Posts Tagged ‘Protection of Human Rights Defenders’

Relief for threatened scholars: the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

May 10, 2017

Some support structures suffer from a lack of general knowledge. Here is one that I came across recently.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), in conjunction with the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Germany Section, convened the 3rd Workshop on the Philipp Schwartz Initiative (PSI) in Berlin, bringing together SAR staff, Philipp Schwartz Fellows, representatives of universities and research institutions in Germany supporting threatened scholars, and representatives from partner organizations.

As a part of AvH and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and other private funders, the PSI provides universities and research institutions in Germany with the means to host at-risk foreign researchers with two-year, fully funded fellowships. Since the summer of 2016, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has invited applications to the PSI on behalf of scholars regardless of country of origin, current location, or academic field, as long as a demonstrable threat can be confirmed. The PSI is currently sponsoring more than 60 researchers, 34 of whom are SAR scholars. This number will undoubtedly grow, as the PSI has recently confirmed funding for an additional 30 grants.  Applications in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative cannot be submitted at this time. Applicants in the 3rd round will be informed of the outcome by 30 June 2017.

For more information about the important work being done, visit the Philipp Schwartz Initiative’s homepage and consult the most recent issue of AvH’s magazine, Humboldt Kosmos.

Who can apply?  Please note that researchers cannot apply on an individual basis only through host institutions in Germany.

Research-performing institutions in Germany in the following categories may apply:

  • public and state-recognised universities, including universities of applied sciences (“Fachhochschulen”)
  • Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, Leibniz Institutes, Fraunhofer Institutes
  • Federal and State Research Institutes
  • other research-performing institutions that can convincingly demonstrate their research focus and infrastructures

Successful applicants will be able to grant a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship to a threatened researcher. In detail:

  • institutions that were successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications (no submission of support concepts in 3rd call; only nomination of researcher)
  • institutions that applied but were not successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications
  • institutions that have not applied for Philipp Schwartz funding before

Who is eligible for a Philipp Schwartz fellowship?

Threatened researchers from any academic field and any country of origin who

  • have completed their doctorate or a comparable academic degree (PhD, CSc or equivalent)
  • have not been resident outside their own country for more than three years; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) are not eligible
  • possess the language skills required to successfully conduct their research projects
  • possess academic qualifications (e.g. publications)
  • possess potential to be integrated into the (research-related) job market
  • who have not yet been funded in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative
  • persons that have access to residence in safe countries due to multiple citizenship and German citizens are not eligible for nomination
  • multiple nominations of one person by several institutions are not permitted

The Humboldt Foundation imposes no restrictions with regard to country of origin or current location if the threat can be confirmed in accordance with the programme guidelines.

What does the funding include?

  • fellowship funds including subsidies of 3,500 EUR/month for up to 24 months
  • a one-off lump sum of 12,000 EUR for the host institution

How can a threat to a researcher be confirmed in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative?

In the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, a pertinent threat of researchers who are demonstrably threatened in their countries can be confirmed in two ways:

  • by way of a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure that confirms a recognised threat
  • by way of a credible threat assessment from a third party, such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the Scholar Rescue Fund, or the Council for At-Risk Academics

 

Source: Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation – The Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supported by the Federal Foreign Office

We must find new ways to protect human rights defenders…and to counter the anti-human rights mood

December 12, 2016

Almost 20 years ago the UN adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, but they face more danger than ever, say Iva Dobichina and James Savage (resp. of the Open Society Foundations and the Fund for Global Human Rights) in a post on 10 December 2016 in the Guardian. “We must find new ways to protect human rights defenders” say the authors in an excellent article so rich and – in my view correct – in its analysis of the current climate that I reproduce it below in full. What is perhaps missing from the piece is a call for more sustained action by the worldwide human rights movement to improve its ‘performance’ in the battle for public opinion. A lot of the regression in the situation of human rights defenders seems to go hand-in-hand with an increase in public support for rights-averse policies (“Around the globe, a tectonic shift towards autocratic and semi-authoritarian rule by law, and the pernicious influence of corporate, criminal and fundamentalist non-state actors, has put human rights activists on the defensive and let rights violators go on the offence” state the authors correctly). To counter this we have to come up with equally convincing use of the modern media, especially through professional-level visualisation and ideas for campaigns that can broaden and galvanize the human rights movement. Read the rest of this entry »

