on civic space. Arrests, detentions and harassment of human rights defenders continues. Maryam Awaisu, one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, was arrested in her office in February 2019. In January, the Abuja and regional offices of the Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspapers, were raided by soldiers. The paper’s regional editor and a reporter were arrested and later released.

    Although the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Bill was rejected, we note with concern a new bill that is before the Senate, the Establishment of the Federal Charities Commission of Nigeria, which seeks to regulate the activities of NGOs. We urge Nigeria not to adopt laws that would further undermine civic space.

    We call on the Nigerian government to consider the 12 recommendations made by delegates relating to civic space and the operations of security personnel whilst fully implementing the eight accepted recommendations from the previous review relating to the protection of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists.


    Civic space in Nigeria is rated as Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our joint submission on Nigeria for the UN Universal Periodic Review 

     

  • No country is above scrutiny -- resolution needed for human rights emergency in USA

    Statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Like so many, we have watched with horror as protesters seeking justice and equality in the US have been met with state-sanctioned violence and their attackers with impunity. Journalists, protest monitors and medical teams alike have been deliberately targeted by law enforcement officials.

    We are inspired by worldwide solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests to end systemic racism, and by the changes that the protests have already brought about. Laws have been introduced at the local level. Overdue conversations have begun. But piecemeal modifications are no substitute for systemic change.

    Protests worldwide are routinely brutally suppressed, and accountability for violence by law enforcement is rare. This is not unique to the US; nor is systemic racism. But racism and white supremacy are entrenched in the country. Similarly entrenched issues of police violence, impunity and militarization impact harmfully and disproportionately the Black community in the US.

    The Human Rights Council has a role to play in addressing both the systemic racism that plagues our institutions, as well as its implications – from over-policed communities, to violence meted out on peaceful protesters, to murder with impunity.

    The credibility of the council is at stake. It must show that human rights are universal and no country is above scrutiny for grave human rights violations.

    CIVICUS supports a resolution mandating an independent investigation into systemic racism in the US, and into excessive use of force against peaceful protests in US cities since the murder of George Floyd. These measures would bring accountability, justice and equality one small but necessary step closer. As we heard with such power yesterday, individuals, their loved ones, and whole communities have been failed by the national institutions that are supposed to protect them. The international community must step up.


    Civic space in the United States is currently rated as Narrowed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • No safety of journalists in the digital age if impunity persists

    Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council


     Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

    Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

    Thank you Mr President,

    We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur and share the concerns over the increasing vilification, targeting and criminalisation of journalists and media workers.

    Journalists play a critical role in reporting on violations of fundamental rights, and the ability of journalists to work safely and without fear is a critical component of civic space.

    In Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan, journalists have been attacked and arrested while reporting on protests. In Kenya and Mexico, attacks against journalists have continued unabated, with impunity. In Hungary, political interference by the government has significantly undermined media freedom. All five countries, along with Chad, are currently on CIVICUS’s Watchlist for their serious, and rapid decline in respect for civic space.

    The digital age has reinforced these existing threats and created new ones to the safety of journalists.

    “Fake news’’ laws are used to target journalists and media workers not in line with governments’ official positions. In Russia, journalists can face criminal penalties of up to 15 years in prison for disseminating allegedly ‘false information’ about Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

    Digital surveillance is increasingly used to monitor journalists. In India, the Pegasus Spyware has been employed to target at least 300 journalists, diplomats, and activists. Biometric technologies are utilised to identify and target protesters and journalists covering protests.

    Given that the digital age has brought further menaces to the safety of journalists and a chilling effect on freedom of expression, we ask the Special Rapporteur what States should do to end impunity for human rights violations against journalists and media workers?

     We thank you.

     

  • Now is the time for greater transparency and broader participation

    Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue onthe High Commissioner’s Annual Report

    Delivered byLisa Majumdar

    We thank the High Commissioner for her report, and for her work during her term.

    We fully agree that these are times for greater – not less - transparency and broader space for civic engagement and participation. Too many States are falling short in these respects.

    We see this in China, where civic space is closed and space for dissent is all but non-existent. Activists have been detained and indicted for speaking up, and thousands have been detained in legalised form of enforced disappearance.

    In Russia, a systematic dismantling of dissent has created an internal environment in which aggression can thrive. It has become all too clear that repression does not engender security, but rather its opposite.

    In these situations, it is even more important that the international human rights institutions, including this Council and your office, steps up in support. No country can be above effective scrutiny, regardless of the geopolitical power they wield.

    We stress again that civil society restrictions can and should be seen as early warnings for further deterioration in human rights protections. We look particularly at India, where increasing restrictions threaten the ability of civil society to carry out its work and where authorities continue to suppress peaceful protests.

    With a focus this session on the rights that protect civic space, we call on States to speak out on country situations where patterns of restrictions are evident, and to use this session to take action on the most egregious of these.

    We ask the High Commissioner, as your term draws to a close – what action should be taken by the Council and its members in these cases of systematic repression of civil society?


    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

  • Oman: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Statement at the 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    CIVICUS, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) welcome the participation of Oman in the UPR process. In our UPR submission, we noted that since its last review, Oman has not implemented or taken any concrete steps to implement most of the recommendations relating to civic space since 2015.

    The Omani authorities continue to use restrictive legislation, including the Press and Publications Law and the Telecommunications Act to stifle freedom of expression and online freedoms and to target journalists, bloggers and online activists. In addition, the Omani authorities routinely suspend the social media accounts of activists and ban other internet platforms that facilitate communication.

    These laws are also used to ban publications and restrict travel for human rights defenders. In addition, the Penal Code (2018) has broad provisions which are used to restrict freedom of expression and criminalize criticism of the Sultan and impose harsh prison terms to those deemed to publish information that may harm the prestige of the state.

    Human rights defenders continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial persecution for raising concerns over human rights violations or for questioning decisions made by the Sultanate. Environmental rights defenders continue to be targeted for their peaceful advocacy. In March 2021 for example Ahmed Issa Qatan was sentenced to six months in prison for his peaceful campaigns protecting the environment.

    Madame President, CIVICUS, GCHR and OAHR call on the Government of Oman to take proactive measures to address these concerns and implement recommendations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, an enabling environment for civil society.


    Civic space in Oman is rated is Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Open Letter to UN member states: Urgent action needed on Myanmar

    To:Member and Observer states of the UN Human Rights Council
    Subject:Urgent action needed on Myanmar

    Dear Excellencies

    We write to you regarding the deeply concerning situation in Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State. Reports estimate that more than 270,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh following the outbreak of violence two weeks ago, and this figure is expected to significantly increase. Thousands of non-Muslim residents have also been internally displaced. Reports have also emerged of entire villages being burnt and hundreds killed. On 31 August, three UN Special Rapporteurs expressed concern citing credible reports of death to villagers resulting from security force attacks, and the use of helicopters and rocket propelled grenades on the population. On 5 September, speaking to reporters, the UN Secretary General warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing. Access to northern Rakhine State has been denied to independent observers and humanitarian aid agencies while media has been tightly controlled – leaving the territory under a virtual information blackout and exacerbating a humanitarian catastrophe. We call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently act – by passing a resolution on Myanmar calling for an end to abuses against the population and ensuring immediate humanitarian access.

