United Nations

 

  • Joint statement on attacks against civil society

    We first took the initiative of a Council resolution on civil society space in 2013.  We did so in light of what we saw as two equally true but very different realities: 

    • first, the transformative role which civil society can and does play, alone or in partnership with other stakeholders; and 
    • second, that civil society space is all to regularly, and unfortunately increasingly, restricted and threatened. 

    These two points are closely related – in many cases, it is exactly that positive potential for change, inherent in ordinary people working together in new and innovative ways, which provokes threats and repression.  But such negative responses are not only contrary to human rights law, they are, as recently termed in the final recent report of Special Rapporteur Kiai, “self-destructive” and “short-sighted” (A/HRC/35/28) -  a vibrant and pluralistic civil society can be of tremendous value in responding to societal challenges and assisting our citizens and societies to thrive. 

    Bearing in mind this dual reality of opportunity and challenge, as well as the interlinking and mutually reinforcing nature of the core human rights concerned, we sought to explain and give better visibility to the concept of civil society space as a human rights concern. 

    And so this topic concerns civil society at its broadest – not only civil society actors in the field of human rights, but also those working at all levels and with greater or lesser levels of organisation on challenges including health and humanitarian crises, realising development, protecting the environment, countering corruption and building corporate accountability, empowering persons belonging to minorities or espousing minority or dissenting views, combating racism, supporting crime prevention and even conflict prevention and resolution as experience in our States, including in particular the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet shows.

    As we did in the resolutions adopted to date – 24/21, 27/31 and 32/31 – we condemn and reject all threats, attacks, reprisals and acts of intimidation against civil society actors. We again recall that States must ensure that domestic legal and administrative provisions and their application in practice should facilitate and protect an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society.   And we urge all States to adopt the best practice recommendations set out in resolution 32/31 by, inter alia, taking steps to

    • ensure a supportive legal framework and access to justice;
    • contribute to a public and political environment conducive to civil society; 
    • provide for access to information;
    • provide for the participation of civil society actors in public debate; and
    • provide for a long-term supportive environment for civil society.

    As we see daily in this room, the substantive participation of civil society makes this Council’s debates and work, including the UPR, richer and more meaningful.  More needs to be done to recognise civil society as having an equal stake in discussion in other multilateral fora too.  We deeply regret, for example, that civil society voices have been blocked in the NGO Committee twice this year.  We look forward to the OHCHR report scheduled for presentation at HRC38 (June 2018) on procedures, challenges and best practices in respect of civil society involvement with regional and international organisations. We hope that those best practices can feed into a process of reflection, in all fora, on how processes and procedures for participation of civil society may be further improved.

    The next resolution on the subject of civil society space will be presented at HRC38 (June 2018).  [Bearing in mind pressure on the Council’s agenda, we encourage other States to consider similarly biennialising their initiatives, where possible.]

    In addition to continuing to build on best practice examples, in future we intend to explore in greater detail other aspects, including those identified in the resolutions to date, such as:

    • civil society and the private sector;
    • civil society’s role in advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
    • civil society and children;
    • funding to civil society;  

    We are convinced that work on this topic is more important than ever.  We look forward to working with all delegations, both state and civil society, in taking this initiative forward in an open and constructive way. 

     

  • Joint statement on critical topics from 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organisations welcome the adoption of the resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in reaffirming that all approaches to development must comply with the State’s international human rights obligations.

    We agree that “cooperation and dialogue” are important for the promotion and protection of human rights, and that States should fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms, and ensure that all stakeholders are able to cooperate and engage with them without fear of reprisals. 

    However, we must now be vigilant to ensure that the resolution on Mutually Beneficial Cooperation, lacking in balance, does not undermine other important parts of the Council’s mandate: to address human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies in specific countries. 

    The Council has failed to take meaningful action to address the alarming situation on the ground in Cambodia. We welcome and echo the joint statement on Cambodia by over 40 states calling for further action if the situation does not improve in the lead up to the elections and for a briefing by the High Commissioner before the next Council session. We are concerned by Cambodia’s attempt to shut down criticism under item 10 debate on the worsening human rights situation in the country, as they are doing domestically.

    We are disappointed by the weak outcome on Libya. Given the gravity of the human rights situation on the ground and the lack of accountability for crimes under international law, the Council cannot justify the lack of a dedicated monitoring and reporting mechanism. 

    We welcome the co-sponsorship of the Myanmar resolution by groups of States from all regions, making a joint commitment to address the continuing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the country and support for the Special Rapporteur and Fact-Finding Mission to fulfil its mandate to establish truth and ensure accountability for perpetrators. 

    We also welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan allowing it to continue its vital investigations and identification of perpetrators. These developments acknowledge the importance of accountability for serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, which cannot be understated.

    We welcome the adoption of the resolution on drugs and human rights as the OHCHR report will provide human rights indicators related to the drug issue that would help in future policies.

    We welcome the resolution on Eastern Ghouta adopted after an urgent debate, demonstrating how this Council can respond in an agile manner to crises.

    Having long supported the resolution on “protection of human rights while countering terrorism", we appreciate the efforts that led to the end of the separate and deeply flawed initiative on "effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights". Future versions of the resolution must address the relevant issues exclusively and comprehensively from the perspective of the effective protection of human rights. 

    We welcome the Dutch-led joint statement on strengthening the Council, emphasising the importance of substantive civil society participation in any initiative or process and that the Council must be accessible, effective and protective for human rights defenders and rights holders on the ground.

    Finally, we call on the Bureau co-facilitators on improving the efficiency and strengthening the Council to closely engage with all Members and Observers of the Council, human rights defenders and civil society organisations not based in Geneva. 

    Delivered by: The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders), The Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, CIVICUS, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Human Rights Watch, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

     

  • Joint statement on human rights crisis in South Sudan

    Human Rights Council: 36th Session
    Oral Intervention at Interactive Dialogue with the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

    The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS, on behalf of 20 African civil society organisations, thank the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for their worrying update.

    Mr. President, we welcome this opportunity to raise concerns about the devastating situation in South Sudan with national and regional interlocutors. While we welcome some of the steps made towards establishing the Hybrid Court on South Sudan, we urge all regional and international actors to work together to ensure that justice is secured for the victims of grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan.

    Today, civilians, journalists and humanitarian workers continue to be deliberately and targeted through horrific and violent attacks by both state and non-state actors. International civil society groups have documented ethnically charged sexual violence of unimaginable brutality on a massive scale, which shows no signs of abating.

