Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Breaking news: UN adopts key Resolution on Human Rights Defenders

November 21, 2017

Norway, which chaired the negotiations, managed to get 76 countries to co-sponsor the draft resolution, which was developed in close consultation with civil society.  In view of the importance of the resolution I attached the full text which also has the list of co-sponsoring countries.

The resolution condemns the criminalization, curtailing and killing of human rights defenders. It calls for the release of all those who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of speech and other fundamental freedoms. This is the first time that UN Member States have unanimously agreed to send such a clear and powerful message on the need to protect human rights defenders.  In order to build on this important development, the UN will convene a high-level meeting on the situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Secretary-General has been requested to strengthen the UN’s role in protecting human rights defenders. All this in the context of the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders next year.

source: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/resolution-hr-defenders/id2579366/

—————————

Human Rights Defenders UN Consensus Resolution 2017

Final text as adopted in 3C on 20 November 2017

76 cosponsors: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brasil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor Leste, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay and Vanuatu:

draft resolution

Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs
of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Guided also by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[1] the International Covenants on Human Rights[2] and other relevant instruments,

Recalling its resolution 53/144 of 9 December 1998, by which it adopted by consensus the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, commonly referred to as the Declaration on human rights defenders,

Recalling also all its other previous resolutions on this subject, including its resolutions 66/164 of 19 December 2011, 68/181 of 18 December 2013 and 70/161 of 17 December 2015, and Human Rights Council resolutions 22/6 of 21 March 2013,[3] 31/32 of 24 March 2016[4] and 34/5 of 23 March 2017,[5]

Reiterating that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner, without prejudice to the implementation of each of those rights and freedoms,

Reaffirming that States have the primary responsibility and are under the obligation to respect, promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons,

Stressing, in this regard, that all human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to all persons equally, including human rights defenders[6] in the context of the Declaration, and that these rights and freedoms must be respected, protected and fulfilled without discrimination,

Reaffirming the importance of the Declaration and its implementation, and that promoting respect and support for the activities of human rights defenders is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights,

Underscoring the positive, important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in promoting and advocating the realization of all human rights, at the local, national, regional and international levels, including by engaging with Governments and contributing to the efforts in the implementation of the obligations and commitments of States in this regard,

Welcoming the steps taken by some States to create a safe and enabling environment for the promotion, protection and defence of human rights, and recognizing in this regard the positive efforts by authorities, national human rights institutions where they exist and civil society towards the development and enactment of relevant national policies, laws, programmes and practices,

Recognizing the substantial role that human rights defenders can play in supporting efforts to strengthen conflict prevention, peace and sustainable development, including environmental protection, through dialogue, openness, participation and justice, including by monitoring, reporting on and contributing to the promotion and protection of all civil, political, economic social and cultural rights, and other rights, including the right to development, and in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,[7]

Gravely concerned by the considerable and increasing number of allegations and communications of a serious nature received by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and other mechanisms on the threats, risks and dangers faced by human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, online and offline, and the prevalence of impunity for violations and abuses against them in many countries, where they face threats, harassment and attacks and suffer insecurity, including through restrictions on, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association or peaceful assembly, and the right to privacy, or through abuse of criminal or civil proceedings, or acts of intimidation and reprisal intended to prevent their cooperation with the United Nations and other international bodies in the field of human rights,

Mindful that domestic law and administrative provisions and their application should not hinder, but enable the work of human rights defenders, including by avoiding any criminalization, stigmatization, impediments, obstructions or restrictions thereof contrary to the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law,

Underscoring that the legal framework within which human rights defenders work peacefully to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms is that of national legislation consistent with the Charter and international human rights law,

Stressing that, in the exercise of the rights and freedoms referred to in the Declaration, human rights defenders, acting individually and in association with others, shall be subject only to such limitations as are in accordance with applicable international obligations and are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society;

Gravely concerned that national security and counter-terrorism legislation and other measures, such as laws regulating civil society organizations, are in some instances misused to target human rights defenders or have hindered their work and endangered their safety in a manner contrary to international law,

