Preview of Human Rights Defenders stuff at the upcoming Human Rights Council starting 15 June

June 12, 2015

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 29th regular session at the United Nations in Geneva from 15 June to 3 July. Courtesy of the International Service for Human Rights, here is my selection of what is directly relevant to Human Rights Defenders: ISHR-logo-colour-high

– During the session, Norway, along with other States, will deliver a statement calling on all States to ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their vital work free from arbitrary detention and other restrictions.
– On Tuesday 16 June, there will be an interactive dialogue with the Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. During the interactive dialogue ISHR intends to highlight the obligations of States to protect human rights defenders working on corporate accountability issues, and to adopt legislation and policy in that regard, including as it relates to the contribution made by business to the expansion of civil society space.

– On Wednesday 17 June, there will be an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. During the interactive dialogue, ISHR intends to identify the need for States and businesses to protect the right to freedom of assembly and of association for all human rights defenders working on corporate accountability issues.

– The annual full day discussion on the human rights of women, and the interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Working Group on Discrimination against Women will take place during the 29th session of the Council. ISHR seeks to ensure that the Human Rights Council explicitly recognises the work of women human rights defenders in its agenda on women’s rights and gender equality, and addresses their specific protection needs. This will be a particular focus of our work relation to the resolution to be adopted at this session on combatting all forms of violence and discrimination against women, which includes a focus on domestic violence against women. It is important that women human rights defenders are able participate in an inclusive and genuine manner in the process of negotiating Human Rights Council outcomes, particularly those initiatives concerning the rights of women
– LGBTI: The High Commissioner will present his report on ‘sharing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination [against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity], in application of existing international human rights law and standards’ (A/HRC/29/32). The report draws on recent findings of UN human rights bodies, regional organisations and NGOs, and information submitted by governments. It looks at developments that have occurred at the national level, at the regional human rights mechanisms as well as at the UN level. It is to be presented tentatively on 22 June 2015.
– The mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire is due to expire and will need to be renewed at this session of the Council. It is expected that the African Group will support a resolution to that effect. Such a resolution should reflect developments in the area of human rights defenders, as set out in ISHR’s briefing paper, and can help in the protection of human rights defenders and ensure the effective and full implementation of the law on the protection of human rights defenders.

– A resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus will be tabled by the European Union.

– In response to the serious, widespread and ongoing violations and abuses of human rights committed in South Sudan, civil society organisations from South Sudan and international NGOs have sought to ensure appropriate attention by the Human Rights Council. In a public letter to the Council, civil society requested that a resolution be passed establishing a Special Rapporteur on South Sudan with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on human rights violations in South Sudan.

– Several thematic reports on the situation of human rights in specific countries or regions will be presented to the Council this session, including the reports of the experts on the situation of human rights in Belarus, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gaza, and the Syrian Arab Republic. The Council will also conduct interactive dialogues with the experts on these countries. These meetings provide an opportunity for human rights defenders to highlight human rights violations in those countries.

– The Council will adopt the UPR Reports of 14 countries from its 21st session. This will provide an opportunity for GuineaKenyaLaosSpain and Turkey to accept recommendations made in relation to human rights defenders, as recommended by ISHR’s briefing papers on these countries. In the case of at Kenya, Kuwait and Spain, ISHR intends to make a statement during their UPR adoptions highlighting the recommendations made to each of these countries in respect of the protection of human rights defenders. In particular, Spain previously co-sponsored a resolution in relation to human rights defenders, therefore if it rejected recommendations in relation to human rights defenders this would confirm a negative shift in its position on defenders – especially in light of proposed legislative restrictions placed on the right to peaceful assembly.

– A key new mandate holder for human rights defenders that will be appointed at this session is the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. This Special Rapporteur will have the opportunity to work with other experts on protecting free expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and human rights defenders, to identify specific threats to rights in the context of massive and indiscriminate surveillance. The creation of this mandate provides global leadership to protect the right to privacy for human rights advocates.