    Today, many South Sudanese civil society organisations and media workers are forced to work from exile, making the documentation and reporting of violations in the country particularly challenging. Given the situation, the Commission’s mandate to collect evidence, document violations and advise on accountability mechanisms is of the utmost importance and should be given full support by members of this Council.

    Under the new High Level Revitalisation Forum, it is critical for the Government of South Sudan to take significant steps to show its commitment to the implementation of the Peace Agreement, including Chapter V, and to cooperate in a meaningful way with the African Union for the speedy establishment of the Court.

    We urge Member States of the Council to support the Commission’s work and to urge the Government of South Sudan to respect its responsibility to protect its citizens and to put an end to the senseless violence the country has been experiencing for the past four years.

    1. African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, The Gambia
    2. Assistance Mission for Africa, South Sudan
    3. Association for human rights in Ethiopia
    4. Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC), Cameroon
    5. Center for Peace and Justice, South Sudan
    6. CIVICUS, South Africa
    7. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, South Sudan
    8. Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile du Togo, Togo
    9. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Uganda
    10. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
    11. EVE Organisation, South Sudan
    12. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE) 
    13. International Youth for Africa, South Sudan
    14. La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise, DRC
    15. Mauritius Council of Social Services, Mauritius
    16. ONG Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra (ONG EFA), Madagascar
    17. Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/ West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network,
    18. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, South Sudan
    19. Women Monthly Forum
    20. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia
    21. Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

     

     

  • Joint statement on human rights in the Philippines

    36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    ISHR and CIVICUS welcome the Philippine Government’s engagement in the UPR process. However, despite claims of the State party during the May 2017 review, Filipino human rights defenders continue to have serious concerns about the environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) in the country.
     
    Mr. President, the systematic and targeted killings of HRDs, under the cover of ‘counterinsurgency programs’, have long been a problem. On average, our partners documented 40 killings per year from 2001 to 2016.  In the past year, however, this number has risen to 50 HRDs, many who were leaders of peasant and indigenous communities. This is largely due to President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, which has also resulted in thousands more casualties of regular Filipino citizens.
     
    Since the May review, human rights activists have seen no reprieve in the harassment and threats by State security forces. This includes the Secretary General of people’s organisation Karapatan, Cristina Palabay.

    Duterte’s pronouncements endanger the lives of HRDs who speak out against his repressive policies, including the drug war and martial law declarations, as well as for respect of rights, such as to a safe and healthy environment. The filing of trumped-up charges to criminalize HRDs has been normalized by the government, hampering us from doing our work and violating our freedom of association.

    Most recently, the ominous signs of a nationwide martial law under Pres. Duterte hover like a sword of Damocles over HRDs and the Filipino people. Our history shows that such a decision will worsen the current state of human rights in the country. 

    We therefore urge the Council to ensure that the Philippine government respect its pledges and commitments, as stated in the UPR outcome report. We call for a halt to all forms of attacks on human rights defenders, the enactment of a law for their protection, and the acceptance of a full, independent visit to the Philippines by UN Special Rapporteurs, including on the situation of HRDs. 

     

  • Joint Statement on human rights violations in Burundi

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session

    Oral Intervention at Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

    Thank you, Mr. President.  CIVICUS and DefendDefenders on behalf of 30 African organisations would like to thank the CoI for their report and reiterate their concerns that there are reasons to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed with impunity by state perpetrators including the National Intelligence Service, National Police, the Burundian Amy and the Imbonerakure in Burundi since the outset of the crisis in April 2015.

    The killings, abductions, mass disappearances, torture and detentions of citizens have created a climate of fear and intimidation firmly entrenched in all sectors of Burundian society. A civil society law passed in January 2017 gives the authorities broad powers to control the activities and resources of civil society organisations. Almost all human rights defenders and journalists are in exile and still live in fear. The government has issued international warrants against some of them.

    Most of the private radio stations remain closed, and while most journalists and HRDs are in exile, some of those who remained, such as Jean Bigirimana and Germain Rukuki, are still missing or detained.

    Mr. President in a context like Burundi’s where the judiciary is not independent and all voices critical of the government are brutally attacked, there are no avenues present to hold perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.

    Mr. President, we call on the Council to:

    1. Renew the mandate of the COI
    2. Urge the International Criminal Court to open an official investigation into human rights violations in Burundi
    3. Initiate action for Burundi’s suspension from the UN HRC

    Thank you Mr. President

    Sincerely,

    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture - Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), The Gambia
    3. Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH), Burundi
    4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    5. CIVICUS
    6. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    7. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, South Sudan (CEPO)
    8. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    9. Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea, Eritrea
    10. ONG Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra (ONG EFA), Madagascar
    11. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
    12. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE), Burundi
    13. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile au Burundi (FORSC), Burundi
    14. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea  (HRCE)
    15. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), South Africa
    16. International Youth For Africa, South Sudan
    17. La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise, DRC
    18. Ligue Iteka, Burundi
    19. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda
    20. Réseau des Citoyens Probes, Burundi
    21. Réseau des Droits de l’Homme d’Afrique Centrale (REDHAC)
    22. SOS-Torture, Burundi
    23. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, South Sudan
    24. Union Burundaise des Journalistes, Burundi
    25. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia
    26. Mauritius Council of Social Services, Mauritius
    27. Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
    28. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    29. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
    30. Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité

     

  • Joint statement on human rights violations in Burundi

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session
    Oral Intervention at Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

    Thank you, Mr. President.  CIVICUS and DefendDefenders on behalf of 30 African organisations would like to thank the CoI for their report and reiterate their concerns that there are reasons to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed with impunity by state perpetrators including the National Intelligence Service, National Police, the Burundian Amy and the Imbonerakure in Burundi since the outset of the crisis in April 2015.

    The killings, abductions, mass disappearances, torture and detentions of citizens have created a climate of fear and intimidation firmly entrenched in all sectors of Burundian society. A civil society law passed in January 2017 gives the authorities broad powers to control the activities and resources of civil society organisations. Almost all human rights defenders and journalists are in exile and still live in fear. The government has issued international warrants against some of them.

    Most of the private radio stations remain closed, and while most journalists and HRDs are in exile, some of those who remained, such as Jean Bigirimana and Germain Rukuki, are still missing or detained.

