Posts Tagged ‘International Service for Human Rights’

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/

Inventivity of evil: how states restrict HRDs access to the UN in 10 case studies

June 27, 2018

In a new report entitled “The Backlash Against Civil Society Access and Participation at the United Nations” the ISHR outlines the many different ways States employ to keep critical voices out of multilateral spaces. ISHR’s new report provides a road map for States and UN representatives to prevent and counter restrictions on civil society participation in UN processes.

Civil society has the right to ‘unhindered access to and communication with international bodies. However, that right is not being respected.  ISHR’s new report documents a broad range of obstacles faced by human rights defenders, from opaque bureaucracies and procedures to reprisals, physical threats and attacks. ‘States decide who gets through the door,’ said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw.  ‘States that fear calls for accountability and justice do what they can to prevent civil society access to and participation in UN spaces’.

Click on the video below to get an insight into the report:

Opaque practices and procedures provide covers for States seeking to block NGO entry.  An NGO seeking to participate in a UN high-level event can be a victim of the ‘no-objection’ procedure.  This is the means by which any State can veto their participation without being named or providing any justification. ‘The no-objection procedure is poorly defined, and provides no formal criteria for objections to NGO participation,’ said ISHR’s John Indergaard. ‘It’s carte blanche to exclude legitimate NGOs for illegitimate reasons.’

Even when civil society representatives make it into an actual UN building, they have been thrown out without explanation or asked to leave while events were ongoing. At some high-level events and committee meetings, NGO representatives have been barred from giving statements or bringing in documents related to their work. Physical attacks and intimidation against those seeking to cooperate with the UN are well documented.  ‘These restrictions and reprisals are all aimed at dissuading civil society participation,’ said Openshaw. ‘They need to be challenged in each and every case.’

For some of my earlier posts on reprisals: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/

ISHR Annual Report 2017: how the Service serves

May 2, 2018

On 1 May 2018 the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) published its 2017 annual report (“Time for ambition, cause for hope”), outlining its impacts during 2017 and vision for 2018 and the years ahead.

 

Here are just a few examples of major achievements:

  • Through its Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme, ISHR helped defenders from across the world develop networks of support and influence, build energy and resilience, and become even more effective advocates for national-level change.
  • In consultation with LGBTI persons and organisations from all regions, and with input from eminent legal experts from across the world, ISHR developed and launched the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10.
  • Following a three year campaign undertaken in partnership with the Burkina Faso Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network, in June ISHR secured the adoption of a national law on the protection of defenders in Burkina Faso.
  • ISHR provided human rights defenders with international and regional advocacy platforms by supporting them in giving evidence and testimony at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul.
  • ISHR provided defenders with comprehensive and practical guidance to leverage the UN, with a new manual on engaging with the Third Committee of the General Assembly in English, Spanish and French, and a fully revised manual on navigating the UN Committee on NGOs in Arabic, Spanish, French and English.
  • ISHR also provided defenders with access to the most up-to-date information and advice via social media in Chinese, French, English and Spanish.

[for some of my earlier posts on the ISHR: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/ishr/]

For the future the ISHR says:

We’ll leverage the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to strengthen the recognition and protection of human rights defenders under international and regional law, and through the development and effective implementation of corporate policies on defenders.(eg, https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/17/20th-anniversary-un-work-on-human-rights-defenders-assessed-by-ishr/) We’ll ensure that national mechanisms for the protection of defenders are adapted and respond to the particular risks faced by women human rights defenders.  Our Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme will substantially strengthen the skills, networks, resilience and impact of defenders working on women’s rights, LGBTI rights and in restrictive environments.  Additionally we’ll provide human rights defenders from across the world with an innovative online e-learning platform, giving them access to training and tactical support and linking them with a community of practice and solidarity. And through our Human Rights Defender Fellowship Programme, we will provide at least three defenders at risk with up to six months of intensive training and strategic advocacy support.    

Follow the African Commission on Human Rights through Kumulika

March 13, 2018

Clément Voulé, ISHR’s African advocacy director and Adelaide Etong, ISHR’s Africa advocacy consultant

Clément Voulé and Adelaide Etong (pictured above) introduce the new format of the Kumulika publication. To allow for a better understanding and overview of the developments at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) during an entire year, the publication will now be issued once a year.

Through this yearly publication, ISHR will take a new approach to providing analysis and up to date news on what is happening, the developments and the outcomes of the sessions and the NGO Forum.