    The UN Human Rights Council established a Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) at its 34th session in March this year, following reports of alarming human rights violations in Rakhine State beginning in October last year. In February 2017, a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and statements by the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar referred to reports of egregious violations targeting the Rohingya minority at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – including the deliberate killing of children, the burning of homes with people inside them, rape, and sexual violence. The OHCHR report concluded that reports indicate the very likely commission of crimes against humanity. Military operations conducted during this period bear a close semblance to current operations which involve mass exodus of Rohingya fleeing violence, multiple reports of civilian deaths, and egregious violations under an information blackout, without independent access to observers or journalists.

    The current bout of violence began following reports of coordinated attacks on police posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed militant organisation, on 25 August – after which the Myanmar military launched a massive response. Weeks before the current outbreak of violence, on 11 August, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar expressed concern on increasing military build-up in Rakhine State. The violence broke out immediately following the release of a report by an international commission headed by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which called for reforms to address wide-ranging forms of discrimination faced by the Rohingya community. On 29 August, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cautioned all sides on fuelling further violence and called on the government leadership to condemn the inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to hatred that is proliferating. He further expressed concerns on unsupported government allegations that international aid organizations were complicit in or supporting attacks, as this places aid workers in danger and may make it impossible for them to deliver essential aid.

    Myanmar has so far failed to restore full humanitarian access following the preceding period of violence that began in October 2016. The Myanmar government has hitherto been reluctant to cooperate with the FFM and has denied allegations relating to violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law. The government has also refused to reform discriminatory laws that affect the Rohingya community and deny them full citizenship rights, leaving the community in a vulnerable situation.

    It is imperative for the UN Human Rights Council to urgently address the escalating situation in Myanmar through a resolution at the upcoming 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The establishment of the FFM was considerably delayed for technical reasons. The lack of access to the country by independent investigators as well as the current outbreak of violence have further increased the magnitude of the body's work ahead of its March 2018 reporting deadline. In this context, the Council should pass a resolution on Myanmar which:

    1. Extends the time available for the FFM beyond March;
    2. Makes provision for the FFM to provide a preliminary report to the UN General Assembly in September 2017 and a final report to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in 2018;
    3. Calls on Myanmar to urgently grant full access to the FFM;
    4. Emphasises the responsibility of Myanmar to prevent and seek accountability for any retaliation or reprisal against individuals for engaging with the FFM;
    5. Expresses grave concern over recent allegations of violations and calls for an immediate end to attacks on the civilian population; and
    6. Urges full access for humanitarian aid and independent observers.

    Please accept the assurance of our highest consideration.

    1. ALTSEAN-Burma (Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma)
    2. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
    3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    4. Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC)
    5. Awaz Foundation Pakistan - Centre for Development Services (AwazCDS-Pakistan)
    6. Burma Campaign UK
    7. Bytes for All, Pakistan (B4A)
    8. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    9. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
    10. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Civil Rights Defenders
    13. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (kontraS)
    14. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    15. Conectas Direitos Humanos
    16. Defend Defenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    17. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
    18. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
    19. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    20. Human Rights Watch
    21. Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
    22. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
    23. Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
    24. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    25. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP)
    26. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
    27. Madaripur Legal Aid Association
    28. National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan
    29. Odhikar
    30. Partnership for Justice
    31. People's Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
    32. People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)
    33. PILIPINA Legal Resources Center (PLRC)
    34. Pusat KOMAS
    35. Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit
    36. Safeguard Defenders
    37. South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM)
    38. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
    39. Think Centre
    40. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

     

  • Outcomes & Reflections from 39th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    This session, the Council adopted landmark resolutions on several country situations, further enhancing its contribution to the protection of human rights. 

    On Myanmar, we welcome the creation of the independent investigative mechanism, which is an important step towards accountability for the horrific crimes committed in Myanmar, as elaborated in the Fact Finding Mission’s report to this session. The overwhelming support for the resolution, notwithstanding China’s shameful blocking of consensus, was a clear message to victims and survivors that the international community stands with them in their fight for justice. 

    On Yemen, the Council demonstrated that principled action is possible, and has sent a strong message to victims of human rights violations in Yemen that accountability is a priority for the international community, by voting in favor of renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts to continue international investigations into violations committed by all parties to the conflict. 

    Furthermore, we welcome the leadership by a group of States on the landmark resolution on Venezuela, and consider it as an important step for the Council applying objective criteria to address country situations that warrant its attention. The resolution, adopted with support from all regions, sends a strong message of support to the Venezuelan people. By opening up a space for dialogue at the Council, the resolution brings scrutiny to the tragic human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.  

    While we welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi, to continue its critical investigation and work towards accountability, we regret, however, that the Council failed to respond more strongly to Burundi's record of non-cooperation and attacks against the UN human rights system. 

    We also welcome the Council’s adoption of the resolution on Syria, which among other things condemns all violations and abuses of international human rights law and all violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict.

    However, on other country situations including China, Sudan, Cambodia and the Philippines, the Council failed to take appropriate action. 

    On Sudan, we are deeply concerned about the weak resolution that envisions an end to the Independent Expert’s mandate once an OHCHR office is set up; a "deal" Sudan has already indicated it does not feel bound by, and which is an abdication of the Council’s responsibility to human rights victims in Sudan while grave violations are ongoing. At a minimum, States should ensure the planned country office monitors and publicly reports on the human rights situation across Sudan, and that the High Commissioner is mandated to report to the Council on the Office’s findings.  

    We also regret the lack of concerted Council action on the Philippines, in spite of the need to establish independent international and national investigations into extrajudicial killings in the government's 'war on drugs', and to monitor and respond to the government's moves toward authoritarianism. 

    In addition, we regret the Council’s weak response to the deepening human rights and the rule of law crisis in Cambodia, failing to change its approach even when faced with clear findings by the Special Rapporteur demonstrating that the exclusive focus on technical assistance and capacity building in the country, is failing.

    We share the concerns that many raised during the session, including the High Commissioner, about China’s human rights record, specifically noting serious violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. It is regrettable that States did not make a concrete and collective call for action by China to cease the internment of estimates ranging up to 1 million individuals from these communities. 

    On thematic resolutions, we welcome the adoption of the resolution on equal participation in political and public affairs but would have preferred a stronger endorsement and implementation of the guidelines.

    The resolution on safety of journalists, adopted by consensus, sets out a clear roadmap of practical actions to end impunity for attacks. Journalism is not a crime - yet too many States in this room simply imprison those that criticize them. This must end, starting with the implementation of this resolution. 

    We welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights in humanitarian settings. Women and girls affected by conflict have been denied accountability for too long. The implementation of this resolution will ensure that their rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, are respected, protected and fulfilled. 

    Finally, the Council’s first interactive dialogue on acts of reprisals and intimidation was an important step to ensure accountability for this shameful practice, and we urge more States to have the courage and conviction to stand up for human rights defenders and call out countries that attack and intimidate them.

    Signatories:
    The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    Amnesty International 
    Article 19
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    CIVICUS
    DefendDefenders
    FIDH
    Forum Asia 
    Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
    Human Rights Watch 
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    Joint statement at the end of the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    By renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), the Council has sent a clear message that violence and discrimination against people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot be tolerated. It reaffirmed that specific, sustained and systematic attention is needed to address these human rights violations and ensure that LGBT people can live a life of dignity. We welcome the Core Group's commitment to engage in dialogue with all States, resulting in over 50 original co-sponsors across all regions. However, we regret that some States have again attempted to prevent the Council from addressing discrimination and violence on the basis of SOGI.

