United Nations

 

  • Cambodia: Blocking of music video another blow to freedom of expression

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and Asia Democracy Network (ADN) are appalled that the Cambodian authorities have ordered for a music video by a rapper that recounts a deadly government crackdown on a workers’ protest nine years ago to be removed from a social media page. We are also concerned about the questioning of civil society activists. Such actions highlight the systematic crackdown on freedom of expression under the Hun Sen regime.

    According to reports, Cambodia’s culture ministryordered police to prevent the spread of the music video called “Blood Workers” citing its “inciting contents that can contribute to instability and social disorder.” The video, which had been posted on the human rights group LICADHO’s Facebook page, was by rapper Kea Sokun and shows footage of the 3 January 2014 protests by garment workers in Phnom Penh demanding an increase to the minimum wage, during which police shot four people dead, 38 wounded and a 15-year-old boy missing.

    The cybercrime police alsoquestioned Am Sam Ath, operations director at LICADHO on 9 January over the NGO’s involvement in releasing the rap video. To avoid further legal action, LICADHOremoved the music video from Facebook and a censored page remains in its place. The group stated that the music video was not incitement and is protected speech under the Cambodian Constitution and they were saddened by this restriction on freedom of expression. LICADHO added that to this day, no one has been held accountable for the killings of workers Kim Phaleap, Sam Ravy, Yean Rithy and Pheng Kosal, or for Khem Sophath’s disappearance.

    The authorities went further to question Tola Moeun from NGO Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy (IDEA) and Theng Savoeun from CCFC (Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Communities) about the video.

    By blocking the video, the Cambodian authorities have once again chosen to silence freedom of expression and censor the work of civil society in their efforts to highlight human rights violations and seek accountability. Therefore, our organisations call on the government to halt its intimidation of civil society and to reverse this decision immediately which is clearly inconsistent with Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.

    This is not the first time rapper Kea Sokun has been targeted. He wasarrested in September 2020 andspent a year in jail for incitement for a song he released called ‘Dey Khmer’ (‘Khmer Land’) which is about the politically sensitive topic of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

    These actions are taking place in the context of an increasingly repressive civic space environment. In September 2022, CIVICUS published areport highlighting the ongoing persecution of activists, trade union activists, journalists, the opposition and others. Despite ongoing engagement and reporting by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia and multiple resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council and recommendations, the Cambodian government has shown no political will to undertake democratic or and civic space reforms, ahead of crucial 2023 elections.

    Our organisations call on the international community to increase its pressure on the Hun Sen regime to respect and protect human rights, especially fundamental freedoms and halt their persecution of civil society activists and critics. Failure to do so will see the one-party regime further entrench itself in years to come.


    Civic space in Cambodia is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

  • Cambodia: the Council must address human rights and political crisis

    Statement at 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia

    Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

    Thank you, Madame President, and thank you Special Rapporteur. The shrinking civic space and political monopolisation raised in the report has entrenched Cambodia into a de facto one-party state.

    Repressive laws are routinely misused to restrict civic freedoms, undermine and weaken civil society, and criminalize individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders, trade unionists, youth activists and journalists and other critical voices are routinely subject to judicial harassment and increasing online surveillance. Environmental activists from Mother Nature Cambodia, along with political activists, have been particularly targeted. Highly politicized courts mean that those arbitrarily detained and charged are often held for prolonged periods in pre-trial detention and have no chance of getting a fair trial.

    These concerns have escalated over the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s repressive response have exacerbated restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

    The main opposition party was dissolved in 2017 and its politicians remain barred from politics. Communal and national elections, set for 2022 and 2023 respectively, are likely to take place under a political climate severely unconducive to being free or fair.

    The fragile veneer of democracy engendered by the Paris Peace Accords has disintegrated past the point of no return in recent years. Those calling for human rights on the ground can no longer afford for the Council to treat the situation as business-as-usual. The Council must take meaningful action now to address the ongoing human rights and political crisis in Cambodia.

    Special Rapporteur, given that the Cambodian government has indicated no political will towards democratic or human rights reform, what action must the Council and member states take to protect civic space and contribute to concrete human rights progress on the ground?

    We thank you.


    Civic space in Cambodia is rated as "repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Cambodian civil society needs international support

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement during interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia

    CIVICUS and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report. We are alarmed that the situation of civic space in the country is worsening, with individuals and organisations attacked for raising human rights abuses, while Cambodians face ever-decreasing levels of freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

    In July this year, authorities detained two youth activists, Kong Raya and Soung Neakpoan, who participated in a commemoration ceremony on the third anniversary of the murder of prominent political commentator Kem Ley in Phnom Penh. Other peaceful protests have been blocked or restricted. In recent weeks, two local human rights organizations – LICADHO and Samakum Teang Tnaut STT – were called in for questioning by the government after releasing a report on the human rights impact of micro-finance loans; the director of a third CSO – Transparency International Cambodia – was also called in for separate comments he made in a newspaper.

    We echo the Special Rapporteur’s comments that ‘judicial institutions are themselves key to ensuring accountability in society’. Given this, we are dismayed that such institutions continue to be used by the government to silence human rights defenders and others who dissent. Such lack of justice at the national level calls for heightened international scrutiny.

    The dissolution of the main opposition party in 2018 has effectively transformed the country into a one-party state and undermines democratic space. At least 150 opposition activists have been detained or otherwise judicially harassed since 2018, six in the last week alone.

    As highlighted by the Special Rapporteur, Cambodia’s press freedom indices continues to fall. Independent media outlets perceived as critical towards the government were subject to a severe crackdown in 2017 and 2018 through threats and sanctions including shutdowns, and the environment for independent media remains fraught with danger. Two RFA journalists, Yeang Sothearin and Uon Chhin, face up to 16 years in prison for baseless espionage charges. Their verdict is pending.

    Cambodia participated in the third cycle of the UPR process earlier this year, committing to various human rights reforms. During its review, CSOs highlighted that this should be the first step towards improving the deteriorating human rights situation. Developments on the ground since these commitments were made does not bode well for their fulfillment.

    With independent media all but quashed and civic space under threat, international scrutiny is all the more urgent. At a minimum, the mandate of the special rapporteur must be renewed. But to see real change in Cambodia, the situation merits enhanced monitoring and reporting from the High Commissioner of Human Rights, to outline benchmarks the government must meet to comply with its international human rights obligations.