    Mr. President in a context like Burundi’s where the judiciary is not independent and all voices critical of the government are brutally attacked, there are no avenues present to hold perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.

    Mr. President, we call on the Council to:

    1. Renew the mandate of the COI
    2. Urge the International Criminal Court to open an official investigation into human rights violations in Burundi
    3. Initiate action for Burundi’s suspension from the UN HRC

    Thank you Mr. President

    Sincerely,

    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture - Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), The Gambia
    3. Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH), Burundi
    4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    5. CIVICUS
    6. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    7. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, South Sudan (CEPO)
    8. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    9. Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea, Eritrea
    10. ONG Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra (ONG EFA), Madagascar
    11. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
    12. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE), Burundi
    13. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile au Burundi (FORSC), Burundi
    14. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea  (HRCE)
    15. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), South Africa
    16. International Youth For Africa, South Sudan
    17. La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise, DRC
    18. Ligue Iteka, Burundi
    19. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda
    20. Réseau des Citoyens Probes, Burundi
    21. Réseau des Droits de l’Homme d’Afrique Centrale (REDHAC)
    22. SOS-Torture, Burundi
    23. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, South Sudan
    24. Union Burundaise des Journalistes, Burundi
    25. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia
    26. Mauritius Council of Social Services, Mauritius
    27. Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
    28. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    29. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
    30. Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité

     

  • Joint statement on human rights violations in Vietnam

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session 
    Interactive dialogue on human rights in Vietnam

    CIVICUS presents this statement together with VOICE

    We are gravely concerned by the crackdown on human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in Vietnam. Despite its international treaty obligations and recommendations accepted at the UPR to respect freedom of expression and civil society space, the Government of Vietnam is doing the exact opposite.

    In the first eight months of this year, at least 16 activists have been detained, arrested or sentenced under the country’s draconian Penal Code, including 6 members of the group, Brotherhood for Democracy, who remain in pre-trial detention and could face the maximum sentence of death for their peaceful human rights work. Two female activists, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Tran Thi Nga, have been sentenced to 10 years and 9 years in prison, for peacefully criticizing the government and have been subjected to dire prison conditions. I am also here with Ms. Le Thi Minh Ha, wife of Anh Ba Sam who was sentenced to 5 years for simply blogging against the Government.

    There are, in fact, hundreds of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam right now, yet Vietnam fails to acknowledge their existence.  

    Mr. President, we call on the Vietnamese government to implement in good faith the UPR recommendations it accepted in 2014 as well as those made by Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. We call on the Council members and observers to urge Vietnam to free all prisoners of conscience. 

     

  • Joint statement on LGBTI rights: More safeguards needed against violence and discrimination

    35th session of the Human Rights Council
    Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
    12 June, 2017

    CIVICUS and 23 civil society groups from 12 countries were deprived from delivering this statement during the SOGI ID but given the high number of signatories, we feel compelled to deliver it. 

    Across the world, we are witnessing debilitating restrictions and persecution of LGBTI civil society groups and human rights defenders.  As a movement, LGBTI advocates face compounded restrictions, as they often become the target of government crackdowns. 

    Due to intersectionality there is increasing re-victimization of LGBTI children, young people, women, refugees, persons with disabilities and more. In Tunisia, a public defamation campaign against LGBTI groups was carried out in the media and LGBTI defenders have been attacked. In Pakistan, defenders working on transgender rights continue to be subject to attacks including shootings, rape in police stations and torture. In El Salvador, LGBTI activists are facing hate crimes and harassment and since 2015, seven members of the LGBTI organisation, Muñecas de Arcoiris in Honduras, have been murdered. In South Africa, despite a protective legal framework, LGBTIQ+ people and activists, and women in particular, continue to face extreme levels of violence and discrimination, including targeted rape. In Uganda, the civil society organisation, Sexual Minorities Uganda, is denied access to financial resources and legal registration. The introduction of so-called anti-propaganda laws and closures of civil society organisations in Europe and Central Asia have the effect that LGBTI minors cannot access necessary information on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. The restrictions and attacks worldwide against LGBTI groups and human rights defenders often happen with impunity for the perpetrators and complicity from police and law enforcement. 

    To address these concerns, we urge all states to: 1) ensure an enabling environment for and promote the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression of LGBTI civil society groups and human rights defenders of all ages and including children, 2) guarantee strong safeguards against reprisals faced by LGBTI groups and defenders and; 3) take all necessary measures to independently investigate all attacks, including killings, of LGBTI human rights defenders. 
    We thank you,

    Signatories

    1. ACCIONA A.C. (México)
    2. ARESTA (South Africa)
    3. Asociación Silueta X (Ecuador)
    4. Blue Veins (Pakistan)
    5. Child Rights Connect (International)
    6. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (International)
    7. Coalición LGBTI en la OEA (Latin America)
    8. Congolese Civil Society (South Africa)
    9. Corporación Caribe Afirmativo (Colombia)
    10. EQUAL GROUND (Sri Lanka)
    11. Federación ecuatoriana de organizaciones LGBTI (Ecuador)
    12. Fundación Diversencia (Bolivia)
    13. Latin American and the Caribbean Network for Democracy (Latin America and the Caribbean)
    14. Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)
    15. GALA (South Africa)
    16. Gay and Lesbian Network (South Africa)
    17. Mawjoudin (Tunisia)
    18. Mulabi/ Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos (Costa Rica)
    19. Red Latinoamericana GayLatino (Latin America and the Caribbean)
    20. Same Love Toti (South Africa)
    21. Sexual Minorities Uganda (Uganda)
    22. TransAction (Pakistan)
    23. Transparencia Electoral (Argentina)
    24. Triangle Project (South Africa)

     

  • Joint statement on the human rights impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Statement by 11 NGOs ahead of informal discussion with the UN Special Procedures and UN Member States on the COVID-19 Pandemic

    We thank the Coordination Committee for the update on the work undertaken by the Special Procedures to date to highlight the human rights impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    As States undertake extraordinary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, we recognize the good faith efforts of many States to effectively protect the right to life, the right to health and other human rights as well as the well-being of their populations, and to curb the spread of COVID-19. States must ensure that quality health services and goods necessary for prevention and care are accessible, available and affordable for all. Health workers and other front-line workers should be provided with adequate protective equipment, information, training and psycho-social support. Key health services, including sexual and reproductive health information and services, should be confirmed as essential services and their provision guaranteed.

