Posts Tagged ‘social and economic rights’

Human Rights Council recognises vital role of environmental human rights defenders

March 23, 2019

The ISHR reports that on 21 March 2019 the UN Human Rights Council has adopted a strong consensus resolution recognising the critical role of environmental human rights defenders in protecting vital ecosystems, addressing climate change, attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensuring that no-one is left behind. [See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/09/front-line-defenders-says-record-number-of-activists-killed-in-2018/].

The resolution meets many of the civil society demands ISHR expressed in a joint letter along with more than 180 groups (see reference below). By formally acknowledging the important role of environmental human rights defenders, the Council highlights the legitimacy of their work, helps counter stigmatisation and can contribute to expanding their operating space. Though the resolution falls short in some key areas, its adoption by consensus is a positive step towards better protection of environmental human rights defenders. It must now be followed by implementation at the national level by all relevant stakeholders, including States, UN agencies, businesses and development finance institutions….

The resolution was led and presented by Norway, on behalf of 60 States from all regions. In particular, many Latin American States strongly supported the resolution, which is significant given the dangerous situation for defenders in many of those countries. The consensus on the protection of environmental human rights defenders is a welcome sign of unity by the international community in recognising their vital contribution to a biodiverse and healthy environment, to peace and security, and to human rights.

We now look to States, business enterprises and development finance institutions to take rapid and decisive steps to address the global crisis facing environmental human rights defenders’, said Michael Ineichen, Programme Director at the International Service for Human Rights. ‘This means States need to create protection mechanisms which guarantee the security of defenders. States must also ensure that businesses put in place specific policies and processes allowing for the inclusion of human rights defenders and their concerns in due diligence processes’, Ineichen said.   

Key points of the resolution:

  • Expresses alarm at increasing violations against environmental defenders, including killings, gender-based violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, criminalisation, judicial harassment, forced eviction and displacement. It acknowledges that violations are also committed against defenders’ families, communities, associates and lawyers;
  • Recognises that the protection of human rights defenders can only be achieved through an approach which promotes and celebrates their work. It also calls for root causes of violations to be addressed by strengthening democratic institutions, combating impunity and reducing economic inequalities;
  • Pays particular attention to women human rights defenders, by stressing the intersectional nature of violations and abuses against them and against indigenous peoples, children, persons belonging to minorities, and rural and marginalised communities;
  • Urges States to adopt laws guaranteeing the protection of defenders, put in place holistic protection measures for and in consultation with defenders, and ensure investigation and accountability for threats and attacks against environmental human rights defenders; and
  • Calls on businesses to carry out human rights due diligence and to hold meaningful and inclusive consultations with defenders, potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders.

While the resolution was adopted by consensus, the unity came at the price of a lack of specificity in certain areas. For instance, the resolution does not clearly recognise all of the root causes of the insecurity facing environmental human rights defenders, as documented by UN experts, nor comprehensively name the perpetrators or the most dangerous industries. It also fails to clearly spell out the human rights obligations of development finance institutions, and to detail the corresponding necessary steps to consult, respect and protect the work of environmental human rights defenders. 

https://www.ishr.ch/news/hrc40-council-unanimously-recognises-vital-role-environmental-human-rights-defenders

https://www.ishr.ch/news/hrc40-states-should-defend-environmental-human-rights-defenders

Davos should address human rights violations say UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

January 24, 2018

As global leaders converge in Davos for the World Economic Forum, a group of United Nations experts called attention to the critical importance of human rights to the Forum’s objective this year which is: “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. “What we are seeing in the world today is the economically disenfranchised yearning for a fairer economic system that spreads the rewards of economic development to all,” said Anita Ramasastry, who chairs the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. “The inclusion of human rights objectives into political and economic decisions are crucial if economic reforms are to tackle the root causes of populism, global unrest, climate change and inequality”. [for some of my earlier posts on this topic: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/business-and-human…]

The experts stressed how Government and business leaders meeting in Davos wield the power and influence to set the world on a more inclusive and sustainable path. They recalled how world leaders had pledged “to realize the human rights of all” and “to leave no one behind” as core aspirations of United Nation Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, and called on business leaders to support this pledge.

Governments and businesses should use the occasion of Davos to announce concrete actions to bring about positive change”, the experts said. “First of all, Governments and businesses must act in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by taking steps to respect the rights of workers across supply chains and avoid that business operations cause or contribute to adverse human rights impacts”.