    This Council session also sent a clear message that Council membership comes with scrutiny by addressing the situations of Eritrea, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This shows the potential the Council has to leverage its membership to become more effective and responsive to rights holders and victims. 

    The Council did the right thing by extending its monitoring of the situation in Eritrea. The onus is on the Eritrean Government to cooperate with Council mechanisms, including the Special Rapporteur, in line with its membership obligations. 

    We welcome the first Council resolution on the Philippinesas an important first step towards justice and accountability. We urge the Council to closely follow this situation and be ready to follow up with additional action, if the situation does not improve or deteriorates further. We deeply regret that such a resolution was necessary, due to the continuation of serious violations and repeated refusal of the Philippines – despite its membership of the Council– to cooperate with existing mechanisms. 

    We deplore that the Philippines and Eritrea sought to use their seats in this Council to seek to shield themselves from scrutiny, and those States who stood with the authorities and perpetrators who continue to commit grave violations with impunity, rather than with the victims.

    We welcome the written statement by 22 States on Chinaexpressing collective concern over widespread surveillance, restrictions to freedoms of religion and movement, and large-scale arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We consider it as a first step towards sustained Council attention and in the absence of progress look to those governments that have signed this letter to follow up at the September session with a resolution calling for China to allow access to the region to independent human rights experts and to end country-wide the arbitrary detention of individuals based on their religious beliefs or political opinions.

    We welcome the progress made in resolutions on the rights of women and girls: violence against women and girls in the world of work, on discrimination against women and girls and on the consequences of child, early and forced marriage. We particularly welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls under its new name and mandate to focus on the intersections of gender and age and their impact on girls. The Council showed that it was willing to stand up to the global backlash against the rights of women and girls by ensuring that these resolutions reflect the current international legal framework and resisted cultural relativism, despite several amendments put forward to try and weaken the strong content of these resolutions. 

    However, in the text on the contribution of developmentto the enjoyment of all human rights, long standing consensus language from the Vienna Declaration for Programme of Action (VDPA) recognising that, at the same time, “the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights” has again been deliberately excluded, disturbing the careful balance established and maintained for several decades on this issue. 

    We welcome the continuous engagement of the Council in addressing the threat posed by climate changeto human rights, through its annual resolution and the panel discussion on women’s rights and climate change at this session. We call on the Council to continue to strengthen its work on this issue, given its increasing urgency for the protection of all human rights.

    The Council has missed an opportunity on Sudanwhere it could have supported regional efforts and ensured that human rights are not sidelined in the process. We now look to African leadership to ensure that human rights are upheld in the transition. The Council should stand ready to act, including through setting up a full-fledged inquiry into all instances of violence against peaceful protesters and civilians across the country. 

    During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions, States heard loud and clear that the time to hold Saudi Arabia accountable is now for the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. We recall that women human rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily detained despite the calls by 36 States at the March session. We urge States to adopt a resolution at the September session to establish a monitoring mechanism over the human rights situation in the country. 

    We welcome the landmark report of the High Commissioner on the situation for human rights in Venezuela; in response to the grave findings in the report and the absence of any fundamental improvement of the situation in the meantime, we urge the Council to adopt a Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism in September, to reinforce the ongoing efforts of the High Commissioner and other actors to address the situation.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate on freedom of peaceful assembly and association. This mandate is at the core of our work as civil society and we trust that the mandate will continue to protect and promote these fundamental freedoms towards a more open civic space.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus. We acknowledge some positive signs of re-engagement in dialogue by Belarus, and an attempted negotiation process with the EU on a potential Item 10 resolution. However, in the absence of systemic human rights reforms in Belarus, the mandate and resolution process remains an essential tool for Belarusian civil society. In addition, there are fears of a spike in violations around upcoming elections and we are pleased that the resolution highlights the need for Belarus to provide safeguards against such an increase.

    We welcome the renewal of the quarterly reporting process on the human rights situation in Ukraine. However, we also urge States to think creatively about how best to use this regular mechanism on Ukraine to make better progress on the human rights situation.

    The continued delay in the release of the UN databaseof businesses engaged with Israeli settlements established pursuant to Council resolution 31/36 in March 2016 is of deep concern.  We join others including Tunisia speaking on behalf of 65 states and Peru speaking on behalf of 26 States in calling on the High Commissioner to urgently and fully fulfil this mandate as a matter of urgency and on all States to cooperate with all Council mandates, including this one, and without political interference.

    Numerous States and stakeholders highlighted the importance of the OHCHR report on Kashmir; while its release only a few days ago meant it did not receive substantive consideration at the present session, we look forward to discussing it in depth at the September session. 

    Finally, we welcome the principled leadership shown by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, in pursuing accountability for individual victims of acts of intimidation and reprisalsunder General Debate Item 5, contrasting with other States which tend to make only general statements of concern. We call on States to raise all individual cases at the interactive dialogue on reprisals and intimidation in the September session. 

    Signatories:

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    3. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    5. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    7. Center for Reproductive Rights 
    8. ARTICLE 19
    9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    10. Human Rights House Foundation 
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Franciscans International 
    13. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    14. Amnesty International
    15. Human Rights Watch
    16. International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) 

     

  • Outcomes & reflections from UN Human Rights Council

    38th Session of the Human Rights Council
    End of Session Joint Civil Society Statement

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolutions on civil society space, peaceful protest, on violence against women and girls and on discrimination against women and girls and the Council’s rejection of attempts to impede progress on protecting civil society space, peaceful protest and the rights to sexual and reproductive health.

    On civil society space, the resolution recognizes the essential contribution that civil society makes to international and regional organisations and provides guidance to States and organisations on improving their engagement with civil society.  On peaceful protest, it sets out in greater detail how international law and standards protect rights related to protests. 

    On violence against women and on discrimination against women, we consider that ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights are vital in efforts to combat violence and discrimination against women, online and offline, as well as to ensure targeted and specific remedies to victims. We appreciate that the work of women human rights defenders towards this is recognised. 

    We consider the adoption of the resolution on the contribution of the Council to the prevention of human rights violations as an important opportunity to advance substantive consideration on strengthening the Council’s ability to deliver on its prevention mandate.

    Following challenging negotiations, we welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on human rights and the Internet, reaffirming that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, and calling on States to tackle digital divides between and within countries, emphasising the importance of tools for anonymity and encryption for the enjoyment of human rights online, in particular for journalists, and condemning once more all measures that prevent or disrupt access to information online.

    We welcome continued Council attention to Eritrea's abysmal human rights record. This year's resolution, while streamlined, extends expert monitoring of, and reporting on, the country and outlines a way forward for both engagement and human rights reform. We urge Eritrea to engage in long-overdue meaningful cooperation. 

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus under item 4 with an increased vote - as it is still the only independent international mechanism to effectively monitor human rights violations in Belarus - while remaining concerned over a narrative to shift the mandate to item 10 in the absence of any systemic change in Belarus. 

