Posts Tagged ‘70th anniversary UDHR’

Barbara von Ow-Freytag argues (well) for a new communication-based approach

December 26, 2018

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70 – is it time for a new approach? asks Barbara von Ow-Freytag, Journalist, political scientist and adviser, Prague Civil Society Centre, in the World Economic Forum.This piece is certainly worth reading as a whole. It is close to my heart in that it stresses the need to have a hard look at how young human rights defenders  focus their energy where they can achieve real, concrete change within their own communities. Their campaigns are grassroots-led and use local languages and issues their communities understand. They often use technology and creative formats, with a heavy dose of visual and artistic elements. Where the international scene seems to stagnate and even backpedal, better use of communication skills and tools (such as images) are certainly part of the answer:

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, a new generation of human rights defenders are reinventing themselves to fight for old rights amid a new world order. Based not on declarations, charters and international bodies, but on the values which underpin them – justice, fairness, equality – they shun the language of their predecessors while embracing the same struggle…However, in the new realities of the 21st century, the mechanisms to promote human rights that grew out of the Universal Declaration are showing their age. Authoritarianism is on the rise across the world, with popular leaders cracking down on human rights defenders.

Freedom House found 2018 was the 12th consecutive year that the world became less free. Civicus, which specifically monitors the conditions for civil society activists and human rights defenders, found civil society was “under attack” in more countries than it wasn’t, with all post-Soviet countries (except Georgia) ranging between “obstructed” and “closed”.

Image: Freedom House

Troublingly, both the willingness and the ability of Western bastions of human rights are also on the wane. Inside the EU, talk of illiberal democracy gains traction, and internal crises divert attention away from the global stage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, younger activists and civil society are giving up on western governments and international organizations to advocate on their behalf. Pavel Chikov, director of the Agora group, said recently that, “Russian human rights groups no longer have a role model,” calling the liberal human rights agenda “obsolete”.

Growing disillusionment has led many rights groups to shift away from appealing to outsiders for support. Younger campaigners no longer frame their work in the traditional language of human rights, and many do not even consider themselves human rights defenders. Instead of referring to international agreements violated, they focus on solving practical problems, or creating their own opportunities to advance values of equality, justice and fairness.

Formats too have changed. Throughout the region, tools used by civil society to raise social consciousness are becoming diverse, dynamic and smart. Instead of one-person legal tour de forces, genuinely grassroots, tech-powered, peer-to-peer or horizontal networks are proving effective. Media, music, art, film, innovative street protests, urbanism and online initiatives focused on local communities are coming to replace petitions and international advocacy.

Team 29, an association of Russian human rights lawyers and journalists, is among the most successful of this new generation. It has repositioned itself as part-legal aid provider, part-media outlet. Its website offers a new mix of news on ongoing trials, animated online handbooks for protesters, videos on torture and a new interactive game telling young people how to behave if they are detained by police.

What may look like PR-friendly add-ons are actually core to their operation. Anastasia Andreeva, the team’s media expert, says: “Before, we consulted some 30 clients, now we reach tens of thousands of people.”

Azerbaijani activist Emin Milli also embodies this journey of wider civil society – turning away from the international towards local solutions. In the early 2000s, he was a traditional human rights defender, successfully using international mechanisms, such as the Council of Europe to assist political prisoners.

After his own arrest and return to activism, Milli changed tack. “When I was in jail, I had a lot of time to think,” he told the Oslo Freedom Forum. “I decided to do something that will give voice to millions.” His idea? Meydan TV – an online-only independent TV channel, targeting a young audience, which now reaches more than 500,000 people inside Azerbaijan through its Facebook page.  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/03/07/azerbaijan-harasses-human-rights-defenders-even-the-recipient-of-the-homo-homini-award/]

The key to Meydan’s success is its accessibility. Milli says: “We do stories about ordinary people. Real Azeris who have everyday problems.” Through its smart coverage, investigating and highlighting how injustice affects these ordinary people, and not referring to UN-enshrined rights and responsibilities, Meydan is “giving a voice to people who fight for women’s rights, people who fight for political rights, for civil liberties, and everybody who feels they are voiceless”.

