Reprisals: States must reduce unacceptable human cost of cooperating with UN

June 6, 2014

The ISHR Monitor of June 2014 contains a good wrap-up of the situation regarding reprisals against Human Rights Defenders written by Eleanor Openshaw under the title: “Reprisals: States must reduce unacceptable human cost of cooperating with UN”.

Regrettably, reprisals against persons cooperating with the United Nations, its mechanisms and representatives in the field of human rights continue. ...’ said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2013. In response, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution in September 2013 calling on the Secretary-General to designate a UN-wide senior focal point to combat reprisals. Regrettably, Human Rights Council resolution 24/24 was blocked by the UN General Assembly in New York in December 2013, but NGOs are now calling again on States to revisit the issue as a matter of priority. “The disappearance, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and death of human rights defender Cao Shunli in retaliation for her efforts to hold China to account for its human rights record at the UN is just one example among many of the unacceptable human cost of cooperating with the UN,’ said Ms Openshaw.

A number of positive recent developments (referred to in earlier blog posts []) include a May 2014 decision by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Angola to appoint its own focal point, and a joint statement delivered by Botswana on behalf of 56 States in Geneva in March 2014 recognising that ‘the current response by the UN and the member States in addressing reprisals is inadequate’ and calling on them to ‘address cases of reprisals through a more effective and coordinated approach.

With the opportunity for the General Assembly to revisit the issue in September, NGOs are urging States to transfer the political will shown on this issue in Angola and Geneva to New York, and achieve an outcome that challenges impunity for the perpetrators of reprisals and increases protection for human rights defenders and others who engage with the UN human rights system,‘ Openshaw said (Program and Advocacy Manager, e.openshaw[at]

The statement was signed by a coalition of 12 leading international and regional NGOs (of which 8 are members of the MEA Jury or Regional Panel):

  • Amnesty International
  • Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  • Conectas Direitos Humanos
  • Human Rights House Foundation
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

full article: Reprisals: States must reduce unacceptable human cost of cooperating with UN | ISHR.

One Response to “Reprisals: States must reduce unacceptable human cost of cooperating with UN”

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