Posts Tagged ‘guidelines’

NGOs call Canada’s revised guidelines on human rights defenders a step in the right direction

September 1, 2019

With human rights defenders increasingly under attack around the world, civil society organizations in June 2019 welcomed the Government of Canada’s revised guidelines aimed at strengthening its approach to ensuring the safety and security of these courageous activists. In 2016 [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/13/canada-joins-select-group-of-governments-with-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/] they were first made public. After input from civil society, the government now has revised and updated the guidelines.

.. The groups welcome Canada’s acknowledgement that human rights defenders put themselves at great risk—along with their families, communities and the movements they represent—as they work to promote human rights and strengthen the rule of law. Women and LGBTI human rights defenders, for example, face high-levels of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence because of their gender and the rights they are advocating for. “In many parts of the world, human rights defenders are at risk as a result of their courageous work and their willingness to speak truth to power. Canada and the international community need to be strong supporters of these brave individuals. Human rights defenders must be able to act freely and without any interference, intimidation, abuse, threats, violence or reprisal. We are committed to speaking out against violations, standing up for human rights defenders and striving for a world where the rights and freedoms of all people are respected,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on 17 June in Ottawa at a human rights event where the guidelines were announced.

For Canada’s new guidelines to be effective in helping to protect and support human rights defenders, they will need to be accompanied by a comprehensive implementation plan and increased Canadian funding going directly to human rights defenders and the movements they represent.  Canada also needs to take a stronger approach to support human rights defenders advocating for corporate accountability, for instance, by enabling robust investigations when defenders face heightened risks linked to private sector investments.  It will also be critically important that Canada create an advisory body that includes the participation of human rights defenders with experience and first-hand knowledge of the threats facing human rights defenders….

Importantly, the new guidelines call for Canadian diplomats working abroad at overseas missions or at Global Affairs Canada headquarters in Ottawa to take a more feminist and intersectional approach to promoting the rights of defenders. The document notes that many human rights defenders have multiple and “overlapping” identities, and often work on multiple issues.  Human rights defenders may belong to one or more groups facing discrimination, including women, LGBTI people, Indigenous people, land and environment defenders, people with disabilities, journalists, and those seeking greater freedom of religion or beliefs.  Human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict countries face unique risks posed by high levels of militarization.

Quotes from Canada’s Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders

Canada recognizes the key role played by human right defenders in protecting and promoting human rights and strengthening the rule of law, often at great risk to themselves, their families and communities, and to the organizations and movements they often represent.

Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders is a clear statement of Canada’s commitment to supporting the vital work of HRDs.”

Endorsed by:
  • Amnesty International Canada
  • The MATCH International Women’s Fund
  • Nobel Women’s Initiative
  • Oxfam Canada
  • United Church of Canada

https://www.oxfam.ca/news/canadas-new-guidelines-to-support-human-rights-defenders-a-step-in-the-right-direction/

UK joins small group of countries with specific guidelines on human rights defenders

July 19, 2019

The United Kingdom has recently published guidelines for the protection and support of rights defenders around the world. It joins a small group of countries such as Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Canada (although they differ – see the websites of these countries). There are also some mulitlateral ones such as the EU Guidelines.[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/01/13/quick-reminder-of-the-eu-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/] and those of the OSCE.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/13/canada-joins-select-group-of-governments-with-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/11/02/swiss-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders-analyzed-by-civil-society/.

In the foreword to the publication Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for Human Rights, states: To demonstrate our commitment of continued support of human rights defenders globally, this document sets out why human rights defenders are important to us and acknowledges the risks they face in the pursuit of universal human rights. We hope it will give human rights defenders encouragement to know how we may be able to support them, including through our network of embassies and high commissions overseas. Whilst every situation may be different depending on local context, our values and commitments in providing support remain the same

Human Rights Watch was not impressed: While welcome, real support requires a willingness to speak out even when it carries political costs. The new guidelines praise the courageous work of human rights defenders in the face of risks including threats, intimidation, harassment, and detention. The guidelines rightly identify groups which are in greater danger, such as journalists, women, and LGBT activists, and express the UK’s commitment to support them “wherever they are in the world.” But when it comes to actually standing up for human rights defenders, the UK’s record is patchy. While it sometimes speaks out in private, it remains reluctant to do so publicly, even though doing so would raise the cost to states that seek to silence those who speak truth to power. The UK government has so far done very little about credible reports of the torture, sexual harassment, and assault of Saudi women activists currently on trial for defending human rights in their country. It has failed to hold Hungary to account for its efforts to clamp down on human rights groups and rule of law. And it has failed to criticize United Arab Emirates authorities for the unjust imprisonment of Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor on his peaceful calls for reform. The UK hopes that by publishing these guidelines, defenders might be encouraged to understand that the British government might be able to support them. But if the UK is really serious about this, it should be willing to speak out publicly on their behalf when they are in trouble, including when their safety is at risk in countries that are UK allies. In short, the UK’s new Prime Minister should make it a priority to protect and support human rights defenders no matter where they are in the world.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/19/will-next-uk-government-stand-human-rights-defenders

