Posts Tagged ‘panel’

Human Rights Day in South Africa: how to be a good human rights defender

April 4, 2022

South Africa in the special position to have its own human rights day, not on 10 December but on 21 March, historically linked with 21 March 1960 and the events of Sharpeville. In a Maverick Citizen panel discussion on Monday 21 March, representatives of a range of civil society movements explored what it means to be an activist. The panellists discussed their own experiences of activism: the world needs activists, who in turn need commonality for success and survival 

On 22 March 2022 Tamsin Metelerkamp reported on the event:

The current times — filled as they are with uncertainty and suffering — require all or most people to be active rather than passive. Though those involved in activism will become weary, they should not step back from the struggle, according to Delani Majola, communications officer for the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. The need for activism in today’s world is far more urgent than it ever was before.

It means that we need to… find linkages with one another, we need to recharge each other. I think we will not achieve anything — so whether it’s small victories, small gains — but we will not achieve anything if we sit back and become passive and give in to defeat,” said Majola.

Among the speakers involved in the discussion were also Nkateko Blessing Muyimane, a medical student who recently fled Ukraine and started the non-governmental organisation, SA Safe Corridor for Students; Jennifer Matibi, founding member of Nirvana, an initiative that assists young women of the Johannesburg inner city to create spaces in which they can grow; Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, former SABC economics editor and current PhD student at the University of Johannesburg; Siyabonga Ndlangamandla, board member at Makers Valley Partnership; and Shaeera Kalla, board member of Section27 and member of the #PayTheGrants campaign. Nkateko Blessing Muyimane, a medical student who recently fled Ukraine and began an NGO, SA Safe Corridor for Students, to assist those students still trapped in the country.

The discussion was facilitated by Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood and journalist Zukiswa Pikoli. Zukiswa Pikoli, journalist with Maverick Citizen.

Spaces for activism have become smaller in recent years, according to Kalla. This not only calls for more voices and action in these spaces but also cooperation and support among the different groups within civil society. There are, she emphasised, links between the various causes for which people advocate — from basic income and food sovereignty to free media and mental health.

Being a good activist is really about also building relationships, and I think those spaces that one creates are filled with those relationships,” said Kalla. “[T]hat’s how you sustain momentum and that’s how you figure out how to take one idea and create an intersectional… spectrum, a spectrum of issues that support it, and they take it to the next level.

She added that the “typical image” of an activist should not override the everyday struggles that people face in society. While activism is a choice for some, for others it is a lived reality; a state of fighting a system that was built against them.

Activism should come from a place of compassion, according to Muyimane. He defines activists as those who want to make an environment a better place. The decision of a person to throw themselves into a course of action is often very personal, said Gqubule-Mbeki. It can be rooted in their worldview, an innate sense of justice or outrage at something they have witnessed or experienced.

Gqubule-Mbeki’s own journey as an activist began with her experience of forced removals under apartheid. She saw both her grandparents and her parents lose their homes to this unjust policy. Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, PhD student and part-time lecturer at the University of Johannesburg addressing the audience. Johannesburg, 21 March 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“So, [activism is] partly personal, partly a decision to make your beliefs publicly relevant and to impact policy and how human beings relate to each other, and how societies are constructed,” she said.

Over and above the “imagination” it takes to stand up for something, Kalla believes activism is about sustaining human beings, creating a political culture and ensuring that people feel safe. In this way, separate causes are united by their common drive to see people live with dignity.

“It’s about making sure people feel seen, feel safe and feel cherished, whether or not you’re personally affected, in a direct sense,” she said. “[T]he fact that you are a human being, and you can have empathy and you can see an unjust system and want to do something about it, is enough to start trying to understand what it is that you can contribute to, in whatever form.”

There is currently a large pushback against democracy defenders by capital, corporations and institutions, according to Gqubule-Mbeki. If the victimisation of human rights activists is to be addressed, there is a need for an examination and improvement of certain laws, including the Protected Disclosures Act and Witness Protection Act.