UN General Assembly adopts Resolution on human rights defenders with increased majority

December 18, 2015

For the record, the Resolution on the protection of human rights defenders was adopted by the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday 17 December 2015, with 127 States voting in favour (i.e 10 more than in the Third Committee!). See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/follow-up-on-the-human-rights-defenders-resolution-in-the-un/.

127 States supported the resolution, including South Africa, which had voted against it in the Third Committee, while 14 States (Burundi, Cambodia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe) continue to vote against it. This list is not surprising (they figure regularly in this blog), although one would have hoped that Myanmar (after the elections) would have had a change of heart while Nigeria’s position remains a mystery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Draft laws on civil society restrictions also pending in Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia

May 21, 2015

Human rights defenders find it difficult to function with a fair and functioning legal regime for the creation and administration of associations (NGOs). In my post of yesterday on Russia I drew attention to the draft law declaring some NGOs ‘undesirable”. Today Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Kyrgyz lawmakers in the coming days not to follow Russia’s bad example of passing a Foreign Agents law [see also my earlier: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/kyrgyzstan-follows-bad-example-set-by-russia-foreign-agents/].

And also today Front Line and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint OMCT-FIDH programme) ask the Cambodian Government to withdraw its draft law on civil society which would create many uncertainties and restrictions. The NGOs trace the lack of consultation in the process of law- making (since 2010) and conclude that the draft law as it stands will be used arbitrarily to restrict the legitimate work of human rights organisations.

The text of the Open Letter by the Observatory can be viewed at:  Open Letter – Cambodia : Draft law on civil society.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/russia-human-rights-ngos-likely-to-become-officially-undesirable/

Amin Mekki Medani, President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor, arrested

December 7, 2014

logo FIDH_seul

OMCT-LOGO

 On the evening of 6 December, 2014, the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Dr. Amin Mekki Medani, a renowned human rights activist, President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) from his house in Khartoum. Dr Medani was arrested shortly after he returned from Addis Ababa. There are serious concerns for the safety of Dr. Medani who is 76 years of age and suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the information received, the NISS refused to allow him to take his medications with him when he was arrested.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders strongly denounces the arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Medani and considers it as a reprisal to sanction his legitimate human rights activities. [On December 3, 2014 Dr. Medani signed the “Sudan Call”, on behalf of civil society organisations. The “Sudan Call” is a Declaration on the “Establishment of a State of Citizenship and Democracy”, under which co-signatories committed to work towards the end of the conflicts raging in different regions of Sudan and towards legal, institutional and economic reforms. The Declaration, which commits signatories to end wars and conflicts as a priority, was co-signed in Addis Ababa by representatives from political and armed opposition parties, including the National Umma Party, the National Consensus Forces and the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Dr. Medani co-signed the Sudan Call on behalf of the Civil Society Initiative.]

Sudan: Arrest of the President of the Sudan Human Rights (…).

25th UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect Human Rights Defenders

March 4, 2014


(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

 

 

Yesterday, 3 March 2014, the top UN functionaries opened the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council with calls for the protection of members of civil society who pursue justice in their countries (a long euphemism for Human Rights Defenders).