    We welcome the consensus resolution on the Democratic Republic of Congo, putting in place continued monitoring and follow up on the expert’s recommendations on the Kasais. However, given violations and abuses throughout several regions in the country, occurring against the backdrop of an ongoing political crisis, delayed elections, and the brutal quashing of dissent, we urge the Council to promptly move towards putting in place a country-wide mechanism that can respond to events on the ground as they emerge.

    We welcome the strong resolution on Syria, which condemns violations and abuses by all parties, and appropriately addresses concerns raised by the COI about the use of chemical weapons, sexual and gender-based violence, and the need to address situations of detainees and disappearances. The Council cannot stay silent in the face of continued atrocities as the conflict continues unabated into its seventh year.

    We welcome the joint statements delivered this session on Cambodia, the Philippines,and Venezuela. We urge Council members and observes to work towards increased collective action to urgently address the dire human rights situations in these countries.  

    On the Philippines, we emphasise that the Council should establish an independent international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the ‘war on drugs’ and mandate the OHCHR to report on the human rights situation and on moves toward authoritarianism.  

    The joint statement on Cambodia represents a glimmer of hope after the Council's failure to take meaningful action against clear sabotage of democratic space ahead of elections. Close scrutiny of the human rights situation before, during and after the elections is paramount and the Council must take immediate action on current and future human rights violations in this regard.

    We welcome the joint statement delivered by Luxembourg  calling on the HRC President to provide short oral updates on cases of alleged intimidation or reprisal, including actions taken, at the start of the Item 5 general debate of each Council session and also provide States concerned with the opportunity to respond.

    Finally, the new Council member to replace the United States should demonstrate a principled commitment to human rights, to multilateralism and to addressing country situations of concern by applying objective criteria. 

    Joint Statement by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Association for Progressive Communications, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 

     

  • Outcomes and reflections from the UN Human Rights Council

    The 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council sat from 22 February - 24 March, 2021 and there were a number of critical human rights resolutions up for debate and for the 47 Council members to address. An overview of outcomes and civil society participation in our joint end of session statement with 14 other organisations:

    Civil society participation

    We welcome some important advances such as the possibility for NGOs to make video statements, which should be maintained and expanded after the pandemic for all discussions, including in general debates. We object to the removal of access details for online informal negotiations from Sched without explanation or justification, effectively restricting CSO access to negotiations and favoring CSOs based in Geneva or with existing contacts with diplomats. In addition, the lack of webcast archives in all UN languages, and the lack of accessibility measures such as closed captions and sign language interpretation for most HRC discussions all impede participation, accountability for States’ positions and commitments, and ultimately for the Council’s work. We are concerned by the renewal for another year of the ‘efficiency’ measures piloted in 2020, despite their negative impact on civil society participation in a year also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge States to reinstate general debates in the June sessions, to preserve their open-ended nature, and maintain the option of video intervention also in general debates.

    Environmental justice

    It’s high time the Council responds to calls by States and civil society to recognize the right of all to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and establish a new mandate for a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

    We welcome the joint statement calling for the recognition of the right of all to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment that was delivered by the Maldives, on behalf of Costa Rica, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland and supported by 55 States. We call on all States to seize this historic opportunity to support the core-group as they continue to work towards UN recognition so that everyone in the world, wherever they live, and without discrimination, has the right to live in a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

    We welcome the joint statement that was delivered by Bangladesh, on behalf of 55 States, calling the Council to create a new Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change. We believe this new mandate would be essential to supporting a stronger human rights-based approach to climate change, engaging in country visits, normative work and capacity-building, and further addressing the human rights impacts of climate responses, in order to support the most vulnerable. This mandate should be established without further delay.

    Racial Justice

    Over 150 States jointly welcomed that the implementation of HRC Resolution 43/1 will center victims and their families. We urge the Council to respond to the High Commissioner’s call to address root causes of racism including the “legacies of enslavement, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, and its context of colonialism”. The Council must answer to the demands of victims’ families and civil society’s, and establish - at its next session - an independent inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States and a thematic commission of inquiry to investigate systemic racism in law enforcement globally, especially where it is related to legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery.

    Right to health

    The resolution on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely, and universal access by all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a welcome move in highlighting the need for States not to have export and other restrictions on access to safe diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines, and vaccines, and essential health technologies, and their components, as well as equipment and encouraged States to use all flexibilities within TRIPs. However, a revised version of the resolution tabled was further weakened by the deletion of one paragraph on stockpiling of vaccines and the reference to ‘unequal allocation and distribution among countries”. The specific deletion highlights the collusion between rich States and big pharmaceuticals, their investment in furthering monopolistic intellectual property regimes resulting in grave human rights violations. The reluctance of States, predominantly WEOG States who continue to defend intellectual property regimes and States’ refusal to hold business enterprises accountable to human rights standards is very concerning during this Global crisis.

    Attempts to undermine HRC mandate

    We regret that once again this Council has adopted a resolution, purportedly advancing ‘mutual beneficial cooperation’ which seeks to undermine and reinterpret both the principle of universality and its mandate. Technical assistance, dialogue and cooperation must be pursued with the goal of promoting and protecting human rights, not as an end in itself or as a means of facilitating inter-State relations. We reiterate our call on all States, and especially Council members, to consider country situations in an independent manner, based on objective human rights criteria supported by credible UN and civil society information. This is an essential part of the Council’s work; reliance on cooperation alone hobbles the Council’s ability to act to support the defenders and communities that look to it for justice.

    Country-specific resolutions

    We welcome the new mandate for the High Commissioner focused on the human rights situation in Belarus in the context of the 2020 Presidential election. It is now essential for States to support the High Commissioner’s office, ensuring the resources and expertise are made available so that the mandate can be operationalised as quickly as possible. We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran, and we urge Council to consider further action to hold Iranian authorities accountable, in view of the systematic impunity and lack of transparency surrounding violations of human rights in the country.

    We welcome the call for additional resources for the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, increased reporting by OHCHR as well as the work of the IIMM. Lack of international monitoring on, the imposition of martial law in Myanmar to prosecute civilians, including protesters, before military courts, the dangerous escalation of violence by the Tatmadaw and the widespread human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity demand more efforts to ensure accountability.

    We welcome the renewal and strengthening of the OHCHR’s monitoring and reporting mandate on Nicaragua, in a context of steady human rights deterioration marked by the Government’s refusal to cooperate constructively with the Office, over two years after its expulsion from the country. The adopted resolution lays out steps that Nicaragua should take to resume good faith cooperation and improve the situation ahead of this year’s national elections. It is also vital that this Council and its members continue to closely follow the situation in Nicaragua, and live up to the resolution’s commitments, by considering all available measures should the situation deteriorate by next year.

    We welcome the increased monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka. However, in light of the High Commissioner’s report on the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation and Sri Lanka’s incapacity and unwillingness to pursue accountability for crimes under international law, the Council should have urged States to seek other avenues to advance accountability, including through extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.

    While we welcome the extension of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS), we regret the adoption of a competing resolution under the inadequate agenda item 10. This resolution sends a wrong signal as myriads of local-level conflicts and ongoing SGBV and other violations of fundamental rights continue to threaten the country’s stability. We urge South Sudan  to continue cooperating with the CHRSS and to demonstrate concrete progress on key benchmarks and indicators. On Syria, We welcome the report by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria on arbitrary imprisonment and detention and reiterate the recommendation to establish an independent mechanism “to locate the missing or their remains”, and call on States to ensure the meaningful participation of victims and adopt a victim-centered approach, including by taking into consideration the Truth and Justice Charter of Syrian associations of survivors and families of disappeared when addressing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.