The experts welcomed that the 2018 World Economic Forum includes a session on the “Global Prospects for Human Rights”, on the occasion of this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the same time, they regretted that human rights were inadequately captured in the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2018, released on 17 January 2018.

We call on Governments and business leaders at Davos to remind reach other that human rights are not a fringe issue but at the very core of what needs to be done to address the most pressing global risks,” the experts concluded.

The UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises was established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. Its current members are: Ms. Anita Ramasastry (current Chairperson), Mr. Michael Addo, Mr. Surya Deva, Mr. Dante Pesce (current Vice-Chairperson) and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22603&LangID=E

 

A lot more on the protection of Defenders of economic social and cultural rights

March 16, 2016

On 7 March 2016 the ISHR held a joint side event on the protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, cultural and social (ESC) rights [http://wp.me/pQKto-1ZJ]. Here a report and some more:

Panellists spoke about the crucial work of ESC rights defenders in their countries, including defenders in Ethiopia protesting illegal land grabs to prevent the displacement of communities; defenders in Malaysia working towards inclusive and sustainable development and to oppose corruption; and defenders in Guatemala working to protect indigenous rights and ensuring that companies consult with affected communities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Side event on Protection of human rights defenders in economic, social and cultural rights

March 1, 2016

ISHR-logo-colour-highOn Monday 7 March 2016, from 13h30-15h00 in Room XVIII, Palais des Nations, Geneva, there will be a side event:Protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights: Challenges and good practice. (see my previous post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/regional-update-for-asia/)

The current and previous Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders have emphasised the specific risks that defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights face. Whether they are activists fighting corruption or promoting transparency, working on land and environment rights, or defending their right to housing, ESC-rights defenders are among the most isolated and stigmatised defenders. This side event hopes to shed light on the risks faced by economic, social and cultural rights defenders, and draw on the report of the Special Rapporteur presented to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council to present good practices in furthering their protection.

panelists:

Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Navi Pillay, former High Commissioner for Human Rights

Allo Awol, human rights defender from Eritrea

Arutchelvan Subramaniams, human rights defender from Malaysia

Pedro Tzicá, human rights defender from Guatemala

Moderator: Ms Catarina de Albuquerque, Executive Chair of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Interpretation in English and Spanish will be provided. The event will be webcast live at www.ishr.ch/webcasts

Source: Protection needs of human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights | ISHR

Human Rights Defenders and Anti-Corruption campaigners should join hands

January 29, 2015

Jamil Nasir, a graduate of Columbia University, wrote on 10 December 2014 a short piece on the link between human rights and corruption: “The corruption link”. The author concludes that “Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists.” The article follows below in full:
The world celebrates ‘Anti-corruption Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’ on December 9 and 10, respectively. Corruption and human rights are inextricably linked, but these linkages are not emphasised much in literature or discourse on corruption. The detrimental impact of corruption on economic growth and development is now well documented. It is a fact that corruption kills the incentive system, distorts technology choices, misallocates talent, promotes tax evasion and retards economic growth.And how does corruption impact human rights? First, it reduces the capacity of the state to protect, respect, and enforce its obligations with regard to the fundamental human rights enshrined in the social contract between the citizens and the state. For example, ‘access to justice’ and ‘security of life, property and honour’ are fundamental human rights. Can these rights be protected with a corruption-ridden judicial and police system? Our own current system is a pertinent example.Corruption in the judiciary and the police is not a secret in our country. When we talk of corruption in the judicial system, it does not mean prismatic decisions and judgements only. Granting adjournments to benefit one of the parties to a dispute is also corruption. When it comes to the police, corruption is not about flawed investigations but also non-submission of challans in the court on time. Consequently, the weaker party gets so disillusioned that it either does not pursue the case or enters into forced compromise.

Thus corruption affects fundamental rights as well as procedural rights like due process – the. right not to have undue delay in court proceedings and the right to a fair trial. Is it not corruption that has reduced the capacity of our state to enforce fundamental human rights? Have the court and police systems not become dysfunctional? Are these institutions not making the people poor rather than providing them quick justice?

