Posts Tagged ‘OSCE Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders’

Human Rights Day 2014: ODIHR Director Link wants to move from words to deeds for human rights defenders in the OSCE

December 11, 2014

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on all OSCE participating States to do more to protect human rights defenders in the OSCE region: “It is time for all OSCE participating States to move from words to deeds and to provide more effective protection to those who strive to promote and safeguard human rights in our countries.

The words must refer to the Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders which OSCE adopted this year: see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/osce-publishes-guidelines-on-the-protection-of-human-rights-defenders/

Unfortunately, in 2014 we have witnessed numerous attacks and threats against human rights defenders,” the ODIHR Director said. “This includes human rights defenders with whom ODIHR has worked, and I am particularly disturbed that those standing up for human rights in the OSCE region may be being targeted for activities they carry out in partnership with our Office.”

At the Budapest Summit, in 1994, OSCE participating States emphasized the need to protect human rights defenders, and at the OSCE Summit in Astana, in 2010, they underscored the important role played by civil society in helping to ensure full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. “That the environment in which human rights defenders operate has become more, not less, restricted across the region over the past few years is disturbing,” Link said. “Determined action is needed to reverse this trend.”

Human Rights Day 2014: Better protection of human rights defenders needed across the OSCE region, ODIHR Director says | OSCE.

Swiss Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders analyzed by civil society

November 2, 2014

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

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Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs states position on Human Rights Defenders

August 29, 2014

While the statement does not contain any really new position I recommend to read it because it is a good indication of how Austria has moved to join the small group of countries that makes Human Rights Defenders a central piece in their approach: Read the rest of this entry »

OSCE publishes Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

June 11, 2014

Didier Burkhalter (r), OSCE-Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, alongside Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, at a conference on human rights defenders, Bern, 10 June 2014. (FDFA)
The two-day conference “The OSCE and Human Rights Defenders: The Budapest Document 20 Years On” brings together national human rights experts, human rights defenders and civil society representatives from across the OSCE region. Opening the conference, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, stressed the role of political will in supporting the work of human rights defenders: “The implementation of human rights norms first and foremost needs one thing: political will … Allowing the voices of human rights defenders and civil society to be heard – even  when these are uncomfortable voices – is at the basis of a well-functioning democracy,” .. “These men and women working to increase awareness and respect for human rights often take high risks to help their fellow citizens be able to live their lives in dignity. They need and deserve our support.” In his keynote address, Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, told participants that human rights have never been a battle between different cultures, but within them. He added that human rights have always been the universal language of the powerless against the relativism of the powerful: “Freedom of expression makes sense when we disagree, and especially when we strongly disagree,” Lambrinidis said. “Governments don’t have the obligation to agree with civil society; they have clear obligations, including providing human rights defenders with a safe and enabling environment. Strong confident countries speak to human rights defenders.” The first day of the conference saw the launch of the ODIHR Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a publication designed to assist OSCE participating States in promoting security for human rights defenders, in light of the increasing risks they face in carrying out their work. Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, Director of ODIHR, stressed that the approach presented in the Guidelines to ensuring such protection has to be based on co-operation. “The Guidelines will only prove as effective as their implementation will be,” Lenarčič said. “I believe the key to success is precisely that genuine partnership that the Budapest Document spoke of 20 years ago. It has to include all those involved in efforts to protect human rights defenders – from States and civil society to regional and international governmental organizations. This remains as important today as it was two decades ago.”

Political will the key to ensuring the protection of human rights defenders, say participants at OSCE conference in Bern | OSCE.