    We also recognize that in other contexts, States have used emergency powers to enact repressive measures that do not comply with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity and that may have the effect or intention of suppressing criticism and minimizing dissent. 

    In this regard, we take heart at the Special Procedures statement that "[t]he COVID-19 crisis cannot be solved with public health and emergency measures only; all other human rights must be addressed too“. We particularly value the vast and interconnected responses by the Special Procedures highlighting the wide-ranging effects of the pandemic itself, as well as of measures taken by states in the name of responding to the global health crisis. 

    The Special Procedures have addressed the impact on economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to health, housing, water and sanitation, food, work, social security, education, healthy environment and adequate standard of living, and to equality and non-discrimination as cross-cutting rights.

    The Special Procedures have also highlighted the increased risks of people with underlying health conditions, older people, people who are homeless or in inadequate housing, people living in poverty, persons with disabilities, LGBTI people, children, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, people living in refugee or IDP camps, and people deprived of liberty. They have also highlighted the effects on women and girls, calling for responses to consider factors such as their “sex, gender, age, disability, ethnic origin, and immigration or residence status among others“.

    We also welcome the various tools that have been developed by some mandate holders, such as the COVID-19 Freedom Tracker, the Dispatches, video messages and guidelines in addition to the vast number of press releases. Making these tools readily accessible to all stakeholders is critical, as is considering ways to receive feedback and share learnings about their application. We encourage the Special Procedures to continue to deepen their analyses of state responses, including through reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, and to offer guidance, through the tools mentioned, to states on how to respond to the crisis in a human rights compliant manner.

    Last but not least, we urge UN member states to cooperate fully with the Special Procedures. While country visits are suspended for the time being, this should not be used as an excuse not to co-operate. We call on states to respond in a timely manner to communications from the Special Procedures and to seek technical and expert advice from relevant mandate holders in relation to draft legislation to ensure that these are in line with states’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil all human rights.

    Amnesty International
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) 
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Conectas Direitos Humanos
    DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    Human Rights Law Centre
    Human Rights Watch
    ILGA World – The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (International Lesbian and Gay Association)
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Service for Human Rights

     

  • Joint statement on the rights of indigenous peoples

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session 
    Panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples

    Disponible en Espanol

    I read this statement on behalf of 39 human rights defenders and civil society organisations working on indigenous, land and environmental rights from 29 countries who met in Johannesburg, South Africa from 7-9 August 2017 to discuss strategies to advance the protection of indigenous, land and environmental rights activists.

    Mr. President, 2016 surpassed 2015 as the deadliest year on record for those stood up against land grabbing, natural resource exploitation and environmental destruction. Worryingly, the number of killed has risen to 200 from 185 in 2016 and spread to several countries across the world.

    In the current global climate, where repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly is becoming the norm rather than the exception, environmental and land defenders are particularly vulnerable.

    When we express concerns over the collusion between States and corporate actors, we face opposition - dissent is stifled and criminalised, and our lives are threatened. Often our work is discredited and we are labelled ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-development’.

    When we protest peacefully against this attack on our resources and livelihoods, we face violence from state authorities, private security groups and state-sponsored vigilante groups. When we stand up to defend the rights of our communities, we face unfounded criminal charges, unlawful arrests, custodial torture, threats to life and liberty, surveillance, judicial harassment and administrative hurdles, among other actions.

    Mr. President, our families are threatened into silence and many of us have had to make the difficult decision to flee our homes and go into exile, retreating from a fight that has become too dangerous.

    We need global action to counter the threats we face.

    We ask the panellists to urge the Council to emphasise the need for all states to ensure that affected communities are adequately consulted, including securing their full consent prior to the development of infrastructure and extractive industries projects.  

    More information:

     

  • Joint statement on the role of the UN in the prevention of human rights crises

    Joint statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

    Madam President, Rapporteurs,

    Firstly, while we acknowledge the exceptional circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret the limitations placed on inclusive and meaningful civil society participation, including in General Debates, and these circumstances should it set any precedents that would allow further restriction in the future. 

    CIVICUS and DefendDefenders welcome this timely report on the Council’s prevention mandate, a crucial part of the Council’s work. The report concluded that one identifying sign of an emerging human rights crisis, which could form part of a trigger mechanism for Council action, are ‘the targeting of human rights defenders, journalists or civil society organizations’.

    Indeed, unwarranted restrictions on civic space enable wider human rights violations, and are often an early warning sign of a crisis.

    Too often, we see these signs overlooked, with states raising concern only when the situation has deteriorated beyond the realm of prevention. This report, and statements made during the High-Level Segment of this session, articulates a commitment made by states to strengthen the Council’s prevention mandate. But rhetoric must translate to action.

    The rapidly deteriorating situation in Tanzania presents an opportunity to do so.

    We continue to document the use of draconian legislation and of legal and extra-judicial methods to restrict freedom of expression and opinion, peaceful assembly and association, and the overall closure of the civic and democratic space.  In recent months, independent media outlets have been suspended and closed by the authorities, journalists and human rights defenders have been subjected to judicial persecution, harassment and intimidation. The authorities have imposed blanket restrictions on peaceful political assemblies and introduced laws to undermine freedom of speech online.  More violations have been documented in relation to concerns raised about the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In line with the report, these developments are indicative of a mounting human rights crisis. This Council, and its members and observers, must take meaningful preventative action to prevent further escalation. The window of opportunity to do so is narrowing by the day. 


    Civic space in Tanzania is currently rated as Repressed  by the CIVICUS Monitor

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

     

  • Joint Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Submissions on Civil Society Space

    CIVICUS makes UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on civil society space in Algeria, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    The United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every 4.5 years.


    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on ten countries in advance of the 41st UPR session in October-November 2022, which marks the beginning of the 4th UPR cycle. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 3rd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations. 

    Algeria  -  See consolidated report | See full version in EnglishThe submission by CIVICUS, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, ARTICLE 19, Front Line Defenders, FIDH, MENA Rights Group, the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), SHOAA, and Alter’Solidaire highlights our concerns around the use of violence and restrictive legislation limiting freedom of expression and targeting protesters.  It also documents the arrests of journalists, the targeting of civil society organisations and the attacks on human rights under the pretext of countering terrorism. 

    Brazil - See consolidated report | See full versions in English and Portuguese: CIVICUS and Instituto Igarapé examine the deterioration of civic space in Brazil, highlighting legal and extra-legal measures that have restricted freedom of expression and the participation of civil society in policymaking. The submission shows that violence against human rights defenders and journalists is widespread and continues to take place with impunity as the environment for civil society worsens.

