Posts Tagged ‘Norway’

Norwegian Human Rights Fund celebrates 30th anniversary with video and conference

November 14, 2018

This video is published in the context of the Norwegian Human Rights Fund’s (NHRF) 30 years anniversary on 13 November 2018. A well-deserved celebration for 30 years service to the worldwide human rights community and especially the human rights defenders. 

Support to human rights in a context of shrinking space, rise of populist regimes and hostile environment lie as a backdrop in the year we celebrate both the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What are the consequences for the movement and what are the ground realities for human rights work and defenders working in the frontline in these changing realities? What strategies are used to support and respond to juridical harassment, restriction in freedom of association and expression, threats, criminalization and killings of human rights defenders? What new tools can be used in our work and what kind of support and strategies are needed looking ahead? This conference gathers international experts and human rights defenders from a variety of local, national and international contexts, to give us their advice and reflections on how to continue and improve support to human rights work in changing and challenging times. The conference seeks to highlight and celebrate the indispensable work that human rights defenders – individuals, groups and organizations – do every day to promote equality, dignity, justice, peace, sustainable development and freedom in their local communities as well as across the world.
See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/24/i-defend-rights-shifting-the-narrative-about-human-rights-defenders/
Det Norske Menneskerettighetsfond

Breaking News: see which other awards the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates won already

October 5, 2018

The Nobel Prize for Peace 2018 winners: Yazidi survivor Nadia Mural (L) and Denis Mukwege
Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege – Image copyright EPA

You do not have it hear it through me as most mainstream media carry the news (here the BBC with elaborate information) that the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has gone to campaigners against rape in warfare, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege. After the controversy created around some of the recent laureates, these two are safe bets as both have been recognized widely:

Ms Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants and later became the face of a campaign to free the Yazidi people. She found recognition from at least two earlier awards:

Dr Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who, along with his colleagues, has treated tens of thousands of victims. He received wide recognition with 8 international human rights awards:

  • 2008   United Nations Prizes in the Field of Human Rights
  • 2009   Olof Palme Prize
  • 2010   Wallenberg Medal (University of Michigan)
  • 2011   King Baudouin International Development Prize
  • 2013   Civil Courage Prize
  • 2013   Human Rights First Award
  • 2013   Right Livelihood Award
  • 2014   Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/12/profile-denis-mukwege-democratic-republic-of-congo-courageous-doctor-rape-women/

Ms Murad, 25, dedicated the award to her mother, who was killed by the Islamic State (IS) militants who overran their home in 2014. Ms Murad described her escape in a BBC interview in 2016, detailing how the women who were held captive were treated by IS.

Dr Mukwege was operating at his hospital when he heard he had won the prize. He dedicated his award to all women affected by sexual violence. He lives under the permanent protection of UN peacekeepers at his hospital and has also previously called for a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45759221

 

see also: https://dansmithsblog.com/2018/10/08/the-nobel-peace-prize-and-sexual-violence-in-war/

Norwegian Holberg Prize to Cass Sunstein, one of the world’s leading democracy scholars

March 15, 2018

The Holberg Prize is awarded annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology, either in one of these fields or through interdisciplinary work. The Holberg Prize was established by the Norwegian Parliament 1 July 2003, and was awarded for the first time in 2004.The objective of the prize is to increase awareness of the value of academic scholarship in the arts, humanities, social sciences, law and theology. The Prize has a money value of approx. EUR 617,000. The Prize is named after the Danish-Norwegian writer Ludvig Holberg, who excelled in all of the sciences covered by the award.

Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, has been awarded the Holberg Prize, one of the largest international awards given to an outstanding researcher.

Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School. Rose Lincoln/Harvard file photo

Harvard legal scholar Cass Sunstein has been named this year’s winner of the Holberg Prize. As it is not specifically a human rights award, it is not included in the Digest of THF [http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/], but this winner’s achievements in the human rights area are interesting enough to earn a mention in this blog:

Sunstein‘s scholarship spans behavioral economics and public policy, constitutional law and democratic theory, legal theory and jurisprudence, administrative law, and the regulation of risk. In particular, Sunstein’s academic work has reshaped understanding of the relationship between the modern regulatory state and constitutional law. He is widely regarded as the leading scholar of administrative law in the United States, and is by far the most cited legal scholar in the country.

For four decades, Sunstein has combined his scholarly contributions with a range of public activities and participation in open debate. He has influenced thinking on some of the most pressing issues of the time, from climate change and free speech to health issues.