“We must ratchet up the consequences of acting against activists, vulnerable human beings, women, and so on. So, I think that’s one of the challenges that we tend to have going forward,” said Gqubule-Mbeki.

Another challenge related to activism is the toll it can take on people’s mental health. Kalla recalled a period in her time as an activist when she struggled to eat and live healthily, saying that it taught her about creating sustainable spaces within movements. ..It is important to address the issue of “toxic behaviour” within movements, should it arise, she continued. “A lesson that I’ve learned is that you have to be tender. So, tenderness is fundamental, but firmness is equally fundamental, so that you don’t create an unhealthy space, then it collapses.”

Being a young woman whose activism has brought her into meetings dominated by older, more experienced people, Matibi has sometimes questioned her own standards and achievements. She manages these uncertainties by building supportive networks within civil society. Jennifer Matibi, founding member of Nirvana, an initiative that assists young women of the Johannesburg inner city to create spaces in which they can grow.

“Being involved with other activists, being involved with other people that are doing the work that you’re currently doing, …I have people that I can reach out to who are actually in the space and doing the kind of work that I’m doing,” said Matibi.

As an activist, it is important to guard against the potential for hubris, said Gqubule-Mbeki. This can be done through supporting other activists and offering solidarity to those who are struggling for change. However, it also requires a keen awareness of those representatives of commercial and state interests who might try and “sidle up” to a cause.

“So, when you read vested interests, then you are able not to [sell out] to money, because money – once it comes into your cause and is not properly governed – it becomes toxic and [those providing the money] can go to communities and you can give them a disproportionate power,” said Gqubule-Mbeki. “And then when the state sidles up to you, you have to be equally weary, but also conscious that this is the state’s job. The state is the collective people.” Siyabonga Ndlangamandla, board Member at Makers Valley Partnership as he listens to other panelists talk. Johannesburg, 21 March 2022. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Activism is not an exclusive or an elite phenomenon, according to Majola. It can take the form of signing a petition, joining a demonstration or simply participating and engaging as part of an audience.

“[W]e shouldn’t sanctify or glorify activists, because ultimately, we’re still human,” he said. “So, I think anybody can get into activism, and those who are already in, I think it’s important to base and ground your movements in fact and truth.”

Late alert: Panel on gender rights: 24 March

March 23, 2022

On Thursday 24 March 2022, from 1:30pm – 2:30pm (CET) will take place the panel “Fighting for equality: Working together to combat violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

Over the last two decades, UN human rights bodies and mechanisms have been at the forefront of promoting equality and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender-diverse and intersex (LGBTI) people.

These contributions have led to considerable progress regarding decriminalisation of same-sex consensual acts and diverse gender identities, enactment of progressive laws and the promotion of international standards on the rights of LGBTI persons.

While these advances have been, and continue to be, integral in the promotion and protection of equal rights for LGBTI persons, the stories of those relentlessly fighting for that progress often remain untold. Indeed, everywhere around the world human rights defenders working on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) play a central role in the fight for equality for LGBTI persons.

This side event aims to shed light on the success stories of human rights defenders working to combat violence and discrimination based on SOGIE, bringing together defenders as well as two UN mandate holders that focus on human rights defenders and on SOGIE. The panel will reflect on opportunities and risks for LGBTI human rights defenders, nation-level developments towards equality for LGBTI persons, progress of the current UN standards on these issues, and what can be done to address challenges.
SPEAKERS: 

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Independent Expert on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Other speakers will be confirmed soon

Welcoming and closing remarks by the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands and the Permanent Mission of Mexico

MODERATOR: Julia Ehrt, ILGA World’s Executive Director 

You are welcome to join this discussion, which will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish. Click here to register to the event. 

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-33453?e=d1945ebb90

“A Seat At The Table” a guide for engaging with the UN system: 30 June 2021

June 22, 2021

The ISHR is Launching “A Seat At The Table”A guide to crafting effective narratives at the UN
about human rights and the people who defend them

The stories and narratives that are told about human rights defenders at the UN have a major impact on how they are understood and supported on the ground. Over the past 9 months, the ISHR has explored perceptions and views that diplomats working at the UN have about human rights and people who defend them. The objective was to understand the messages that best increase support for human rights defenders and to craft more effective human rights narratives, particularly as they relate to people who defend human rights. ISHR is now ready to share its findings with you and launch the new practitioners’ guide “A Seat At The Table“, meant for anyone working within or engaging with the UN system to promote and protect human rights, whether they be advocates with organisations, diplomats or frontline community activists and leaders.

