Posts Tagged ‘EU’

CONSULTANCY VACANCY – Final evaluation of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism

July 25, 2019

 

announced on 23 July 2019 that it is looking for a consultancy team to conduct an external evaluation at the end of the first phase of the Project. This evaluation should focus on documenting the impact that the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism has had on the situation of human rights defenders during 37 months of implementation and whether the Consortium has delivered in accordance with the Project proposal and main objective of the Project. The evaluation should focus in particular on the direct support to human rights defenders under components and should compare this with other programmes and the broader EU support to HRDs. It should also provide recommendations to improve the relevance and effectiveness of the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism in its follow-up phase of implementation. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/28/the-eu-human-rights-defenders-mechanism-a-short-overview/

The evaluation should concentrate as far as possible on the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism in its entirety. It is not the intention to evaluate the performance of the individual ProtectDefenders.eu Partners, although comparisons of practices can be used when relevant in order to draw lessons learned and contribute to improve overall performance.

The terms of reference of this assignment are available here.

Applicants are requested to send their submissions to recruit@protectdefenders.eu, with the subject “Evaluation consultantby 16 August 2019.

InSPIREurope: new EU-Funded Initiative to Support Researchers at Risk to be launched in September

July 11, 2019

Ten European partner organizations announce an ambitious new initiative to be launched this September to support researchers at risk. The initiative – InSPIREurope – is a ten-partner project funded under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and coordinated by Scholars at Risk Europe at Maynooth University, Ireland.

InSPIREurope will forge a coordinated, cross-sectoral, Europe-wide alliance for researchers at risk. InSPIREurope project partners include: Scholars at Risk Europe, hosted at Maynooth University, Ireland (Project Coordinator) • Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Germany • European University Association • Jagiellonian University, Poland • University of Oslo, Norway • University of Gothenburg, Sweden • PAUSE program, hosted by the Collège de France • Stichting voor Vluchteling-Studenten UAF, Netherlands • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece • Scholz CTC GmbH, Germany.

InSPIREurope begins from the view that excellence in research depends upon open scientific debate, and is driven by a multiplicity of ideas, cultures, people, and perspectives. When researchers are at risk and excluded from participating in the global research circuit, whether due to discrimination, persecution, suffering, or violence, not only are individual lives and careers at risk; the quality, the very future of research is also at stake. With record numbers of researchers at risk reaching out, there is no one country, government, NGO, or enterprise that can meet the scope of the challenge alone; an ambitious and concerted approach is required. Toward this goal, and in recognition of a shared commitment to excellence in research and to the principles of freedom of inquiry and academic freedom that are essential pre-conditions for world-class research, the InSPIREurope project will facilitate transnational cooperation between European and national initiatives and programs in support of researchers at risk. Further information, including project webpages, will be available when the project begins in September.

NGOs ask EU to intervene for human rights defender Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan

July 10, 2019

On 11 June 2019 NGOs wrote a joint Letter to High Representative Mogherini regarding detained Human Rights Defender Azimjon Askarov in Kyrgyzstan. His is a wellknown case, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/23/fury-about-us-award-for-askarov-in-kyrgyzstan-backlash-or-impact/

Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade: another step towards a binding instrument

June 17, 2019

The Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was launched in September 2017 under the leadership of Argentina, the European Union, and Mongolia. Today, the Global Alliance has over 60-member states that have proclaimed their determination to end international trade in instruments of torture and capital punishment. The Alliance is now introducing a draft resolution before the United Nations General Assembly with a view to adopt a legally binding instrument. A public panel event was held on 14 June 2019 in the Maison de la Paix in Geneva with experts from academia, policy practitioners, representatives from member states, civil society, and the interested public, to take stock of the developments leading to the creation of the Alliance and the prospects and challenges of adopting and implementing a global ban on tools of torture.

