The 55th UN Human Rights Council session will discuss the protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion, human rights while countering terrorism, and rights to food and housing. It will also address grave human rights issues in countries like Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, China, Syria, South Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Eritrea, and the Palestinian territories/Israel, amongst others.
As the year end looms, ISHR executive director Phil Lynch shares reflections on the context in which we operate, the importance of applying a principled, non-discriminatory approach to human rights, and the crucial work of defenders.
At a strategic consultation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders adopted its 2024 Action Plan to enhance support for defenders amid shrinking civic space and heightened State focus on terrorism.
On 21 November, ISHR celebrated the vital work of human rights defenders at a conference on 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Seventy-Five Years On: Achievements and Current Challenges.' A slightly shortened version of our speech is reproduced below.
On 25th October, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the African Commission’) held a panel to discuss the draft African Declaration on the promotion of the role of human rights defenders and their protection in Africa.
The DRC has become the fifth country in Africa and the first in Central Africa to adopt a legal instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights defenders. Though some provisions are contrary to international protection standards, if effectively implemented, this new law should help create an enabling working environment for defenders.
On 15 June 2022, the National Assembly of Niger passed a law on the rights and duties of human rights defenders. This makes Niger the fourth African country to adopt such a law. However, for the law to produce the desired effects, it must be widely known and understood by all stakeholders. The establishment of an independent and inclusive protection mechanism will ensure the full implementation of the law.
During the 75th session of the African Commission, ISHR delivered a statement on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa. The aim was to highlight the impact of anti-constitutional changes of government on the rights of human rights defenders and to call on the Focal Point on Reprisals to publish his first report.
On 22 and 23 March 2023, the Human Rights Council held a general debate on human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention. States and NGOs spoke, and the High Commissioner spoke on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They drew the Council’s attention to a number of country situations of concern. ISHR delivered a statement, highlighting the human rights situation in four countries: Burkina Faso, Colombia, El Salvador, and Saudi Arabia.
ISHR leads joint NGO letter addressed to all UN Member States urging support for consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders at HRC52.