Music, too, is increasingly being used as a vehicle to realize human rights. Though he might shun the label, Azeri rapper Jamal Ali is perhaps one of the country’s most well-known “human rights defenders”. His songs about injustice and corruption regularly go viral, raising national and international awareness in the same way a statement at the UN General Assembly might have done three decades ago.

In a 2017 hit, he highlighted how two young men had been tortured by police and faced 10 years in prison for spraying graffiti on a statue of former president Heydar Aliyev. In response, the regime arrested Ali’s mother, demanding that he remove the video from YouTube, only to ensure that Ali’s song went even more viral among Azeri youngsters.

Gender equality and women’s rights is also being advanced through unexpected new champions. In Kyrgyzstan, 20-year-old singer Zere Asylbek sparked a feminist shockwave earlier this year with her video Kyz (“Girl”). “Don’t tell me what to wear, don’t tell me how to behave,” she sings, bearing her top to reveal her bra. Seen by millions, the Kyrgyz-language feminist anthem has set off a new #MeToo debate in the Central Asian country, where many young women are still abducted, raped and forced to marry.

In the wake of the video, a first “feminist bar” is about to open in Bishkek. Other feminist videos have been used to directly address the issue of bride-kidnapping, with animated cartoons being used as part of local campaigns to change mindsets in a conservative society.

Perhaps most excitingly, an all-female team of 18 to 20-year-olds is building the country’s first micro-satellite. “Girls taking us into space is the best message against sexism,” says Bektour Iskender, whose news site Kloop initiated the project. He says the girls’ project has a deep social mission, promoting national pride and the country’s return to advanced technological development.

These examples – and countless more – show that civic groups see no value in lobbying an increasingly disinterested West and sluggish international organizations. Instead they focus their energy where they can achieve real, concrete change within their own communities. Their campaigns are grassroots-led and use local languages and issues their communities understand. They target specific audiences, often using technology and creative formats, with a heavy dose of visual and artistic elements.

Addressing discrimination, environmental protection, corruption, health issues, women’s rights, they speak not about the failure of their states to abide by international accords, but about common dignity and life opportunities, addressing people on a direct human level.

Clearly, the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are still valid, but their approach and the packaging have changed. “We all want to change the world,” says Sergey Karpov of the Russian online media and philanthropic platform Takie Dela. “Today communications are the best way”.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/universal-declaration-of-human-rights-70-is-it-time-for-a-new-approach/

Human rights treaties promised a better future. Why did they fail?

December 26, 2018

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on trends that affect human rights defenders. I have referred to several main pieces in the course of this year [e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/08/01/human-rights-in-crisis-here-the-last-word-before-the-summer/]. On 20 December 2018, James Loeffler, the Jay Berkowitz chair in Jewish history at the University of Virginia, tried his hands at the the question: “Human rights treaties promised a better future. Why did they fail?” The author argues that the non-binding character of the UDHR, while politically understandable, carried the seeds of its failure: “The strategic decision to sidestep hard law in favor of soft norms yielded a new universal moral language. That success, however, came at the cost of a more comprehensive legal system that could withstand politics and compel states to do the right thing. In a world sorely lacking in global leadership, the champions of human rights stand poised to earn only the hollowest of victories.


Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, experienced the fastest decline in liberty in the last year, according to the Freedom House rankings. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

…….In 2018, however, the declaration [UDHR] remains an unfulfilled promise. Progressives fault the human rights movement for ignoring global economic inequality, and regimes like Iran and Venezuela have cynically weaponized human rights to score propaganda victories at the United Nations while shielding themselves from international scrutiny. But the real problem is less overt politicization or selective implementation than poor design. The truth is that its authors, by crafting a voluntary declaration instead of an international law, left it toothless to protect humans around the world whose rights it sought to enshrine. And in doing so, they laid out a pattern for future failures. Governments might do a much better job of safeguarding the integrity of their citizens today if only the framers in 1948 had insisted that U.N. member-states immediately accept binding rules instead of unenforceable norms.

