At the 30th Session of the UN Human Rightc Council, CIVICUS urged UN Member States to devise a coordinated response to reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society organisations which range from threats, harassment, smear campaigns, fines, travel bans, the forced closure of organizations, politically motivated prosecutions, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and assassinations.
At the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS expressed its concern with the government of Belarus, which failed to adopt the recommendations made at its last Universal Periodic Review in 2011. Since then, the human rights conditions have deteriorated and the government deploys repressive practices such as arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, abductions and continued harassment of human rights defenders.
At the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS drew attention to a set of countries that regularly attack and undermine the rights of civil society. The key case studies were as follows:
In advance of the 25th Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), CIVICUS and its partners have made five submissions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and the environment for human rights defenders in Hungary, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Thailand. The submissions further provide a number of recommendations to the State under Review (SuR) to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
In a new report released today, “Enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Universal Periodic Review: A civil society perspective,” CIVICUS examines the experiences of civil society groups from across the world in engaging with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report, based on interviews with civil society leaders operating in diverse regions of the globe, provides a number of substantive recommendations to strengthen the UPR process to support the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society to promote and protect human rights.
Geneva, 20 August 2015,
Re: Addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia and ensuring that the United Nations retains its protection role and monitoring capacity in the country
We urge your delegation to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia by supporting a resolution, at the 30th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (14 September-2 October 2015), that highlights patterns of serious violations and calls on the Cambodian Government to put an end to such violations and to abide by its domestic and international legal obligations. The resolution should also extend the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.
CIVICS along with 11 other civil society organisations have sent a letter to the permanent representatives of Member and Observer states of the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution to address the human rights situation in Bahrain. There is particular concern over the Government of Bahrain´s continued repression of dissenting voices, including through the arbitrary detentions of high-profile opposition activists and human rights defenders.
During the 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (15 June - 3 July 2015), CIVICUS made a number of joint and individual interventions to highlight restrictions on civil society space. The interventions, including 9 parallel side events and 10 oral statements, underscored pressing thematic and country specific concerns on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and persecution of human rights defenders, which require the Council’s attention.
Delivered by Dora Tuez
CIVICUS wishes to address the Council on the High Commissioner’s report on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
CIVICUS strongly condemns last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Somalia, France and Kuwait and express our deepest sympathies with the victims and their families. But we also applaud the principled stand of the High Commissioner in addressing the challenges to human rights: “The fight against terror is a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them”.
In advance of the 24th Session of the UN Universal Period Review (UPR), CIVICUS and its partners have made five submissions on restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and persecution of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Singapore and Somalia. The submissions provide a number of substantive recommendations to support the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
29th session of the Human Rights Council
Thank you Mr. President. CIVICUS warmly welcomes the timely reports of both Special Rapporteurs. We commend the Special Rapporteurs for supporting an inclusive consultative process with a wide range of civil society actors to address the pressing concerns raised in their reports.
29th session of the Human Rights Council
Thank you Mr. President. CIVICUS welcomes the important report of the Working Group on discrimination against women, a report, especially in an Egyptian context, so very relevant at this critical time.
When: Friday, 19 June 2015, 11:00-13:00
Where: Geneva, Palais Des Nations, Room XII
Organisers: CIVICUS, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy, ECNL, Article 19, fidh, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
When: 18 June, 10:00-11:30 am
Where: Palais des Nations, Room XXII
Organisers: CIVICUS, International Service for Human Rights, Gulf Center for Human Rights
On the first day of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council, CIVICUS provided opening remarks on human rights violations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burundi, and Egypt.
During the forthcoming 29th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS and its partners will host a series of thematic and country-specific panel discussions highlighting pressing concerns for civil society and human rights defenders at the national, regional and international levels. The events will provide an important opportunity for a cross-section of the global human rights community to identify practical recommendations to create an enabling environment for civil society and effective strategies to foster greater transnational solidarity to address unwarranted restrictions on civic space.
For more information about these events please contact:
10 years removed from the massacre in Anadijan, Uzbekistan, which left hundreds of civilians killed by security forces, the country remains one of the most persistent human rights violators in the world. To mark the anniversary, CIVICUS and nine other organisations have written a letter to representatives of the UN Human Rights Council urging them to take action.