Recognizing the pressing importance to address, and to take concrete steps to prevent and stop, the use of legislation to hinder or limit unduly the ability of human rights defenders to exercise their work, including by reviewing and, where necessary, amending relevant legislation and its implementation in order to ensure compliance with international human rights law,

Strongly reaffirming that everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, as laid out in the Declaration, and, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, encouraging leaders in all sectors of society and in their respective communities, including political, military, social and religious leaders and leaders in business and the media, to express public support for human rights defenders in society, including women human rights defenders, and in cases of threat, harassment, violence, discrimination, racism and other violations and abuses committed against them, including killings, to take a clear stance in rejection of such practices and offences,

  1. Stresses that the right of everyone to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms without retaliation or fear thereof is an essential element in building and maintaining sustainable, open and democratic societies;
  2. Calls upon all States to take all measures necessary to ensure the rights and safety of all persons, including human rights defenders, who exercise, inter alia, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are essential for the promotion and protection of human rights;
  3. Welcomes the work and takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights defenders,[8] and also takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights;[9]
  4. Urges States to acknowledge through public statements, policies, programmes or laws the important and legitimate role of individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, in the promotion of all human rights, democracy and the rule of law as essential components of ensuring their recognition and protection, including by duly investigating and condemning publicly all cases of violence and discrimination against human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, underlining that such practices can never be justified;
  5. Encourages partnerships and collaboration between States, national human rights institutions, civil society and other stakeholders in promoting, protecting and realizing all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through consultative bodies, focal points within the public administration, national human rights mechanisms for reporting or follow-up, or measures aimed at enhancing the recognition in society of the valuable role played by human rights defenders, while fully recognizing the importance of the independent voice of human rights defenders and other civil society actors;
  6. Underlines the value of national human rights institutions, established and operating in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles),[10] in the continued engagement with human rights defenders and in the monitoring of existing legislation and consistently informing the State about its impact on the activities of human rights defenders, including by making relevant and concrete recommendations;
  7. Strongly condemns the violence against and the targeting, criminalization, intimidation, torture, disappearance and killing of any individuals, including human rights defenders, for reporting and seeking information on human rights violations and abuses, and stresses the need to combat impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations and abuses against human rights defenders, including against their legal representatives, associates and family members, are promptly brought to justice through impartial investigations;
  8. Condemns all acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals, groups and organs of society, including against human rights defenders and their legal representatives, associates and family members, who seek to cooperate, are cooperating or have cooperated with subregional, regional and international bodies, including the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms, in the field of human rights, and strongly calls upon all States to give effect to the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies, including the United Nations, its special procedures, the universal periodic review mechanism and the treaty bodies, as well as regional human rights mechanisms;
  9. Calls upon States to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, including of human rights defenders, and in this regard strongly urges the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of the obligations and commitments of States under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, including in relation to cooperation with the United Nations or other international mechanisms in the area of human rights;
  10. Strongly reaffirms the urgent need to respect, protect, facilitate and promote the work of those promoting and defending economic, social and cultural rights, as a vital factor contributing towards the realization of those rights, including as they relate to environmental, land and indigenous issues, business activity as well as development, including through corporate accountability;
  11. Continues to express particular concern about systemic and structural discrimination and violence faced by women human rights defenders of all ages, and reiterates its strong call upon States to take appropriate, robust and practical steps to protect women human rights defenders and to integrate a gender perspective into their efforts to create a safe and enabling environment for the defence of human rights, as called for by the General Assembly in its resolution 68/181;
  12. Urges non-State actors, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, to respect, promote and strive for the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, including human rights defenders, and underlines the need to ensure human rights due diligence and the accountability of, and the provision of adequate remedies by, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, while also urging States to adopt relevant policies and laws in this regard, including to hold all companies to account for involvement in threats or attacks against human rights defenders;
  13. Welcomes the steps taken by some States to promote and give effect to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,[11] as well as by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and some regional organizations in making the Declaration available and known to all stakeholders at the national and local levels, in their respective languages, and underlines the need to promote and give full and appropriate effect to the Declaration;
  14. Decides to devote a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly at its seventy-third session in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration, with a view to giving impetus to its promotion in all regions, and requests the President of the General Assembly to conduct consultations with Member States in order to determine the scope and modalities for that meeting;
  15. Encourages all parts of the international community, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, including States, national human rights institutions, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, in cooperation with relevant parts of the United Nations system, relevant regional organizations and civil society actors, to initiate and take part in awareness-raising activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, to promote and support the Declaration and its implementation, invites all stakeholders to report thereon to the Office of the High Commissioner, and requests this Office to make a compilation thereof available for the General Assembly high-level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above;
  16. Requests the Secretary-General, in view of the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, to undertake a comprehensive assessment and analysis of progress, achievements and challenges related to the ways in which the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as other relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, within their respective mandates, give and can give due consideration to the Declaration and take into account the reports of the Special Rapporteur, in their work, and assist States in strengthening the role and security of human rights defenders as called for by the General Assembly in its resolutions 62/152 of 18 December 2007, 64/163 of 18 December 2009, 66/164, 68/181 and 70/161, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  17. Further requests the Secretary-General to undertake his assessment and analysis in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and in consultation with States, other relevant special procedures mandate holders, relevant treaty bodies, relevant United Nations offices, departments and specialized agencies, including at the country level, as well as national human rights institutions and civil society, and to present the results of this assessment and analysis in a report to the General Assembly at the 73rd session[12], containing conclusions and recommendations for effective technical assistance and capacity-building, including good practices thereof and examples of positive impact or change as well as challenges related to the provision of support to States in the implementation of relevant human rights obligations and commitments, recognizing that technical assistance and capacity-building are to be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of, the Member States concerned;
  18. Requests all concerned United Nations system entities and organizations, within their mandates, to provide all possible assistance and support to the Special Rapporteur for the effective fulfilment of his mandate, including in the context of country visits and through suggestions on ways and means of ensuring the protection of human rights defenders;
  19. Requests the Special Rapporteur to continue to report annually on his activities to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, in accordance with the mandate;
  20. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