This corruption lowers economic development and undermines poverty alleviation. The social contract obligates that the state should provide an environment where people can realise their full potential. Is such an environment possible without adequate resources with the state? Corruption reduces the level of revenues which consequently reduce the capacity of the state to fund basic social services. Again, Pakistan is a pertinent case. Due to corruption, tax evasion is rampant. Corruption also affects targeting of social programmes. If corrupt practices are pervasive, leakages in such programmes will usually be high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the money allocated for various social spending and poverty alleviation programmes have not reached the intended targets. A substantial percentage of such funding was squandered away during the process of distribution. Further, targeting of the poor was riddled with nepotism and patronage.

Moreover, corruption enhances the operating costs of the government and reduces the resources available for social spending. The budget for the health and education sectors gets squeezed. It is an open secret now that the major chunk of the funds allocated for development of infrastructure like roads, schools and hospital buildings is eaten into by corruption in the form of commissions and kickbacks by the engineers, contractors and construction companies. And so corruption undermines development, deepens poverty and exacerbates other human rights violations.

Corruption can also violate human rights directly. If a corrupt judge takes a bribe to decide a case against an individual or a corrupt police officer takes a bribe not to properly investigate, that corruption directly violates human rights like the right to a fair trial. Corruption can manifest itself as the worst abuse of human dignity and rights.

One of the reports of Transparency International mentions a local public hospital in Zimbabwe whose nurses charged $5 every time the mother screamed while giving birth to a baby. This amount was charged as a penalty for raising alarm. Those women who were unable to pay the delivery fee were detained at the hospital until they had settled the debt. In this way, they were held hostage by the corruption prevalent in the hospital.

Corruption particularly targets the poor. For example, if a rickshaw driver or a street vendor pays a meagre amount of bribe (assume Rs100) to a policeman to avoid harassment, the impact on these poor chaps will be deep and severe since even Rs100 constitutes a major chunk of their daily income. It is not a big amount in absolute terms but it eats into their already tight budget. Compared with the daily income of the wage earners, the impact of this seemingly little amount can be well imagined on the household budget of the poor.

On the other hand, if a businessman pays – assume Rs100,000 – to a tax collector, he will get enormous personal benefit. But due to this collusion of the tax evader and the tax collector, millions of rupees will be dribbled through corruption. The taxes evaded due to this under the table deal, if properly collected, could be utilised for developing infrastructure, transfer payments or spent on poverty alleviation programmes.

This simple illustration shows that corruption adversely affects the poor. Second, it may also benefit the rich which is perhaps one explanation of the tolerance of the rich and the elite towards corruption in society. According to Professor Pranab Bardhan, corruption feeds on itself due to a variety of reasons. First, it is beneficial for the payer and the payee. Second, it is so entrenched that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Third, once corruption takes root in society, it is exceedingly difficult to eliminate.

It is time the discourse on corruption included the human rights perspective. A clear understanding between corruption and human rights can empower both human rights activists and those working against corruption. If linkages between corruption and rights become part of the narrative on corruption, attitudes will change. When people become more aware of the damage corruption causes to their fundamental rights, they are more likely to support campaigns against corruption. This new discourse can persuade key actors like judges, parliamentarians, lawyers, media and the public at large to take a strong stand against corruption. Connecting corruption to human rights violations means that acts of corruption can be challenged in a court of law as violation of fundamental human rights.

Weak human rights protection creates possibilities for corruption which also means that the promotion of human rights can be one of the tools against corruption. For example, promotion of the right to freedom of expression and information can go a long way in combating corruption in society. The right to information is critical in the fight against corruption.

Human rights defenders should not consider themselves just as activists; similarly anti-corruption champions should also not limit themselves like that. A bridge needs to be built between human rights and anti-corruption activists. This will be possible once the dots are connected and linkages between corruption and human rights are consciously explored for a joint struggle. Both human rights organisations and anti-corruption agencies should make a resolve to work together. The fight against corruption and the promotion of human rights are too important to be left to disjointed endeavours.”

The corruption link – Jamil Nasir.

Week of Action against crackdown on Cambodian garment workers: 10 January

January 8, 2014

 

While we were celebrating the New Year, Cambodian garment workers protesting for a rise in wages faced a violent police crackdown on 2 January 2014. Freedom Park in Phnom Penh was forcibly cleared by police and mass actions are now banned from the site. Violent crackdowns were instigated by Cambodian military when workers of the Yak Jin factory held a protest asking for a salary increase. Soldiers threatened protesters with “metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons” and arrested 10 people, including monks and human rights defenders. On 3 January,  protesters rallied at the Canadia industrial park and were met with live ammunition, teargas and grenades, leading to a violent clash that ended in 4 dead and 21 wounded. In all, 23 people have been arrested, their location unknown.