Panel discussion

  • Cecilia Malmström, European Union Commissioner for Trade
  • Barbara Bernath, Secretary General, Association for the Prevention of Torture
  • Andrew Clapham, Professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Michael Crowley, Research Associate, Omega Research Foundation, and Project Coordinator of the Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, University of Bradford
  • Gerald Staberock, Secretary General, World Organisation Against Torture

Moderators

  • Nico Krisch, Co-Director, Global Governance Centre, and Professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Ezgi Yildiz, Postdoctoral Researcher, Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute, Geneva

This conference was organised with the support of the Global Governance Centre and is part of the EU Lecture Series “Europe Tomorrow”.

https://graduateinstitute.ch/communications/events/norm-making-banning-global-trade-tools-torture

UN secretary-general attacks populists in Charlemagne Prize speech

June 5, 2019

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in Aachen | Florian Ebener/Getty Image
The human rights agenda is losing ground to nationalist agendas, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned: “Many people are turning inwards looking at a golden age that probably never was,” he said of populists, religious extremists and nationalists.  Accepting the prize for work done in the service of Europe’s unification, the former Portuguese prime minister said that there is no alternative to the European Union, as no country can meet current challenges alone.

..He called on the Continent to come to grips with some serious challenges, such as migration, climate change and the disruption created by technological developments.

While he noted that many societies are today multicultural, multiethnic and multireligious, Guterres stressed that there is work to be done to ensure that each community is respected and that it feels it belongs to society as a whole.

Guterres also praised Europe’s 1-year-old General Data Protection Regulation, which sets rules for how companies and other entities have to deal with data protection and people’s privacy in the current digital world. The law is a testament to how the EU can ensure the protection of human rights, he said.

On how to revigorate the human rights ides, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/30/positive-communication-is-the-only-way-forward-for-effective-human-rights-work/

One-day Training Workshop on lobbying for HRD protection in the EU context

June 3, 2019

Chris Collier, Human Rights Consultant, is organising a Training Workshop “Lobbying for HRD protection by the EU, EU member states and like-minded countrie”.  The date is 18 June 2019, 09:30 – 17:00 at EuroMed Rights, Rue des Comédiens 22, 1000 Brussels.

This is a one-day, participatory training workshop for HRDs and staff of European and international human rights organizations.

Participants will:

  • Discuss current guidelines and (good) practices of the EU, EU member states and like-minded countries (Norway, Canada, Switzerland) in HRD protection
  • Learn what kind of action to ask the EU, EU MS and like-minded countries to take in different situations and how to approach them to take such action
  • Create action plans to get the EU, EU MS and like-minded countries to take action on specific HRD issues or cases they are dealing with

The training addresses situations in which HRDs face stigmatization, threats, physical attacks, trumped-up charges, unfair trials and other violations.  It covers action by EU/like-minded countries such as public statements, trial observation, raising cases with authorities, public recognition, visits to HRDs offices/areas of work and visas/temporary relocation. [see also an earlier course: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/24/training-workshop-on-protection-of-hrds-by-foreign-governments/]

The language of the workshop is English.  The workshop fee is €300.  Participants are responsible for all costs of participating in the workshop such as travel, accommodation and meals.  The maximum number of participants in the workshop is 10.

Please contact Chris Collier directly if you would you be interested in participating in this workshop or in receiving further information:  tel. +31-(0)6-34936026
mail@chriscollier.nl
http://www.chriscollier.nl

The EU Human Rights Defenders’ mechanism – a short overview

May 28, 2019

Many readers of this blog wil already follow ProtectDefenders.eu [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/27/10611/]. Still, for those who don’t here follows a short overview taken from a 31 May 2019 communication which gives an impressive tally of the last three year: 

Over the past three years, ProtectDefenders.eu – the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism implemented by a Consortium of international civil society organisations, has emerged as a solid, successful and crucial tool for at-risk human rights defenders, and as an increasingly referenced instrument within the international human rights defenders community. As per the three-years report, ProtectDefenders.eu has stepped up the practical support available to HRDs at risk and local human rights NGOs, and mobilised resources in favour of at least 30,018 defenders in a timely and comprehensive manner.