[1] Resolution 217 A (III).

[2] Resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.

[3] See Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 53 (A/68/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[4] Ibid., Seventy-first Session (A/71/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

[5] Ibid., Seventy-second Session (A/72/53), chap. IV, sect. A.

 [6] The term human rights defenders applies consistent with the purposes, principles and provisions of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

[7] Resolution 70/1.

[8] A/72/170.

[9] A/HRC/36/31.

[10] Resolution 48/134, annex.

[11] Resolution 53/144, annex.

[12] Including a presentation for the high level plenary meeting referred to in paragraph 14 above

Human Rights Defenders slowly gaining recognition in climate talks

November 20, 2017

20th anniversary of UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders starts with crucial draft resolution in the GA

November 1, 2017

9 December 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of the ‘UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms‘ (in short the UN Declaration on HRDs).  The General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have over the years adopted annual resolutions, informed by reports by the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. However, as this blog and many others can testify, human rights defenders continue to face severe risks and are increasingly targets of actions taken by state and/or non-state actors in violation of the Declaration.  As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Declaration, the Norwegian delegation has just now tabled a draft resolution at the 72nd session of the General Assembly. The text is not officially out yet but the main new elements in the draft resolution are:

  • a high level meeting on HRDs in the General Assembly in New York next year, and
  • a request to the UN Secretary General/OHCHR to put together a comprehensive report on what UN can do to assist States.