……..Eleanor Roosevelt clashed with her Soviet counterparts, who opposed trade unions and the right to private property. Latin American representatives wanted God mentioned and abortion prohibited. The Saudis opposed freedom of religion and freedom of marriage as antithetical to Islamic views. The Americans worried about criticism over racial segregation, while the British and the French feared any provisions that might undermine their colonial empires.

What emerged from these debates was a surprisingly modest vision. The goal of the Universal Declaration was not to end state sovereignty or to level the playing field of global justice. Rather, its drafters forged a legal compact in which nation-states would commit to an internal baseline of freedom and welfare for their own citizens. In fact, the final text of the Universal Declaration is remarkably neutral on many core questions of modern politics. It does not demand democracy or proscribe autocracy. It is fully compatible with communism, capitalism and even colonialism.

Most strikingly, it is technically not law at all, but only a statement of nonbinding principles. Originally, the United Nations announced the creation of an International Bill of Rights akin to a global constitution. But over the course of 1947 and 1948, the document’s framers made the fateful decision to separate the declaration from a binding legal covenant, or international treaty, that U.N. member-states could eventually sign into law. At the time, the absence of an enforcement mechanism was viewed as a necessary price to pay for global consensus. Many also assumed that this move would suffice, since Western superpowers would backstop the system with their global clout through the Security Council.

But enumerating rights without obligating states to recognize them left international human rights as soft legal rhetoric bereft of hard legal authority. States could voice selective support for norms without any independent judiciary to verify their claims or provide a forum for injured individuals.

Sharp-eyed observers said as much at the time. In 1947, Hersch “Zvi” Lauterpacht, a leading expert on international law, objected in a BBC radio lecture that “to a lawyer, the enunciation of a right without the provision of a remedy is a juridical heresy . . . What is required at this juncture of history is not the recognition and not even the formulation of inalienable human rights but their effective protection.” A year later, he added, “It is clear to me that the declaration does not carry things further and that in some important respects has put the clock back.”

Lauterpacht was prophetic, for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the body of elected country delegates and U.N. bureaucrats charged with supervising the Universal Declaration, quickly showed itself unwilling or unable to respond to requests for help. Between 1947 and 1957, roughly 65,000 letters arrived at its doorstep from individuals alleging human rights violations in their countries. The avalanche of mail powerfully testified to the fact that the Universal Declaration had alerted people to the ideals of human rights. Yet the commission declined to investigate these complaints; neither great powers nor small ones wanted it determining when they’d broken the rules.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the gap between the stirring language of the Universal Declaration and its actual effectiveness only expanded. When new African states entered the U.N. ranks after 1960, many veteran human rights activists hoped they would use their political clout on behalf of the long-planned legal treaties related to the Universal Declaration. They did so in 1966, ushering in two major treaties designed to implement the declaration. This eventually led to other human rights treaties, addressing issues such as racial discrimination and women’s rights, along with the controversial International Criminal Court.

Yet the patchwork nature of this new system of laws made it vulnerable to intense politicization. Worse still, the new postcolonial states proved just as determined as their former Western rulers to guard their sovereignty and pick and choose which rights to observe. In 1968, when the United Nations hosted a conference in Tehran to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, Western diplomats came away dismayed by how human rights activism in the developing world had devolved into ideological score-settling. “Many of those who attended the Conference felt that this would be an occasion for mutual backslapping,” wrote Rabbi Maurice Perlzweig of the World Jewish Congress. “As it turned out, it proved to be an occasion for mutual nose-punching.”