Following the second UPR of Belarus, CIVICUS has produced a summary of the country's current human rights situation, associated recommendations from member states, and recent civil society advocacy activities that have taken place at the UN in Geneva.
Side Event during the 22nd UPR Session
When: Monday, 4 May 2015, 12:45-14-15
Where: Palais des Nations Room
While Belarus accepted a number of recommendations on improving the environment for freedom of association during its initial UPR review in 2010, little appreciable impact has been observed in this field. Accordingly, the legal conditions for freedom of association and civil society groups remain among the worst in the region. Moreover, from 2010-2014 several restrictive legal measures and laws have been adopted further imperiling the right to freedom of association.
During the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 2-27 March 2015, CIVICUS and its partners made several high-level interventions to support the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society across the world. CIVICUS co-organized a number of thematic and country specific side events to draw attention to acute restrictions on civil society, human rights defenders and fundamental democratic freedoms. In addition, CIVICUS issued several oral statements calling on the Council to address persistent violations of basic human rights.
Delivered by Okwaraogoma Ononuju Silver, CIVICUS
CIVICUS welcomes the decision by the Gambian government to accept several recommendations aimed at improving the environment for the respect of fundamental freedoms including those to fully protect and promote freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all without fear of arbitrary detention or harassment and to continue to improve the protection and promotion of human rights.
In advance of the 23rd Session (November 2015) of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), CIVICUS has made five joint and stand-alone submissions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and the environment for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman and Rwanda. The submissions further provide a number of specific policy recommendations to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater compliance with international human rights law.
CIVICUS welcomes with horror the detailed report of the Commission and deplores once more the dire situation of the Syrian People. We are shocked about the lethargy of the International Community when innocent civilians in Syria are living through unspeakable horror and when the Security Council, deadlocked by vetoes or threats of vetoes, has been powerless to step in and alter this landscape of destruction and bloodshed.
The fundamental and necessary conditions which allow for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society are being systematically threatened across the globe. This precipitous decline in respect for fundamental civil liberties, including the rights to expression, association and assembly, is afflicting both emerging and consolidated democracies. The examples highlighted below, while particularly acute, are only illustrative of the global backsliding on the promotion and protection of civil society rights that the Council must address without delay.
CIVICUS applauds the very principled stand of the High Commissioner in addressing the challenges to human rights to counter terrorism. In this context we pledge once more support for the independence of the HC and his Office.
CIVICUS welcomes the first report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and congratulates her innovative road map to implement her mandate. We also welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights and want to address her country report on Vietnam in conjunction with the country report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion as well as the section on Vietnam in the High Commissioners report.
On March 3rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council, CIVICUS in cooperation with UNDP and the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, hosted the 'Annual High-Level Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming'.To open the event, Renate Bloem from CIVICUS delivered the following remarks:
The objective of the event organised by CIVICUS, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was to share information and discuss the potential roles of data revolution and the work of human rights mechanisms in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.
Dans ce document, CIVICUS fait état de ses inquiétudes concernant l’environnement dans lequel les organisations de la société civile, les défenseurs des droits de l’homme et les journalistes travaillent en Côte d’Ivoire ; CIVICUS y relève aussi les menaces auxquelles font face ces individus et organisations dans l’exercice de leur liberté d’expression, d’association et d’assemblée. La restriction des libertés fondamentales est exacerbée par les effets des années de conflits et de la violence postélectorale.
During the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 8-27 September 2014, CIVICUS and its partners made a number of interventions to promote the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders. CIVICUS co-organized several panel discussions focusing on unwarranted restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression requiring the Council’s further attention. In addition, eight joint and stand-alone oral statements were issued to highlight pressing thematic and country specific human rights concerns.
In parallel to the Council session events, CIVICUS co-organized six panel discussions to help identify emerging global trends in civil society restrictions and reflect on the essential measures States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate. The events, including on Bahrain, Ethiopia, and Yemen, provided crucial ingresses for human rights defenders to discuss the challenges they face at the national level and examine their governments’ adherence to international human rights obligations.
