Last week the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association presented his report to the Third Committee of the General Assembly urging states and private sector to respect the exercise of human rights of those mobilising peacefully to address the climate crisis.
The international community should ensure that States responsible for gross human rights violations and that fail to protect human rights defenders or cooperate with the UN are not elected to the UN’s top human rights body, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) said today.
A coalition of over 40 leading non-governmental organisations has today called for States that are candidates for membership to the UN Human Rights Council to do more to respect human rights at home and at the international level.
On 12 November, the United Nations General Assembly will elect 14 new members to the Human Rights Council; its top human rights body.
‘Elections to the Human Rights Council are a critical moment for the international community to hold States to account for their human rights records, and to deny membership to the most flagrant abusers,’ said Phil Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights.
In a joint letter delivered by International Service for Human Rights on behalf of 40 signatories from all regions of the world, NGOs expressed concern about the clear failure of some candidates to fully comply with the criteria of upholding the highest human rights standards, and cooperating with the Human Rights Council.
‘Failure by Council members to take effective measures to address violations of human rights for which they are responsible, particularly of a gross or systematic nature, or to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms undermines the ability of the Council to promote and protect human rights and to demand full state cooperation with its mechanisms,’ the letter says.
‘The unwillingness of candidates such as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia to respect and support the important role played by civil society, non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders is deeply concerning,’ said Mr Lynch.
‘We are particularly outraged about a disturbing pattern of attacks, intimidation and violence against those who seek to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, occurring in some candidate States as part of a worldwide trend,’ said Mr Lynch.
In the joint letter, global civil society called on candidates to clearly commit to cooperate with the Human Rights Council’s human rights experts – the ‘special procedures’ – and with the newly established senior and UN wide focal point to improve the safety of those cooperating with the United Nations.
‘The UN depends heavily on the free and safe cooperation of human rights defenders for its effective functioning,” Mr Lynch said. “It’s therefore imperative that each candidate ensure that domestic legal provisions, promote and protect an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society,’ he added.
‘The ability of the Council in protecting human rights is undermined if its members do not take effective measures to address violations of human rights for which they are responsible.’
The joint NGO letter was sent to all candidates to the Human Rights Council and copied to members of the UN General Assembly. It was initiated by ISHR and supported by leading NGOs.
- Russian Federation
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Viet Nam
List of signatory organisations:
- Action Canada for Population and Development
- Amman Center for Human Rights Studies
- Amnesty International
- ARC International
- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
- East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
- Fondazione Marista per la Solidarieta Internazionale ONLUS
- Franciscans International
- Front Line Defenders
- GAYa NUSANTARA
- Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
- Human Rights Watch
- International Association for Catholic Education
- International Catholic Child Bureau
- International Commission of Jurists
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- International Federation of University Women (IFUW)
- International Lesbian and Gay Association
- International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
- International Service for Human Rights
- KIFKIF LGBT GROUP
- Lutheran World Federation
- Matrix Support Group
- Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
- Pax Christi International
- Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO
- Public Union of Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre
- Rainbow-Ethiopia HIV and Media Initiative (REHMI)
- Red Nacional de Promoción de la Mujer, RNPM-Perú
- Russian Research Center for Human Rights
- Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
- World Federation of United Nations Associations
- World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Additional signatories (as of 5 November 2013):
- Article 19
- Conectas Direitos Humanos
- Human Rights Law Centre (Australia)
- Peace Brigades International
- Reporters Without Borders
Today, UN member States elected members to the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, for the 2022-2024 term. 18 candidates ran for 18 seats, and all were elected, leaving civil society disappointed in a process that can hardly be called an election.
Mozambique has accepted 236 of the 266 recommendations received. While this highlights a slight progress since their last Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the human rights situation in the country still needs large structural improvements.
During the adoption of the outcome of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, Niger manifested its willingness to cooperate with human rights mechanisms by accepting almost all the recommendations. However, more efforts for an efficient implementation remain necessary.
Despite Sierra Leone's acceptance of recommendations aiming to improve civil society’s space, cases of reprisals against human rights defenders are still reported.
The DRC has noticeably improved the protection of human rights in the Kasaï region but progress remains slow and action is still needed towards transitional justice and the protection of defenders in this region.
Human rights organisations* urge the immediate and unconditional release of Egyptian human rights defender Mohamed El-Baqer, who completes today two years in arbitrary detention.
Human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia continue to face an increasing crackdown including arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and medical and administrative neglect. The UN Human Rights Council must take action by establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
Ten organisations renew their call for the immediate and unconditional release of Egyptian human rights defender Abdulrahman Tarek as he receives Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award
Despite the Burundian government’s efforts, the human rights situation in the country remains a matter of concern. During the presentation of its report, the Commission of Inquiry underscored the necessity to take more significative actions to pave the way towards sociopolitical stabilization and democracy.
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.
ISHR welcomes the Council’s historic consensus decision, led by the Africa Group, to adopt a resolution mandating an independent international expert mechanism to address systemic racism and to promote racial justice and equality for Africans and people of African descent. The adoption of this resolution is testament to the resilience, bravery and commitment of victims, their families, their representatives and anti-racism defenders globally.