Posts Tagged ‘draft resolution’

20th anniversary of UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders starts with crucial draft resolution in the GA

November 1, 2017

9 December 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of the ‘UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms‘ (in short the UN Declaration on HRDs).  The General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have over the years adopted annual resolutions, informed by reports by the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. However, as this blog and many others can testify, human rights defenders continue to face severe risks and are increasingly targets of actions taken by state and/or non-state actors in violation of the Declaration.  As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Declaration, the Norwegian delegation has just now tabled a draft resolution at the 72nd session of the General Assembly. The text is not officially out yet but the main new elements in the draft resolution are:

  • a high level meeting on HRDs in the General Assembly in New York next year, and
  • a request to the UN Secretary General/OHCHR to put together a comprehensive report on what UN can do to assist States.

Secretary-General Guterres should have no problem accepting such a request as he stated in the Human Rights Council on 27 February this year: “…To human rights defenders, I say: thank you for your courage. The United Nations is on your side. And I am on your side. I remind Member States of their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without fear of intimidation.” [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/28/new-secretary-general-at-human-rights-council-tells-human-rights-defenders-and-i-am-on-your-side/]

The UN Mission of Norway is as usual in the lead in getting this resolution adopted, while facing the danger of hostile amendments. [see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/23/norwegian-resolution-un-human-rights-council-defenders-amendments/]. They have their work cut out and any help in lobbying for this new draft would be most welcome. The text of the draft resolution as tabled follows below (it should be issued soon as an “L” document) in which I have highlighted operative paragraphs 14-17.

Draft resolution – version for tabling Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Council extends mandate on human rights defenders – after considerable wrangling

March 24, 2017

On Thursday 23 March 2017 the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in which it extended, for a period of three years, the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/22/un-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-wraps-up-his-first-mandate/]

The press statement by the UN (see below) explains that there was quite a bit of wrangling on wording, but in the end the draft resolution (A/HRC/34/L.5) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michael Forst, was adopted without a vote as orally revised, in the same terms as provided for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 16/5. It urges again all States to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his tasks, to provide all information and to respond to the communications transmitted to them by the Special Rapporteur without undue delay; and calls upon States to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their countries.

(here the detailed report on the failed efforts – mainly by Russia and China – to weaken the text:) Read the rest of this entry »

Norwegian Resolution on Human Rights Defenders in the UN Human Rights Council: will it survive hostile amendments?

March 23, 2016

Some readers will have doubt about the importance passing Resolutions in the UN, even on the noble topic of the protection of human rights defenders. However, that this is not seen as a sinecure is clear from the diplomatic battles fought every time [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/un-general-assembly-adopts-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-with-increased-majority/]. Tomorrow (Thursday 24 March) another such clash is expected. Here are the issues:

It is usually Norway that leads the negotiations on the resolution on human rights defenders as is the case this year at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council. The resolution this year takes account of the severe risks that human rights defenders face when defending economic, social and cultural rights, including as they relate to environmental, land and development issues, corporate responsibility, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability issues. The draft resolution calls on States to take effective and practical steps to address the continuing violations of the rights of defenders.

During the first week of this session of the Human Rights Council, Norwegian State Secretary Tore Hattrem stated that “Threats and attacks against human rights defenders who are exercising their right to freedom of speech to advocate economic, social and cultural rights, severely hamper the realisation of these rights”. Also Ambassador Steffen Kongstad raised this important topic during the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, stating that “Threats and attacks against human rights defenders may hamper the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, undermining social cohesion, and ultimately stability and development”.