    Cambodian civil society deserves, and needs, international support. We ask the Special Rapporteur where the international community, including the Council, can exert pressure in order to ensure a substantive improvement of civic space, and whether she sees any avenue for Cambodia’s human rights record to improve substantively, given its current political framework.

    We also use this opportunity to call on the Human Rights Council to pass by consensus the resolution on Cambodia tabled during this Session.

     

     

  • CHINA: ‘Its international role both originates in and enables domestic political control’

    CIVICUS speaks about China’s growing international role withSharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China (HRIC), Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law and Professor of Law Emerita at the City University of New York School of Law. Founded in 1989by overseas Chinese students and scientists, HRIC isa Chinese civil society group that promotes international human rights and advances the institutional protection of these rights in the People’s Republic of China. Through case and policy advocacy, media and press work, and capacity building, HRIC supports civil society as the driving force for sustainable change in China. HRIC has offices in New York and Hong Kong, and is active on local, regional, and global platforms.

    Have there been any recent changes in the ways China engages in the United Nations (UN) system?

    China has been increasingly active and sophisticated in its engagement with the UN human rights system. As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council – where it formally replaced Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC) in 1971 – China has invoked its ‘One China Policy’ to block the recognition and admission of the ROC by other international bodies. At the same time, the shift of key players within the UN human rights system, and particularly the withdrawal of the USA from the Human Rights Council (HRC), has weakened principled leadership by Western democratic governments. This is especially concerning in the face of China’s increasingly aggressive, multi-pronged and sophisticated challenges to international standards and norms. A key element of China’s strategy has been essentially to counteroffer a model of governance that it refers to as human rights, democracy and rule by law ‘with Chinese characteristics.’

    In addition to the HRC, China is active on human rights-related issues before various UN General Assembly committees, including the Third Committee, on social, humanitarian and cultural issues, and the Fifth Committee, on administrative and budgetary issues. Some key issues it engages in include counterterrorism, information security, treaty body strengthening processes and other human rights mechanisms and procedures, and civil society participation.

    China Interview SharonHom

    As part of the party-state’s overarching strategy to expand and strengthen China’s influence internationally, China has been promoting the appointment and influence of Chinese nationals to key UN bodies and UN specialised agencies. For example, Mr Zhao Houlin was the first Chinese national to serve as Secretary-General of the 150-year-old International Telecommunication Union (ITU), from 2014 to 2018 and 2019 to 2020. As a key agency for information and communications technologies promotion, collaboration and standardisation, the ITU was a leading UN agency involved in the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). Endorsed by UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 of 21 December 2001, the WSIS was convened in two phases. The first phase took place in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003 and the second in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005. China was active in pushing back against the inclusion of human rights-focused language in the outcome documents of phase one – the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Geneva Plan of Action – and opposed the accreditation of what it perceived to be hostile civil society groups, including HRIC.

    In addition, Mr Liu Zhenmin, appointed in 2017 as UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, advises the UN Secretary-General on social, economic and environmental issues and guides the UN secretariat’s support for follow-up processes under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Chinese nationals have also served on the International Court of Justice, including Ms Xue Hanqin, who has served as a jurist since 2010 and was named Vice President of the Court in 2018.

    The appointments of nationals of a UN member state to key positions in UN bodies and agencies is not, of course, inherently problematic. Issues from a human rights perspective only emerge when any member state challenges existing standards regarding the rule of law as ‘inappropriate’ or advances a model of development that rejects a rights-based framework, as China now does.

    What are the Government of China’s motivations in its international engagements? What agendas is it particularly pursuing?

    The Chinese party-state’s motivations in its international engagements are primarily aimed at advancing the ambitious vision of President XI Jinping to see China take a leading role on the global stage, as laid out in part in his vision for the realisation of a ‘China Dream.’ Internationally, the party-state wants to ensure the narrative of China is ‘properly’ told, without questioning of or pushback against some of the more problematic elements of its model of governance.

    Specific objectives include limiting civil society engagement with and input into UN human rights mechanisms to government-approved civil society groups; redefining the foundational principle of the UN human rights system from one of the universality of human rights to that of the ‘conditionality’ of human rights; and shifting human rights protection from state accountability to a cooperative enterprise among member states. If achieved, these objectives will undermine the integrity and efficacy of the existing human rights system and enable states to become the arbiters of what human rights to confer on their people, the ‘operators’ of their respective human rights systems, and the overseers of accountability.

    Is one of the benefits of China's increasing international role that there is less oversight of its domestic human rights record?

    The international role of the Chinese party-state both originates in and enables its agenda for domestic political control. China’s increasing efforts to undermine and redefine fundamental human rights and specific human rights mechanisms on the international stage limits the protections and redress available to Chinese people for violations of international rights guarantees. Its agenda for international influence also serves to legitimise as well as decrease scrutiny of its domestic policies and practices. In addition, the tendency for international actors to either appease or otherwise act in complicity with the Chinese state has also led to serious consequences both for Chinese people as well as others around the world.

    One of the most vivid examples of China’s attempts to redefine human rights accountability and the lack of pushback by governments is the passage of the China-led resolution A/HRC/37/L.36 in March 2016 at the HRC. The resolution, ‘Promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights’, which included language of the so-called ‘Xi Jinping Thought’, passed with 28 votes in favour and 17 abstentions; the only vote against came from the USA.

    What kind of alliances or partnerships is China making with other states to work internationally?

    One of China’s most ambitious and formidable global development strategies in recent years is the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, an international infrastructure and investment programme that has already involved almost 70 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. Proposed by Xi Jinping in 2013, the Initiative is aimed at connecting major African and Eurasian nations through infrastructure development and investment, including a ‘digital silk road’ of Chinese-built fibre-optic networks. The Initiative has raised serious political and economic concerns among an increasing number of states, including Japan and the USA, about the Chinese political and strategic ambitions embedded in these economic partnerships. More recently, even some member states, the putative beneficiaries, are starting to push back against the ‘win-win’ arrangements that are now clearly ending up with them as client or debtor states.

    In addition, as one of the leading states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – a regional multilateral organisation with the primary goal of coordinating counterterrorism efforts and economic and military cooperation – China has been deployed in troubling joint military exercises, including simulated rescues of hostages being held by Muslim or Chechnian separatists. In accordance with SCO member and observer obligations, member states have returned Muslims to China to face uncertain fates, an action very much in conflict with the international non-refoulement obligations of all states. The SCO consists of eight member states and four observer states. However, though all the members of the multilateral regional organisation have incredibly troubling domestic human rights records, the SCO has been warmly welcomed by the UN as an observer at the UN General Assembly since 2005.

