Posts Tagged ‘good practices’

Good practice examples abound in new UN report on civil society

June 15, 2020

Participation, promotion and protection are the three watchwords that should guide the UN’s work on and with civil society, says a newly-released UN report.  Offering examples of good practice within the UN system -which provide a baseline for a new UN strategy on civil society- and a range of  recommendations, the report is timed to inform decision-making at the 44th session of the UN’s Human Rights Council. 

On 31 May 2020 the ISHR discussed the new report of the UN on civil society: with countless recent examples of restrictive and repressive measures taken to silence or discredit civil society actors, the UN’s new report drawing together examples of some good practices across the UN, is timely. Re-stating the vital contribution of civil society actors, the report goes on to cite examples of good practices of UN entities engaging with and protecting civil society. The report recommendations – aimed at encouraging improvement across the UN system as well as by States – echo several which ISHR has consistently voiced .

ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw said that good practice examples to inspire reform by the UN and States were valuable: ‘In days where we’ve seen journalists being arrested in Minneapolis and an increasing number of defenders murdered in Colombia – as just two such examples – we need States and UN bodies to revise and strengthen their practice to ensure the voice of civil society is heard and safeguarded.’…

The report contains examples where discussion between different stakeholders has been formalized and where their input is part of the process from policy inception to implementation,’ noted Openshaw.

One such example is the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), created by the UN General Assembly which styles itself as ‘a unique inter-agency forum for coordination, policy development and decision-making involving the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners’. ‘This example of civil society having a seat at the table in recognition of the experience and expertise they bring to the issue makes more evident the lack of such opportunities in other spaces, particularly in human rights bodies,’ said Openshaw.

The report also highlights clear gaps. One of the key findings is the absence in 2/3 of UN mechanisms of means to contest restrictions on civil society participation or access to information. Whilst the report makes no explicit reference to Covid-19, having sought input prior to the onset of the pandemic, it does contain recommendations that speak to shifts in practice the pandemic has engendered.It notes how the impact of any modifications should be assessed to ensure civil society is not disadvantaged or disproportionately affected. This is one of several recommendations ISHR and other civil society have been making over time.

It’s great to see that the UN has reflected the recommendations of civil society groups such as ISHR, who have experience working with defenders and engaging with UN and regional organisations,’ noted Openshaw. ‘It’s but one example of civil society expertise adding value.’

The need for the UN to improve and make more consistent its work to promote, engage with and safeguard civil society has been a long-term call. The Secretary General made such a recommendation in his 2018 report on the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and again in his recent Call to Action for Human Rights. This new UN report was as a result of the request made by the Human Rights Council in 2018

Along with the full report, the UN has produced a one-pager summarizing key report recommendations.

UN Rapporteur Michel Forst documents good practices in the protection of human rights defenders

March 7, 2016

A major new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst, documents good practices and policies in the protection of defenders and makes concrete recommendations to States, business enterprises, national human rights institutions, donors, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to ensure a safe and enabling environment for defenders’ work (A/HRC/31/55).

Key among these is a recommendation that, in consultation with civil society, States should develop and implement specific national laws and mechanisms to protect defenders and to investigate and ensure accountability for threats and attacks against them. [ISHR’s work to develop a model national law on the recognition and protection of human rights defenders is specifically referenced in this regard.] [see also:]

In addition to enacting laws, the Special Rapporteur recommends that States establish and adequately-resourced protection mechanisms, in consultation with civil society.

Through the report, the Special Rapporteur endorses a ‘holistic’ approach to the protection of defenders, engaging the responsibility of a range of actors. Key insights and recommendations included in the report include that:

  • States should publicly recognise the vital and legitimate work of human rights defenders, disseminate and raise awareness about the Declaration and actively respect and protect ‘the right to defend rights’.
  • National human rights institutions should develop concrete action plans to support and protect defenders and establish focal points to ensure effective implementation and evaluation of such plans.
  • Business enterprises have an important and influential role to play in protecting defenders and should be engaged in this regard: ‘The condemnation of violations by members of the business community not only legitimises defenders’ concerns but also builds opposition to bad business practices,’ the report says. ‘In addition, due to their economic and political influence, the support of business leaders can draw in wider support of society.’
  • Donors should provide long-term, sustainable, flexible financial support to defenders and their organisations and networks, providing for their ‘holistic protection’.
  • The UN itself should strengthen the protection of defenders and prevent violations against them, including through the ‘Rights Up Front’ initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals, and by strengthening its institutional response to cases of reprisals against those who for cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. The need to prevent and ensure accountability for reprisals is particularly important given the Special Rapporteur’s finding that international and regional human rights mechanisms are increasingly being turned to and relied upon by defenders either to complement and strengthen domestic advocacy efforts, or because democratic institutions and the rule of law are weak or non-existent at the national level. [see also my ‘old’ post:]

In addition to making concrete recommendations, the Special Rapporteur also articulates 7 key principles for all stakeholders that he considers should inform and underpin all policies and practices namely:

  • Principle 1: They should adopt a rights-based approach to protection, empowering defenders to know and claim their rights.
  • Principle 2: They should recognise that defenders are diverse and come from different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems.
  • Principle 3: They should recognise the significance of gender in the protection of defenders and apply an intersectionality lens to the assessment of risks and to the design of protection initiatives.
  • Principle 4: They should focus on ‘holistic security’ of defenders, including physical security, digital security, and psychosocial wellbeing.
  • Principle 5: They should not focus on the rights and security of individual defenders alone, but also include the groups, organisations, communities, and family members who share their risks.
  • Principle 6: They should involve defenders in the development, choice, implementation and evaluation of strategies and tactics for their protection. The participation of defenders is key to their security.
  • Principle 7: They should be flexible, adaptable, and tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of defenders.

See more at:


Example of open attitude by Mauritius: side event organised by Government itself

October 18, 2013

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Mauritius to the UN in Geneva does something special: it organises a side event on its own human rights record in preparation of the Universal Periodic Review. Would other countries please follow? 

“The promotion and protection of human rights in Mauritius” on Tuesday 22 October 2013 from 16.00 to 18.00 hours at Palais des Nations Room XXII in Geneva.


  • Opening Remarks by A. Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Sharing best practices

–       Presentation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights for Mauritius

–       Presentation on the UPR Preparation Process for Mauritius

  • Role of national institutions in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, by Mr Brian Glover, Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.