This event will be held online. In order to attend the event, please RSVP here.

Welcome:    Ambassador Marc Bichler, Permanent Mission of Luxembourg

Panelists:   

Tom Clarke, human rights campaigner, communications specialist and guide co-author

Sophie Mulphin, human rights communications specialist and guide co-author

Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Ambassador Nazhat Shameen Khan, President of the Human Rights Council

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for human rights

Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International

Thomas Coombes, human rights strategist and communications expert, founder of hope-based communications

Moderator: Marianne Bertrand, International Service for Human Rights

30 June 2021  
1:00-2:30pm CEST 
Online event Register now

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-33142?e=d1945ebb90

Five young women human rights defenders to watch

March 16, 2021

Sarah Noble in Geneva Solutions of 15 March 2021 writes about her encounter with five young women activists from around the world who shared their motivation, their pandemic experiences, and advice for future generations:

On International Women’s Day, I was privileged to moderate the conversation, at an event hosted by the EU mission to the UN in Geneva and UN Women. I came away convinced world leaders could learn a lesson or two. They aren’t waiting to be invited to the decision-making table, and are already driving change in their communities and beyond.

The solidarity among them encapsulates a global movement led by female youth, determined in their fight for gender equality, education, eradicating period poverty, and dealing with climate change.

“We do not have to wait for the adults to start campaigning for the action that we want to see,” said Amy Meek of the UK. Along with her younger sister Ella, Amy, 17, launched an award-winning campaign, now a charity, called Kids Against Plastic. The sisters (see picture) were motivated by realising the devastating impact the misuse of plastic was having on the planet and also its potential legacy for future generations.

“I grew up realising how much girls were taught to be weak, were taught to be submissive while boys are taught to be strong and to be leaders. For me it was really puzzling, ”said Yande Banda, a passionate 17-year-old feminist activist and education advocate from Zambia. Yande is the chairperson of Transform Education, a global youth-led coalition hosted by the UN, where she advocates for a gender transformative approach to education. “I began being an advocate and in particular a feminist, ever since I could realise the consequential inequalities within society – so I would say I was around six years old,” “The fight to end the climate crisis has not stopped for the pandemic and as feminist leaders, neither have we”.

İlayda Eskitaşcioğlu, 28, is a human rights lawyer and a PhD student at Koç University in İstanbul. She founded an NGO, We Need to Talk, in 2016, which aims to fight against period poverty and period stigma in Turkey. “Periods do not stop for pandemics! Neither does the fight for gender equality! We are still breaking taboos, step by step – fathers, brothers, romantic partners, co-workers, teachers, those that are not menstruating, period poverty is your problem too! ” We Need to Talk provides sanitary products to three vulnerable target groups: Seasonal agricultural workers, refugees and pre-teens who are going to school in remote rural areas, and tries to start an honest and open conversation around menstruation in the Middle East.

Lucija Tacer is the current UN youth delegate for Slovenia and an advocate for women’s rights. She has made gender equality the priority in her interventions at the world body. “I entered into a workplace where all of the partners and the high level people are men, except one or two women and 100 percent of the secretaries were female and just being in that environment every day really got me thinking, what is going on here ? ”

Julieta Martinez, 17, from Chile is the founder of the TREMENDAS Collaborative Platform, which promotes the empowerment of girls, and young people by putting their skills and talents at the service of the community.

