Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF)’

2023: it can only get better for human rights

January 3, 2023

It seems bold to be so optimistic, but lets not forget that the assertion starts from a very low base: 2022 was probably one of the worst years with the Ukrainian war, further repression in Russia, death sentences for protesters in Iran and no let up in China.

Also remarkable wss the relatively poor observance of internatioanl Human Rights Day on 10 December 2022. Usually I make selection of events (e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/12/10/human-rights-day-2021/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/17/human-rights-day-2019-anthology-part-ii/), but this year there was little to report. Just these:

In an interview with Global Solutions of 9 December the “new” High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, [see also:https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/09/15/new-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-volker-turk-the-man-for-an-impossible-job/] gives an answer to the question: 10 December marks Human Rights Day; With this milestone – and your new role – in mind, what’s your vision for human rights?

I think we have to start with where we are with the world and we are at a very peculiar moment.  We have all lived through these multiple crises. We have seen the geopolitics, the divisions, the fragmentation, and all these things that have preoccupied us at a time when you would hope that the international community would come together and craft something that would respond to the big challenges that we face.

So for me, human rights is the force that comes in and unifies us.  Because it brings us back to human dignity and to what makes us all connected with each other. Let’s not forget that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged out of the ashes of the Second World War.  It provided the inspiration and the motivation that the world needed at that time.  So, I think we need to almost counter intuitively go back to the basics of what this unifying force – this concentration on the human being – was.  We need to regain the universality and the indivisibility of the human rights regime.

Secondly, we also need to look at human rights in the 21st century, for example in the digital transformation that we’re seeing. Take the letter I wrote to Twitter’s Elon Musk, for instance. Social media platforms play a very important role. We know the role Facebook played in Myanmar, for example, when the Rohinga crisis happened, in allowing disinformation and hatred to spread. So, human rights needs to look at the type of issues that we face today.

And the third area that I hope we can achieve next year, is we have to look at the human rights ecosystem as a whole. So, what is the role of the treaty bodies, of the special procedures mandate-holders, of the Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review process, and of my own office too – and how do we strategically deal with different situations?

Freedom House took the occasion to consider that Political prisoners and the victims of human rights abuses have taken a back seat when global summits and events occur. But it is exactly because of those events that we should be giving the victims of such abuses our full attention...

Symbolic dates like International Human Rights Day offer space to reflect on and advocate for the rights of the brave people who have been imprisoned or experienced retaliation for standing up to repressive, authoritarian rule. But political prisoners and others fighting for freedom deserve our attention for more than one day of the year. We cannot allow their plight to be sidelined because it is inconvenient to think about them during an event like the World Cup.

The World Cup is one of several events in recent months that has drawn criticism for the human rights controversies surrounding it. In what was meant to be a historic summit to discuss the imminent threats posed by climate change, the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), held in Egypt in early November, instead became a spotlight on the host country’s abysmal human rights record. The large number of human rights defenders and activists currently detained or imprisoned in Egypt was difficult to ignore, and one case in particular stood out for its perilously high stakes. British-Egyptian democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, imprisoned for his activism, endured a six-month hunger strike, now over, which resulted in the Egyptian authorities denying his family the ability to contact him as the conference took place. They desperately pleaded with the authorities for proof he was alive, and his sister Sanaa took the stage at official summit events to advocate for her brother’s release. She faced threats from Egyptian officials who accused her of calling on foreign entities to intervene in the country’s internal affairs.

Participating governments could have added to this pressure and set the stage for the release of Abdel Fattah and numerous other political prisoners, by conditioning Egypt’s hosting role on freeing political prisoners ahead of COP27. Instead, the conference’s setting appeared hypocritical, as climate justice depends in large part on respect for democracy and human rights.

Similarly, this fall’s G20 summit saw leaders of multiple countries that hold political prisoners convene for strategic discussions. The lives and freedoms of imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, and prodemocracy activists in Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, India, and even the host state Indonesia, were superseded by “other priorities.” In Indonesia, human rights defender Victor Yeimo, who has spoken out on the rights abuses occurring in West Papua, was arrested in May 2021, reportedly due to his involvement in antiracism and self-determination protests two years prior. Charged with crimes including treason, he remained in detention while the G20 met. His case and others across the various member states should have been highlighted, as respect for international human rights principles and commitment to strong democracies are key to long-term national and global security and economic stability.