    What are the impacts of China’s involvement on international institutions and on the space for civil society in those institutions?

    China’s increasing involvement and influence in international institutions such as the UN poses a steep and growing challenge to the meaningful participation of civil society organisations (CSOs). As a member of the UN NGO Committee, China and ‘like-minded’ states act in concert to block UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accreditation to CSOs they deem critical or disparaging of China. When CSOs legitimately seek to participate as part of partner or league organisations, China has sought to challenge their participation. For example, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) often participates as a member of the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organisation. However, China has attempted to block interventions by the WUC in the HRC sessions and even to ban them from the buildings and grounds. China once even branded the WUC President Mr Dolkun Isa as a terrorist in an effort to block his participation in side events at the HRC in Geneva, and at General Assembly side events in New York. Ironically, these unfounded smear efforts served only to increase interest in various events.

    How is civil society working on issues around China’s international-level engagement, and what support does civil society need to be able to work effectively on this issue?

    Despite the many and significant challenges inherent in this work, CSOs around the world are increasingly working together to address China’s efforts to distort and subvert human rights norms on the international stage, and to address serious rights abuses. This includes collaborations between local, regional and international civil society groups to issue joint letters, briefings and submissions for UN human rights mechanisms and procedures, interventions at HRC sessions and side events and other targeted activities.

    The key support that civil society needs, especially smaller CSOs, is two-pronged: financial support to continue to carry out their missions and conduct the necessary research and projects related to understanding and responding to China’s actions on the international stage; and for governments of other states to act more aggressively and effectively to counter China when it acts inappropriately, and in particular to ensure a safe and enabling environment for domestic CSOs.

    Civic space in China is rated as ‘closed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch with the Human Rights in China through itswebsite andFacebook page, or follow@hrichina on Twitter.

     

  • Cinq pays sur la liste de surveillance de CIVICUS présentés au Nations Unies

     

    Déclaration lue au cours de la 46ème session du Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies

    Le Conseil a identifié des cas d’entraves aux libertés fondamentales comme le signe avant-coureur d’une crise imminente des droits humains. Cinq pays ont été mis en évidence dans la dernière liste de surveillance de CIVICUS, qui attire l’attention sur un groupe de pays où l’on constate un recul rapide dans le respect de l’espace civique.

    Il s’agit notamment du Myanmar, où un coup d’État militaire a entraîné la mort d’au moins 50 manifestants et l’arrestation arbitraire de plus d’un millier de militants, de manifestants et de responsables politiques, tandis que des journalistes sont pris pour cible quotidiennement.

    Au Nicaragua, les manifestations ont systématiquement été réprimées. Les défenseurs des droits humains, les journalistes et les opposants politiques présumés sont victimes de répression pénale et de harcèlement, et une série de lois répressives adoptées récemment entrave encore davantage l’espace civique.

    En Polania, les autorités et les groupes d’extrême droite ont fait un usage excessif de la force lors des mois de manifestations déclenchées par l’interdiction presque totale de l’avortement. Des lois et des réformes qui compromettent l’indépendance de la justice et l’État de droit ont été adoptées depuis 2015, et la liberté des médias est menacée.

    En Russie, des attaques de grande ampleur ont eu lieu contre les rassemblements pacifiques et les journalistes lors des grandes manifestations pacifiques dans tout le pays. Plus de 10 000 manifestants ont été arrêtés.

    Au Togo, où l’espace civique recule depuis 2017, l’arrestation d’une journaliste et de syndicalistes et la fermeture d’un journal sont des exemples récents qui illustrent la dégradation des libertés civiques.

    Le Conseil ne peut pas remplir ses mandats de protection ou de prévention s’il n’est pas prêt à prendre des mesures concrètes face à des situations qui présentent de tels signes avant-coureurs. Nous demandons au Conseil de procéder à un examen plus approfondi de la situation au Myanmar et au Nicaragua au cours de cette session, et d’accorder toute l’attention nécessaire à la Pologne, à la Russie et au Togo afin d’éviter que la situation sur le terrain de ces pays ne se détériore encore davantage. 

    Evaluation de l'espace civique - CIVICUS Monitor
    Ouvert Rétréci Obstrué Réprimé Fermé
     

     

     

  • Civic space and fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe

    Joint Statement at the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council

    CIVICUS and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) welcome the High Commissioner’s update. With a continued focus on prevention, we request the High Commissioner and the Council to pay attention to the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. The government has continued with its crackdown on civil society in violation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

    The state’s attacks on civil society have been systematic. Since the January 2019 shutdown atrocities where more than 17 people were shot dead and several injured, civil society members across the country have reported an increase in surveillance, abductions, arbitrary arrests and detention and interruption of their meetings by suspected state agents. Their legitimate and vital work of providing oversight, supporting and protecting vulnerable citizens, is now criminalised.

    The nation is currently gripped with a crippling economic situation which is creating a restless population. The response of the government by closing civic space and trampling on fundamental freedoms is deplorable.

    In the same period, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media has led an onslaught against civil society leaders whom they accuse of planning to topple the government. These baseless allegations have been followed by a spate of arrests of civil society activists.  A total of eleven civil society leaders are currently facing charges designed to criminalise human rights work.

    CIVICUS and the Forum request the members of the Council to pay special attention to the situation in Zimbabwe, to read the warning signs of a deteriorating situation and act accordingly.


    Civic space in Zimbabwe is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Civic Space Initiative statement on public participation guidelines

    39th Session of the Human Rights Council
    General Debate

    Civic Space Initiative, including Article 19, CIVICUS, European Center for Not-for-profit Law, International Center for Not-for-profit Law and World Movement for Democracy, welcomes the draft guidelines on effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

    We emphasise the critical importance of equal and meaningful participation in the realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as already laid out in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Equally, we recognise the centrality of participation in building democratic societies, social inclusion, gender equality and in advancing economic development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    We welcome the transparent, open, and inclusive manner in which the OHCHR developed the draft guidelines, including consultations our organizations participated in all parts of the world.

    We underscore allpractical recommendations at national and international level which will help UN member States to create an environment necessary for the public to have their say. We highlight in particular the rightof access to information and States’ obligations to encourage and support civil society to do its work and refrain from any harassment and reprisal of rights-holders.

    Therefore, we strongly encourage the Council to endorsethe guidelines on effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs, and call on all UN Member States, local authorities, relevant United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, funds and programmes to promote the use and implementation of the guidelines within their work and public outreach.    