“Amazingly talented girls are all around the world. We have to continue looking for them. We have to continue giving them a space. And we have to continue this fight to actually get to gender equality… Girls, young women and adolescents have the right to raise their voices, to be heard and to take action for their dignity, their integrity and to be agents of social change in a society where human and youth rights must always be defended. ”

Watch the full event on youtube here.

https://genevasolutions.news/peace-humanitarian/five-young-women-activists-to-watch-a-moderator-s-take

Christiane Amanpour, Jeff Kaufman and Jason Rezaian talk about the film Nasrin

March 2, 2021

Washington Post Live on 2 March 2021 published a fascinating insight into the making of the film Nasrin [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/16/new-film-nasrin-about-the-iranian-human-rights-defender/]. Nasrin Sotoudeh is one of the most recognised human rights laureates in the Digest with 7 major awards: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/848465FE-22DF-4CAF-928F-7931B2D7A499

The transcript is verbatim and long, so you would have to follow the link at the bottom of the post to get the full story. Here just some excerpts:

MR. IGNATIUS: So, we have with us Christiane Amanpour, the international anchor for CNN; Jeff Kaufman, who is the producer and writer of this film; and my colleague, Jason Rezaian, who is our Tehran bureau chief.

MR. IGNATIUS: If I could ask Jeff to begin by telling us a little bit about Nasrin, her career as a human rights activist, how you came to make this documentary about her.AD

When we first reached out to Nasrin about doing a documentary about her life and work, there was a trust-building process through friends, and one of the things that she shared with us was a strong interest in having her story really be a story about so many others. We had known Nasrin’s work for years, and one of the things I loved about Nasrin is she is a Muslim woman who often reached out on behalf of other faiths and other backgrounds to support people in need. And I thought that that was such a powerful message for our own country as well. As a matter of fact, I think everything about Nasrin is a powerful message for democracy and mutual respect in this country and around the world.

So, when Nasrin said yes, we could do a film with her, she worked out sort of a complicated process. I couldn’t go to Iran because of past work I had done, and it wouldn’t have made sense to have a big American crew show up in Tehran anyway. So, we worked with these really remarkable, talented, and courageous individuals who followed Nasrin around from both working with at-risk clients, to protests, to art galleries, theaters, bookstores. It was a thrill for us to sort of be there with them, and we are so happy to be able to bring her story to you.

MR. IGNATIUS: Jeff, if I could ask, one of the most powerful things about this film is the footage from inside Iran. Did the people who were shooting this footage for you run personal risks? And I worry that some of them may have, themselves, been subject to arrest or difficulties with the authorities.

MR. KAUFMAN: No one has been subject to arrest or difficulties with authorities because of the film itself, but because they are also activists and believed that their work can push society forward, they have put themselves, on occasion, at risk for that.

We–Marcia and I, so often throughout the production of this film, would say to Nasrin and her husband, Reza, you know, we will stop at any moment if you feel this puts you or anyone else at risk. That was always our largest concern. And we did the whole film in secret, didn’t even fundraise in public, because we wanted to keep as much privacy for them as possible during the process. And even when we were editing, we said to Nasrin and Reza, “Hey, we will stop now if you think this is a concern.” But they felt–you know, Nasrin has this wonderful quote. She says, “Our children must not inherit silence.” And she will say over and over again, as do other human rights advocates, that repressive governments, they use pressure and force and intimidation to make people quiet, and Nasrin refuses to have her voice muffled. So, we are proud that the film can help amplify that voice.

I just want to add that I got a message from Nasrin’s husband this morning. I had asked if there was a message from Nasrin. And he said two things. He said that the cell she is in now, just so you know, is an 8-foot by 13-foot cell that has 12 beds in it, bunkbeds. And it is a low ceiling, there’s no windows, and very little access to clean water. So that is the conditions that she is living in right now.

MR. IGNATIUS: Let me ask Christiane. Christiane, I think you have interviewed Nasrin in the past and you have interviewed many other courageous men and women who have taken these risks to stand up for human rights. What it is that motivates a special person like Nasrin, in your experience?