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/815986/UK-Support-for-Human-Rights-Defenders.pdf

How can companies take concrete actions to protect human rights defenders?

September 19, 2018

Published a few days ago by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and the International Service for Human Rights, this new guidance was commissioned by the Business Network on Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders, seeking to encourage companies to focus on an increasingly inescapable agenda.

‘Shared space’ under pressure

..Data from around the world shows there is a concerted attack in many countries on the essential freedoms and the rule of law on which business and civil society depend. And the defenders and organisations who expose the risk of abuse by companies in their operations and supply chains are under particular attack. Business and civil society operate in and benefit from a ‘shared space’ defined by common, fundamental elements. The rule of law and freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential to the realisation of all human rights, to good governance and accountable institutions. These elements are also critical to stable, profitable and sustainable business environments in which companies thrive and economies prosper. Yet this shared space is as much an ideal as it is a reality.

The strength of the shared space is tested by a history and legacy of mistrust between elements of civil society and business, especially between multinational corporations in certain industries and local communities in the Global South. This mistrust is reflected in actions, whether intentional or inadvertent, by individual companies and even entire industries to undermine civic freedoms and to undercut human rights defenders. It shows up in conflicts and confrontations in almost every region. Yet standards and practices have evolved over the last two decades to encourage or require companies to respect human rights – however incompletely and inconsistently. Moreover, engagement and consultation of companies with local communities and stakeholders are leading to solutions in conflicts in ways that encourage further progress. ‘The time is now for responsible business to act to defend civic freedoms and protect human rights defenders’, said Michael Ineichen, Programme Director at ISHR…

Guidance for companies

But why, when and how should business engage on this urgent agenda? This guidance represents a major step forward towards business action. It is a practical guide to realistic action by responsible companies, investors, industry associations and business leaders. It is informed by pragmatism and the principles of freedom and fair play. It is also the result of over 90 interviews with business leaders, investors, civil society advocates and other international experts who gladly offered their insights.

The document elaborates on why business should be compelled to join civil society and human rights defenders in resisting the crackdown on their work by:

  • Providing the complementary normative framework, business case and moral considerations which all encourage companies to support civic freedoms and defenders under threat;
  • Elaborating on the main elements of the business case to protect defenders, namely the business interest to secure the shared space, to manage operational and reputational risks, to build competitive advantage, and to secure a social license to operate;
  • Outlining a decision framework that is both analytical and operational to determine whether and how to act in various circumstances.

Authored by Bennett Freeman, a leader and innovator in the business and human rights  field for two decades, the guidance intends to further push the thinking and debate on how we can forge new alliances to counter the attacks on civic freedoms and human rights defenders and hold open these precious shared spaces. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and the International Service for Human Rights look forward to deeper and more powerful collaboration with business and stronger alliances with civil society partners through the publication of this guidance.

Download the full guidance – Shared space under pressure: business support for civic freedoms and human rights defenders

Download an executive summary – Shared space under pressure: Executive Summary

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/09/2017-9-business-can-be-better-allies-of-human-rights-defenders/

Canada joins select group of Governments with Guidelines on human rights defenders

December 13, 2016

On 7 December 2016 the Government of Canada published Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. It joins a limited number of Governments with a specific policy on human rights defenders (not just human rights in general) such as Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria, although they differ a bit in the degree of detail. And there are of course the EU Guidelines.[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/01/13/quick-reminder-of-the-eu-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/] and those of the OSCE: Read the rest of this entry »

DatNav: New Guide to Navigate and Integrate Digital Data in Human Rights Research

August 25, 2016

DatNav, a guide designed to help human rights defenders navigate and integrate digital data into your human rights research, was launched today.

DatNav is the result of a collaboration between Amnesty InternationalBenetech, and The Engine Room which began in late 2015 culminating in an intense four-day writing sprint facilitated by Chris Michael and Collaborations for Change in May 2016. Based on interviews, community consultations, and surveys the researchers found that in the vast majority of cases, human rights defenders were not using the tools. Why? Mainly, human rights researchers appeared to be overwhelmed by the possibilities.