    Ecuador - See consolidated report | See full versions in English and Spanish: CIVICUS and Fundación Ciudadanía y Desarrollo (FCD) assess the important reforms removing legal restrictions on the freedoms of association and expression in Ecuador, while also highlighting the lack of institutional mechanisms to protect and promote an enabling environment for civil society, human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists. We discuss the recurrent judicial harassment, criminalisation and violence of these actors and the repeated repression of protests. 

    India - See consolidated report | See full version in EnglishThis submission by CIVICUS and Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA) highlights the continued use of the draconian Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) by the authorities to target CSOs, block foreign funding and investigate organisations that are critical of the government. It also documents the continued judicial harassment of human rights defenders and journalists and the use of repressive security laws to keep them detained as well as restrictions on and excessive use of force against protesters.

    Indonesia -  See consolidated reportSee full version in EnglishIn this UPR submission, CIVICUS, The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), and YAPPIKA-ActionAid highlight, among other issues, the implementation of legal restrictions concerning civic space and fundamental freedoms, increased scrutiny and excessive use of force by authorities to control both offline and online civic space and the heightened repression against marginalised groups including people from and who work on the issue of Papua/West Papua.

    The Philippines - See consolidated reportSee full version in EnglishIn this joint submission, CIVICUS and Karapatan detail systematic intimidation, attacks and vilification of civil society and activists, an increased crackdown on media freedoms and the emerging prevalence of a pervasive culture of impunity in the Philippines over the last five years. Often, crackdowns have taken place under the guise of anti-terrorism or national security interests. We further note that a joint programme on human rights between the Philippines and the UN established in July 2021 has not, to date, resulted in any tangible human rights improvement.

    Poland - See consolidated report | See full version in EnglishCIVICUS and the Committee for the Defence of Democracy – Komitet Obrony Demokracji (KOD) highlight our concerns of the dismantling of judicial independence and the rule of law by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, which has been used as a tool to violate civic freedoms. In this joint submission we examine cases of women HRDs (WHRDs) advocating for reproductive justice and LGBTQI+ defenders who are facing judicial harassment and intimidation. In addition, we assess the state of freedom of expression, with repeated attempts to diminish media independence through restrictive legislation, government allies acquiring ownership of major media outlets and the filing of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) against independent media.

    South AfricaSee consolidated report | See full version in English In this joint submission, CIVICUS, Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) highlight threats, intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders (HRD), in particular women HRDs (WHRDs) and those defending land and environmental rights, housing rights and whistleblowers. Furthermore, the submission addresses concerns over the continued use of force by security forces in response to protests and legal restrictions which undermine the freedom of expression and opinion.

    TunisiaSee consolidated report | See full version in EnglishIn this submission, CIVICUS and the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) highlight the increased deterioration of civic space in Tunisia, particularly since July 2021, when President Kais Saied suspended the parliament. Activists and journalists have faced increased attacks, prosecution and arrests, while access to information has been limited and media outlets have faced restrictions. In addition, the submission examines the government’s attempts to introduce restrictive legislation that could unduly limit the right to association.

    The United Kingdom  See consolidated report | See full version in EnglishCIVICUS highlights our concerns on the UK government’s repeated attempts to unduly restrict the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly. We examine how the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB), introduced in March 2021, seeks to unduly limit this right. We discuss cases in which protesters advocating for climate justice and racial justice have faced undue restrictions, including detentions and excessive force. We also highlight how several laws have been used to unduly limit press and media freedoms.


    Civic space in the United Kingdom is rated as Narrowedby the CIVICUS Monitor. In Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia it is rated as Obstructed,whereas in Algeria, India, The Philippines civic space is rated as Repressed

     

  • Joint Universal Periodic Review Submissions on Human Rights

    CIVICUS makes joint UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on civil society space in Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, and Venezuela

    The United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every 4.5 years


    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on four countries in advance of the 40th UPR session in February 2022. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations. 

    Timor-Leste - This submission by CIVICUS, The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) and Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La'o Hamutuk) highlights our concerns around attempts by the government to introduce draft laws related to criminal defamation and the failure to bring the Media Law in line with international law and standards. It also documents reports of restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly and the arbitrary arrests of protesters.

    Togo FR/EN- In its joint submission, CIVICUS, Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH) and Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (WAHRDN/ROADDH) highlight civic space violations in Togo since its previous UPR examination, which include the killing of protesters, the arrest and prosecution of HRDs, journalists and pro-democracy activists, the banning of civil society and opposition protests, the suspension of media outlets, regular disruption of access to the internet and social media and the adoption of restrictive legislation.

    Uganda-CIVICUS and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Justice Access Point (JAP) and African Institute for Investigative Journalism (AIIJ) highlight the promulgation of restrictive laws that severely constrain the freedom of expression and impede the work of independent media houses. We further examine the harassment, judicial persecution and intimidation of HRDs because of the work they do. We discuss acts of intimidation and attacks on citizens, HRDs, CSOs and journalists in the period leading up to, during and after the presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 January 2021.

    Venezuela SP/EN - CIVICUS, Espacio Público and REDLAD examine Venezuela’s use of legal and extra-legal measures to restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms which has led to worsening working conditions for civil society. Human rights defenders face judicial persecution, stigmatisation and threats to their lives and integrity. In this joint submission, we assess the systematic repression of the right to peaceful assembly, including through mass arbitrary detention of protesters and excessive use of force.


    Civic space in Timor-Leste is rated as Obstructed and Togo, Uganda and Venezuela are rated Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Jordan: Adoption of Universal Periodic Review Report

     

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

    The Arab NGO Network on Development, the Phenix Center for Economic & Informatics Studies and CIVICUS welcome the government of Jordan’s engagement with the UPR process, including its decision to accept over 100 recommendations on a range of human rights issues. 

    While we applaud the government’s commitment to “ensure that all domestic legislation is in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly in relation to the right to freedom of expression” we regret the government’s lack of explicit commitment to review legislation that impose unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression, such as the Anti-Terrorism Law and the 2015 Cybercrime Law. 

    We are further concerned that there are tight state controls on CSOs’ registration, funding and activities and that there is a lack of commitment to review the 2009 Law on Societies which restricts the work of CSOs. In addition, the government has yet to reform the Labor Code in order to comply with the Jordanian constitution, Constitutional Court decision No. 6 of 2013 and international labor standards, so that all workers in the public and private sectors have the right to form trade unions by removing all restrictions in the Jordanian labor law and the civil service bylaw. 