Curiously, the political controversy over human rights at the United Nations did not stop a growing interest in the Universal Declaration itself. If anything, disillusionment with the limits of human rights law only increased reliance on the text as a norm. Across the 1970s and 1980s, as human rights grew from an elite U.N. legal project into a grass-roots movement, groups like Amnesty International routinely invoked the Universal Declaration to mobilize public opinion. In the absence of international legal enforcement, popular culture, media and protest politics could be used to name and shame states. The climax came in 1988, when Amnesty International sponsored a series of rock concerts around the world to celebrate the declaration’s 40th anniversary. Leading musicians like Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Bruce Springsteen took the stage to promote human rights awareness — along with Amnesty’s own brand and that of its corporate sponsor, Reebok.

The end of the Cold War in the 1990s brought a burst of U.N. efforts to reverse-engineer some of the pieces missing from its half-built legal architecture. The General Assembly launched the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993 to serve as a neutral legal ombudsman, while world leaders gathered in Rome in 2002 to revive the old idea of an International Criminal Court. At the behest of the United States, the rights commission was restructured and renamed as the Human Rights Council in 2006 to depoliticize its work. Yet these institutional developments still do not make up a full legal system that can truly enforce the Universal Declaration as global law.

Last year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched a 70th-anniversary hashtag, #standup4humanrights, and a website that insists “we can all be Human Rights Champions.” All it takes, apparently, is posting individual stories online and recording an article of the declaration in one’s own language. There is hardly any mention of law or politics; it suffices to “promote, engage and reflect.” That lofty rhetoric neatly captures how human rights remain captive to their flawed postwar origins. The strategic decision to sidestep hard law in favor of soft norms yielded a new universal moral language. That success, however, came at the cost of a more comprehensive legal system that could withstand politics and compel states to do the right thing. In a world sorely lacking in global leadership, the champions of human rights stand poised to earn only the hollowest of victories.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/human-rights-treaties-promised-a-better-future-why-did-they-fail/2018/12/20/bfd843ec-ffc0-11e8-83c0-b06139e540e5_story.html?utm_term=.862e2d5e78fb

 Human rights defenders receive their 2018 UN prizes

December 20, 2018

Secretary-General António Guterres (2nd left) and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (left) with winners of the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights at the General Assembly’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The “clear and profound” guidelines enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “have made it the world’s most widely translated document”, the UN Secretary-General told the General Assembly on Tuesday at an event to commemorate the Declaration’s 70th Anniversary, marked 10 December.

Every five years, The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is awarded to organizations and individuals which embody excellent activism in defending human rights. [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/united-nations-prizes-in-the-field-of-human-rights]

The 2018 winners are:

  • Rebeca Gyumi of Tanzania, for her work with women and girls. She lead a campaign that prompted the repeal of a Tanzanian law in 2016, which once permitted girls as young as 14 to be married off.
  • Asma Jahangir of Pakistan, a human rights lawyer – whose daughter, Munizae, received the award on her behalf. Mrs. Jahangir, who passed away in February of this year, fought against religious extremism and for the rights of oppressed minorities.
  • Joênia Wapixana (known also as Joenia Batista de Carvalho) of Brazil, who advocates on behalf of indigenous communities.
  • Front-Line Defenders, an Irish organization which works on the protection of human rights defenders.

All were announced on 25 October [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/26/laureates-of-10th-edition-of-un-human-rights-prizes-just-announced/], and celebrated at the ceremonial event on 18 December.

The SG emphasized that “their work, and that of other human rights defenders around the world, is essential for our collective efforts to sustain peace and ensure inclusive sustainable development and respect for human rights for all.”