Over 40 civil society organisations have sent a joint letter to members of the UN Human Rights Council to support a landmark resolution on civil society space. The resolution, which will be voted on this week, mandates the OHCHR to create practical recommendations on how to effectively protect civil society space at the international, regional and national level.
In advance of the 22nd Session of the UN Universal Period Review (UPR), which examines each countries human rights record every 4 and a half years, CIVICUS has issued six joint and standalone submissions. The submissions, including on Belarus, Honduras, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, and the USA, analyse each countries’ commitments to uphold the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and to protect human rights defenders. The submissions further include a number of concrete recommendations to ensure the creation of an enabling environment for civil society.
CIVICUS on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative welcomes OHCHR’s Summary Report on the Civil Society Space Panel and we once again express our sincere thanks to the Panel’s organizers.
We wish to reiterate the Report’s clear message that civil society is an essential pillar of any democratic society and an indispensable partner of the Human Rights Council whose space needs to be both promoted and protected in accordance with international human rights law.
CIVICUS and its partners have produced joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 11 countries. 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. You can download the submissions at the following links:
If you would like additional information about these submissions please contact tor.hodenfieldATcivicus.org
27nd Session of the Human Rights Council
Opening Statement of the new High Commissioner for Human Rights
General Debate 9 September 2014
Delivered by Renate Bloem
Thank you Mr. President,
High Commissioner Zaid, CIVICUS warmly welcomes you to the Council and congratulates you for assuming the daunting task to become the chief of Human Rights, the 6th UN High Commissioner. You do this at a time when the world is on fire in too many corners.
CIVICUS welcomes the establishment of this Special Session and applauds the Council’s proactivity in promptly addressing the grave human rights violation committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups.
However, while we the agree that actions taken by these groups warrant further examination by the Council and a concerted response by the international community, we also urge the Council to utilize this occasion to ensure that the underlying tensions and root causes of the conflict are also duly addressed.
During the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 9-27 June, CIVICUS organized eight joint or stand-alone panel discussions on pressing thematic and country specific human rights situations:
• Civil Society Space: Addressing the Implementation Gap
• East Africa: Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders : Regional Challenges
• Repression, Reprisals and Detained Human Rights Defenders in the Gulf Region: Kuwait and Qatar in Focus
• Rule of Law in Bangladesh
• Re-Imagining Global Governance: CIVICUS’ 2014 State of Civil Society Report
• Human Rights in Eritrea
• Voices from Uzbekistan – An Atrocious Human Rights Record and the Lack of Effective Cooperation with the UN
• Bahrain: Empty Promises, crowded prisons
CIVICUS also delivered ten joint and individual oral statements to highlight ongoing restrictions on fundamental freedoms:
• Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association
• General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in South Sudan
• Final Update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
• Interactive Dialogue on UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
• Interactive Dialogue on the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprise
• Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
• Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Cambodia
• Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Eritrea
• Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Vietnam
• Adoption of the UPR outcome report of Yemen
In advance of the 21st Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which examines the human rights records of a country every 4.5 years, CIVICUS has made three submissions on unwarranted restrictions on the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly and human rights defenders in Kenya, Kuwait and Turkey. The submissions provide substantive recommendations to the States under Review (SuR) to create an enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater protections for human rights defenders.
In Kenya , CIVICUS, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya and the North Rift Human Rights Network raise concerns about threats faced by civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists working on sensitive issues including land rights and gender rights from state security agents, government representatives and non-state actors. The submission further examines restrictions on freedom of assembly including the use of excessive force to disperse peaceful protests and legislation to target civil society organisations.
In Kuwait, CIVICUS and the Gulf Center for Human Rights examine the escalating criminalization of online activism, including judicial harassment of individuals and human rights defenders who utilize social media to express dissenting views. The submission further highlights the government’s continued attempts to undermine the free exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and association of Kuwait’s stateless Bedoun community.
In Turkey, CIVICUS’ joint submission with the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly (hCa) discusses the legislative and extra-legal measures taken by the government to curb civil society activism and freedom of association. The submission highlights threats to freedom of expression and assembly including arbitrary restrictions on media freedoms and access to information and the unwarranted judicial persecution of peaceful protestors and journalists in the country.