MS. AMANPOUR: Well, you know, I’m shaking my head because I am just so horrified at what her husband, Reza, has described as her latest terrible conditions inside a political prison, where she is not a political person. And I think this is what also really, for me, has been emblematic of all the human rights defenders who I have interviewed around the world. I haven’t had the pleasure of interviewing Nasrin, but I have had the pleasure of interviewing Shirin Ebadi, who as you remember also was a human rights lawyer in Iran. She also cannot go back to Iran. She was the first Iranian to win the Nobel Prize, and I covered the stories that she, and the cases that got her that Nobel Prize. And I know the risk that comes with it, and I know that they are not strictly speaking party political.AD

And I think this is one thing that came across in Jeff and Marcia’s film, and we talked about it when we did the interview. She is not being political. She is not talking about tearing down the regime or wanting any kind of regime change. She is just talking about basic, fundamental rights for the people of Iran, mostly in her case women and children, but some young men as well, under their own constitution. It is not like she is going out saying and taking cases to court that she is trying to try under Western law or whatever. It is under their own constitution. And this is what makes everybody, and certainly me, so angry that this is what has happened to her, this incredible woman.

I think what makes them take those risks, David, is that they truly believe in human rights. They truly believe in the dignity of each and every individual, and–this is important–they truly believe and want to hold their own governments accountable to the promises that those governments made. As I said, Nasrin defends cases based on the Islamic law in Iran, of the Islamic Republic, based on the promises that that regime made to the people 40 years ago, when the revolution started. And you can see that they have completely reneged on those promises, and that is why people like her are so utterly important.

MR. IGNATIUS: Jason, you were imprisoned in the same prison where Nasrin is being held today. As Christiane said, the reports from her husband, Reza, her conditions are horrifying. You have been there. Maybe you could just describe for our audience a little bit of what that prison is like, what it feels like to be there, the feelings that go through the many, many dozens, hundreds of people who are being held there unjustly.

MR. REZAIAN: Well, thank you for the question, David, and for the opportunity, and thank you to all three of you for taking part in this, and for David and Christiane for supporting me and my family while I was locked up in Evin Prison, which is a big reason why this film has been so important for me to get involved with.

I think that the reality of the political prisoner system in Iran, Christiane makes a very important point. I wasn’t a political prisoner, either. I was just a reporter doing my job. But our arrests and our detentions are very much politicized events.AD

The intention of our jailers is to really break us, to make us hopeless, to disassociate ourselves from society, and in Nasrin’s case, they have failed miserably. I did have the opportunity to interview Nasrin once, in 2013. It was a couple of months after Hassan Rouhani was elected president, and there was the hope that there would be more moderate attitude from the leadership in Tehran.

And ahead of his first trip to the UNGA, they released Nasrin, and my wife and I, who was working for Bloomberg at the time, visited Reza and Nasrin and their children in their home, on that very first day that she was released. And although she was relieved and happy to be back with her family, she made it clear that she was not at all satisfied that she had been released, because so many of her colleagues and friends and other innocent people were being held in prison.

And I think for someone like her, I imagine one of the most frustrating things about her experience would be that she understands the laws that she is trying to uphold much better than the people who are implementing them and using them against her, and I think that for that reason she is an incredible example and hero to so many.AD

And I just think that, you know, I want everybody to understand that Iranian woman are the backbone of that country. There is no doubt about it. They really, really are. Unlike women in many parts of the Islamic world, the Iranian women have been very strong, very mobilized, very much part of society, as you can see. Nasrin and Shirin and the others don’t just emerge out of nowhere. It is a long, long tradition. And I think it is great that Jeff is showing this, and I think it’s great that the world needs to understand it. And if I might just say also, you know, the first female to win a field mathematics medal was an Iranian-American.

So, there is a huge amount of success by Iranian women around the world, and that is why I think it is really important to show what Iranian woman are trying to do for their own girls and women and for their rights in their own country, and what an incredible hard, hard job it is, and how much personal risk they take.

And I also want to pay tribute to the journalists, as Jeff said. At the beginning of the film, he said, “I pay tribute to all the camera people and the crews, who I cannot name.” He explained why. But it is really important to understand that this story is being told despite the massive crackdown, and I think that is fantastic….