 

Streets, airwaves, entire countries are buzzing with demands for economic, social and political justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. Setting out this agenda and acknowledging the hard work that lay ahead in ensuring that all people enjoyed equal rights, Ms. Pillay emphasized the important role of civil society in those efforts. “We need to work together to ensure that the space, voice and knowledge of civil society is nurtured in all our countries,” she stressed. Recalling reports of what she labelled “intolerable” reprisals against people who coöperate with the UN’s human rights activities, she called for more action to protect them. “The UN itself is required to protect and support those who contribute to its work, often at great personal risk,” she said.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added on this point that, “No one should have to risk their life for standing up and speaking out on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” Civil society was the representative of “We the Peoples,” as cited in the opening of the UN Charter, and that it must be able to carry out its vital work, “free of reprisals and intimidation.” In that context, the Secretary-General highlighted the “Rights Up Front” action plan that he launched last year to ensure that human rights considerations were the top priority in all UN activities. “This initiative seeks to ensure that the United Nations system leverages the full breadth of its mandates to protect people at risk,” he said. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/rights-up-front-presented-by-jan-eliason-it-is-irrefutable-that-serious-human-rights-violations-are-the-best-early-warning-of-atrocities/]

Interesting to note that while in Geneva, the Secretary-General met 4 NGOs: the International Service for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists. Their discussion certainly stressed human rights defenders and the importance of protecting them from attacks.

via United Nations News Centre – UN Human Rights Council opens with calls to protect, support civil society activism.

Special Issue on Human Rights Defenders of the OUP Journal of Human Rights Practice

November 28, 2013

A special issue on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has appeared in the Journal of Human Rights Practice. This special issue contains insightful articles from human rights defenders, scholars and organizations across the globe focused on promoting and protecting human rights defenders. The Oxford Journal wants to bridge the gap between human rights practitioners and academicians. Exceptionally, this entire special issue of the Journal of Human Rights Practice is available free of charge for the next 3 months at http://jhrp.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/3.toc. You find there also the full text of my Review Essay on awards. Table of content: Read the rest of this entry »

National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders in Uganda launched

June 14, 2013

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project announced the launch of the new Ugandan National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders on Tuesday 11 June 2013. Six leading human rights organisations (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Human Rights Network Uganda, Human Rights Centre Uganda, Avocats Sans Frontiers, NGO Forum and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative)  took the initiative to bring human rights defenders HRDs in Uganda together under one national coalition to enhance their protection and co-ordination. A 2012 report by Human Rights Centre Uganda, “The Quest for an enabling working environment for human rights defenders in Uganda” prepared the ground. 

via Kampala: Launch of a National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

 

Philomène Muamba in CONGO (DRC) threatened

January 24, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and OMCT, received information from the local group “Voix des sans-voix pour les droits de l’Homme ” about serious threats against the HRD Philomène Muamba, President of ADDEF ( l’Association pour la défense des droits des enfants et femmes opprimés), based in Kasaï-Occidental. It seems that on 17 January at 03h00 in the morning 3 policemen and 2 military came to the house of Ms Philomène Muamba, in Tshikapa, without any written order. As she was not home, they expressed threats against her little sister. Philomène Muamba then lodged a complaint against X  with both the military and civilian prosecutors in Tshikapa.

Since 2011 Philomène Muamba has received several death threats on the telephone along the lines that “you had us arrested and thought we were going to die in jail but …we will bury you”. In 2011 et 2012, she was indeed at the basis of a trial that had led to the conviction of persons who had been accused of several cases of rape. And one should note that on 17 January 2013 around 20h00 several detainees – including men mentioned above – had escaped from the central prison in  Tshikapa.

The original report is only in French: http://www.omct.org/fr/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/congo-dem-republic/2013/01/d22133/

Call for Papers for a Special Issue on HRDs in the Journal of Human Rights Practice

October 16, 2012

York University’s Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) issues a Call for Papers

The Journal of Human Rights Practice hosts a special issue on the protection of human rights defenders

As a part of the research CAHR conducts on human rights defenders, a special issue on HRDs will be published in the Journal of Human Rights Practice in November 2013. The editors will accept abstract submissions in English, Arabic cfp-hrds-arabic (PDF  , 565kb), French cfp-hrds-french (PDF  , 73kb), Spanish cfp-hrds-spanish (PDF  , 55kb) and Russian cfp-hrds-russian (PDF  , 66kb). The deadline for abstracts is on 1 November 2012.

For more details, please see the Call for Papers.

Call for Papers for a Special Issue in the Journal of Human Rights Practice – Centre for Applied Human Rights, The University of York.