Posts Tagged ‘communications’

PBI’s ‘Right to Defend’ – a new multi-media awareness campaign

December 26, 2019

Putting Human Rights Defenders at the Centre

Throughout 2018, PBI ran a global campaign championing defenders for the Nobel Prize. The nomination was supported by over 4000 people and 200 organisations worldwide [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/05/further-plea-to-nobel-foundation-to-recognize-the-hrds-of-the-world/]. Then, it launched the campaign ‘Shoulder to Shoulder with Human Rights Defenders’, to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Now, it wants to go further to raise the profile of human rights defenders working in some of the most dangerous environments in the world. PBI UK are working closely with the filmmaker and photographer Manu Valcarce on ‘Right to Defend’, a multi-media, multi-platform communications and awareness campaign, celebrating those making universal human rights a reality. Their stories set an example of solidarity and humanity that needs to be heard: stories of extraordinary human rights defenders taking a stand against injustice: community leaders fighting to protect collective land rights against mining companies; women struggling for gender equality; human rights lawyers risking their own safety to defend the rights of activists.

PBI UK are working on a unique 60-minute documentary film, online platform, photographic exhibition, and social media campaign presenting the work of around 100 at-risk grassroots human rights defenders in Latin America, Africa and Asia on the frontline of the global fight for universal human rights. The first piece of the project was released on the 10th of December: Human Rights Day:

So far, approximately 100 stories of human rights defenders have been recorded across four countries (Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Nepal) alongside photographic material. You will be able to see the film at festivals in 2020, and the portraits will be debuted at an exhibition held at The Law Society in London, before touring worldwide. The online platform will enable PBI to further its impact as a global entity across 21 countries for campaigning, advocacy and awareness-raising to enhance the protection of human rights defenders.

https://peacebrigades.org.uk/news/2019-12-02/putting-hrds-centre

Major study: Do UN Communications Make a Difference for Human Rights Defenders?

March 28, 2019

Do UN Communications Make a Difference for Human Rights Defenders? asked Janika Spannagel in her new study on the “The Effectiveness of Individual Casework on Human Rights Defenders: An Empirical Study of the UN Special Procedure Cases 2004-2015

After her first study [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/26/first-quantitative-analysis-of-16-years-outgoing-communications-by-special-rapporteurs-on-human-rights-defenders/], the University of York has now made public this follow up, which makes fascinating reading for anyone with serious interest in the protection of human rights defenders. Thew full paper is downloadable (see link below) and clarifies many of the tricky issues that this study has to cover. While the highest impact for intervention is always desirable, there remains the ethical and ‘political’ question of intervening even when there is little hope of improvement because the offending regime does not seem to care..’crime should not pay after all’ [On 3 June 2014, that question became the motivation for continuing my blog: https://gr.linkedin.com/in/hans-thoolen-b6648b7]

Despite a growing body of literature on the UN special procedures, we still know very little about the effectiveness of one of its core instruments, namely the use of communications to raise individual cases of human rights abuse with the government concerned. Focusing on the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, this working paper explores new data to answer the controversially discussed question of whether or not communications generally make a difference in the situations of individual defenders.

The first part of this paper analyses data obtained from a survey of involved advocates, assessing the UN mandate’s impact on a random sample of cases among the Special Rapporteur’s communications between 2004 and 2015. The second part is concerned with external factors that may impact the further development of a case, suggesting alternative explanations of – but also possible conditions for – the medium term effectiveness of communications. For this purpose, the author uses a logistic regression to analyse a sample of almost 500 cases in order to investigate possible explanations for improvement or deterioration among cases addressed by the Special Rapporteur.

The systematic analysis of impact assessments provided by involved advocates convincingly suggests that individual casework is very often effective in providing protection to defenders whose cases are raised. However, the study of predictors of positive case developments also shows that the effectiveness of individual casework is highly contextual and therefore requires strategic adaptation and creative responses.