    We also note that since the last UPR, regular protests have been staged calling for rights-based social and economic reforms. These calls should be taken into consideration and integrated in the Government’s plan, including in its efforts on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. 

    Madame Vice-President, we call on Jordan to implement recommendations it accepted on promoting the right to freedom of expression and further commit to review legislation that imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the freedom of expression. Specifically, we urge the government to remove the provisions under the the Law on Associations that unduly restrict the activities and funding of civil society organisations. 


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

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

     

  • Laos: Government must live up to human rights obligations ahead of UN review

    Manushya Foundation, CIVICUS and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) call on the Government of Lao PDR to remove all unwarranted restrictions on civic space in the country ahead of its human rights review to be held at the United Nations (UN) in January-February 2020. The review will mark five years since UN member states made 33 recommendations to the Lao government that directly relate to barriers to open civic space. As of today, the government has partially implemented only three recommendations.

    Following its last review in 2015 , the government of Lao PDR committed to reassess the policy framework and restrictions on domestic and international civil society organisations and facilitate an enabling environment for them; to fully respect and ensure freedom of expression by revising legislation; to ensure freedom of assembly in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and to investigate individual cases such as the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone. 

    In a joint submission to the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos, our organisations assess the current human rights situation to track compliance with these recommendations and international human rights standards. The submission finds that Lao PDR’s persistent failure to uphold its commitments has resulted in continued unwarranted restrictions to civic space and acute shortcomings with respect to the right to freedom to freedom expression, assembly and association, and in the protection of human rights defenders.

    “Using unwarranted defamation, libel, and slander charges, justified by vague claims of ‘national interests’, the government increasingly restricts any speech or actions that would highlight corruption or the violation of rights resulting from development projects and investments, specifically those related to land and sustainable development.” said Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation. “The Lao government must immediately repeal or amend legislations that do not comply with international standards and obligations through transparent and inclusive mechanisms of public consultation, end the harassment and intimidation against persons who speak up, and provide effective remedy in cases where the rights of individuals have been denied or violated.” 

    Manushya, CIVICUS and FORUM-ASIA are seriously concerned about the pervasive control exercised by the government over civil society, and the severe restrictions faced as a result. Extensive surveillance, reprisals and the criminalisation and enforced disappearance of human rights defenders have created an environment in which it is all but impossible to speak out. The right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are guaranteed in the Constitution of Lao PDR, and its obligations under the ICPPR. However, the legal framework – including broadly formulated, restrictive and conflicting provisions in the Constitution, the Penal Code, and other laws, as well as government decrees passed without oversight – serves to limit any independent action or information, and criminalise any expression perceived as critical of the government. All actions taken and information shared must undergo a lengthy process of state approval and organisations are forced to maintain close ties with the State, making independent human rights organisations virtually non-existent. 

    “The laws, policies and practices of the Lao government restrict any legitimate activities that they believe could threaten the state. Constant monitoring and the detention of activists such as Bounthanh Thammavong, Lodkham Thammavong, Soukane Chaithad, Somphone Phimmasone, and the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, has compounded this chilling effect to the extent that activists and journalists now avoid using ‘human rights’ language in their work,” said Josef Benedict, Civic Space Researcher at CIVICUS. “States must question these actions of the Lao government that allow for impunity for violations of civic freedoms and press the government to create a safe, respectful and enabling environment that is free of undue hindrances, obstruction, legal or administrative harassment.”

    Manushya, CIVICUS and FORUM-ASIA also urge the member states of the United Nations (UN) to use the UPR of Laos to ensure increased transparency and accountability through law and practice in order to protect and promote the rights of civil society in Laos, especially those of human rights defenders, civil society activists, and journalists.

    “The Universal Periodic Review of Laos is an important opportunity to hold the Lao government accountable for ongoing, serious violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights,” concluded Ahmed Adam of FORUM-Asia. “The international community cannot afford to ignore the permanent closure of civic space and criminalisation of legitimate exercise of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly as well as work of human rights defenders in Lao.  International scrutiny is necessary to improve the human rights situation in Lao, particularly given that the government has done nothing to change a situation that has been ongoing for decades.”

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates the space for civil society in Laos as closed.


    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    (EN) Josef Benedict, Civic Space Researcher, CIVICUS, +6010-4376376,

    (EN & Lao) Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Director, Manushya Foundation, +66 (0) 92-901-5345,   

    (TH) Suphamat Phonphra, Programme Officer, Manushya Foundation, +66 (0) 83-578-9879,   

    (EN) Ahmed Adam, UN Advocacy Programme Manager, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), +41 (2) 10-826-4345,

     

  • Laos: Letter to UN Member States ahead of human rights review

    Open Letter: UN member states must highlight Laos’s severely restrictive civic space environment at its upcoming UN human rights review

    Your Excellency,

    As you will be aware, Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) will face its third review under the UN’s UPR mechanism on 21 January 2020.

    Following its last review in 2015, the government of Lao PDR committed to reassess the policy framework and restrictions on domestic and international civil society organisations and facilitate an enabling environment for them; to fully respect and ensure freedom of expression by revising legislation; to ensure freedom of assembly in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and to investigate individual cases such as the enforced disappearance of human rights defender Sombath Somphone.

    In total, member states made 33 recommendations to the Lao government that directly relate to barriers to open civic space. Since then, the government has partially implemented just three of these recommendations.

    In a submission to this UN review cycle, the Manushya Foundation, FORUM ASIA and CIVICUS outlined some of the most serious concerns facing civil society in Lao PDR. The submission found that the country’s persistent failure to uphold its commitments has resulted in continued unwarranted restrictions to civic space and acute shortcomings with respect to right to freedom to freedom expression, assembly and association, and in the protection of human rights defenders.

    In Laos’s pre-UPR session, held in December 2019, independent civil society organizations highlighted that the situation for fundamental freedoms had worsened, particularly in relation to online surveillance.

    We are encouraged by Laos’s renewed commitment to the sustainable development goals which it reaffirmed during its UPR pre-session. However, we remind states, and the Lao government, that civic space is central to the achievement of all of the SDGs, and without engagement of independent civil society, any improvements in SDGs are cosmetic at best.

