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.
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.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights concluded its 77th Ordinary Session held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania from 20 October to 9 November 2023. During the session, the Commission renewed its Bureau. It received solemn declarations from elected and re-elected members and launched several documents and newsletters, among others.
ISHR and Outright International celebrate the adoption by United Nations Third Committee Member States today of a resolution on elections and democratic processes that, for the second time, specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination in people’s right to participate in public affairs.
On 19 October 2023, in collaboration with KUTAKESA and African Defenders, ISHR held an event on the sidelines of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on restrictive laws affecting human rights defenders in Africa.
To strengthen the protection of the environment and those who defend it, ISHR has joined the Environmental Regional Agreement Coalition in calling on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to initiate the development of an environmental rights instrument.
During the 77th Ordinary Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights granted observer status to nine non-governmental organisations. It rejected five applications. Four of these applications were rejected on the grounds that the organisations did not have offices in Africa.
The discussion, held on 17 October, emphasised the importance of safeguarding fundamental civil and political rights. Key topics covered included the freedom of association, freedom of demonstration, freedom of expression, and the protection of human rights defenders.
On 19 October 2023, ISHR in collaboration with Defend Defenders and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, launched two reports on the challenges faced by environmental human rights defenders in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania as well as the situation of women defenders seeking corporate accountability in Mozambique.
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.