    We look forward to working with OHCHR, as well as States at the international and national level to enhance the right to public participation.

     

  • CIVICUS à l'AGNU77 : Principaux points d'intérêt et conclusions

    Message de Lysa John, secrétaire générale de CIVICUS  

    Chers membres et alliés de CIVICUS,  

    Pour la première fois en trois ans, en septembre dernier, la session de l'Assemblée générale des Nations unies (AGNU) et ses réunions connexes ont été organisées en personne. Le personnel de CIVICUS, en collaboration avec un large éventail d'acteurs de la société civile, a participé à un certain nombre d'événements parallèles et de réunions sur un éventail de sujets visant à évaluer les progrès sur les engagements liés aux Nations Unies et à combler le fossé entre les décideurs et ceux qui sont affectés par les résultats des politiques intergouvernementales.  

    Nous avons participé à la réunion du Conseil des données du Partenariat mondial pour le développement durable et au lancement de la campagne sur les valeurs des données, qui a mis l'accent sur l'importance de renforcer les systèmes de données pour améliorer la prise de décision, en particulier dans le Sud. Le sommet #UnstoppableAfrica, organisé par la Global Africa Business Initiative, nous a donné l'occasion de parler du rôle des dirigeants du continent dans l'élaboration des #ODD et de l'importance d'investir dans la société civile. La zone d'action de l'ONU pour les ODD a accueilli un débat avec divers acteurs de la société civile et a fourni un espace pour discuter des moyens de sauvegarder les menaces et de protéger la société civile.  

    L'AGNU77 a servi de plateforme parfaite pour les bailleurs de fonds et les représentants de la société civile afin d'engager une discussion indispensable sur les ressources de la société civile et les obstacles auxquels les militants de base sont confrontés pour obtenir un financement durable. Nous avons participé à deux conversations de haut niveau organisées par l'Institut international de la paix et la Fondation des Nations unies afin d'améliorer les processus de financement de la société civile et des jeunes militants.  

    L'importance de la participation de la société civile et d'un espace civique ouvert a été l'un des messages clés du Forum mondial des peuples 2022 et d'un événement visant à commémorer les 30 ans de la Déclaration des Nations unies sur les droits des minorités. Suite aux inquiétudes soulevées lors de la réunion du Pilier Société Civile de la Communauté des Démocraties concernant le manque d'accès de la société civile aux locaux de l'ONU lors des sessions de haut niveau de l'Assemblée Générale de l'ONU, le Secrétaire Général de la Communauté des Démocraties a publié une déclaration positive appelant l'ONU à révoquer la suspension des laissez-passer annuels et temporaires permettant aux ONG d'accéder au siège de l'ONU.   

    Le forum d'action de la Global Business Alliance (WBA) a souligné comment les mobilisations et la solidarité de la société civile ont contribué à garantir la transparence des entreprises.  L'événement du segment de haut niveau de l'AMB du 22 septembre s'est concentré sur le rôle de la redevabilité des entreprises dans un système de gouvernance mondiale efficace.  

    Alors que les conditions de l'espace civique continuent de se détériorer dans le monde entier, les défenseurs des droits humains sont toujours confrontés à de graves conséquences lorsqu'ils dénoncent ouvertement le pouvoir. Pendant l'AGNU77, il était essentiel pour CIVICUS de participer à des espaces et des activités qui nous ont permis de souligner la nécessité de défendre les libertés civiques et de demander la libération de tous les défenseurs des droits humains emprisonnés. Le Global Citizen Festival et la rédaction de la déclaration de l'Assemblée populaire mondiale de 2022, qui a été dévoilée lors d'une conférence de presse intéressante avec divers acteurs de la société civile, ont été de bonnes occasions de soulever ces questions. Nous avons également engagé les gouvernements et les partenaires de la société civile du Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund sur les problèmes rencontrés par les OSC opérant dans des espaces politiques fermés et la lutte contre l'autoritarisme, ainsi que sur le soutien à la société civile qui défend les droits environnementaux et les droits des peuples indigènes.  

    Enfin, j'aimerais remercier tous ceux qui ont participé à la rencontre CIVICUS à notre bureau de New York le 19 septembre. Il n'y a rien de plus puissant que des militants de la société civile, des bailleurs de fonds et des alliés travaillant ensemble dans le but commun de créer un monde meilleur pour toutes les personnes.   

    En toute solidarité,  

    Lysa John  

    Secrétaire général, CIVICUS 

    @LysaJohnSA 

     

  • CIVICUS Addresses the New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    39th Session of the Human Rights Council  
    Opening Statement to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
     

    High Commissioner Bachelet, CIVICUS warmly welcomes you to the Council and congratulates your appointment as 7th UN High Commissioner. You take up this position at a time when human rights and the institutions to uphold them are under attack, and we look to you to be the voice of the thousands of human rights defenders working on the front lines, risking their lives on a daily basis. 

    We also welcome your call for new strategies and stronger tools for prevention, early intervention and also accountability so that the power of justice can deter and prevent even the worst violations and crimes. 

    The CIVICUS Monitor, a platform that tracks and rates civic space globally, has developed a Watch List of countries where on which individual activists and civil society organisations are experiencing a severe infringement of their civic freedoms as protected by international law, and urgent action is needed to reverse the trend. The Monitor  recently placed Bangladesh, Cameroon, the DRC, Guatemala, Maldives and Nicaragua on its Watch List

    These violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the killing of 18 human rights defenders since January 2018 in Guatemala; flagrant disregard for the rule of law in Maldives ahead of elections scheduled this month; killing of protesters, targeted campaigns of harassment and arbitrary detention of activists and political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on trumped-up charges in Cameroon amidst an escalating civil conflict and humanitarian crisis. 

    We call on you, High Commissioner and on all delegations to address these attacks and restrictions as a bellwether for further violations to come, and act now to reverse these worrying trends.

     

  • CIVICUS at Human Rights Council: Civil society helps fulfil human rights commitments

    35th session of the Human Rights Council
    Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education
    7 June 2017

    Thank you Mr. President,

    CIVICUS welcomes the reports of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.  We again commend the former Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, for his steadfast support for civil society across the world. We also welcome the new Special Rapporteur, Annalisa Ciampi, and remain committed to supporting the mandate to undertake its essential work.