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1028901

Myanmar human rights defender Maung Saung Kha wins one of the Tulip Human Rights Awards

December 19, 2018

During the year of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to give an extraordinary Tulip to the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/08/22/change-of-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-at-the-un-optimism-warranted/ ]. In addition the Ministry will also award several Human Rights Tulips to local human rights defenders around 10 December, International Human Rights Day. These Tulips will be awarded by a the Embassies of the Netherlands. [for more on the award: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award]

Maung Saung Kha, the founder and executive director of Yangon-based freedom of expression advocacy group Athan, will received the Human Rights Tulip Myanmar 2018 i The 25-year-old said he welcomed the award an international recognition for his group. “I was awarded not just because of me but me and Athan. Plus, were it not for the support of democracy and human rights activists, we wouldn’t have kept our freedom of expression movement alive,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Founded in January, Athan is one of only a few advocacy groups focusing on freedom of expression in Myanmar. From the beginning, the group has put a spotlight on issues challenging freedom of expression in Myanmar, such as the controversial Telecommunication Law and Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law. It also carefully documents cases posing a threat to freedom of expression in the country while lobbying lawmakers and educating the public about the importance of free speech.

Freedom of expression and assembly in Myanmar are currently perceived by many as on the decline. As of Tuesday, according to Athan, the country has two journalists in jail, 164 cases in the courts under Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Law, and 51 peace activists on trial. Maung Saung Kha said he used to believe that there would be more freedom of expression under a government led by the National League for Democracy. “Seeing people brought to trial for criticizing government activities shows that it hasn’t lived up to our hope,” he said. The poet-cum-activist was arrested himself under Article 66 (d) in 2015 for posting a verse on social media with a risqué rhyme about an unnamed president. “I felt very bad because I was arrested for writing a poem,” he said. “It’s partly because I am now seriously involved in promoting freedom of expression as I don’t want others to see a fate like mine.

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-free-speech-activist-wins-dutch-human-rights-award.html

Human Rights Day 2018 – anthology part III (the last)

December 18, 2018

Mopping up after International Human Rights Day 2018 here six more ‘events’:

For part I, see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/10/human-rights-day-2018-just-an-anthology/

For part II, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/11/human-rights-day-2018-anthology-part-ii/.

 

  1. Tibetans in Sydney celebrate Nobel Peace Prize Day and Int’l Human Rights Day.
    Tibetans in in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, observe an official function to mark the 29th anniversary of the conferment of Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on December 15, 2018. Photo: TPI/Yeshe Choesang

Tibetans in Sydney celebrate Nobel Peace Prize Day and Int’l Human Rights Day

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/12/16/best-human-rights-books-october-december-2018/

https://www.adventistreview.org/for-people-of-faith-70-year-old-human-rights-document-holds-special-meaning

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/lord-ahmad-speech-at-amnesty-international-annual-human-rights-day-reception

https://blogs.library.duke.edu/blog/2018/12/12/duke-announces-winner-of-2018-juan-e-mendez-human-rights-book-award/

https://menafn.com/1097819272/Somaliland-HRC-Commemorates-Human-Rights-Day-2018-In-Burao

Human Rights Day 2018 – anthology part II

December 11, 2018

Yesterday I published a small selection of events related to International Human Rights Day [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/10/human-rights-day-2018-just-an-anthology/] but things keep coming in so here is the follow-up with another 10 items:

  1. in the UN family: ReliefWeb published an overview of how the UN family has been making sure that this year’s Human Rights Day succeeds in raising awareness of the principles enshrined in the document, which are as important and relevant today, as they were in 1948. It refers to SG António Guterres and UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in Marrakesh for global migration pact on Monday…..

Threats to human rights were also being highlighted at UN headquarters in New York on Monday, where charities, non-governmental organizations and members of civil society were joined by Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, for a discussion about the ways that modern challenges, unforeseen 70 years ago, are impacting rights. The talk covered digital technologies, which have led to many benefits, but also brought about new risks which could replicate, and even exacerbate existing threats to human rights; and climate change, which risks making much of the planet uninhabitable.

Defending human rights in conflict zones:

..In Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) renewed its call for human rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected in the country, welcoming breakthroughs such as the work of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, new laws empowering the media, a new Penal Code reflecting the country’s commitment to promote fundamental freedoms, and the presence of women in civil service positions and in the private sector. Meanwhile, in South Sudan, commuters in the capital, Juba, got the chance to see their military in a different light on Monday: as athletes. Hundreds of military personnel – as well as police and prison officers, fire-fighters and members of the wildlife services – took part in a 10-kilometre race around the streets of the capital, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to promote awareness of human rights and the need for peace in the conflict-affected country. Speaking on Monday, David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, said that “the only way that South Sudan is going to recover is by having peace and respect for human rights. If respect for human rights is there, then there is peace. If there is peace, it involves respect for human rights and people’s ethnicity and political persuasion. The two things go hand in hand.