    Country-specific State statements

    We welcome States’ leadership and statements on human rights situations that merit the HRC’s attention.

    We welcome the joint statement on the situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region and urge all actors, including the Ethiopian Federal Government, to protect civilians and ensure unhindered humanitarian access. Those responsible for crimes under international law, including Ethiopian soldiers, members of armed militias and non-State groups, and Eritrean soldiers involved in Tigray, must be held criminally accountable. The HRC should mandate an independent investigation and reporting by the High Commissioner.

    For the first time in seven years, States at the HRC have united to condemn the widespread human rights violations by Egypt and its misuse of coutner-terrorism measures to imprison human rights defenders, LGBTI persons, journalists, politicians and lawyers and peaceful critics. We welcome the cross-regional joint statement by 32 States and we reiterate our call supported by over 100 NGOs from across the world on the HRC to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the situation.

    We welcome the joint statement by 45 States focused on the human rights situation in Russia, including the imprisonment of Alexi Navalny and the large number of arbitrary arrests of protestors across Russia. The statement rightly expresses concern for shrinking civil society space in Russia through recent legislative amendments and Russia using its “tools of State” to attack independent media and civil society. In the context of mounting international recognition that Israel imposes an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, we welcome Namibia’s call for the "restoration of the UN Special Committee on Apartheid in order to ensure the implementation of the Apartheid Convention to the Palestinian situation."

    Human rights situations that merits the HRC’s attention

    The next session will receive a report on pushbacks from the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants. The Council must respond to the severity and scale of pushbacks and other human rights violations faced by migrants and refugees in transit and at borders and the ongoing suppression of solidarity, including by answering the High Commissioner’s call for independent monitoring. The Council’s silence feeds impunity, it must build on the momentum of the joint statement of over 90 States reaffirming their commitment to protection of the human rights of all migrants regardless of status. While the OHCHR expressed deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation and the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Algeria, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of arbitrarily detained individuals, the Council has remained largely silent. As authorities are increasingly arbitrarily and violently arresting protesters - at least 1,500 since the resumption of the Hirak pro-democracy movement on 13 February, we call on the Council to address the criminalisation of public freedoms, to protect peaceful protestors, activists and the media.

    Cameroon is one of the human rights crises the Council has failed to address for too long. We condemn the acts of intimidation and reprisal exercised by the Cameroonian government in response to NGOs raising concerns, including DefendDefenders. This is unacceptable behavior by a Council member. The Council should consider collective action to address the gross human rights violations and abuses occurring in the country.

    We echo the calls of many governments for the Council to step up its meaningful action to ensure that concerns raised by civil society, the UN Special Procedures and the OHCHR about the human rights situation in China be properly addressed, including through an independent international investigation. We also regret that a number of States have taken an unprincipled approach of voicing support to actions, such as those by the Chinese government, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, through their national and other joint statements.

    We call for the Council’s attention on the rapid deterioration of human rights in India. Violent crackdowns on recent farmers’ protests, internet shutdowns in protest areas, sedition and criminal charges against journalists reporting on these protests, and criminalisation of human rights defenders signal an ongoing dangerous trend in restrictions of fundamental freedoms in India. We call on India to ensure fundamental freedoms and allow journalists, HRDs and civil society to continue their legitimate work without intimidation and fear of reprisals.

    We once again regret the lack of Council’s attention on the human rights crisis in Kashmir. Fundamental freedoms in the Indian-administered Kashmir remains severely curtailed since the revocation of the constitutional autonomy in August 2019. Raids in October and November 2020 on residences and offices of human rights defenders and civil society organisations by India’s anti-terrorism authorities in a clear attempt at intimidation have further exacerbated the ongoing crisis. Also on India and Pakistan, we call on the OHCHR to continue to monitor and regularly report to the Council on the situation in both Indian and Pakistani administered Kashmir, and on Indian and Pakistani authorities to give the OHCHR and independent observers unfettered access to the region.

    Nearly six months since its adoption, the Council Resolution 45/33 on technical assistance to the Philippines has proven utterly insufficient to address the widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity. Killings in the war on drugs continue, and attacks on human rights defenders and activists have escalated. The killing of nine unarmed activists on 7 March 2021 clearly demonstrates that no amount of technical assistance will end the killings as long as the President and senior officials continue to incite violence and killings as official State policy. It is imperative that the Council sets up an international accountability mechanism to end the cycle of violence and impunity in the Philippines.


    The statement is endorsed by: International Service for Human Rights; Franciscans International; Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); International Commission of Jurists (ICJ); International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA); African Centre For Democracy And Human Rights Studies; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH); MENA Rights Group; International Lesbian and Gay Association; Impact Iran; Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM); Siamak Pourzand Foundation; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS); ARTICLE 19; CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.


    Current council members:

    Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, BrazilBulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Côte d'Ivoire, CubaCzech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, FranceIndia, Gabon, GermanyIndonesia, Italy, JapanLibya, MalawiMarshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands,  PakistanPhilippinesPolandRepublic of Korea, RussiaSenegal, SomaliaSudan, Togo, UkraineUnited KingdomUruguay, UzbekistanVenezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

     

  • Outcomes from the UN Human Rights Council: Progress & Shortcomings

    Joint statement from the end of the United Nations' 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council


    14 organisations share reflections on the key outcomes of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues and situations including on deadly migration routes at EU and US borders, and the human rights situations in Algeria, Bolivia, China, Egypt, and India. A shortened version was delivered at the Council, which can be watched in the following video:

     

    Full written version below, which also highlights countries in question with the country's civic space rating according to the CIVICUS Monitor: open narrowed obstructed repressed closed-see footnotes for full description

    Thematic issues and resolutions

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on the protection, promotion and respect of women’s and girls’ rights in humanitarian situations, and particularly command the core group for this new initiative that seeks to bridge accountability gaps faced by women and girls in humanitarian situations. Adoption by consensus of this resolution emphasizes the timeliness and importance of this new initiative and paves the way for greater accountability for women and girls in these settings and for approaches that centers their agency and meaningful participation.

    We welcome the resolution on the safety of journalists. With impunity for attacks and reprisals against journalists as high as 90% worldwide, this resolution is more important than ever. In particular, we welcome new paragraphs addressing extraterritorial threats, strategic lawsuits against public participation, access to information, and overbroad and vague laws criminalising journalism, as well as strengthened language on gender throughout the resolution. We now urge all States to implement these commitments at the national level – commitments on paper are not enough.

    We welcome that several States called for accountability for individual victims of reprisalsin Egypt, Burundi, Laos, Venezuela and China. We urge all States to stand up for the critical voices of human rights defenders and seize the opportunity to take up specific cases in the report during future interactive dialogues.

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on the contribution of the Council to prevention of human rights violations, which contributes to strengthening the Council’s prevention mandate, mainstreaming prevention throughout the work of the Council, and bringing Geneva and New York, and the three pillars of the UN closer. We urge all States to implement the thematic elements contained in the resolution by applying them to country-specific contexts. In this regard, they should rely on objective criteria, including restrictions on civic space and attacks on HRDs, which often constitute early warning signs of human rights crises.