MR. IGNATIUS: So, Jeff, I want to ask you about one of the really moving parts of this film, and that is the footage of Nasrin’s husband, Reza, who has stood by her unflinchingly, supporting her, believing in her. He seems like a remarkable person. The fact that you were in touch with him today is especially moving to me. Tell our audience a little bit about Reza, Nasrin’s husband, and why he has been such a supporter of his wife’s cause and commitment.

MR. KAUFMAN: I will. I am so glad you asked. One of the reasons we wanted to do this film, besides profiling Nasrin, was because we wanted to fight back on the demonization of Iran and the demonization of Islam, that is being used too often for political purposes in this country, and no one has a better way to do that than Nasrin and Reza.

I think this film is an example that we can overcome obstacles from great distances, and even technological imitations, but sometimes it’s difficult.

I asked Reza, Nasrin’s husband, if Nasrin had any message to share for this conversation, and I got a note from him this morning. These are Nasrin’s words through Reza. Nasrin said, “What occupies my thoughts the most is those who are on Death Row here in Gharchak Prison. Right now, there are 17 women on Death Row facing imminent execution.” And she closed by saying, “I am hoping for an end to the death penalty across the world.”

So, you know, there’s Nasrin facing enormous pressure and difficulties, but as usual she is not thinking about herself. She is thinking about others and she is trying to push her country forward.

Jason, let me ask you, as someone who was imprisoned unjustly, whose cause was taken up by your newspaper and by many, many thousands of Americans, what difference you think that public pressure from the United States, from world public opinion, made in your ultimately being released?

MR. REZAIAN: So, I think it made a huge amount of difference in my case. And oftentimes when we are talking about foreign nationals being held hostage in Iran, usually they are dual nationals, and, you know, Iran tries to suppress this information of our second nationality as much as possible. For me, it became clear, as my case was being brought up more and more, my treatment by my captors got better and better. And I realized, at some point during the process of going on trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, I don’t think I need to tell anybody that’s in the conversation with me but maybe some folks at home listening should know that if you ever find yourself on trial in a court with “revolutionary” in its name, you don’t have a good chance of winning.

But I realized that my real case was in the case of international public opinion, and the more people who kind of pushed for my release, the more involved the U.S. government got, and so much of that started, first and foremost, with my family, very early on with my imprisonment. My mom went on Christiane’s show and talked about my situation. And our colleagues at The Washington Post, who didn’t let a day go by without raising my case.

So now, you know, when I’m contacted by the families of people who are being held in prison in Iran, unfortunately there are five Americans being held at this very moment, and I’m in touch with every one of those families, I tell each one of them, make as much noise as you possibly can, and when your loved one gets out, they will thank you for it. And time and again, when people have been released, that I have written about, they contact me and say, “Thank you for making sure that I wasn’t forgotten about.” And my attitude is, what kind of hypocrite would I be if, after getting all the support that I got, that I didn’t pay it forward by helping people who have had their voices silenced?

MR. IGNATIUS: I hope we made a little noise today on Nasrin’s behalf. We are unfortunately out of time, but I want to close by thanking our guests, Christiane Amanpour from CNN, Jeff Kaufman, in particular, who made this extraordinary film, and my colleague, Jason Rezaian. You can watch “NASRIN,” this powerful, upsetting film, in the USA and Canada now on demand. International audiences can stream the film starting in a week, on March 8….

https://www.washingtonpost.com/washington-post-live/2021/03/01/transcript-nasrin-conversation-with-christiane-amanpour-jeff-kaufman-jason-rezaian/

Panel: Re-Opening Civic Spaces in Times of Covid-19

October 13, 2020

Hafıza MerkeziAssociation for Monitoring Equal Rights and Netherlands Helsinki Committee kick-start a panel-series titled “Shrinking Democratic Space and International Solidarity”.

Through these panels, we wish to discuss the challenges and potentials ahead of the human rights movement, in light of both the ongoing erosion in democratic/civic spaces and the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic. In each panel we will couple one human rights defender from Turkey with one from abroad.