 

2. The Phnom Penh Post of 10 December () reports that the Cambodian authorities used the occasion to a ban march for Human Rights Day

Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless….In a letter issued on Saturday, Mean Chanyada, Phnom Penh’s deputy governor, said the NGOs concerned had been told that they could celebrate the anniversary at Freedom Park but marching was prohibited. “If [you] gather at a location outside the permitted area and continue to march on the street, which would affect security, safety and public order, the representatives will face the law,” Chanyada said. Sar Mory, the deputy chief of the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) said on Sunday that he was concerned that important messages would not reach the public if they were to celebrate the anniversary without marching. “The reason we want to march is that we want to get our messages heard, ……

 

3. The winners of the “Kids for Human Rights” international drawing competition were announced on 10 December 2018. Nine young, creative artists from Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Iran, Portugal, Thailand and the United States have won the top prizes in the “Kids for Human Rights” international drawing competition, launched earlier this year by the United Nations and the Gabarron Foundation. The call generated more than 17,000 entries. The full list winners is available hereThe international jury was presided by internationally known Spanish artist Cristóbal Gabarrón and included Hani Abbas, a Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist who won the 2014 Editorial Cartoon International Prize awarded by Cartooning for Peace, Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Susanna Griso, Spanish journalist and television presenter, Jenna Ortega, a young American actress, Tomas Paredes, President of the Spanish chapter of the International Association of Art Critics, and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Youth.

 

4. The International Policy Digest used the occasion to draw attention to another international document that celebrates its 70th anniversary: the Genocide Convention which was signed into life a day before the UDHR, 9 December.,, It was the Polish-Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, who advocated for an international law for the crime of genocide. Before 1944, there was no law. However, in the wake of the Holocaust, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 260 (III) A on December 9, 1948 outlawing genocide. On January 12, 1951, the Convention came into force. …The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has argued that genocide continues to remain a “threat and reality.” She urged nations to act based on the “warning signs” often preceding genocide. She added that the crime of genocide is as real today as it was at the time of its signing. There are still 45 UN Member States who yet to ratify or agree to the Convention...

 

5. In Zimbabwe, a prominent human rights defender reminded Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he had termed the abduction of journalist activist Itai Dzamara “barbaric” and called on him to follow his words with actions to prevent and punish rights abuses. [Dzamara has been missing since March 2015].  Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko said: “With all due respect, I call upon the President to return to the words and show that it is barbaric. Such things are not expected from civilised people, inflicting pain on another person and the constitution clearly states that.”….Lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu, who has represented many abduction victims, called on the Zimbabwean government to ratify the convention on torture…The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association said while the adoption of the new constitution with a modern Declaration of Rights, enshrined in chapter four, in 2013 has been an important milestone, a lot needed to be done to align laws, respect its provisions and establish a culture of constitutionalism. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/08/jestina-mukokos-150-000-triumph-in-zimbabwe-gives-hope-to-all-torture-victims/]

 

6. “As human rights declaration turns 70, development banks have a way to go to respect and protect rights defenders” writes Olexi Pasyuk in Bankwatch. To coincide with this milestone, Bankwatch together with more than 200 organisations globally has called on international financiers to ensure that these institutions support the realisation of human rights, avoid causing or contributing to rights abuses, promote an enabling environment for public participation, and safeguard rights defenders.

 

7.  