Secretary-General Guterres should have no problem accepting such a request as he stated in the Human Rights Council on 27 February this year: “…To human rights defenders, I say: thank you for your courage. The United Nations is on your side. And I am on your side. I remind Member States of their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders can operate without fear of intimidation.” [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/28/new-secretary-general-at-human-rights-council-tells-human-rights-defenders-and-i-am-on-your-side/]

The UN Mission of Norway is as usual in the lead in getting this resolution adopted, while facing the danger of hostile amendments. [see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/23/norwegian-resolution-un-human-rights-council-defenders-amendments/]. They have their work cut out and any help in lobbying for this new draft would be most welcome. The text of the draft resolution as tabled follows below (it should be issued soon as an “L” document) in which I have highlighted operative paragraphs 14-17.

Draft resolution – version for tabling Read the rest of this entry »

Four young women human rights defenders speak out

September 21, 2017

Millennials often get a bad rap, accused of being politically apathetic and selfie-obsessed, says SARA VIDA COUMANS in Open Democracy of 15 September 2017, but around the world, young people who are sick of government inaction are stepping up to speak passionately on behalf of their communities. These four young women live in different continents and have had diverse experiences. Each is involved in Amnesty International campaigns, fighting for human rights from Australia to Peru. Here they talk about their local struggles, and what motivates them. (“We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too”)


Madeline Wells, indigenous rights activist in Tasmania.

Madeline Wells.

Madeline Wells. Photo: Lara Van Raay. All rights reserved.

“As a First Nations person, I have always felt I have a duty to fight for the rights of my people, a feeling of being part of something much bigger than me,” she said. “Activism can come in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be rallies or marches.” Climate change disproportionately impacts indigenous communities, and indigenous youth “face many other injustices: deaths in custody, high rates of youth detention, racism and discrimination, high suicide rates, and poor healthcare,” she added. “Activism can come in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be rallies or marches – art, music and dance are equally powerful ways of speaking out, and social media has had a huge impact.”


Nancy Herz, student and author from Norway.

Nancy Herz.

Nancy Herz. Photo: Vincent Hansen. All rights reserved.

In 2016 Herz wrote an article entitled “We Are the Shameless Arab Women and Our Time Starts Now” – and a movement of women reclaiming the word “shameless” subsequently started in Norway. “We don’t want to have our identities defined by others,” she said. “We don’t want to have our identities defined by others.” “I feel so proud when I receive messages from young girls who say I have encouraged them to speak out – that because I dare to be myself, they do too,” said Herz. “This is what fighting against injustice is about. By using our voices, we can make the space for freedom of expression bigger…it’s an ongoing struggle, but I believe that we have to keep pushing towards a world in which everyone can enjoy their basic right of living freely.”


Sandra Mwarania, youth activist from Kenya.

Sandra Mwarania.

Sandra Mwarania. Photo: Kenneth Kigunda / Amnesty International Kenya. All rights reserved.

Mwarania co-founded the Student Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy. “Young people are brilliant creatives, strategic thinkers, problem solvers, innovative communicators and active doers,” she said. “It is unfortunate that we are yet to be taken seriously by decision-makers who still perceive us as inexperienced and rowdy.” “We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too.” “As well as being well-informed on human rights issues, students and young people need the skills to address the pressing socio-political issues around them,” Mwarania added. “When young people are engaged at every level of the decision making process, the results can be amazing. We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too.”


Fabiola Arce, women’s rights defender from Peru.

Fabiola Arce (holding megaphone).

Fabiola Arce (holding megaphone) in #NiUnaMenos protest in Lima, Peru, 2016. Photo: Andrick Astonitas / Amnesty International Peru.

Arce has campaigned to pressure her government to investigate cases of forced sterilisation of women in the 1990s. “This serious human rights violation mostly targeted indigenous women, and caused a huge amount of pain and suffering,” she said. “Peru has a huge historical debt to women, and that’s part of what motivates me.” “We are determined not to let the injustices of the past go unaccounted for. Peru has a huge historical debt to women, and that’s part of what motivates me to work towards shaping a different future.”

Amnesty International’s BRAVE campaign works with young women human rights defenders like these and fights for their recognition and protection. Find out more.