The resolution has been discussed in several open informal consultations in Geneva, taking into account a number of suggestions from different countries. Norway formally tabled the resolution on 16 March full text see website. There are currently around 50 countries from all regional groups that will  co-sponsor the resolution. Still, this is far from won as earlier this week a number of countries (including the serial offenders Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan) have put forward 31 adverse amendments to the text. These amendments include proposals which have the purpose or would have the effect of:

 

Preview of the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council

February 25, 2016

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 31st regular session at Palais des Nations in Geneva from 29 February to 24 March 2016 (it also marks the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council). The International Service for Human Rights (see link at the bottom of the post) has published an Alert full of details, but I highlight here the elements that concern human rights defenders most directly:ISHR-logo-colour-high

Human rights defenders:  The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, will present his annual report to the Council on 3 March. The report focuses on good practices to promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders. Presentation of the report will be followed by a dialogue. Of significance this session is a substantive resolution that will be presented by Norway on the situation of human rights defenders. The resolution at this session of the Council follows on the heels of the resolution on human rights defenders presented at the General Assembly in November 2015. The General Assembly resolution included a number of new, important and substantive provisions, including on the vital role of advocacy and the work of defenders in contributing to sustainable development and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, and the responsibilities of business enterprises with respect to engaging, consulting and protecting defenders. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/un-general-assembly-adopts-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-with-increased-majority/] This latest resolution provides an opportunity to recognise the critically important work of economic, social and cultural rights defenders, and the cross-cutting challenges they face, including restrictions not only on their rights to health, food, housing, social security and work, but also on their rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and life itself. Economic, social and cultural rights activists have been identified by current and previous Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders as among the most isolated and stigmatised defenders. It is integral that the resolution recognises the role of both State and non-State actors in the protection of human rights defenders, and enjoys broad State support for strong language demanding their protection.  (On 7 March, ISHR will facilitate a side event on this topic which will be the subject of a separate post) Read the rest of this entry »

Council of Europe: draft resolution addresses reprisals with priority

December 9, 2015

An interesting read is the latest report to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly by Rapporteur: Ms Mailis REPS, Estonia, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. The (draft) report is entitled: “Strengthening the protection and role of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States“.

[On 19 March 2013, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights appointed Ms Mailis as rapporteur, following the departure from the Assembly of the previous rapporteur, Mr György Frunda.]

The Draft resolution and draft recommendation (AS/Jur (2015) 37) were adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 8 December 2015 and here are some highlights:

Read the rest of this entry »

UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Sudan

September 28, 2014

(Justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dosa at the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, 24 September 2014 (Jean-Marc Ferré/UNHRC)
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a draft resolution in Geneva on Friday 26 September calling on the Sudanese government to conduct an independent enquiry into the killing of protestors in September 2013, and March 2014. It also agreed to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan for another year. The Council expressed grave concern at the use of excessive force, including the lethal shooting of demonstrators, and called on the Sudanese government to launch an investigation and refer its findings to the judiciary to ensure justice and accountability for the incidents that occurred.
[A year ago, massive street protests erupted in the country against the lifting of fuel subsidies. According to activists, more than 200 people died in Sudan’s capital. On 11 March this year, a University of Khartoum student was fatally hit by a bullet, and other students were injured, when security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration by the students against widespread attacks by paramilitary troops on rural areas in Darfur.]
The UN human rights agency also expressed concern “at reports of restrictions on the media, pre- and post-publication censorship, seizure of newspapers, the banning of some journalists, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association and of peaceful assembly”. It urged the Sudanese government to further its efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular to ensure freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and to respect the human rights of all individuals, including human rights defenders and members of civil society organisations.
The draft resolution urged the Sudanese government to continue its full cooperation with the independent expert and allow him “effective” access to all parts of the country and concerned bodies, [It was proposed on Thursday that the Irish Thomas Edward will succeed the current independent expert, Mashood. A. Baderin.The Sudanese Minister of Justice, Mohamed Bushara Dosa, however, said on Saturday that Khartoum has objected to the appointment of Edward, on the grounds that Sudan had not been consulted. He said that Sudan has requested the extension of Baderin’s term. Dosa called on the UNHRC to end the mandate of the independent expert, and rejected the accusations of committing serious violations of freedoms and human rights, particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. He further rejected accusations by the independent expert that Khartoum was dragging its feet in investigating the September 2013 protests, and pointed out that the government has submitted to him a detailed report on measures undertaken with respect to those events.]
(Sources: UNHCR, EU-UN.Europa, Sudan Tribune)