    The Special Rapporteur’s report on mapping the achievements of civil society articulates an unassailable case for why civil society should be seen as an ally, rather than an adversary. As expressed by the mandate holder, civil society has played a crucial role in shepherding and realizing scores of progressive values and rights. The report provides a wealth of examples of these achievements, including through pursuing accountability, supporting participation and empowerment, driving innovation and fostering sustainable development. We urge all states to explicitly acknowledge the integral role that civil society plays in ensuring that states can actualize their domestic and international human rights commitments.

    We further reiterate the recommendations raised by the Special Rapporteur in his report on the  United States. National and public security concerns must not be misused to suppress freedom of assembly. The continued use of excessive force by police departments across the United States against peaceful protesters requires a concerted and proactive federal response. We also regret that immigrant workers face the specter of official harassment and deportation for attempting to exercise their right to freedom of association, including joining labor unions. 

    In the United Kingdom, we remain equally concerned by recent reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is willing to forfeit human rights in the pursuit of countering terrorism. Such a wholesale forfeit of human rights undermines the United Kingdom’s international obligations as well as efforts to address the roots causes of terrorism.

    We urge all States to pledge their support to the Special Rapporteur including by providing all necessary informational and financial resources to discharge the mandate and to work closely with civil society.

    We thank you.

     

  • Civicus at Human Rights Council: Statement on global state of civil society

    35th session of the Human Rights Council
    General debate on High Commissioner´s oral update
    7 June 2017

    Thank you Mr. President,

    CIVICUS welcomes the High Commissioner’s oral update. We applaud the prominence given to civic space and we share his concern that civil society faces growing and debilitating threats.

    Yesterday, CIVICUS released its annual State of Civil Society report which explores the worrying backsliding on democratic norms across the world. The report underscores that The world is facing a democratic crisis through unprecedented restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly which constitute a global emergency. 

    The report further highlights that around the world it is becoming increasingly dangerous to challenge power, and to do so risks reprisals. In several countries, right-wing populist and neo-fascist leaders have gained prominence by winning elections or commanding enough support to push their ideas into the mainstream. Their politics and worldview are fundamentally opposed to civil society seeking to promote human rights, social cohesion and progressive internationalism.

    This is happening even in countries where we believed the concepts of constitutional, participatory democracy had long been established. And while much of the world’s attention has lately focused on political shifts in the US and Europe, we see populist strongmen increasing their grip in countries such as India and the Philippines, as well as longstanding autocratic states such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Saudi Arabia and others where independent civil society space has long been closed.

    However, Mr. President, Civil Society is also fighting back. 

    The last 6 months were marked by multiple forms of mass peaceful protests. Around the world, whenever new leaders have come to power on polarizing right-wing populist platforms, they have been met with major demonstrations by those taking a stance against them. The democracy of the street is alive and well.

    We call on all member and observer States of Council to understand, articulate and make clear to their governments that the realization of civil society rights is an essential part of the defense of democracy and a healthy society.

    We thank you

     

  • CIVICUS at the 2019 High Level Political Forum 

    Without civil society, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would not be possible. Civil society not only actively contributes to achieving each of the goals, they are also actively monitoring and reviewing governments commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That’s why every July thousands of civil society representatives from around the world attend the High Level Political Forum in New York. 

    When: Tuesday 9 July to Thursday 18 July 2019 
    Where: New York 
    What: The theme of the 2019 High Level Political Forum is "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" 
     
    Six of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will be under review in 2019. 
    They are:  
    • Goal 4: Inclusive and equitable education 
    • Goal 8: Decent work for all 
    • Goal 10: Reduce inequality 
    • Goal 13: Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
    • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies
    • Goal 17: Global Partnerships

    47 countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in 2019. CIVICUS members and other civil society will also contribute to review the Sustainable Development Goals by sharing their own findings, and by monitoring and reviewing governments commitments. CIVICUS also continues to actively advocate for increased formal recognition of the vital role of civil society in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, including through compelling civil society reports. 

    Read the joint civil society statement endorsed by over 250 organisations from 27 countries calling for governments to make civil society equitable partners in the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

    CIVICUS EVENTS 

    CIVICUS is co-organising the following events during HLPF 2019: 

    When: Thursday 11 July, 10 AM to 1 PM EST 
    Where: UNHQ Conference room 5 
    Co-sponsors: Amnesty International, Action for Sustainable Development, CBM International, CIVICUS, Gallaudet University, International Civil Society Centre, Institute for Development Studies, International Movement ATD Fourth World, Oxford University, Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities 
    What: A practical workshop featuring national examples of creating a more inclusive approach to reviewing the Sustainable Development Goals.
    A UN pass is required to attend this event. 
     
    When: Friday 12 July, 1:00 to 3:00 PM EST 
    Where: Ford Foundation 
    Co-sponsors: CIVICUS, Article 19, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), Oxfam, Action Aid, Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), Government of Finland, UN OHCHR. 
    What:Who are the people who are making our world more sustainable, just and inclusive and how can we ensure that they are protected and empowered by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? 
    This event will be livestreamed on the CIVICUS Facebook page
    Please RSVP here by 11 July: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NNBX2SB. No UN pass necessary.
     
    When: Monday 15 July, 1:15 to 2:30 PM EST 
    Where: Conference Room B, UNHQ 
    Co-sponsors: World Resources Institute, UN ECLAC, Government of Costa Rica, The Access Initiative, Namati, DAR, CIVICUS 
    What? Escazu Agreement Side Event 
    This event will be livestreamed on the CIVICUS Facebook page
    A UN pass is required to attend this event. For more information please contact: Natalia Gomez Pena
     

    ACTION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    CIVICUS also supports civil society participation in the Sustainable Development Goals through our membership of the global network, Action for Sustainable Development. Overview of these additional events:

    When: Thursday11 July, 1:15 to 2:45 PM EST 
    Where: UN Conference Room 1 --- requires UN ground pass
    Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development, TAP Network, Forus 
    A UN pass is required to attend this event. 
     
    When: Saturday 13 July, 9:00 to 3:00 PM EST 
    Where: UN Church Center
    Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development
     
    When: Wednesday 17 July, 2:00 to 4:00 PM EST 
    Where: Ford Foundation
    Co-sponsors: Action for Sustainable Development, Forus, TAP Network, the Asia CSO Partnership for Sustainable Development and others
     

    SOCIAL MEDIA

    You can follow the developments at the HLPF by following #SDGs #HLPF #HLPF2019 and @Action4SD on Twitter. 

    SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 16 AND 17

    CIVICUS members and civil society contribute to all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals but we carefully follow Goals 16 and 17 in particular because these specifically relate to civil society’s important role in sustainable development. 

    The below infographic provides a helpful snapshot of how the 47 countries under review at this year’s High Level Political Forum are doing on SDG 16.10 according to data from the CIVICUS Monitor. 

    CIVICUS is also closely monitoring: 

    SDG Target 16.7. Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels 

    SDG Target 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms 

    SDG Target 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships 

    CIVICUS is also a signatory to the May 2019 Rome Civil Society Declaration on SDG16+

    READ MORE

    Why civic action and participation is vital for achieving the sustainable development goals, by Lysa John. https://oecd-development-matters.org/2019/06/18/civic-space-is-shrinking-yet-civil-society-is-not-the-enemy/ 

    Report: The linkages between the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx  

    How Civil Society’s Contributions to Sustainable Development are Undermined at the HLPF, by Lyndal Rowlands https://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/unanswered-questions-how-civil-societys-contributions-to-sustainable-development-are-undermined-at-the-hlpf/ 

     

  • CIVICUS at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The opening week of the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council will be dominated by the high level segment which will include approximately 99 high level speakers including top political leaders from UN member states as well as UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the President of the General Assembly amongst others.
     
    To note is the oral update given by the High Commissioner for human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the 7th March which will address a number of pressing issues on the Councils agenda as well as bringing to light issues that are not being properly addressed by the Council and merit further attention.
     
    On the agenda this session of Interest to CIVICUS will be reports on the safety of journalists, the report on effectiveness and reform of the Human Rights Council, the report on Human Rights Defenders and People on the move by Michel Forst, SR for Human Rights Defenders. Also of note, the right to privacy and a number of country specific situations. CIVICUS will be following many discussions where civic space is touched upon and will continue to advocate for an enabling environment for civil society.

    Thursday, 1 March 14:00 - 15:00 (Room XXVII) | Human Rights & Citizenship in the Gulf Region | Organised by: SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, CIVICUS, International Federation for Human Rights, and
    Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

    Across the Gulf Region, the relationship of citizenship and human rights has become a central issue. This event will examine how the authorities have increasingly sought to strip human rights defenders of their citizenship as a reprisal for their perceived political views and legitimate human rights work. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS
    • Tara O'Grady, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
    • Mohamed Sultan, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    • Abdelbagi Jibril, Darfur Relief & Documentation Centre
    • Moderator: Asma Darwish, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights

    Friday, 2 March 11:30 - 13:00 (Room XXIV) | Ethiopia: The role of the international community in ending impunity and ensuring accountability for violations of fundamental rights | Organised by: Defend Defenders,Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, and CIVICUS

    The event will provide an opportunity to examine the state of civic space in Ethiopia and the setbacks in has suffered over the last decade. Civic space has become increasingly controlled and restricted as human rights defenders have faced threats, arrests, and detention while attempting to exercise their rights to assembly, association, and expression. This even will ook at these threats and trends. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Yared Hailiemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Tsedale Lemma, Editor-In-Chief, Addis Standard Magazine
    • Bayisa Wak-Woya, Director, Global Refugee & Migration Council 
    • Moderator: Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders

    Friday, 2 March 15:00-16:30 (Room XI) | Counterterrorism, Emergency Powers, and the Protection of Civic Space | Organised by: Article 19, ECNL, CIVICUS, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy, and International Federation for Human Rights

    The use of exceptional national security and emergency powers to combat terrorism has become increasingly common. The event will look at how counterterrorism measures and emergency powers have increasingly resulted in the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, including the rights to assembly, association and expression. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
    • Kerem Altiparmek, Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science
    • Yared Hailemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Lisa Oldring, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    • Sonia Tanic, Representative to the UN, International Federation for Human Rights
    • Moderator: Nicholas Miller, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

     

  • CIVICUS at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The opening week of the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council will commence with the high level segment which will include approximately 99 high level speakers including top political leaders from UN member states as well as UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the President of the General Assembly amongst others.
     
    To note is the oral update given by the High Commissioner for human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the 7th March which will address a number of pressing issues on the Councils agenda as well as bringing to light issues that are not being properly addressed by the Council and merit further attention.
     
    Of interest to CIVICUS will be reports on the safety of journalists, the report on effectiveness and reform of the Human Rights Council, the report on Human Rights Defenders and People on the move by Michel Forst, SR for Human Rights Defenders. Also of note, the right to privacy and a number of country specific situations. CIVICUS will be following many discussions where civic space is touched upon and will continue to advocate for an enabling environment for civil society.

    Thursday, 1 March 14:00 - 15:00 (Room XXVII) | Human Rights & Citizenship in the Gulf Region | Organised by: SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, CIVICUS, International Federation for Human Rights, and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

    Across the Gulf Region, the relationship of citizenship and human rights has become a central issue. This event will examine how the authorities have increasingly sought to strip human rights defenders of their citizenship as a reprisal for their perceived political views and legitimate human rights work. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS
    • Tara O'Grady, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
    • Mohamed Sultan, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    • Abdelbagi Jibril, Darfur Relief & Documentation Centre
    • Moderator: Asma Darwish, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights

    Friday, 2 March 11:30 - 13:00 (Room XXIV) | Ethiopia: The role of the international community in ending impunity and ensuring accountability for violations of fundamental rights | Organised by: Defend Defenders,Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, and CIVICUS

    The event will provide an opportunity to examine the state of civic space in Ethiopia and the setbacks in has suffered over the last decade. Civic space has become increasingly controlled and restricted as human rights defenders have faced threats, arrests, and detention while attempting to exercise their rights to assembly, association, and expression. This even will ook at these threats and trends. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Yared Hailiemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Tsedale Lemma, Editor-In-Chief, Addis Standard Magazine
    • Bayisa Wak-Woya, Director, Global Refugee & Migration Council 
    • Moderator: Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders

    Friday, 2 March 15:00-16:30 (Room XI) | Counterterrorism, Emergency Powers, and the Protection of Civic Space | Organised by: Article 19, ECNL, CIVICUS, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy, and International Federation for Human Rights

    The use of exceptional national security and emergency powers to combat terrorism has become increasingly common. The event will look at how counterterrorism measures and emergency powers have increasingly resulted in the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, including the rights to assembly, association and expression. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
    • Kerem Altiparmek, Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science
    • Yared Hailemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Lisa Oldring, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    • Sonia Tanic, Representative to the UN, International Federation for Human Rights
    • Moderator: Nicholas Miller, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