DatNav - Digital Data in Human Rights Research

Still, integrating and using digital data in a responsible way can make a huge and important difference to human rights research. Acquiring, disseminating and storing digital data is also more in reach. DatNav is about navigating these new possibilities.

In May 2016, the 3 NGOs gathered a group of experts to create a guide to help address this problem, and created the foundations of DatNav. Nearly 70 key members of the human rights tech and data community, representing nearly 40 different organisations from around the world, played key roles in the creation of DatNav.

This is just the beginning. If you’re interested in taking the guide forward, whether to inform strategy in your work, to train others, or through translations, or adaptations of the content, the organizers would like to hear from you. The content is all CC-BY-SA licensed and remixes of the content are more than welcome. We’re in initial talks to release an Arabic translation of DatNav, and we’d like to carry out others, too.

Download the DatNav pdf

You can sign up for The Engine Room’s newsletter to be notified of new updates and releases.

To find out more about the project or give feedback, you can send an email. You can also reach out on Twitter @zararah and The Engine Room @EngnRoom.

 

Source: DatNav: New Guide to Navigate and Integrate Digital Data in Human Rights Research | The Engine Room

Human Rights Defenders in National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights: Launch of Guide with public debate on 15 June

June 7, 2016

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) are planning a public discussion about how and why human rights defenders should be consulted in the development of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (NAPs) and protected by their provisions. This event will also launch ISHR and ICAR’s new guidance on this subject, situating NAPs in the broader contexts of extreme risks facing human rights defenders taking on business abuses. Wednesday 15 June 2016, 12h30 – 14h00, Palais des Nations, Geneva. (Room to be confirmed) Read the rest of this entry »

New travel guide “Cyber security policy for human rights defenders” issued by GPD

May 20, 2016

On 18 May 2016 Global Partners Digital (GPD) issued a new entry in its series of ‘Travel Guides to the Digital World‘: Cybersecurity Policy for Human Rights Defenders.

Just as a travel guide introduces tourists to the customs, language and geography of a foreign land, the series aims to equip human rights defenders with the information needed to navigate complex areas of internet-related policy from a human rights perspective. Previous guides in the series have focused on internet governance and digital surveillance. The latest entry,  shines the spotlight on an emerging, and increasingly crucial domain – and aims to fill a conspicuous gap. For while much valuable work has already been done on cybersecurity, there are currently few resources for human rights defenders on this issue.

A few years ago, cybersecurity was a word most likely to evoke dreary office trainings on password protection. Today, it is a top priority of states worldwide. 72 countries now have live national cybersecurity strategies, and 102 have National Computer Incident Response Teams (CIRTs). It remains however, a contested, elastic and shifting term which can cover a seemingly endless range of different issues, situations, and policy measures.

In spite of this, human rights defenders have so far been notable for their absence in cybersecurity policymaking spaces. Without the crucial scrutiny they provide, important decisions are being taken without any consideration for their broader implications on the enjoyment of basic human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy. The guide hopes in a small way to address this trend by helping human rights defenders to find their bearings and gain a solid grasp of the institutions, actors and issues at stake.

A few words on structure. In conceptualising the guide, an immediate challenge was the sheer range of definitions available within cybersecurity. We’ve tried to resolve this by grouping issues into three broad categories –  information security, cyber crime and cyber conflict – but we recognise that these overlap. Human rights defenders need to be active not only in challenging the impact of cybersecurity policies, but in reshaping its very meaning, which is why definition is a key focus of the guide.

The guide concludes with a list of recommendations, which are by no means prescriptive or comprehensive, but which hopefully offer some useful starting points for strategic engagement from a human rights perspective.

[GPD are a small team based in Shoreditch in London working with civil society groups, governments, international institutions and businesses to protect and promote human rights values online. Much of its work is carried out with partner organisations in the global South. Global Partners Digital started off in 2005 as Global Partners and Associates (GPA) which was set up to work in the areas of democracy, governance and human rights. As a team within GPA, it initially worked on human rights and traditional media issues. Since then, its work in this field has developed substantially. With the unprecedented growth of the internet and mobile phone technologies – and the challenges and opportunities that these bring – GPD have become increasingly focused on human rights and digital communications. Thus the rebranding as Global Partners Digital in 2013.]

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/new-book-on-internet-policy-and-governance-for-human-rights-defenders/

Source: Introducing GPD’s new travel guide to cybersecurity policy for human rights defenders | Global Partners Digital

Is there ANY way to engage people with human rights communication?