    We welcome the High Commissioner’s update on police violence against people of African Descent. We also welcome that the High Commissioner will center the voices of victims of people of African descent, their families and communities in the preparation of the report on systemic racism and police violence against Africans and People of African Descent, and government responses to antiracism protests. We urge the Council to continue its scrutiny so that racial justice is achieved in the United States and around the world.

    We welcome the adoption of a resolution on the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) and urge all States to heed to the calls made by the Working Group on People of African Descent to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, embrace the International Decade of People of African Descent and operationalise the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

    We welcome the leadership of GRULAC and the EU to ensure that the resolution on the rights of the child maintained its intended focus to ensure that children’s rights are protected from environmental harm, urging States to consider recognising a right to a healthy environment and to create inclusive and meaningful spaces for children to contribute to decision-making. However, we are concerned by the amendments put forward to weaken the text on child participation, setting a bad precedent. Furthermore, the Council lost an opportunity to reinforce States’ heightened obligations as reflected in the Framework Principles; promote gender inclusive language; strengthen follow-up to the resolution; and go beyond Council’s resolution 40/11 in recognising the role of child human rights defenders.

    We welcome the statement made by Costa Rica on behalf of the Core Group on Human Rights and the Environment acknowledging that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is “integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation”. The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis evidence the urgent need for global recognition of the right to a healthy environment. In the joint appeal “The Time is Now”, more than 950 organizations representing civil society and indigenous peoples from across the world call for the Council to recognize the right to a healthy environment without further delay. We therefore urge all States to rise to the existential challenge that climate change and environmental degradation pose to present and future generations and join us in voicing support for global recognition of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

    We welcome High Commissioner’s report on the impact of arms transfers and the resolution adopted on human rights impact of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms which, moving forward, need to ensure enhanced focus on preventative and inclusive approaches, and highlight the application of the business and human rights framework to the arms industry to not only address the impact of diverted firearms but also the impact of irresponsible legal transfers or acquisitions.

    Human rights situations on the Council’s agenda

    We welcome the urgent debate on Belarus and the resolution mandating the High Commissioner to monitor and report on the situation in the near future. We condemn the authorities’ continued crackdown on peaceful protesters and regret their rejection of any dialogue with opposition leaders and civil society actors. We reiterate our call on Belarus to put an end to all human rights violations and abuses against dissenting voices.

    Recognized as a crime against humanity, apartheid gives rise to individual criminal responsibility and State responsibility to bring the illegal situation to an end. We urge the Council to take action to uphold the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including self-determination and return, by adopting effective measures to overcome *Israeli apartheid over the*Palestinian people as a whole. 

    We welcome that the Council has renewed and strengthened the mandate of the fact-finding mission on Venezuela (with an increased majority on the 2019 resolution) to allow for its enquiries to further bolster efforts to hold perpetrators to account.

    We welcome the renewal and strengthening of the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, including to collect, consolidate and analyse information related to, and clarify responsibility for, the most serious crimes under international law and tasking the GEE to explore and report on recommended approaches and practical steps to help ensure justice and redress for Yemen. We look forward to States building on this important progress as part of a holistic strategy towards achieving accountability and redress for victims in Yemen.

    We are gravely concerned over the dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in Cambodia over the past five years. Civic space has continued to shrink due to the adoption of restrictive legislations on Associations and NGOs, on Trade Unions, on the State of Emergency, and surely to be adopted draft Law on Public Order. Lack of independence of the judiciary and executive interference in legal and judicial bodies further enable rampant abuse of laws to target and harass individuals. Since the main opposition party was dissolved, its members have been mass criminalised and harassed. Independent media has been decimated, and HRDs are systematically targeted, even at the UN  during the Interactive Dialogue on Cambodia. We urge States to take meaningful action at the Council to address the escalating violations and ongoing abuses of human rights in Cambodia.

    Thousands of victims of killings and other violations and their families continue to be deprived of justice in the Philippines. The adopted resolution is a collective failure by the States at this Council to ensure the needed international investigation. It fails to reflect the gravity of the situation and the findings in the OHCHR report mandated by this Council. At the same time, the resolution keeps the Philippines on the agenda of the Council for the next two years. The Council can and should live up to its responsibility to ensure an international investigation if the killings and the crackdown on civil society does not immediately end and prosecution of perpetrators are not pursued.

    In the absence of concrete progress in Burundi and given the government’s refusal to engage, a further extension of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry is the most sensible way forward. The Burundian government should now change course by resuming its cooperation with the UN human rights system, including with the Office of the High Commissioner with a view to re-opening the country office, as a first step towards broader engagement with UN and African mechanisms.

    The resolution on Sudan is a welcome step as it ensures that the country’s human rights situation will continue to be publicly discussed while the Transitional Government attempts to strengthen gains of the Revolution and prevent setbacks. Sudan’s political transition remains fragile, and we urge the Council to maintain a high level of support to, and scrutiny of, the country until at least the end of the transition, in 2022-2023.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Somalia, as continued attention to, and monitoring of, the country’s human rights situation is direly needed ahead of the elections planned for 2021.

    We welcome the joint statement delivered by Denmark on behalf of 33 States raising their concerns over the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia, including calling for the immediate release of Saudi women human rights defenders. We urge the Council to continue its scrutiny and to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism over the situation.

    We also welcome the joint statement delivered by Germany on behalf of 48 States on Iran calling for the release of all political prisoners and those arbitrarily detained, and for perpetrators to be held accountable.

    Human rights situations which should be on the Council’s agenda

    Lethal disregard for the human rights of migrants and refugees continues unabated. This session opened with the High Commissioner calling for independent monitoring of pushbacks and collective expulsions at the land and sea borders of EU States. This session closes with this call unanswered. Silence from the Council tells migrants and refugees that their lives are disposable. Last week, a caravan of more than 2000 migrants left Honduras to the United States. Mexico and Guatemala expressly threatened them by implementing policies that discriminate, criminalise, fail to assess protection needs and put at risk the lives of the migrants. Silence from the Council tells States that the rights of migrants and refugees can be violated with impunity. The Council must act on the High Commissioner’s call and demonstrate that it can respond to human rights violations wherever they take place by establishing a monitoring mechanism for this and other deadly migration routes.

    This session, hundreds of NGOs from more than 60 countries, from Azerbaijan to Zambia, joined the call by 50 UN Special Procedures and dozens of States for international monitoring and reporting of China's sweeping rights violations. The High Commissioner for Human Rights should fulfil her independent mandate to publicly report on China’s mass violations, and the Council should act urgently to create a monitoring mechanism. No State should be above the law. 

    The Council should urge Algeria to "halt the arrest and detention of political activists, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders, as well as any person who expresses dissent or criticism of the government" and cease their arbitrary prosecution as highlighted by a joint statement fromUN special procedures.

    The Council should also urge Egypt to immediately release all those detained for exercising their rights, affirming the repeated calls made by Special Procedures and States over the past several years.

    Weeks before the elections, no attention was paid to the increasingly violent situation in Bolivia, governed since November 2019 by an unelected government that has persecuted protesters, indigenous and union leaders and more than 150 members of the MAS party.