Implications for Practice
  • In considering only direct impact, the finding that the Special Rapporteur’s individual casework very often positively influences defenders’ situations provides an important argument for continued, or even increased, support for the special procedures’ communications activity.
  • Based on the sample cases, it can be concluded that international attention paid to cases with business involvement did not result in any substantial improvements in the medium term. The recently increased efforts by the Special Rapporteur to raise cases with companies directly, rather than only through the government concerned, may prove more effective.
  • Regime type matters with regard to case development, although only as an indirect effect on the predictive value of certain variables. This includes the previous violations, a country’s aid dependency, and a forthcoming UPR process. Such variables should be taken into account when considering the potential impact of a communication on a certain case.
  • The Special Rapporteur often refers to ‘follow-up’ on cases, however, rarely if ever does this reflect repeat communications regarding the same violation against a given defender. In reality, further communications serve instead to highlight new violations against the individual involved. The data suggests that these – often ‘high profile’ – defenders have a very low chance of seeing their situation improved. This finding makes the case for a more detailed assessment of the likely added value that repeated mentions by the Special Rapporteur can or cannot provide.
  • The main leverage in terms of possible impact relies on the selection of cases. However, both the ethical implications and multiple purposes of casework should be acknowledged and respected. While a focus on increased impact can be useful, the documentation function and more indirect protection effects should also be taken into account during case selection.
  • What remains unclear in the dataset is the extent to which ‘improvements’ in a defender’s situation following a communication also reflect a restored ability to carry out their work, and to what extent the experience of violations, or the continued threat thereof, inhibits this. Further research into the effects of case-specific improvement on defenders’ ability to effect change is needed.

https://www.gppi.net/2019/03/26/do-un-communications-make-a-difference-in-the-situations-of-human-rights-defenders

This working paper is available for download from the University of York Human Rights Defenders Hub.

First quantitative analysis of 16 years outgoing ‘communications’ by Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders

January 26, 2018

On 24 January 2018 an important study was made public about the work of the UN Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders. It concerns the study “Chasing Shadows: A Quantitative Analysis of the Scope and Impact of UN Communications on Human Rights Defenders (2000–2016)” by Janika Spannagel and published by the Global Public Policy Institute. At the bottom of this post there is link to downloading the full report. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/11/good-introduction-to-the-anniversary-of-the-un-declaration-on-hrds-in-2018/].

Each year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders receives a large number of submissions regarding individual cases of concern. Only a fraction of these cases are addressed by the rapporteur’s communications procedure. Unlike outgoing communications, incoming cases are not publicly reported or even systematically registered by the UN. Furthermore, the criteria for the selection of cases (beyond basic eligibility) remain largely undefined. The consequences of case selection, whether according to explicitly stated rules or implicitly applied criteria, are quite significant. Currently, only 550 individual cases can be addressed by the mandate each year. [there are tremendous constraints in terms of staff.] Given this reality, the case selection process defines which types of defenders under pressure receive the UN’s attention and legitimization – and which do not. Nobody can determine with certainty how many cases have fallen through the cracks over the 17 years the mandate has been in existence, or who tends to benefit from the UN’s attention and who is often overlooked.

Based on extensive empirical research, this policy paper provides the first systematic analysis of all communications sent out to date. It finds credible indications that outgoing communications have a positive impact, but also demonstrates that there is room for improvement. In particular, a more deliberate prioritization of cases is required to ensure that the mandate can serve its protective purpose more effectively under the constraints of very limited resources.

The policy paper advocates an approach that aims to maximize the potential impact on the individual defender while systematically striving for a balanced documentation of cases. It makes an evidence-based argument for a number of adjustments and offers actionable recommendations to the mandate as well as to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to states, and to civil society actors regarding how to enhance the effectiveness of UN efforts to protect threatened human rights defenders around the world.

Among others, the paper recommends that the use of joint special procedures communications should be the exception rather than the rule, that states’ replies to cases should be systematically monitored and the respective data publicly released, and that more concerted international action should be taken with regards to ‘softer’ forms of repression.

preview

Download PDF (679.81 KB)

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/08/news-from-the-hrc34-mandate-of-the-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-extended/

http://www.gppi.net/publications/human-rights/article/chasing-shadows/

Job opportunity: Right Livelihood Award seeks communication manager

May 20, 2015

Right Livelihood logois recruiting a Communications Manager, based in Geneva or Stockholm. The successful applicant will be shaping its international communications strategy and working closely with its Laureates.  She/he will lead the Right Livelihood Award Foundation’s communications team and be responsible for the conceptualisation, implementation and the daily running of all communications of the foundation. Read the rest of this entry »