    Based on our research, the government continues to exercise pervasive control over civil society, which faces severe restrictions as a result. Extensive surveillance, reprisals and the criminalisation and enforced disappearance of human rights defenders have created an environment in which it is all but impossible to speak out.

    While the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are guaranteed in the Constitution of Lao PDR, an array of restrictive laws and government decrees continue to exist that serves to restrict civic freedoms and criminalise any expression perceived as critical of the government. This lack of civic space has meant many people fear speaking up about corruption or the violation of rights resulting from development projects and investments, specifically those related to land and sustainable development.

    A new Decree No. 238 on Associations that came into effect in November 2017 imposes severe restrictions on civil society organisations (CSOs) and force CSOs to maintain close relations with the state, making independent human rights organisations virtually non-existent. Further, international CSOs also face challenges operating in the country.

    The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said in March 2019 after his visit to Lao PDR that he “received countless reports from people inside the country and who have recently fled Laos about the extent to which people feel they are not able to speak freely and fear reprisal for expressing criticism of government policies”.

    Given this environment, and the lack of political will demonstrated thus far by the government of Lao PDR to uphold its civil space obligations, we urge states to ensure that civic space remains a key issue raised during this third cycle of Laos’s UPR.

    This means ensuring freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, the right to operate free from unwarranted state interference, the right to communicate and cooperate, the right to seek and secure funding, and the state’s duty to protect. At a minimum, such recommendations should include:

    • Take measures to foster a safe, respectful, enabling environment for civil society, including through removing legal and policy measures, which unwarrantedly limit the right to association.
    • Relevant laws and regulations should be revised - in particularly, Decree No. 238 on Associations and Decree No. 13 of 2010 on INGOs - to guarantee that undue restrictions on freedom of association are removed and to bring them into compliance with 22 of the ICCPR.
    • Ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear or undue hindrance, obstruction or legal and administrative harassment.
    • Establish a new commission tasked with carrying out a prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation aimed at determining the fate or whereabouts of human rights defender Sombath Somphone.
    • Ensure freedom of expression and media freedom by all bringing national legislation into line with international standards. In particular, Article 65 the Penal Code (propaganda against the state), the Media Act of 2008 and Decree No. 327 on Internet-Based Information Control/Management, should be reviewed to ensure that national legislation are in line with the best practices and international standards in the area of freedom of expression.
    • Extend a standing invitation to all UN Special Procedures mandate holders and prioritize official visits with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

    Yours sincerely,

    Emilie Pradichit, Director, Manushya Foundation    
    Ahmed Adam, Programme Manager, United Nations Advocacy, FORUM-ASIA
    David E. Kode, Advocacy & Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

     

  • Le Royaume-Uni répond aux questions posées par les membres de CIVICUS sur le Conseil de sécurité

    Durant les consultations du mois d’août de la présidence du Conseil de sécurité avec la société civile, la Mission permanente du Royaume-Uni auprès de l’Organisation des Nations Unies a répondu aux questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS concernant les situations sécuritaires en République Démocratique du Congo, Érythrée-Éthiopie, Gaza et Myanmar.


    La société civile joue un rôle important dans l’agenda du Conseil de sécurité et CIVICUS remercie le Royaume-Uni et tous les membres du Conseil de sécurité pour leur engagement à impliquer la société civile dans son fonctionnement.

    Le Conseil de sécurité suit de près la situation en RDC. Dans le cadre de la résolution 2409, nous avons demandé au Secrétaire général de nous faire transmettre des rapports mensuels. Le conseil tient des discussions fréquentes sur la RDC. Le Conseil de sécurité continue de souligner à quel point il est important que les élections du 23 décembre 2018 soient tenues dans le calme, de façon crédible, inclusive et dans les temps et qu’elles respectent le calendrier électoral, menant à un transfert pacifique du pouvoir, en accord avec la constitution congolaise. Le Conseil de sécurité continue aussi d’accentuer l’importance de la protection des civils, y compris à travers le mandat de la MONUSCO qui fait de la protection des civils une priorité stratégique. Durant la présidence du Royaume-Uni, un briefing s’est tenu au Conseil de sécurité sur les élections à venir en RDC. La déclaration de l’ambassadeur se trouve ici.

    Le Conseil de sécurité a publié un communiqué concernant la signature de la déclaration conjointe de paix et d’amitié entre l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie du 9 Juillet 2018.

    L’UNRWA (l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) a été établi et reçoit son mandat de l‘assemblée générale de l’ONU. La possibilité qu’elle doive suspendre ses services à cause de sa mauvaise situation financière préoccupe énormément les membres du Conseil de sécurité, comme cela a été exprimé durant les consultations du conseil du 22 août sur la situation au Moyen-Orient. Le Royaume-Uni reste fortement engagé dans son soutien à l’UNRWA et aux réfugiés palestiniens à travers le Moyen-Orient. Face à des pressions financières de plus en plus fortes, le Royaume-Uni a versé environ 60 millions de dollars en 2018. Nous continuons d’encourager d’autres à verser des financements additionnels et à effectuer des versements réguliers pour assurer que l’UNRWA puisse continuer son travail essentiel.
     
    Le Conseil de sécurité suit avec beaucoup de préoccupation la situation à Gaza, y compris à travers des briefings réguliers, comme par exemple celui du 22 août par la Secrétaire générale adjointe Rosemary DiCarlo.

    Sur le long-terme, le Royaume-Uni a pour but ultime le retour sans danger, volontaire et avec dignité du million de réfugiés Rohingyas, actuellement au Bangladesh, vers l’Etat Rakhine sous la surveillance internationale. Nous estimons que les conditions actuelles ne sont pas suffisantes pour que les réfugiés y retournent. Nous soutiendrons la Birmanie pour y arriver, mais une amélioration concrète des conditions sur le terrain est nécessaire. Dans l’immédiat, la Birmanie devrait donner à l’ONU un accès sans restriction à l’Etat du Nord-Rakhine. L’ONU s’est réjouie de la déclaration du gouvernement birman annonçant la mise en place d’une commission d’enquête sur les violences commises dans l’Etat Rakhine. Il est à présent essentiel que le gouvernement birman démontre comment l’enquête sera crédible, transparente et impartiale. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une décision de la CPI concernant sa compétence à juger des déportations des Rohingyas au Bangladesh (qui est un état signataire du statut de Rome).