ARTICLE 19 on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative* congratulates Frank La Rue on his final thematic report to the Human Rights Council. You have worked tirelessly over the last six years to defend freedom of expression where it is most at risk – including on free speech online, the threats of State surveillance, and providing the intellectual framework for Resolution 16/18. This report too will greatly enhance the work of civil society working on freedom of expression and elections.
Where freedom of expression is suppressed - the legitimacy of election outcomes will be contested, and avoidable political violence becomes inevitable, as seen in Pakistan, Venezuela, and Iran.
We underline that States must act to prevent and protect against threats, harassment and attacks on journalists, bloggers, activists and civil society, including during elections. We stress that criminal defamation and insult laws continue to be abused to silence dissent and insulate politicians from criticism – as seen in Ecuador and Peru - and must be repealed.
The letter, endorsed by 11 civil society organizations from across the globe, urges the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution during its 26th Session (9-27 June 2014) condemning ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and ensure accountability for grave human rights violations in Egypt.
In Yemen, CIVICUS, ANND and HRITC highlight the need to ensure the full realization of explicit commitments made by the government of Yemen during its UPR examination, including implementing legislation to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
In Vietnam, CIVICUS and 15 national civil society organizations raise concern about the ongoing persecution of human rights defenders for engaging with UN human rights mechanisms such as the UN Universal Period Review (UPR). They further urge the UNHRC to engage the Vietnamese government to ensure that human rights defenders are permitted to carry out their legitimate work free from government harassment.
The undersigned NGOs remain deeply concerned by ongoing serious human rights violations in Bahrain, including the politically motivated imprisonment of high-profile opposition activists and human rights defenders after grossly unfair trials, continued reports of torture, excessive use of force, regular denial of freedom of association and assembly, and a persistent failure to hold government actors to account for violations.
We are writing to encourage your office to make the conclusions of its mission public and to clearly identify key human rights concerns that should be addressed in priority by your office and by the Government of Bahrain. We also call on you to urge the Government of Bahrain to immediately release individuals arrested and imprisoned solely for the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and to swiftly set up dates for the visits of Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.
The 25th UN Human Rights Council session, 3-28 March 2014, marked the first-ever formal panel discussion at the UNHRC on the promotion and protection of civil society space. During the 25th session, CIVICUS made a number of interventions to highlight emerging trends in civil society restrictions and recommend key steps that States and the UN must take to protect the spaces in which civil society operate. Through these interventions, including parallel side events and written and oral statements, CIVICUS also provided a platform to its partners and members to input into UNHRC processes on creating a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
Civil society urges States to oppose proposed amendments that would weaken the Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests (HRC/25/L.20)
Read the letter here.
In advance of the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which scrutinizes each country's human rights record every four years, CIVICUS has made four submissions on unwarranted restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly and human rights defenders in Bolivia, Egypt, Iran and The Gambia . The submissions further provide a number of substantive recommendations to the States Under Review to create an enabling environment for civil society and ensure greater protection to human rights defenders.
In Bolivia, CIVICUS and Fundación CONSTRUIR, raise concerns about legislative and extra-legal measures taken by the government to curtail or stigmatize civil society organizations as well as ongoing attacks, intimidation and harassment of journalists.
In Egypt, CIVICUS and Elma7 Rosa for Media, Arts and Advocacy, discuss the growing repression of civil society and free speech including persistent imprisonment, disappearances and attacks against peaceful protestors, dissenters and independent journalists since the revolution of 25 January 2011.
In Iran, CIVICUS’ joint submission with The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, gravely notes the government’s failure to remove unwarranted restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, and assembly since its previous examination under the UPR in 2010, including the continued use of arbitrary arrest and detention to silence human rights defenders, journalists and civil society activists.
In The Gambia, CIVICUS examines the routine use of judicial persecution, arrests and detention of journalists and dissenters for exercising their right to freedom of expression and opinion. CIVICUS further highlights the recent adoption of a spate of restrictive legislation which impose draconian penalties against those who criticize the government.