– Other mandate holders that will be appointed by the Council during this session also include a Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences and a Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
– Among the Resolutions to be presented to the Council’s 29th session (as announced at the organisational meeting on 26 May) are:

  • Resolution on the impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights (Morocco, Austria, Indonesia and Poland)
  • Resolution on the human rights situation in the Arab Syrian Republic (UK, core group)
  • Resolution on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers (Hungary, Australia, Botswana)
  • Resolution on accelerating efforts to eliminate all kinds of violence against women (Canada)
  • Resolution on the freedom of artistic expression (USA)
  • Resolution on the protection of the human rights of migrants (Mexico, Philippines)
  • Possible resolution on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (Mexico)
  • Resolution to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus (European Union)
  • Resolution on the elimination of discrimination against women in law and practice (Colombia, Mexico)

Selection of Key Side Events:

  • Reprisals and Attacks against Defenders: Enhancing the Accountability of Violations, Tuesday 16 June, led by FIDH, OMCT and ISHR. This event is scheduled for 15:00-17:00 at Palais des Nations in Geneva in Room XXII.
  • Freedom of Association and Natural Resources, Thursday 18 June, presented jointly by ISHR, FIDH, Civicus, OHCHR, Norway and Ecuador. This event is scheduled for 15:00 – 17:00 at Palais des Nations in Geneva in Room IX.
  • Using Information and Communication Technologies to Protect Human Rights Defenders, Friday 19 June, cosponsored event between ISHR and the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions. This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:30 at Palais des Nations in Geneva in Room XXIII.
  • Voices of LGBTI defenders, Tuesday 23 June, cosponsored by ISHR, ILGA, Civicus and others. This event is scheduled for 12 noon – 13:30 at Palais des Nations in Geneva in Room VIII.
  • Ongoing attacks on human rights defenders and journalists in Iraq and Syria, Thursday 25 June. Cosponsored by Gulf Center for Human Rights, Reporters Sans Frontiers, International Media Support, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), CIVICUS, Metro Center for Defending Journalists’ Rights. The event is scheduled for 11:30 -13:00 at Palais des Nations in room IX.
  • Women’s human rights defenders in the MENA region, 18 June, led by CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation. This event is scheduled for 10:00 – 12:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXII.
  • Free & Equal in Rights: Introduction of the OHCHR Report on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, organised by the permanent missions of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay on 11th June. This event is scheduled for 10:00 – 12:00 at Palais des Nations, Room XXVII.
  • Violence against Women side event, led by Canada on 15th June. This event is scheduled for 12:15 at the Palais des Nations in Room XXIII.
  • Lockdown in Tibet, led by Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on 15 June. This event is scheduled for 15:00 at Palais des Nations in room Room IX.
  • Human rights in South Sudan, 15 June, led by the East and Horn of Africa Human Defenders Project. This event is scheduled for 11:30 – 13:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXVII.
  • Human rights in China: Tibet autonomous region, 15 June, led by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. This event is scheduled for 15:00 – 17:00 at Palais des Nations in Room IX.
  • Anti-terrorism laws in Africa, 16 June, led by Human Rights Watch. This event is scheduled for 11:00 – 12:30 at Palais des Nations in Room IX.
  • Human rights in Malaysia, 16 June, led by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). This event is scheduled for 15:00 – 16:30 at Palais des Nations in Room IX.
  • Holding business accountable across borders: Seeking options and solutions to enhanced accountability and access to remedy, 16 June, led by OHCHR and the permanent missions of Russia, India, Ghana, Argentina and Norway. This event is scheduled for 14:00 – 16:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXV.
  • Freedoms of Association in Asia, 19 June, led by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). This event is scheduled for 11:00 – 12:00 at Palais des Nation in Room XXVI.
  • Extrajudicial Executions in India – World Premiere of ‘Healing Manipur’ – a Documentary Film, 19 June, led by Asian Legal Research Centre. This event is scheduled for 15:30-17:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXV.
  • Human rights and corruption, 23 June, led by Penal Reform International. This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXII.
  • Human Rights in Eritrea, 24 June, led by Human Rights Watch. This event is scheduled for 15:00 – 16:30 at Palais des Nations in Room XXV.
  • Human rights in Pakistan, 26 June, led by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA). This event is scheduled for 12:00 – 13:30 at Palais des Nations in Room XXV.
  • Civil society reactions, 30 June, led by the Centre for Civil and Political Rights. This event is scheduled for 14:00 – 16:00 at Palais des Nations in Room IX.
  • Civil society and the commonwealth, 1 July, led by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). This event is scheduled for 13:00 – 15:00 at Palais des Nations in Room XXIII.

Please note: this is a selection of the events from the full programme of NGO parallel events (as at 4 June 2015) which can be found here.

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