    D’autres questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS ce mois concernent les libertés civiques en Colombie, le retrait des troupes de l’UNAMID au Darfur, l’insécurité alimentaire au Sahel, la relocalisation de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique à Jérusalem, la détérioration de l’espace civique en Ouganda, le cas du dirigeant Soudanais, Omar Al Bashir auprès de la Cour Pénale Internationale et la menace globale du cyber crime.

    Ces questions-réponses résultent d’un appel mensuel auprès des membres CIVICUS de soumettre leurs questions au président du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies. Il s’agit d’une opportunité pour nos membres d’être reliés à un forum international important où des décisions sont prises. Les employés de CIVICUS posent les questions au nom de nos membres durant le briefing du président tous les mois. Tenez-vous informé en devenant membre de CIVICUS.

     

  • Lebanon's Adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Statement at 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Adoption of the Universaly Periodic Review report of the Lebanese Republic


    CIVICUS welcomes Lebanon’s participation in the UPR process and for accepting 20 recommendations relating to civic space during this UPR cycle. However, in our joint UPR submission with partners we documented that since its last review, the Lebanese Republic has not implemented or taken any concrete steps to implement 5 of the 6 recommendations relating to civic space made in 2015.

    The Lebanese authorities continue to use excessive force against peaceful protesters when ever they demonstrate and attack journalists and representatives of the media who cover the protests. For example, security forces used excessive force and violence against protesters in August 2020 when the demonstrators called for an end to corruption and for accountability and independent investigations into the 4 August 2020 blast in Beirut. We urge Lebanon to implement as a priority recommendations relating to excessive use of force and freedom of peaceful assembly.

    Members of the LGBTI community are regularly subjected to harassment and persecution through vague and discriminatory laws.  Events are shut down and activists are summoned for interrogation.  

    Freedom of expression and media freedoms continue to deteriorate in Lebanon.   During the October 2019 protests, more than a hundred journalists and media workers were attacked as they covered the demonstrations and many of these attacks were perpetuated by government agents. Many of these attacks were captured on video yet those responsible have not been held accountable. This failure or unwillingness of the government to hold those responsible to account emboldens the perpetrators with a high sense of impunity.

    We are also concerned about the killing of Lebanese human rights defender Lokman Slim who was found in his car by the Lebanese police after he was shot dead in February 2021 in the South of Lebanon. He advocated for the rights of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and documented war crimes in Lebanon and Syria.

    CIVICUS and partners calls on the Government of Lebanon 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 Lebanon is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Letter to the UN Secretary-General on UN agencies engagement with the Myanmar junta

    Re: UN agencies, funds, programmes and other entities engagement with the military junta

    UN entities must stop legitimizing the Myanmar military junta and instead present letters of appointment, sign letters of agreement and MoUs with the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government, and ethnic revolutionary organizations

    Your Excellency,

    We, the undersigned 638 civil society organizations (CSOs), condemn in the strongest terms the recent public signing of new agreements and presenting of letters of appointment to the illegitimate Myanmar military junta by UN agencies, funds, programmes and other entities working inside Myanmar. We urge you to intervene for a principled, coordinated UN response to the crisis in Myanmar. We call on you and all UN entities to immediately cease all forms of cooperation and engagement that lends legitimacy to the illegal murderous junta. Instead, letters of appointment and agreements must be presented to the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG), and ethnic revolutionary organizations (EROs).

    On 10 December 2021, 256 Myanmar CSOs urged UN entities to not engage with the junta in any way that lends them legitimacy. Despite these consistent calls from the people of Myanmar and CSOs, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) all signed new agreements with and presented credentials to the junta in August and September 2022. The public ceremonies, which were arranged with photographs, were used as propaganda by the military junta in its ongoing attempts to assert their legitimacy. The people of Myanmar have categorically rejected its attempts to seize power since its illegal attempted coup on 1 February 2021.

    For nearly a year and a half, the people of Myanmar have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to defend democracy and their rights by engaging in political defiance and armed resistance – as a last resort. Their aim is to prevent the illegal military junta from taking over the country, as it is attempting to do through inflicting immense suffering on the people.

    The recent public actions by UN entities are direct interventions that clearly side with the military junta, undercutting the ongoing collective resistance efforts and sacrifices by the Myanmar people to end the Myanmar military’s tyranny and establish a federal democracy. This breaches the principles of democracy, human rights and humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and “do no harm” outlined in the UNs’ Joint Operating Standards and frame work of engagement, for which UN entities must comply with and hold themselves accountable.

    Furthermore, in December 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to endorse the recommendations of the UN Credential Committee that had rejected the credentials of the military junta and allowed the incumbent Ambassador, U Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents the National Unity Government (NUG) and thus represents Myanmar, to maintain his position at the UN General Assembly. UN entities, and agencies, funds and programmes in Myanmar should be guided by this decision and should be engaging publicly with the NUG and not the military junta.

     

  • Letter to UN Member States: Civic space restrictions in Cambodia

    To Missions of UN Member States
    (delivered by email on 22 March)

    We are writing to you with regards to the human rights situation in Cambodia. Since the 2013 general elections, civic space in Cambodia has become increasingly repressed. The authorities have systematically misused the criminal justice system to silence government critics and civil society organisations (CSOs).

    In the run-up to Cambodia’s 2018 general elections, the Supreme Court in Cambodia ruled to dissolve the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) effectively ending the main political opposition to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The move, which transforms Cambodia into a single party state, has drawn widespread condemnation from across the globe.

    Human rights defenders have been harassed and prosecuted for their peaceful human rights work. Further, the controversial and vaguely worded ‘Law on Associations and Non-Government Organisations’ has imposed sweeping restrictions on CSOs in Cambodia. Independent media outlets are struggling to stay afloat amidst the harsh treatment of critical and dissenting voices by the authorities. In September 2017, the English-language Cambodia Daily was forced to shut down its operations after the authorities gave its publishers 30 days to pay a USD 6.3 million tax bill, a move widely viewed as arbitrary. The same month, Radio Free Asia ceased operations in Cambodia, citing the restrictive media environment. 

    The 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council offers an opportunity for states to raise these concerns with the Cambodian government. We understand that a joint statement has been drafted by New Zealand under Item 2. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, a champion of civic space, and a key democratic voice in the Asia Pacific region, we would like to urge the South Korean government to support this statement and to send a strong message to Cambodia that plurality and diversity in voices, political groups, civil society and the media should be encouraged and protected, particularly during politically charged periods such as elections.