    Thursday, 15 March 15:00-16:00 (Room XXII) | The Link Between the Deterioration of Human Rights in Egypt and the Massive Violations in the Gulf States | Gulf Center for Human Rights | International Federation for Human Rights | OMCT | International Service for Human Rights | CPJ | ALQST | CIVICUS | CPJ

    A look at the middle east governments' coordinated efforts to target human rights defenders and journalists across the region. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS:

    • Yahya Al-Assiri, Director of ALQST for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
    • Justin Shilad, Committee to Protect Journalists
    • Nardine Al-Nemr, Academic & Activists from Egypt
    • Sara Brandt, Advocacy & Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS

     

  • CIVICUS at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council

    The 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 18 June to 6 July 2018, will consider core civic space issues of freedom of association, assembly and expression. During this session, CIVICUS will be supporting advocacy missions on the grave human rights situations in Tanaznia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Nicaragua, while also participating in reviews of citizen rights in Burundi, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the European Union. Additional areas to note:

    • The first week of the session will coincide with World Refugee Day (20 June)
    • Be the first session of the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly, Clement Voule
    • Process to renew and strengthen the Civic Space Resolution

    If you are in Geneva, please join us at the following events that CIVICUS is organising with partners:

    These events will be livestreamed on our CIVICUS Facebook Page and daily updates provided on Twitter.

     

  • CIVICUS at the 40th Human Rights Council

     

    The 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council will meet from 25 February to 22 March. While in session, CIVICUS will be presenting research and conducting advocacy activities related to UN Member States' records on protecting civil liberties. In particular, CIVICUS is organising a number of side events, issuing advocacy statements and supporting our members engage in official proceedings, where they can inform government and UN officials on the state of civicspace conditions in their countries. 

    Panel discussions CIVICUS will be co-organising:

    Friday, 1 March, 13:00-14:00 (Room XXVII) | The Role of Counter-Terrorism Laws in the Closing of Civic Space | Civic Space Initiative (Article 19, CIVICUS, ECNL, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy)

    This event will examine the misuse of counter-terrorism laws by States to target government critics and human rights defenders. The panel will look at how states are abusing security legislation to curtail civic freedoms. See full invitation. Speakers include:

    • Fionnuala Ni Aolain, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
    • Alexander Verkhovskiy, Director, SOVA Center
    • Melanie Strickland, community activist and member of the Stansted 15
    • Befekadu Hailu, Blogger and Human Rights Activist, EHRP/Addis Maleda 
    • Moderator: Nicholas Miller, Legal Advisor, ICNL

    Tuesday,  5 March, 13.00-14:00 (Room XXVII) | Escazú and Beyond: Strengthening the Global Normative Framework on Protecting Environmental Defenders | Article 19, Centre for Environmental Rights, CIVICUS, Defend Defenders, Frontline Defenders, Global Witness, Ground Work, Human Rights Watch,  International Land Coalition
     
    This side event will review State obligations for protecting the rights of environmental defenders and how the recently adopted Escazú Agreement can inform the work of the Human Rights Council. The panel will look at how the standards of the regional Escazú Agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean can support global efforts to end the widespread attacks against environmental and land rights activists. See full invitation (Espanol). Speakers include:

    • Leiria Vay, Comité de Desarrollo Campesino, CODECA Guatemala
    • Matome Kapa, Attorney, Centre for Environmental Rights, South Africa
    • Marcos Orellana, Director Human Rights and Environment Division, HRW
    • David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment
    • Moderator: Natalia Gomez, Advocacy & Network Engagement Officer, CIVICUS

    Other events that CIVICUS is cosponsoring at the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council, include:

    • 5 March (10:00-11:00) | The case for international action on Bahrain | Room XV
    • 6 March (11:00-12:00) | Women Human Rights Defenders: Local Realities & Shared Global Challenges | Room XXI
    • 8 March (12:00-13:00) | East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project - Human Rights in South Sudan | Room XXVII

    CIVICUS will be live-streaming events through its Facebook page and posting updates on Twitter

     

  • CIVICUS at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

     

    Together with our members, CIVICUS is participating in the Commission on the Status of Women (11-22 March, UN Headquarters, New York). This is the 63rd session of the global intergovernmental body, which is dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. There are a number of events and advocacy activities taking place during the two week UN meeting. See our programme and learn more about how governments, UN agencies and civil society work together at this annual meeting to advance gender equality,  via our CSW portal

     

  • CIVICUS at UN Human Rights Council: Human rights challenges in the context of countering terrorism

    37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Oral Statement – Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

    1 March 2018

    CIVICUS, on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative, welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report on the human rights challenge of states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism.

    This Council has reaffirmed that the most effective means of countering terrorism is through the respect for human rights, including by addressing conditions conducive to terrorism such as a lack of respect for the rule of law, political exclusion, suppression of dissent.

    Worryingly, from the Maldives, to France, to Turkey, to Ethiopia, governments across the world are invoking states of emergency, with the effect, and in some cases the intent, of criminalising dissent and persecuting human rights defenders, protesters and civil society organisations. Rather than pursue legitimate national security objectives, these laws are applied to insulate governments from legitimate criticism. Such measures are contrary to international human rights law and are counter-productive to peace and security.

    We urge states to heed the Human Rights Committee’s guidance that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be derogated, and we consider the same to be true for other rights essential to civil society.

    All national counter-terrorism laws must be brought into compliance with international human rights law, with the full and effective participation of civil society. We call on States that are currently under States of Emergency to ensure their independent review by the judiciary, and to end them where they are no longer justified by the exigencies of the situation.

    We ask the Special Rapporteur how the Human Rights Council can better support the UN Security Council in addressing the shrinking of civic space, to provide accountability for abuses of counter-terrorism measures against persons exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression.

     

  • CIVICUS en la AGNU77: Principales puntos de interés y conclusiones

    Mensaje de Lysa John, secretaria general de CIVICUS  

    Estimada membresía de CIVICUS y aliados,  

    Por primera vez en tres años, este mes de septiembre, la sesión de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas (AGNU) y sus reuniones asociadas se organizaron en persona. El personal de CIVICUS, en colaboración con un amplio abanico de actores de la sociedad civil, participó en varios eventos paralelos y reuniones sobre una serie de temas destinados a evaluar los avances en los compromisos relacionados con la ONU y a tender un puente entre los responsables de la toma de decisiones y los afectados por los resultados de la elaboración de políticas intergubernamentales.  