Last year the African Commission celebrated its thirty years of existence. The last session of the year was an opportunity to think back and reflect on how its work grew over the years and the challenges it faced while implementing its mandate to promote and protect human rights in Africa. It also allowed the Commission to acknowledge the importance of the work done by civil society organisations in support to the implementation of its mandate. These past thirty years NGOs have provided invaluable information on country situations and advocated tirelessly for the establishment of several special procedures of the Commission.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/22/ngo-forum-preceding-the-april-session-of-african-commission-on-human-and-peoples-rights/

Click here for the 61st session’s summary 

NGOs in Geneva preparing for the 2018 Human Rights Council sessions

January 19, 2018

– in collaboration with the members of HRCnet – is hosting a welcome reception for Vojislav Šuc, the new President of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday 31 January 2018. This is a regular opportunity for civil society staff, human rights experts and diplomats to meet and greet the new President and Vice-Presidents of the Council in a relaxed atmosphere. Those who won’t be in Geneva that evening, can give their thoughts about what the Human Rights Council’s priorities for 2018 should be. Share them on Twitter using #HRC2018 and Michael Ineichen, Human Rights Council Advocacy Director of the ISHR, will share a selection with the HRC President.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/31/ishr-2018-training-for-human-rights-defenders-is-now-open-for-application/for 

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/24/34th-human-rights-council-ishr-guide-to-key-issues-for-human-rights-defenders/

Job opportunities at the International Service for Human Rights

October 4, 2017

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) announces two vacancies:

Read the rest of this entry »

Civil society participation at the UN subject of ISHR event on 17 July

July 9, 2017

Civil society participation at the UN is essential to ensure the relevance and value of debates and decisions at the international level along with the implementation of UN resolutions and recommendations on the ground. The International Service for Human Rights is organizing an interactive event to discuss NGO engagement with UN bodies and processes as well as opportunities and imperatives for reform. Monday 17 July, 11:30 – 13:00Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva

ISHR will also launch a brand new handbook, the ‘Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly: A Practical Guide for NGOs’. Copies of the updated version of the ‘Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs’ will also be available at the event.

Panelists
Dianela Pi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Uruguayan Mission to the UN in Geneva
Iniyan Ilango, FORUM-ASIA
Eleanor Openshaw, International Service for Human Rights
Moderator

• Tanya Bennett, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Australian Mission to the UN in Geneva

Concluding remarks:
• Peggy Hicks, OHCHR

[Attendance with UNOG pass only. If you are a member of civil society interested in attending but don’t have a UNOG pass, please contact information@ishr.ch.]

ISHR’s Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme 2017 starts on Monday

May 27, 2017

ISHR‘s Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme begins on Monday 29 May, with 17 human rights defenders from around the globe travelling to Geneva to learn about strategic engagement with the UN mechanisms.

HRDAP 2016 Participants

The programme equips defenders with the knowledge and skills to make strategic use of the international human rights system. It also provides an opportunity for participants to directly engage in lobbying and advocacy activities at the UN level to effect change on the ground back home. ISHR’s Training and Advocacy Support Manager, Helen Nolan, explains that this year’s HRDAP participants were selected from a pool of 380 applicants – the highest number yet.

We’re incredibly excited to be collaborating with 17 committed human rights defenders working on women’s rights, business and human rights, the rights of LGBTI persons, and human rights defender protection,’ said Nolan. ‘These defenders are travelling from around the globe – including Argentina, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, India, Nigeria, Peru, Russia and Sierra Leone – to spend two highly intense weeks gaining practical advocacy experience in Geneva.’

HRDAP coincides with the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council, and well as receiving training modules on all the UN human rights mechanisms from a range of experts, participants will have the opportunity to build networks in Geneva and around the world, carry out lobbying of UN member States and UN staff, and learn from peers from a range of regions working on a range of human rights issues.

Crucially, we know the programme works,’ said Nolan. ‘Last year, 100% of our participants were either very satisfied or satisfied with the programme, with 96% of them having at least partially achieved their key advocacy and learning objectives.’ In 2016, HRDAP enabled:

  • corporate accountability activist Alexandra Montgomery to provide frst hand testimony to state representatives and experts about the violence faced by land rights defenders in Brazil
  • Tehmina Zafar to sound the alarm in the UN Human Rights Council about proposed laws which could dramatically restrict the operation and independence of NGOs in Pakistan
  • Karen Mejía to inform a UN expert body about the need to defend women’s rights activists and decriminalise abortion in Honduras.
  • several participants to contribute substantially to the historic campaign to appoint the first ever UN expert on LGBTI rights

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/12/ishr-2017-training-course-for-human-rights-defenders-now-open-for-applications/

http://www.ishr.ch/news/supporting-defenders-ishrs-human-rights-defender-advocacy-programme-kicks

International Service for Human Rights publishes Annual Report

May 16, 2017

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has also published its annual report on 2016 (a bit confusingly called Annual Report 2017 as it also contains plans for 2017). Several chapters contain substantive information on the excellent work done for human rights defenders:

Agents of change | Empowering defenders to achieve impact (p 10)

Model Law | Groundbreaking new tool to protect defenders  (p 14)

Strange bedfellows | The role of business in protecting civil society space (p 18)

Reprisals | Ending attacks against those who cooperate with the UN (p 21)

Defending diversity | The struggle for LGBTI dignity and rights.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/supporting-defenders-achieving-change-2017-annual-report

Video interview with Andrea Ixchíu Hernandez, human rights defender from Guatemala

February 5, 2017

Andrea Ixchíu Hernandez  is an indigenous rights defender working for several organisations in Guatemala. She talks – in English – to ISHR (International Service for Human Rights) about her work to build up community media so the voices of indigenous people are  heard and the violations they face are publicly unveiled.