Concrete steps towards better protection of human rights defenders

March 15, 2012

On March 8 and 9, 2012, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), organised the fourth “inter-mechanisms” meeting, which was hosted by the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland. This is a unique informal platform where under Chatham House Rules key actors meet to fine tune standards and mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders.

On this occasion, international and regional mechanisms and programmes for the protection of human rights defenders – operating within the United Nations, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights(IACHR) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – joined by representatives of the European Union, the International Organisation of the Francophonie and various NGOs, discussed the drafting of a joint report on existing standards and recommendations related to the protection of human rights defenders at the international and regional levels. IACHR offered to take a coordinating role in drafting the report, with the back up of the Observatory. This report would be inspired by the 2011 Commentary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the IACHR Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. Such a document, the first of its kind, will not only be a useful tool to human rights defenders, States and other relevant stakeholders, but will also demonstrate a unity of approaches among mechanisms.

Participants also shared their experiences and lessons learnt in order to identify possible ways tostrengthen the coordination and cooperation among existing mandates on the protection of human rights defenders. In particular, action-oriented discussions focused on how to ensure accountability for human rights violations against human rights defenders, which is a central issue for all mechanisms and programmes in order to combat impunity.

Participants also discussed core policy challenges affecting the protection of human rights defenders in relation to freedom of association, as well as possibilities of cooperation with the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. A specific focus on the right to receive and access funding, including foreign funding was discussed, reflecting renewed preoccupations by mechanisms on restrictions by States in this regard. These issues should be further discussed during a future inter-mechanisms meeting, to be organised by the Observatory.

For more information, please contact :

• OMCT : Delphine Reculeau : + 41 22 809 49 39
• FIDH : Karine Appy / Arthur Manet : + 33 1 43 55 25 18

Concrete steps towards better protection of human rights defenders / March 15, 2012 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

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