Scott Walker, a Researcher at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, a and a Research Assistant within the Faculty of Law, Monash University.decided to draw attention to an important case concerning climate justice; On 10 December 2022 the world marks Human Rights Day commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) in 1948.  This year’s theme is dignity, freedom, and justice for all, in anticipation of the 75thanniversary of the UDHR in 2023. It gives us cause to reflect on the mobilising force that the UDHR has become in the struggle for human rights across the world. Yet, there is always more work to be done to truly achieve a world in which dignity, freedom, and justice is a lived reality for all. To do so we must utilise human rights both as a guidepost for advocacy and a tool for concrete, on the ground change to address some of the most pressing and ongoing challenges facing our world; including the immediate and catastrophic impacts of climate change

Here in Australia, the path to domestic enshrinement of human rights has been a meandering one: only two States (Victoria and Queensland) and one Territory (the Australian Capital Territory) have Human Rights Acts. Yet, the capacity of these Human Rights Acts to achieve real and meaningful change in people’s lives is profound. Increasingly, people on the frontline of the climate crisis are also turning towards human rights to achieve justice. The potential impact of human rights-based climate litigation was recently demonstrated in the decision of the Land Court of Queensland in Warratah Coal Pty Ltd v Youth Verdict Ltd. In this case, the Court recommend against the grant of a mining lease and environmental authority to allow Warratah Coal to mine thermal coal in Queensland’s Gallilee Basin.  This case deserves closer examination to illustrate the way in which human rights enshrined in law can be mobilised in claims for climate justice.  

On 10 December 2022, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, announced this year’s recipients of 20 Global Innovation Small Grants as a part of the organization’s Global Partnerships Program. The grants range from $1,000 to $5,000 and are awarded to organizations around the world working to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in these countries. This announcement coincides with International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated annually around the world, marks the December 10 anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The declaration was the first of its kind and recognized that “every human being is born free and equal in rights and dignity.” The grants support members of of HRC’s growing global alumni network, which now consists of some 200 LGBTQ+ advocates in close to 100 countries. All of them have participated in one of the HRC Foundation’s global programs, including the flagship annual Innovative Advocacy Summit.


The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, December 9, 2022 Ahead of International Human Rights Day on December 10, CHRD celebrated the courage and bravery of human rights advocates and calls on the Chinese government to stop violating its obligations to protect human rights and free those detained for exercising their human rights. We urge the international community to keep hope alive and continue supporting defenders on the forefront. 

In recent years. Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, has suffocated civil society and space for free expression, jailed COVID whistleblowers, journalists, lawyers, labor organizers and feminists, LGBTQ+ activists and religious practitioners. Yet we are encouraged by the glimmers of hope that have emerged in the recent protests. The protests demanding political changes began with spontaneous gatherings to pay tribute to Uyghur victims in the Urumqi FireThe rapidly spreading protests, led by youth, likely proved to be the last straw in forcing the Chinese Party-State to reverse course on its draconian “zero-COVID” measures. 

Reasons for hope: Young people have brought new vitality to the fight for human rights

The scope of this short-lived wave of protests in cities across China was enormous, comparatively speaking. Thus far, there have been at least 68 protests across 31 cities since November 25according to the Australia Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). And it has largely been young people who have led the protests. The Urumqi apartment complex fire, which took the lives of at least ten Uyghur women and children, as rescue was obstructed by barriers thought to be erected for COVID lockdown but likely for  “counter-terror” measures, brought people into the streets to mourn the loss of lives, to assemble and speak out against the devastating zero-COVID control and the political system that made such control possible.   

https://freedomhouse.org/article/imprisoned-not-forgotten-rights-abuses-and-global-events-hide-th

https://genevasolutions.news/human-rights/volker-turk-it-s-my-duty-to-be-the-voice-of-human-rights