Source: “We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too”: young women human rights defenders speak out | openDemocracy

Norwegian Human Rights Fund and its 2017 summer newsletter

July 5, 2017

The Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF) has just published its 2017 summer newsletter which contains interesting items. Here some highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Save the date: 2017 Rafto Prize ceremony on 5 November

June 28, 2017

Image from last year’s 30th Annviersary Ceremony in Bergen with 18 Rafto Prize Laureates taking part in the celebration.

The 2017 Rafto Prize is given every year since 1987 in Bergen Norway. It is a major award with many outstanding human rights defenders among its laureates. Last year I attended the anniversary event and was deeply impressed by the quality of the event and the commitment of the population of Bergen. So if you were planning to go in the nordic direction, make 5 November the date you are in Bergen. Venue: Den Nationale Scene, Bergen, start at 18h00. The Ceremony will feature honoring of the 2017 Rafto Laureate, as well as artistic performances with local and national artists. Torchlight procession shortly after the ceremony

Announcement of the winner of the 2017 Rafto Prize will be on 28 September at 10.00 AM. The announcement will be broadcasted on rafto.no and in social media: @RaftoFoundation #rafto1.

For last year’s award see:https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/01/iraqi-human-rights-defender-yanar-mohammed-laureate-of-2016-rafto-prize/ 

The day before the ceremony, on 4 November at 11:00, there will a public conference with topics related to the 2017 prize. Free entrance at Universitetsaulaen.

Event registration at rafto.no, opens shortly after the announcement on 28 September

http://mailchi.mp/rafto/raftoprisen-2017-rets-arrangementer-1158253?e=09975c365f

 

News from the HRC34: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders extended

June 8, 2017

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Right Defenders – Michael Forst – was extended for a period of three years. The draft of this resolution was submitted by Norway and adopted without a vote.  Hostile amendments to the resolution were submitted by the Russian Federation and China. All of these amendments were rejected.

  • Amendment L.43 sought to have the term Human Rights Defenders removed from the text. Such a motion undermines the importance of the work of Human Right Defenders and seeks to remove a well established term that has been mainstreamed within UN resolutions.
  • Amendment L.44 proposed the removal of the term Women Human Rights Defenders. In response several delegations emphasized the double violence that Women Human Right Defenders face due to their gender and their work and thus the importance of this term. They also recalled that part of the Special Rapporteur’s mandates is to focus on the violence specifically directed to Women Human Right Defenders and as such the term is key to the completion of the mandate.

Download the resolution

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/23/norwegian-resolution-un-human-rights-council-defenders-amendments/

Source: HRC34: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders extended | AWID

Qatar extradited human rights defender Otaibi to Saudi Arabia ignoring Norway’s grant of asylum

June 1, 2017

IMG_1127
On 31 May 2017 ALQST reported that Qatar has extradited the prominent Saudi human rights defender Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Otaibi to Saudi Arabia, even after Norway accepted his application for political asylum.  Otaibi was arrested at Doha International Airport on Wednesday 24 May, 2017 as he was about to travel with his wife to Norway, on travel documents provided by the Norwegians.  Days later, on Sunday, 28 May 28 3 a.m., Otaibi was deported overland to Saudi Arabia via the Salwa border crossing and delivered to the Saudi authorities, who sent him with an escort of Saudi security vehicles to the Dammam Prisons Department.
For more details see the piece referred to below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Video report of the 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum now available

May 27, 2017

Watch this video (made by the Universidad Francisco Marroquín film crew) if you missed the 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum from 22-24 May. Over the course of five days, ‘Spikersuppa square’ was filled with art, film, and presentations; explored innovations and ideas at the Tech Lab and Interactive Expo; heard from keynote speaker Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg; learned about human rights defenders and honored this year’s Havel Prize laureates. Next year’s forum (10-year anniversary) will take place on 28-30 May, 2018.  For reservations: alex@oslofreedomforum.com.

Video portrait of Johan Galtung, ‘father of peace studies’

May 5, 2017

Short but informative film portrait of Norwegian peace specialist Johan Galtung, winner of the 1987 Right Livelihood Award.