In the first panel of the series, we hope to start with a hopeful perspective on how we can re-open spaces in times Covid-19. We also wish to put forth a conceptual and comparative understanding on concepts such as shrinking civic spaces, authoritarianism and populism. The title of this first panel is “Re-Opening Civic Spaces in Times of Covid-19”.

We will welcome legal scholar, sociologist and human rights advocate César Rodríguez Garavito for this event. Murat Çelikkan, co-director of Hafiza Merkezi, will host the event as co-speaker.

Some of the specific issues and questions we want to focus are as follows;

  • How do concepts such as closing democratic/civic spaces relate to populism, authoritarianism, etc.
  • How has the situation evolved in recent years in terms of these processes?
  • What has been the impact of Covid-19 on top of all this?
  • During Covid times, what are the trends and practices in the global human rights movement that have the potential to push back against the populist tide?
  • How should we frame the debates about the future of human rights?

The first panel will take place on October 15th at 17.00-18.30 (GMT+3) and will be livestreamed to registered participants. Please register from here.

English-Turkish simultaneous translation will be provided during the event.

About speakers

César Rodríguez Garavito’s research focuses on the transformation of law and politics in the context of globalization. He is co-director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice in New York University School of Law. César is the founder of JustLabs and the Editor-in-Chief of OpenGlobalRights. He has been a visiting professor at New York University, Stanford University, Brown University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Pretoria (South Africa), the European University Institute, American University in Cairo and the Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil). He is a board member of WITNESS, the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, and the Business and Human Rights Journal. César is obsessed with inter-disciplinary research, social innovation, systems thinking, and anything that can get human rights and social justice practitioners to respond more strategically and effectively to complex challenges such as technological disruption, the climate crisis and populist authoritarianism. He has conducted research and advocacy in various regions of the world and has published widely on human rights, environmental justice, globalization and social movements.

Murat Çelikkan has worked as a journalist for 35 years in various positions such as reporter, editor, columnist and chief executive editor. Çelikkan has been an active member of the Turkish Human Rights Movement. He was a founding member and has been on the boards of the Human Rights AssociationHuman Rights Foundation of TurkeyCitizens Assembly and Amnesty International Turkey. He has worked on projects related to the Kurdish problem and media ethics, freedom of speech and assembly, refugees, identity politics and peace. Çelikkan is a graduate of Middle East Technical University. He is currently the Co-Director of Truth Justice Memory Center in İstanbul. He is also the producer of two feature films and the documentary Buka Barane. He has received the Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2018 Award and the 2018 International Hrant Dink Award.

Panel on Human Rights Education: 16 December in Geneva

December 7, 2019

Promoting human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination: role of education

Monday 16 December 2019, 18:30 – 20:00
Auditorium A2 | Maison de la paix, Geneva

Slurs and stereotypes are not only hurtful, but also symptomize ignorance and misunderstanding. Ideologies anchored in hate and prejudice threaten the realization of all peoples’ human rights and attack our common humanity. Technological changes are making it easier for extremists to disseminate their hate and discriminatory propaganda. This has a profound impact on society in a number of ways that are pertinent for education.

Panelists:
•    Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
•    Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
•    Herbert Winter, President of Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities and World Jewish Congress Vice PresidentModerator:

•    Davide Rodogno, Professor of International History and Faculty Affiliate of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, Graduate Institute, Geneva

The event will be followed by a reception.

REGISTER HERE

 

UNiTE Campaign: I am a human rights defender: this is my story

November 23, 2019

The 16 Days of Activism [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence-start-on-25-november-2019/] generate many different actions. Here an example from Canada:
a Panel with the following Speakers :

  • Tata DIKO | Founder, Lady in Action (LIA)
  • Nandar | Founder, Purple Feminist Group
  • Carine SACERDOCE | Co-Founder, Club de défenseurs des droits de la fille
  • Areeg ABASS | National Officer on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Sudan

Event - I Am a Human Rights Defender

 