Today, on the occasion of the Human Rights Day – 20 years on from the first UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and on the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights – The Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018 published the final document of the action plan for the protection and the promotion of the work of human rights defenders. This action plan proposes a concrete set of measures and calls for a lasting commitment from States and other key actors to act to protect human rights defenders and to take concrete actions to offer better protection and create a more enabling environment for their work. We trust that this document will become a key reference for advocacy work at national, regional and international levels for the years to come. The action plan is available to download in five languages on the Summit’s website https://hrdworldsummit.org/action-plan/ It will be presented at the United Nations in New York on December 18th during the high level panel of experts on the situation of HRDs at the initiative of Norway. More information soon on the summit facebook page and website. See also  Summit’s Facebook page, and on the website. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/07/24/announcement-of-the-human-rights-defenders-world-summit-in-paris-october-2018/]

 

8. Democracy without Borders writes on the occasion that Human rights defenders continue to face onerous challenges. In response to these challenges, Democracy Without Borders joined more than 900 other civil society organizations from across the world in supporting a global statement that urges governments “to create an enabling environment for HRDs to operate in line with regional and international human rights obligations and standards.”

Supporters of the Yellow Umbrella human rights and democracy movement in Hong Kong face state persecution. Source: Studio Incendo/Flickr
…..Unfortunately, as is evident from the monitoring of the situation of HRDs, those at the forefront of defending, promoting and protecting human rights are prime targets of attacks perpetrated by state and non-state actors. HRDs are often victims of physical assaults, and arbitrary and unlawful detention is the number one tactic of repression used by states. It is the increasingly threatening situation for HRDs that motivates the current global statement. [CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation,. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/07/global-statement-on-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-un-declaration-on-human-rights-defenders/]

9.  In the Philippines, in line with the country’s celebration of Human Rights Day, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) opened on Monday a freedom park to honor those who fought against human rights violation. Dubbed as the Liwasang Diokno, the CHR commemorated the heroic act of late Senator Jose ‘Ka Pepe’ Diokno, whom the agency tagged as a “symbol of freedom, democracy, and human rights.” Diokno was one of those individuals who fought to attain democracy in the country during the Martial Law era under the Marcos administration. a statue of Diokno was also installed inside the park with the approval of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.With the opening of the Liwasang Diokno at the central office of CHR in Quezon City, the human rights group urged the public to continue to be more active in defending the human rights. The freedom park has a 30-tier fountain in its center, symbolizing the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

 

10.  A lights projection showing the faces of imprisoned, threatened and at-risk human rights defenders (HRDs) from around the world will shine at Dublin City Hall to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The faces will be projected on December 10th and 11th during a public reception, hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring with Front Line Defenders, Dublin City Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

———

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/worldwide-un-family-celebrates-enduring-universal-values-human-rights

https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/phnom-penh-authorities-ban-march-human-rights-day

https://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/7C0D10EB243EC1FEC125835F003D589B?OpenDocument

https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/12/10/two-important-days-on-the-un-calendar-warranting-greater-attention/

https://citizen.co.za/news/news-africa/2048178/human-rights-defenders-urge-mnangagwa-to-walk-the-talk-on-rights-abuses/

https://bankwatch.org/blog/as-human-rights-declaration-turns-70-development-banks-have-a-ways-to-go-to-respect-and-protect-rights-defenders?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Bankwatch-blog+%28Bankwatch+blog%29

Human Rights Day 2018: just an anthology

December 10, 2018

There is so much going on on this day – International Human Rights Day – that I can only give a cursory overview of some highlights in 2018 like I did in previous years [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/09/sampling-international-human-rights-day-2016-be-a-human-rights-defender/, and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/11/human-rights-day-2017-in-asia-mind-the-gap/]. Here is my selection of 10: Read the rest of this entry »

10 December warning by Michelle Bachelet: Populist nationalism threatens UDHR

December 6, 2018

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 5, 2018.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet 

Born out of the devastation of two world wars, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Holocaust, the seminal document is geared toward preventing similar disasters from happening. December 10 marks the 70th anniversary of the declaration, which U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said has withstood the test of time. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/18/michelle-bachelet-new-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-gives-major-interview/]