    We regret the Council’s continued silence on the human rights crisis in Kashmir. More than a year after India revoked the constitutional autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir, fundamental freedoms remain severely curtailed with ongoing reports of violence by police and security forces including the continued use of pellet guns against protestors, torture and custodial deaths. Human rights violations also continue to take place in *Pakistan-administered Kashmir. We reiterate our calls on India and Pakistan to grant unfettered access to OHCHR and other independent observers to Kashmir, and on the Council to establish an independent international investigation mechanism into past and ongoing violations and abuses in Kashmir.

    We regret the Council’s silence on the arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters, intimidation and use of excessive force by the police in India. The government’s use of overbroad “national security”, “sedition”, and counter terrorism laws to intimidate, detain, torture and silence human rights defenders is a continuation of the erosion of democratic freedoms. The enactment of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020 in September 2020 seeks to  further restrict human rights advocacy and collaborative work among civil society and diminishes space for dissent.

    Signatories:

    1. Article 19
    2. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    3. Association for Progressive Communications
    4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    5. Center for Reproductive Rights
    6. 6.Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales
    7. Child Rights Connect
    8. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    9. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    10. Franciscans International
    11. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    12. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    13. International Service for Human Rights
    14. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

    The CIVICUS Monitor is a research tool that provides quantitative and qualitative data on the state of civil society and civic freedoms in 196 countries. The data provides the basis for civic space ratings, which are based on up-to-date information and indicators on the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. Countries can be rated as: open narrowed obstructed repressed closed

     

  • Outcomes from the UN Human Rights Council...to be continued

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 43rd Session, which was scheduled to run from 24 Feb – 20 March, was suspended after three weeks on 13 March until further notice.

    CIVICUS fully supports the suspension of the Session on public health grounds, and the precautionary measures taken before the suspension. However, we remain concerned that public participation in the Council risks being disproportionately affected, especially in light of the decision to cut General Debates from the 44th Session (June), which removes a key platform for civil society to engage with governments. The UN depends on information from the ground in order to make evidence-based decisions, and we call on states to take steps to ensure that the participation of civil society is not compromised.

    In Nicaragua, a human rights crisis has seen hundreds of thousands flee the country and an ongoing crackdown against human rights organisations, community leaders, and journalists. The situation is compounded by a lack of political will from the government to engage with regional or international mechanisms, or to ensure accountability. CIVICUS welcomes that the draft resolution on Nicaragua tabled during the Session would provide a mandate for enhanced monitoring and reporting by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation at this critical time, and we urge all states to support this resolution when the Session resumes.

    We also call on states to support the renewal of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. The 43rd session marked the final one for the current Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, and we thank her for her outstanding work during her mandate. Myanmar has undergone significant developments in its human rights framework since the Special Rapporteur began her term – from elections in 2015 which saw a groundswell of hope for positive change, to the dawning realisation of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Rakhine state. But the curtailment of fundamental freedoms and total crackdown on any criticism of authorities has remained grimly consistent. Those on the ground, the human rights defenders and activists who are trying to achieve change, need international support from the Human Rights Council.

    In late 2019, Iran erupted into a series of protests against the lack of political and democratic freedoms and the deteriorating economic situation. Protesters were met with violent repression through mass arrests and lethal force. When the Session resumes, the Human Rights Council will vote on extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. We welcome support shown by states so far for the renewal of the mandate, and we urge adoption of this resolution when the Session continues.

    What is a Special Rapporteur?
    Special Rapporteur is a title given to an independent expert who works on behalf of the United Nations who has a specific country or thematic mandate from the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs often conduct fact-finding missions to countries to investigate allegations of human rights violations. They can only officially visit countries that have agreed to invite them. Aside from fact-finding missions, Rapporteurs regularly assess and verify complaints from alleged victims of human rights violations. 

    The mandates for Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and opinion, and on human rights defenders, are set to be renewed when the Session resumes. We encourage all member and observer states to show their full support for these mandates by co-sponsorsing the resolutions.

    Just prior to the suspension of the Session, Mary Lawlor was appointed as new Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. We look forward to working with her as she protects those on the frontline of defending human rights around the world, and we thank Michel Forst, the outgoing mandate holder, for his tireless work.

    Towards the beginning of the Session, the High Commissioner’s update on Sri Lanka highlighted ongoing impunity for past grave human rights abuses in the country. The new Sri Lankan government, which came into power in 2019, has said that it intends to renege on Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 which provided commitments to accountability, truth and reconciliation. The human rights space in Sri Lanka has deteriorated sharply under the new administration, and the undermining of this resolution – currently the only route to ensuring transitional justice in Sri Lanka – would not only be fatal to victims and their families, but also a significant setback to the UN itself. We urge states to strongly encourage Sri Lanka to uphold its commitments and reiterate calls for an international accountability mechanism to ensure that accountability remains a possibility.

    Although India was not on the official agenda of this Session, the ongoing crackdown on Kashmir, a discriminatory citizenship law and violent suppression of protests proved an ongoing issue throughout the Session.

    CIVICUS, FORUM-ASIA, ISHR, FIDH, OMCT and ICJ organized a side event to discuss the current situation and ways in which the international community, including the Council, could contribute to constrictive progress. With key partners, CIVICUS also joined important statements on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well as on India’s recent discriminatory citizenship law, and we were encouraged to see several states raise their own concerns about India during debates.


    Civic space ratings by CIVICUS Monitor
    Open Narrowed Obstructed  Repressed Closed

     

    Our joint and stand alone country statements at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council
    Angola Burundi El Salvador  Eritrea Fiji
    India Iraq Iran Jammu & Kashmir Madagascar
    Myanmar Nicaragua Sri Lanka See all statements

     

     

  • Outcomes from the UN Human Rights Council's 48th session: Progress & Shortcomings

    Joint statement from the end of the United Nations' 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council1


    13 organisations share reflections on the key outcomes of the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues and situations.

    Thematic issues and resolutions

    To commemorate theInternational Safe Abortion Day, 372 organisations demanded free, safe and accessible abortion for everyone.

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on the establishment of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, who will focus on the interdependence between human rights, a healthy environment, and combating climate change and we welcome the Council’s historic recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. These are vital steps towards addressing the climate crisis and achieving environmental justice.

    Ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society participation at the national and international levels is essential.

    We welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on cooperation with the UN in the field of human rights, in particular the invitation to the Secretary-General to submit his annual reprisals report to the General Assembly, which will ensure greater attention to the issue and contribute to a more coherent system-wide response across the UN.

    We express concern over the reclassification of NGO written statements submitted to the 48th session of the HRC from Agenda Item 4 to Agenda Item 3 without informing or consulting with the submitting organizations, and without transparency for the reasons or scope of this reclassification.

    We welcome that the resolution on equal participation in political and public affairs puts an important focus on the context of elections and on the impact of COVID-19, underscoring the importance of protecting civil society participation at every level as part of an effective response to the pandemic, in post-pandemic recovery and as a vital component of democratic electoral processes. We regret that, in this and other resolutions, there has been systematic pushbacks against the inclusion of references to children’s right to participate in public affairs, in particular girls, in contravention of international human rights standards.

