On 17 September 2021, the UN Secretary-General released his annual report on reprisals and intimidation against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN on human rights. Once again, the report identifies a high number of threats and attacks aimed at retaliating against defenders and discouraging cooperation with the UN.
Click here to read more about ISHR’s coverage of COVID-19.
The full statement is below:
Civil Society Principles and Recommendations on Ensuring Civil Society Access and Meaningful Participation in UN Discussions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The UN and member-States are faced with the need to respond swiftly and effectively to the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, engaging with civil society partners in all their diversity is critical. As UN agencies, mechanisms, and bodies alter their way of working – postponing sessions or moving activities online – they must consider how to maintain and broaden that meaningful and inclusive engagement with civil society. They should be guided in this by the principles of accountability and transparency and have a mind to the following recommendations:
● Including civil society should be a key consideration in decision-making processes related to COVID-19, as measures adopted must respond to actual needs and create more confidence and compliance in order to protect health and lives;
● Exceptional measures and states of emergency adopted to fight COVID-19 should not be used as reasons to restrict civil society access and opportunities for participation within UN fora;
● Any changes to working methods and modalities of UN meetings due to being held online or to physical distancing should include an impact assessment on civil society participation before being enacted, the purpose of which is to ensure that civil society space is not limited by any such changes;
● When any activities are moved online, opportunities for participation and engagement for both ECOSOC-accredited and non-accredited NGOs should be, at a minimum, as significant and as meaningful as they were in person;
● All open sessions of UN deliberative and decision-making bodies, including but not limited to human rights bodies, should be broadcast in source language and in English and the footage archived;
● Secure, open, and accessible communication platforms should be adopted to protect civil society and ensure participation regardless of technological resources;
● The digital divide should be addressed through financial and technological assistance for civil society actors who are less able to acquire the necessary technology and connectivity on their own;
● Feedback from civil society actors should be actively sought when selecting secure means of communication to engage with them online or by phone;
● Member-States and the UN must remain vigilant about, and take measures to mitigate and respond to, the possibility of new and increased risks of intimidation and reprisals targeting human rights defenders when operating online and via information and communication technologies; and have in mind that intimidation and reprisals can span the the spectrum of online and offline spaces;
● The UN and its agencies, offices, and other constituent bodies should make available comprehensive and easily understandable information in a variety of languages on how to engage with the UN virtually;
● If carried out inclusively and securely, online participation presents an opportunity to widen the number and diversity of civil society actors engaging with UN agencies, mechanisms, and bodies, including after in-person meetings are resumed, as it will remove the resource constraints linked to travel; and
● Resident Coordinators and OHCHR offices in country should ensure they maintain close contact with human rights defenders in country. This, as a means to channel crucial situational analysis and other information into the UN system for response, but also to monitor restrictions placed on the activity of human rights defenders that go beyond what are reasonable measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
European Center for Not-for-Profit Law Stichting (ECNL)
Global Justice Center
Human Rights in China (HRIC)
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
International Women’s Health Coalition
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI)
Outright Action International
Save the Children
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
Contact: Eleanor Openshaw, [email protected]
On 7 September 2021, the International Service for Human Rights facilitated a multi-stakeholder dialogue with United Nations experts, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to discuss about Business, Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders.
This week in an online event, 10 candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 200 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2022 – 2024. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.
At the 47th session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR along with the Informal Sector Service Center presented a joint statement in Nepal’s Universal Periodic Review expressing concern about the situation of human rights defenders in the country.
A new ISHR report maps China’s presence and influence in the UN economic and social affairs system, highlighting potential risks for civil society participation and the promotion and protection of human rights.
In the first case on violence against trans people heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Court held Honduras responsible for the transfemicide of human rights defender Vicky Hernández.
Public servants, journalists, and indigenous defenders have suffered targeting and reprisals from an increasingly brazen government, confirming the urgent need to adopt legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders.
As part of a response to increased human right violations in the Philippines, over 100 NGOs and individuals called on the Supreme Court for enhanced legal protections for human rights defenders.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.
On May 8, 2021, Hassanna Abba, member of the executive board of the League for the Protection of Sahrawi Prisoners in Moroccan Prisons (LPPS) was physically attacked by Moroccan police officers. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), ACAT-France and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) strongly condemn this aggression and call on the Moroccan authorities to conduct an investigation and to immediately cease any act of harassment against Hassana Abba and all Sahrawi human rights defenders.
Germain Rukuki's right to a swift and fair appeal against his prison sentence must be upheld, says a coalition of 43 NGOs in a joint letter to Burundi authorities.
ISHR joined 64 organisations* from around the world to call on the Egyptian authorities, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to take immediate action to end the Egyptian authorities’ wholesale crackdown on independent organisations and peaceful dissent.