In a context marked by the increasing demand for support from human rights defenders operating in the most difficult contexts, ProtectDefenders.eu…

  • has granted emergency support to 1,402 human rights defenders at high risk, in order to implement security measures, such as emergency relocation, individual security, medical support, or legal support. Over the past three years, the countries from which the highest number of HRDs received support were Syria, Burundi, Honduras, Russia, China, Iran, and DRC.
  • has facilitated and funded temporary relocation programmes for 459 human rights defenders (and their families when needed) with the support of comprehensive accompaniment schemes within host institutions from all over the world. For this purpose, ProtectDefenders.eu has maintained and broadened the EU Temporary Relocation Platform, supported the creation of new host organisations and engaged as an essential counterpart for human rights defenders in need for relocation and for host organisations.
  • has expanded the capacitites of more than 173 local human rights organisations, communities, and groups operating in the most dangerous contexts, through funding (such as seed-funding, core-funding and lifeline support) and contributions to develop sensitive initiatives and capacity-building programmes.
  • has provided capacity-development and training for at least 6,673 defenders aimed at empowering them to better manage their own security and to develop effective stragies and action to help them advance their their work in defence of Human Rights.
  • has provided effective guidance and immediate responses to 2,600 human rights defenders thanks to direct access to the 24/7 hotline, the ProtectDefenders.eu single-entry points, and direct contact with the Secretariat.
  • has monitored the situation of at least 1,323 human rights defenders in the field, through 284 fact-finding and advocacy missions, trial monitoring, accompaniment, or visits to prison.has mobilised public and media attention, as well as political responses on more than 5,100 individual cases such as attacks or threats against defenders through appeals, letters or petitions:
  • has reached out to at least 4,289 of the less connected, most targeted and at-risk defenders around the world, through 60 initiatives, such as missions to remote areas.

ProtectDefenders.eu aims at reaching out to the less connected and particularly targeted defenders and these groups (such as Women Human Rights Defenders, LGBTI+ rights defenders, land and environment rights defenders, indigenous rights defenders, or defenders from remote areas) represent approximately 75% of the beneficiaries.

https://www.protectdefenders.eu/en/newsfeed.html#newsletter-article-288

EU Parliament ‘improves’ proposed Terrorist Content Regulation

April 18, 2019

After my earlier piece about the risks in the draft EU regulation on terrorism content [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/31/ngos-express-fear-that-new-eu-terrorist-content-draft-will-make-things-worse-for-human-rights-defenders/], I am happy to report that some NGOs have welcomed the changes now made in the latest version.

On 17 April 2019 eub2 reports that “EU Parliament deletes the worst threats to freedom of expression proposed in the Terrorist Content Regulation”: Read the rest of this entry »

Saudi Arabia for first time openly criticized in UN Human Rights Council

March 8, 2019

Whether by intent or by coincidence, the very critical statement of the UN Human Rights Council on Saudi Arabia came on International Women’s Day 2019. There was considerable media attention. Interesting to note is the difference in emphasis between the NYT and the Washington Post:

By Nick Cumming-Bruce wrote for the NYT on 7 March 2019:

“Dozens of Western countries rebuked Saudi Arabia for its aggressive crackdown on free expression in a landmark initiative on Thursday in the United Nations’ top human rights body. It was the first time states had ever confronted the kingdom over its human rights record in the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Saudi Arabia is one of 47 members. The rebuke came in a statement signed by 36 nations — including every member of the European Union — that condemned Saudi Arabia’s “continuing arrests and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders” and its use of counterterrorism laws to silence peaceful dissent. The statement pointed in particular to the treatment of Saudi women who have challenged the kingdom’s strict rules. The nations also called on Saudi Arabia to cooperate fully with investigations into the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The statement specifically named 10 people, all arrested last year in a crackdown that started shortly before Saudi Arabia introduced reforms allowing women to drive: Loujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan, Aziza Al-Yousef, Nassima Al-Sadah, Samar Badawi, Nouf Abdelaziz, Hatoon Al-Fassi, Mohammed Al-Bajadi, Amal Al-Harbi and Shadan al-Anezi. The statement drew applause from human rights groups, which said it broke Saudi Arabia’s apparent impunity from condemnation in the council.

“It sends a strong signal that Saudi Arabia is not untouchable, and that council members should be held to a higher level of scrutiny,” said Salma El Hosseiny, an advocate for the Geneva-based International Service for Human Rights.

——-

Ishaan Tharoor wrote for the Washington Post of 8 March 2019 :”The West’s rebuke of Saudi Arabia won’t change its course”


(Anjum Naveed/AP)

The rhetorical attacks keep coming at Saudi Arabia from the West. On Thursday, the European Union signed on to a rare rebuke of the kingdom. …The statement was the first collective reprimand of Riyadh issued at the council since it was founded in 2006…Both the Trump administration and Saudi officials have sought to shield Mohammed from scrutiny, but that hasn’t dimmed the outrage of a host of Western governments and lawmakers. In Washington, Congress is still battling the White House over the latter’s flouting of a legal requirement to report to the Senate on the crown prince’s role in Khashoggi’s death. Though U.S. politicians remain bitterly divided on most issues, they have found an unusual consensus in their antipathy toward Riyadh……..