[Cambodia’s garment industry comprises 500,000 workers, a majority of whom are women from the rural areas. It provides products for western brands such as  H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart. Some of the factories are Korean-owned.]

A group of NGOs is organizing a Week of Action at international level. For more info write to apwld[at]apwld.org – a campaign kit will be available at apwld.org

For more information:

Global Week of Action against Gov’t Crackdown on Cambodian Protesters.

Ranking of countries on Human Rights: Global Network For Right and Development has a go at it

October 19, 2013

PLEASE NOTE THAT  the website is now suspended!!

Rankings of countries are popular at least with the media and public. That is also true for human rights. There is already the annual Freedom House survey as well as the UNDP development-oriented one.  Now, on 17 October, the Global Network for Rights and Development [GNRD] – created in 2008 and based in Stavanger, Norway – has published a new one, that tries to combine all social and economic indicators. It calls itself without much modesty “the Most Trustful and Complete International Human Rights Rank Indicator“, reflecting Live Data on the respect for human rights in 216 countries. The website states that it acts “in cooperation with various international organizations, governments and other NGOs to make the outcomes full and veritable. More than two thousand individuals all over the world are collecting and entering information constantly. The countries’ human rights rank indicator depends on a complex calculation of the respect for 21 interconnected human rights, including the evaluation of respect for human rights abroad, and the rights’ values. The new Indicator’s website offers to any person from any corner of the world an advantage to influence on the countries’ rank and significantly contribute to the protection of the human rights by registering a violation case in the online system….. Thus, we introduced today a real, free of bias, unique in its implementation International Human Rights Rank Indicator ihrri.com.

The problem is that verification of these claims is not possible without knowing more of the methodology, the data used and especially the ‘authorised organisations’ that are NOT listed. Theoretically the listing is an interesting notion but there must be a reason that most serious human rights NGOs have not done.

In the meantime governmental Gulfnews has already picked up on it: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/society/uae-top-for-human-rights-in-arab-countries-1.1244390

via http://www.gnrd.net/vnews.php?id=297

Colombia: Human Rights Defender Adelinda Gómez Gaviria killed and David Ravelo Crespo remains in jail

October 5, 2013

14 September 2013 marked three years since renowned human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo, member of the director’s board of the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS) based in the city of Barrancabermeja, was detained.  Over NGOs reiterated on that occasion their concerns regarding a series of irregularities that were reported throughout the proceedings which resulted in his conviction and sentencing to 220 months in prison. Reiterating their respect for the independence of the judiciary in Colombia, the NGO statement lists a series of irregularities (see statement in full). The NGOs stress that David Ravelo Crespo is an internationally renowned human rights defender. He has won several awards such as the San Pedro Claver Award from the Diocese of Barrancabermeja in 2009; was one of the finalists for the 2013 Front Line Defenders Award fand has been nominated for the National Human Rights Defenders Awards in Colombia . His NGO was nominated for the 2013 Human Rights Award for the city of Weimar (Germany).

Two weeks later Front Line reports that human rights defender and campesina leader Adelinda Gómez Gaviria was killed in Almaguer, Cauca region. Adelinda Gómez Gaviria worked with the Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano – CIMA. She played an active role in the  Mining and Environmental Forum in Almaguer, which has 1,500 indigenous and farming members. On 30 September as Adelinda Gómez Gaviria was returning home after a meeting, she and her 16 year-old son were approached and shot at by two unidentified men. Adelinda Gómez Gaviria suffered five bullet wounds and was killed, whilst her son is in a critical state in the Clínica La Estancia in Popayán city. One month prior to her killing Adelinda Gómez Gaviria had received a threatening telephone call from strangers who warned her to: “Stop messing around with this miners’ thing. It’s risky and it’ll get you killed.” The Red por la Vida y los Derechos Humanos del Cauca (Cauca Network for Life and Human Rights) has registered the murders of fourteen women human rights defenders in Cauca so far this year, primarily from rural areas of Cauca. Twelve death threats against human rights defenders have been reported, with five of those against women.

Colombia: On the third anniversary of the detention of renowned Colombian human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo, International organisations express concern / September 13, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.