    We also welcome the resolution on privacy in the digital age. Among other issues, the resolution responds to recent Pegasus revelations and includes new commitments on the use of privately-developed surveillance tools against journalists and human rights defenders. It is now essential that the Council goes further and champions the call made by various UN human rights experts to implement a global moratorium on the sale, export, transfer, and use of private surveillance technology without proper human rights safeguards. We also welcome new language in the text on privacy violations and abuses arising from new and emerging technologies, including biometric identification and recognition technologies. In future iterations of the text, we encourage the core group to go further in calling for a ban on technologies that cannot be operated in compliance with international human rights obligations.

    With the withdrawal of the resolution on the realisation of a ‘better life’, we are glad to see that the Council’s mandate and resources will not be diverted to efforts that would distract from its core work or dilute human rights standards.

    We regret that it was not possible to schedule the briefing by the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) as per resolution 45/31 – and look forward to future opportunities for exchanges between the HRC and the PBC to learn from one another in efforts to address common contemporary challenges.

    Human rights situations on the Council’s agenda

    We deplore the abandonment of the Yemeni people by the HRC member States who did not support the renewal of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. This failure of the HRC gives the green light to all parties to the conflict to continue their campaign of death and destruction in Yemen. We demand an international criminal investigative mechanism. Anything less is unacceptable.

    We regret that the HRC has not responded to the calls of civil society and the evidence of widespread violations in countries including China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia where the situations manifestly warrant the establishment of international investigation and accountability mechanisms.

    The establishment of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan supported by additional and dedicated expertise in OHCHR should bring much needed scrutiny. While we are disappointed that the Council did not establish the full-fledged investigative and monitoring mechanism that the situation warrants, we hope this decision represents a first step towards a stronger response to ensure accountability for human rights violations and crimes under international law in Afghanistan.

    While the extension of international scrutiny in Burundi, including through ongoing documentation of violations, is welcome, we regret the absence of a clear strategy post-Commission of Inquiry. As the Burundian government continues to reject cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms and to deny violations, and given that the newly-created Special Rapporteur will not have access to the country for the foreseeable future, it is vital for the Council to rely on benchmarks to design the next steps of its action on, and engagement with, Burundi. We thank the COI for its important work since 2016. It has set the bar high for investigative mechanisms.

    We welcome the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia with a mandate to provide an additional oral update to the Council. However, the resolution falls short of the minimum action required to credibly address the increasing regression in democratic space and civil and political rights and to put in place necessary measures to create an environment conducive for free, fair and inclusive elections in 2022 and 2023, including mandating enhanced monitoring and reporting by the High Commissioner.

    More than four years after the beginning of the conflict in the North-West and South-West regions in Cameroon, we deeply regret States’ failure, once again, to collectively address the country’s human rights crisis. As other international and regional bodies remain silent, the Council has a responsibility to act, including through the creation of an investigative and accountability mechanism.

    We welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Libya but regret that the mandate has only been extended for a 9-month period. The severity of ongoing and past violations and abuses in Libya, including war crimes, requires an FFM with a sustained and properly resourced mandate.

    We welcome a second joint statement on Nicaragua, and urge concerned States to step up collective action in light of increasing repression ahead of the November 7 elections. Should the Government not revert course, it is fundamental that the Council takes stock and provides an adequate, strong response, including the establishment of an international mechanism at its 49th session.

    We welcome the High Commissioner's oral updates on the Philippines. While the UN Joint Program on Human Rights (UNJP) might provide a framework for improvements, we remain concerned that the UN Joint Programme on Human Rights is instrumentalized by the Government only to please the international community. The national accountability mechanism fails to show meaningful progress. We continue to urge the Council to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry on the Philippines, to eventually start the long-overdue independent and transparent investigation into the human rights violation in the country.

    We welcome the robust resolution that extends the mandate of the Independent Expert on Somalia for a further year.

    While human rights advancements since 2019 in Sudan should be recognized, Sudan still faces significant human rights challenges including threats of the militarization of the State which is also the most challenging peril for women’s rights and WHRDs in Sudan. The transition is not complete, and political uncertainty remains. Against this backdrop, the Council’s decision to discontinue its formal monitoring of and reporting on Sudan is premature as the military establishment continues to pose a threat to democracy and stability in Sudan. We urge the Sudanese authorities to fully cooperate with the UN human rights system to address ongoing violations including sexual and gender based violence and the legacy of 30 years of dictatorship, including impunity for crimes under international law.


    1   Signatories :

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    3. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    4. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    5. FIDH
    6. ARTICLE 19
    7. International Commission of Jurists
    8. FORUM ASIA
    9. International Bar Association
    10. Franciscans International
    11. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    12. Association of Progressive Communications - APC
    13. Child rights connect

     

  • Paraguay - Recomendaciones sobre el espacio cívico para el Examen Periódico Universal de los Derechos Humanos

    CIVICUS presenta propuestas conjuntas para el Examen Periódico Universal de la ONU sobre el espacio de la sociedad civil en Paraguay

    El Examen Periódico Universal del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas es un proceso único que implica una revisión de los registros de derechos humanos de los 193 Estados Miembros de las Naciones Unidas una vez cada cuatro años y medio.


    CIVICUS y Semillas para la Democracia abordan sus preocupaciones relativas a las crecientes hostilidad, estigmatización y criminalización que enfrentan las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, y en particular las que integran los movimientos campesino, indígena, sindical y estudiantil, así como los periodistas que reportan acerca de protestas, crimen organizado, corrupción y violaciones de derechos humanos. Además de las restricciones de la libertad de expresión derivadas de la aplicación de estatutos de difamación penal y de presiones económicas de actores tanto privados como públicos, el documento examina las múltiples formas en que el disenso es ahogado en las calles, en la medida en que las protestas son impedidas mediante la aplicación de legislación que impone restricciones indebidas de tiempo y lugar y requisitos de autorización, los manifestantes son criminalizados bajo el Código Penal, y las manifestaciones son violentamente suprimidas por las fuerzas de seguridad.


    Lea las recomendaciones completas: 
    https://www.civicus.org/documents/Paraguay.JointUPRSubmission.ES.pdf 

     

  • Paraguay - Recomendaciones sobre el espacio cívico para el Examen Periódico Universal de los Derechos Humanos (2)

    CIVICUS presenta propuestas conjuntas para el Examen Periódico Universal de la ONU sobre el espacio de la sociedad civil en Paraguay

    El Examen Periódico Universal del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas es un proceso único que implica una revisión de los registros de derechos humanos de los 193 Estados Miembros de las Naciones Unidas una vez cada cuatro años y medio.


    CIVICUS y Semillas para la Democracia abordan sus preocupaciones relativas a las crecientes hostilidad, estigmatización y criminalización que enfrentan las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, y en particular las que integran los movimientos campesino, indígena, sindical y estudiantil, así como los periodistas que reportan acerca de protestas, crimen organizado, corrupción y violaciones de derechos humanos. Además de las restricciones de la libertad de expresión derivadas de la aplicación de estatutos de difamación penal y de presiones económicas de actores tanto privados como públicos, el documento examina las múltiples formas en que el disenso es ahogado en las calles, en la medida en que las protestas son impedidas mediante la aplicación de legislación que impone restricciones indebidas de tiempo y lugar y requisitos de autorización, los manifestantes son criminalizados bajo el Código Penal, y las manifestaciones son violentamente suprimidas por las fuerzas de seguridad.


    Lea las recomendaciones completas: 
    https://www.civicus.org/documents/Paraguay.JointUPRSubmission.ES.pdf