Describing the key purpose of his work, Sunstein said, “I have long been concerned with how to promote enduring constitutional ideals — freedom, dignity, equality, self-government, the rule of law — under contemporary circumstances, which include large bureaucracies that sometimes promote, and sometimes threaten, those ideals.  The main goal has been to deepen the foundations of democratic theory for the modern era, and to understand in practical terms how democracies might succeed in helping to make people’s lives better — and longer.”

Sunstein has published 48 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. The books “After the Rights Revolution” (1990) and “The Partial Constitution” (1993) are considered his major works on American constitutional law, and explore how related ideals can be reworked and defended in the face of the challenges posed by the rise of the administrative state. “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide” (2018) emphasizes the importance of self-government and of human dignity, linking those to republican ideals and the power of impeachment.

…..

Sunstein won the Goldsmith Book Prize for “Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech” (1993), in which he argued the need to reformulate U.S. First Amendment law. The book says that it is necessary to move away from the conception of free speech as a marketplace, in order to “reinvigorate processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention to public issues and greater diversity of views.”

His work on self-government, free speech, and modern technologies, culminating in “#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media” (2017), explores the problem of echo chambers and social polarization. It argues for the importance of common spaces and unchosen, serendipitous encounters with problems and ideas.

Sunstein earned his J.D. magna cum laude in 1978 from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. From 1980‒1981 he was an attorney-adviser at the U.S. Justice Department, before becoming an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School (1981–1983), where he also became an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science (1983–1985). Sunstein became full professor in both political science and law in 1985, and in 1988 he was named the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence in the Law School and Department of Political Science.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/03/harvards-cass-sunstein-wins-holberg-prize/

http://www.holbergprisen.no/en/about-holberg-prize

UN Declaration on HRDs at 20: important event on 19 March in NY

March 8, 2018

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders has played an important role in expressly stating the right to defend human rights, and outlines the duties of States in this regard. As it forms the basis of key protection mechanisms, such as national and regional guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders, it has thus legitimated the work of human rights defenders. Twenty years on, women human rights defenders are marking this anniversary year to reflect on the significance of the Declaration to their work, movements and identities.

Therefore a number of NGOs are jointly organizing an event “The UN Declaration on HRDs at 20: Legitimating the work of Women Human Rights Defenders” on 16 March 2018 13:15-14:30 in Conference Room 11, UNHQ, New York

Opening remarks by Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway

Evdokia Romanova, Youth Coalition
Weaam Youssef, Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Alma Sinumlag, Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center

Lopa Banerjee, UN Women
Closing remarks by Ms Neziha Labidi, Minister of Women, the Family and Childhood, Tunisia

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/21/breaking-news-un-adopts-key-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/11/good-introduction-to-the-anniversary-of-the-un-declaration-on-hrds-in-2018/

https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/documents/csw_side_event_flyer-final.pdf

New Shahnoush Award for women human rights defenders in prison

January 26, 2018

Ayşenur Parıldak, a 27-year-old reporter from Turkey’s now-closed Zaman newspaper who has been behind bars for 13 months, was named the recipient of the first Shahnoush Award by the Oslo-based Vigdis Freedom Foundation (VFF). [for more on this and other awards: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/shahnoush-award]

I was subjected to violence and sexual abuse. I was interrogated day and night for eight days. They [police officers] were questioning me while they were under the influence of alcohol […] I am afraid of being forgotten here,” Parıldak said in a letter to the Cumhuriyet newspaper in October 2016.

The Shahnoush Award will be given every year to a female prisoner of conscience whose courage has not been internationally acknowledged. By doing so, Vigdis brings attention to the suffering of women who languish behind bars for speaking out and whose human rights have been violated. They are not forgotten; they are not alone. Hope is sometimes the difference between life and death. May the [Shahnoush] Award give hope to those who need it most.” said Marina Nemat, a board member of VFF.

Parıldak, also a law student at Ankara University’s faculty of law, was detained while taking exams on Aug. 11, 2016. She was released by the court on May 2, 2017 but was later rearrested by the same court before being freed since a prosecutor objected to the initial ruling. During her trial, she told judges that she had thought of committing suicide several times while in prison. Behind bars since last year, Parıldak faces 15 years in jail under Turkey’s broad anti-terror laws based on her tweets and alleged use of the ByLock mobile app. Turkish authorities believe ByLock indicates links to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the abortive coup last year. The movement denies all involvement.

 

 

https://turkeypurge.com/jailed-journalist-aysenur-parildak-given-courage-award-by-norwegian-rights-group

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 »