    Participamos en la reunión de la Junta de Datos de la Alianza Mundial para el Desarrollo Sostenible y en el lanzamiento de la Campaña de Valores de Datos, que se centró en la importancia de fortalecer los sistemas de datos para mejorar la toma de decisiones, especialmente en el Sur global. La cumbre #UnstoppableAfrica, organizada por la Global Africa Business Initiative, nos ofreció la oportunidad de hablar sobre el papel que juega el liderazgo del continente en la elaboración de los #ODS y la importancia de invertir en la sociedad civil. La Zona de Acción de los ODS de la ONU organizó un debate con diversos actores de la sociedad civil y proporcionó un espacio para debatir las formas de salvaguardar las amenazas y proteger a la sociedad civil.  

    La AGNU77 sirvió como plataforma perfecta para que los financiadores y los representantes de la sociedad civil entablaran un debate muy necesario sobre los recursos de la sociedad civil y los obstáculos a los que se enfrentan los activistas de base a la hora de conseguir una financiación sostenible. Participamos en dos conversaciones de alto nivel organizadas por el Instituto Internacional de la Paz y la Fundación de las Naciones Unidas, con el fin de mejorar los procesos de dotación de recursos para la sociedad civil y los activistas juveniles.  

    La importancia de la participación de la sociedad civil y del espacio cívico abierto fue uno de los mensajes clave en el Foro Mundial de los Pueblos 2022 y en un acto para conmemorar los 30 años de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de las Minorías. Como consecuencia de las preocupaciones planteadas en la reunión del Pilar de la Sociedad Civil de la Comunidad de las Democracias sobre la falta de acceso de la sociedad civil a los locales de la ONU durante las sesiones de alto nivel de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, el secretario general de la Comunidad de las Democracias emitió una declaración formulada de forma positiva en la que pedía a la ONU que revocara la suspensión de los pases anuales y temporales de las ONG para entrar en la sede de la ONU.   

    El Foro de Acción de la Alianza Mundial (WBA) destacó cómo las movilizaciones y la solidaridad de la sociedad civil han contribuido a garantizar la rendición de cuentas de las empresas.  Por su parte, el evento de la sesión de alto nivel de la WBA, celebrado el 22 de septiembre, se centró en el papel de la rendición de cuentas de las empresas en un sistema de gobernanza mundial eficaz.  

    Mientras las condiciones del espacio cívico siguen deteriorándose en todo el mundo, las personas que defienden los derechos humanos siguen enfrentándose a graves consecuencias cuando denuncian abiertamente al poder. Durante la AGNU77 fue fundamental para CIVICUS participar en espacios y actividades que nos permitieran poner de relieve la necesidad de defender las libertades cívicas y pedir la liberación de todas las personas defensoras de los derechos humanos que se encuentran encarceladas. El Festival Ciudadano Global y la redacción de la Declaración de la Asamblea Mundial de los Pueblos de 2022, que se dio a conocer durante una interesante conferencia de prensa con diversos actores de la sociedad civil, brindaron buenas oportunidades para plantear estas cuestiones. También hicimos partícipes a los gobiernos y a los socios de la sociedad civil del Fondo de Ayuda a las OSC en Lucha contra la Pobreza (Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund) de los problemas a los que se enfrentan las OSC que operan en espacios políticos cerrados y de la lucha contra el autoritarismo, así como del apoyo a la sociedad civil que defiende los derechos medioambientales y de los pueblos indígenas.  

    Por último, me gustaría extender mi agradecimiento a todas las personas que asistieron al Meet & Greet de CIVICUS en nuestra oficina de Nueva York el 19 de septiembre. No hay nada más poderoso que activistas de la sociedad civil, financiadores y aliados trabajando juntos con el objetivo común de crear un mundo mejor para todas las personas.   

    En solidaridad,  

    Lysa John  

    Secretaria general, CIVICUS 

    @LysaJohnSA 

     

  • CIVICUS Joint UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space

    Submissions on civil society space– Afghanistan, Chile, Eritrea, Macedonia, Vietnam & Yemen

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on six countries in advance of the 32nd UPR session in January 2019. 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.  

    Afghanistan: CIVICUS, Afghanistan Human Rights Organization (AHRO), Civil Society and Human Rights Network and People’s Action for Change Organization explore the continued insecurity in Afghanistan, which has resulted in the closure of space for civil society, including through targeted attacks on humanitarian workers, protesters and journalists. We further discuss violence against women and the desperate situation faced by women HRDs in Afghanistan who are subjected to a heightened level of persecution because of their gender and their human rights activism.

    Chile: CIVICUS and Pro Acceso Foundation (Fundación Pro Acceso) highlight serious concerns regarding the persistent misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Law to silence members of the Mapuche indigenous community advocating for land rights. We are also concerned by the lack of government commitment to amend legislation regulating the right to peaceful assembly and by the violent suppression of social protests, especially those led by the student movement and indigenous communities. 

    Eritrea: CIVICUS, EMDHR and Eritrea Focus highlight the complete closure of the space for civil society in Eritrea to assemble, associate and express themselves. We note that there are no independent civil society organisations and private media in the country. We further discuss how the government selectively engages with international human rights mechanisms including UN Special Procedures. 

    Macedonia: CIVICUS, the Balkan Civil Society Development Network and the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation outline serious concerns over the institutional harassment of NGOs in receipt of foreign funding since 2016. Despite a recent improvement in respect for civic freedoms, the submission discusses several restrictions on investigative journalists and media outlets. We also remain alarmed over smear campaigns against human rights defenders and critics of the government orchestrated by nationalist groups. 

    Vietnam: CIVICUS, Civil Society Forum, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), VOICE and VOICE Vietnam examine systematic attempts in Vietnam to silence HRDs and bloggers, including through vague national security laws, physical attacks, restrictions on their freedom of movement and torture and ill-treatment in detention. The submission also explores strict controls on the media in law and in practice, online censorship and the brutal suppression of peaceful protests by the authorities.

    Yemen: CIVICUS, Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Front Line Defenders discuss the ongoing extreme violence against and HRDs and journalists including regular abductions, kidnappings and detention in undisclosed location. We further examine restrictions on freedom of association including raids on CSOs causing many to reduce their activities drastically and even closed entirely. 

    See full library of previous UPR country submissions from CIVICUS and partners. For the latest news on civic space in all UN Member States, see country pages on the CIVICUS Monitor