But the Saudis’ response has so far been categorical and unrepentant. “Interference in domestic affairs under the guise of defending human rights is in fact an attack on our sovereignty,” said Abdul Aziz Alwasil, the kingdom’s permanent representative in Geneva, in reaction to the European Union’s statement. Similar bullish statements came from the Saudi Foreign Ministry this year as members of Congress weighed the passage of a punitive bill.

That Riyadh has endured only the slightest course corrections amid months of controversy speaks, firstly, to the durability of the monarchy’s economic ties with a host of major powers. International political and business elites have shown themselves all too willing to overlook a regime’s record when it suits their interests. But it also speaks to the fact that despite their concerns over Khashoggi’s death, insiders in Washington cheer the Saudi push toward a more “normal” and secular modernity encouraged by Mohammed’s ambitious economic and social reform agenda. Movie theaters have sprung up, and women can now learn to drive — no matter that key female activists who clamored for these rights are still in prison.

Mohammed has championed these reforms by inculcating a new spirit of nationalism. “Saudi Arabia’s undergoing an aggressive nationalist rebranding, downplaying an austere religious doctrine associated abroad with terrorism, and promoting veneration of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he pursues an economic overhaul,” noted Bloomberg News this week, exploring the extent to which overt nationalism is supplanting the kingdom’s traditional religious orthodoxy. “Amid efforts to maintain domestic support while redesigning the contract between state and citizen, traitors, not infidels, are the enemy.”

The lecturing from Western capitals, too, plays into this dynamic, deepening national feeling among many patriotic Saudis who have rallied around their prince in the face of “unbalanced” criticism from abroad, said Ali Shihabi, founder of the Arabia Foundation, a Washington think tank with close ties to Riyadh. He added that “inspiring nationalism is an objective” of Mohammed’s reform agenda.

Critics of the crown prince view him as a fundamentally destabilizing leader. Other experts argue that he’s here to stay. “It’s impossible to not see how much the country has changed” under Mohammed’s watch, said former U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross at a panel hosted by the Arabia Foundation last week, saying that though the crown prince may be “reckless,” the United States has much to gain from a “successful transformation” from Wahhabism to nationalism in Saudi Arabia.

—–See also this video clip by OMCT:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1103696655906492417

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-human-rights-abuses.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/03/08/wests-rebuke-saudi-arabia-wont-change-its-course/?utm_term=.5e411da39e34

European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey Kati Piri: “it makes no sense to continue talks on EU membership”

February 20, 2019

Today the foreign affairs committee voted its annual report on Turkey, drafted by Socialists & Democrats MEP Kati Piri, in which European Parliamentarians called on the member states to formally suspend the accession negotiation with Ankara, due to a stark regression in the area of the rule of law and human rights in the country during the last few years. Kati Piri is also the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey.

The latest European Parliament report on Turkey set a clear red line: if the constitutional reform package, including the expansion of the president’s powers were to be implemented unchanged, then Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended without delay.  The procedure for suspending EU accession negotiations, sets out in Article 5 of the Negotiating Framework for Turkey stipulates that “in the case of a serious and persistent breach in Turkey of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded, the Commission will, on its own initiative or on the request of one third of the Member States, recommend the suspension of negotiations and propose the conditions for eventual resumption.

The rapid decline of the rule of law in Turkey, is also reflected in the European Parliament’s position on the accession process. With all the flagrant human rights violations, the lack of judicial independence and the implementation of a new constitution missing crucial checks and balances, it makes no sense to continue talks on EU membership with the current government. When a candidate country crosses key red lines, there should also be political consequences,” said Kati Piri.

(note that the report also expresses the will to keep bridges with the citizens of Turkey and continue to provide support to civil society)

https://www.europeaninterest.eu/article/sds-turkey-crossed-red-lines/

—–

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/11/council-of-europe-losing-patience-with-turkey-after-arrest-of-human-rights-defenders/