Follow up on HRD summit during RightsCon Tunis 2019

October 23, 2019

On 12 June 2019, ProtectDefenders.eu participated at the RightsCon Tunis 2019 panel on the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018. A delegation of human rights defenders presented their experience of taking action to defend human rights and the consequences they had to face because of these actions. They have also mentioned the significance of the Summit 2018 had for them and what states, businesses and donors must do to ensure their fundamental role is protected and recognised in the digital sphere and beyond.  In relation to this, they have called on the Tech community to join them in the struggle for human rights. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/18/premiere-powerful-video-summarizes-human-rights-defenders-world-summit-2018/

At the end of the HRD World Summit 2018 in Paris, all defenders agreed on a landmark Action Plan, which was presented to the UN General Assembly in December 2018. As participants to the Paris Summit continue to spread this message around the world, this panel was an opportunity to remind the world of the essential work they do and the need to create a safe and enabling environment for all those who actively defend human rights.

The Action Plan calls on Governments, corporations, international financial institutions, donors and others to take practical steps to ensure human rights defenders are recognised and protected, including by adopting national governmental action plans and legislation, and protecting defenders as a key priority in foreign policy, particularly women human rights defenders, LGBT+, indigenous rights defenders and other marginalized defenders who face the most risk and exclusion.

https://www.protectdefenders.eu/en/newsletter/october-2019_44#the-human-rights-defenders-world-summit-at-rightscon-tunis-2019-298

The NGO Forum and the 65th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

October 11, 2019

The 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be held in Banjul, The Gambia from 21 October to 10 November 2019. The African Commission session will be preceded by the NGO Forum and 39th African Human Rights Book Fair, which will take place from 17 to 19 October 2019.​ The ISHR gives a preview:

What will happen during the NGO Forum and 65th ordinary session of the African Commission?

The NGO Forum

Like every year, ahead of this session of the NGO Forum, a training on advocacy particularly focused on regional and international mechanisms will be organised. This year’s training is organised by CIVICUS and will be held from 15 to 21 October 2019. It will consist of three different elements:

  • Advocacy training will be conducted by our partner in The Gambia, from 15 to 17 October
  • Participants will then attend the NGO Forum, which is held ahead of the ordinary sessions of the African Commission
  • The 65th session of the African Commission will open on 21 October and participants will have the opportunity to put the training into practice

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission, also known as the ‘NGO Forum’ is an advocacy platform coordinated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) to promote advocacy, lobbying and networking among and between human rights NGOs, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. The NGO Forum shares updates on the human rights situation in Africa by the African and international NGOs community with a view of identifying responses as well as adopting strategies towards the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent.

Issues such as:

  • Resilience strategies and protection of displaced human rights defenders
  • The situation of statelessness in Africa
  • The status of intersex and transgender refugees in Africa
  • The rights of internally displaced people during armed conflicts
  • The use of surveillance technologies to stifle protest, expression and privacy in Africa

The 65th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

  • Panel discussions
  • The importance of civic space participation in the 2030 and 2063 agendas, 23 October, 9.30 to 11am.
  • Panel on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders with a focus on Protection Laws, 23 October, 3 to 4.30pm

During every session, special mechanisms from the African Commission present their activity report. These reports catalogue the activities and initiatives undertaken by each mechanism inter-sessionally and includes one by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa. For the full programme, click here.

ISHR will also organise side events, such as Ending intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating with regional mechanisms in Africa on 22 October 2019, 17.30-19.00 in the Kairaba Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia. This side event aims at providing more visibility and clarity on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate on reprisals, to share some lessons learned from efforts to address reprisals and intimidation at the international level, and to hone in on what more can be done at the regional level. In particular, the event will be an opportunity for the Special Rapporteur to share key information on how to engage with the reprisal’s aspect of his mandate through the presentation of the mandate’s working documents in this regard.

Panellists:

  • Remy Ngoy Lumbu, African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa
  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly
  • Madeleine Sinclair, ISHR New York Co-Director and Legal Counsel
  • A woman defender from Sudan

ISHR will monitor and report on key developments at the 65th ordinary session of the African Commission. Follow them on Twitter at @ISHRglobal, @ISHR_fr and at #ACHPR65.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/achpr65-alert-ngo-forum-and-65th-session-african-commission-human-and-peoples-rights