She said its fundamental principles can be applied to meet the challenges of today, such as ensuring equal rights for LGBTI people and protecting the right to life, food and health in the face of climate change. But, she warns, many of these rights are under threat from politicians pushing a nationalistic agenda. “When leaders… speak against migrants or a sort of hate speech or xenophobic speech, you are giving license to other people not to respect people’s rights,” Bachelet said. Leaders are responsible for what they say, and must lead by example, she added, dismissing the argument sometimes made by developing countries that human rights are a Western concept.

https://www.voanews.com/a/un-populist-nationalism-threatens-human-rights-declaration/4687896.html

More short films on each article of the UDHR

November 27, 2018

Further to my post on the series of short films – one for each article in the 70-year old Universal Declaration of human rights [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/15/each-article-in-the-universal-declaration-on-human-rights-has-its-human-story/], there now more out to watch: see e.ghttps://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights/videos/380180556054710/.

70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: the UN plans

November 26, 2018

Series of events to shine a light on the UDHR across the world. I already referred to the series of short films – one for each article in the 70-year old Universal Declaration of human rights [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/15/each-article-in-the-universal-declaration-on-human-rights-has-its-human-story/].

But there is more going on: The UDHR, based on the powerful premise that we are all “born free and equal in dignity and rights,” has spread further and been translated into more languages than any other text ever. The aim of the celebratory events sponsored by the UN Human Rights Office is “to shine a light on the many ways in which universal human rights contribute to the daily lives of people everywhere.” Signature events will be held in 14 cities, spanning seven time zones, with each spotlighting a human rights theme relevant to that location:

Africa

  • Dakar (Nov 30) – Our right to accountability when rights are violated
  • Pretoria (Dec 7) – Young people standing up for rights
  • Marrakesh (Dec 10) – The human rights of migrants

Asia-Pacific

  • Suva (Nov 16) – Our right to live on a healthy planet
  • Bangkok (Nov 28) – The rights of people on the move

Europe

  • Manchester (Nov 12) – Our right to live in harmony
  • Paris (Dec 4) – The city where the UDHR was adopted in 1948
  • Geneva (Dec 13) – Upholding rights for a future we all want

Latin America

  • Mexico City (Dec 6) – Our right to defend human rights
  • Panama City (Dec 10) – Children as defenders of rights
  • Santiago (Dec 10) – Women’s rights are human rights

Middle East

  • Doha (Dec 9) – Our right to peace

North America

  • Los Angeles (Dec 10) – Human rights in the city
  • New York (Dec 18) – UN Human Rights Award ceremony

In addition to the 14 signature events, each of which will be accompanied by a social media campaign featuring prominent global and local public figures standing up for human rights, numerous other celebrations are being organized by Governments, NGOs, academic institutions, and many others all over the world.

I urge everyone to join in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration.  Join us at the public events if you can, or organize one yourself.  Any way that you can take part actively – shining your light on rights – will make a difference, even if it is simply by participating on social media,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.By doing so, we can show just how precious the UDHR is to people all over the world, and the universal nature of the values it contains.  It was an inspiration, a sensation, in 1948, and it is still an astonishing and inspiring document today.

The preservation of the human rights set out in the Declaration is vital to each and every one us – woman, man and child. Human rights are essential for the protection and dignity of our loved ones, our families and friends, our neighbours and our communities – for all of us, whether living in the smallest village or in the greatest of cities.  Violations of anyone’s rights potentially undermine the rights of all of us. So I urge everyone to use the UDHR’s 70th anniversary to reflect on what rights mean, and think of ways we can actively stand up for the rights of not just ourselves, but of everyone else.”

In addition to the events taking place over the next month, on 9 November the UN Human Rights Office will start publishing a series of short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration. These will be published – one article a day – on www.ohchr.org and issued to media across the world.

For more information on the events listed in this advisory, please contact Rajat Khosla at rkhosla@ohchr.org / +41 22 917 3311

Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23832&LangID=E