November 10, 2015

Yes there is!” according to True Heroes Films (THF)THF_SIMPLE

A recent assessment of the communication practice of Geneva-based human rights organisations carried out by THF showed that many of them face the same challenges.

In a newsletter (see link at the bottom of this post) and in the below guidelines, THF summarizes these challenges and the solutions identified together with communicators from the organisations assessed. There are some nice cartoons by © Hani Abbas.

The guidelines are by necessity of a general nature and are based on the experience of NGOs in the Geneva area, but they they may help also others in thinking about their communications problems: Read the rest of this entry »

Guidelines issued to protect human rights defenders in Sri Lanka

September 7, 2015

The Colombo Gazette of 17 July 2015 carried an article that is interesting in the light of efforts to create an enabling national environment for Human Rights Defenders in Sri Lanka:

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has issued guideline for state authorities to ensure the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) including ensuring their freedom of association.

The Human Rights Commission noted that Human Rights defenders act as the voice of vulnerable person or group or community or society and engage to ensure universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“They work very hard, for example; they document violations, reveal the human rights violations and help to redress these violations by peaceful means. HRDs are facing challenges in diverse political and social context at national, regional and international levels. Sometimes their activities are neglected or underestimated or seen as something negative by some of the authorities. Therefore they undergo severe risk when they carry out the activities to promote and protect human rights,” the Human Rights Commission said.

It said that the protection of HRDs is a corporate responsibility of the State, Civil societies and international communities. Although, State authorities have primary responsibility to protect the HRDs and ensure a conducive working environment where HRDs can operate free from hindrance and insecurity. All of them respect the rights of HRDs and support the activities of the HRDs to promote the overall enjoyment of human rights.

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) as a National Human rights Institution (NHRI) has to perform as a defender of HRDs. HRCSL has serious concern for the Protection of HRDs. For this purpose the HRCSL has developed guideline for state authorities. These guidelines will assist the state authorities to protect the HRDs and ensure the internal dignity of the HRDs.

The guidelines call on State authorities to recognize the activities of the HRDs to protect and promote all human and fundamental freedoms which are guaranteed by the Sri Lankan laws including the Constitution of Sri Lanka and International human rights laws, be mindful of the fact that HRDs activities have the true intention to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom, are transparent, visible and accountable, are not a threat to state sovereignty, national unity and national security and are activate through peaceful means. 

The guidelines also note that all the human rights defenders or groups or organs of society shall be treated equally according to Article 12(2) of the Constitution which ensures “No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, and place of birth or any one of such grounds”. Any special or unequal treatment or discrimination will be an express violation of Article 12 of the Constitution.

State authorities have also been told to recognize the freedom of association of human rights defenders or group or organs of society for a common purpose or joint action towards protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedom. Unreasonable restriction, suppression, dismissal, prohibition, negatively viewed or any such ways will be a sign of violation of the freedom of association which is guaranteed by Article 14 and 12 of the Constitution and other domestic laws.

State authorities should respect, protect and ensure the right of freedom of speech and expression of HRDs related to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom. Restrict, prohibit, show contempt, deform, criticize, comment negatively or any such ways will be an expression of violation of Article 14 and 12 of the Constitution.

HRCSL also notes that State authorities must ensure the right of movement of human rights defenders or groups or organs of society to meet the vulnerable groups particularly their rights violated or peaceful parade or travelling for peaceful gathering and seek, obtain and receive information for the purpose to facilitate the victim to seek appropriate remedies. If the movement of HRDs is unlawfully or unjustifiably restricted it violates article 14 of the Constitution.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/

Guidelines issued to protect human rights defenders | Colombo Gazette.

Swiss Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders analyzed by civil society

November 2, 2014

In December 2013, the Swiss Government became one of the few countries to issue specific Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (http://www.humanrights.ch/en/switzerland/foreign-affairs/human-rights-foreign-policy/multilateral-policy/switzerland-guidelines-protection-human-rights-defenders). As in the case of all guidelines, the real test is in the implementation and on 12 June 2014, the Centre for Peacebuilding (KOFF) at Swisspeace organized a conference on the protection of HRDs, which brought together HRDs from Guatemala, Honduras, Serbia, Russia and Sri Lanka, Swiss government officials and representatives of Swiss civil society in order to give consideration to the different challenges that exist when it comes to HRD protection and, in particular, implementation of the Swiss guidelines.

Read the rest of this entry »