Posts Tagged ‘support’

UK joins small group of countries with specific guidelines on human rights defenders

July 19, 2019

The United Kingdom has recently published guidelines for the protection and support of rights defenders around the world. It joins a small group of countries such as Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Canada (although they differ – see the websites of these countries). There are also some mulitlateral ones such as the EU Guidelines.[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/01/13/quick-reminder-of-the-eu-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/] and those of the OSCE.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/13/canada-joins-select-group-of-governments-with-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/11/02/swiss-guidelines-on-human-rights-defenders-analyzed-by-civil-society/.

In the foreword to the publication Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister for Human Rights, states: To demonstrate our commitment of continued support of human rights defenders globally, this document sets out why human rights defenders are important to us and acknowledges the risks they face in the pursuit of universal human rights. We hope it will give human rights defenders encouragement to know how we may be able to support them, including through our network of embassies and high commissions overseas. Whilst every situation may be different depending on local context, our values and commitments in providing support remain the same

Human Rights Watch was not impressed: While welcome, real support requires a willingness to speak out even when it carries political costs. The new guidelines praise the courageous work of human rights defenders in the face of risks including threats, intimidation, harassment, and detention. The guidelines rightly identify groups which are in greater danger, such as journalists, women, and LGBT activists, and express the UK’s commitment to support them “wherever they are in the world.” But when it comes to actually standing up for human rights defenders, the UK’s record is patchy. While it sometimes speaks out in private, it remains reluctant to do so publicly, even though doing so would raise the cost to states that seek to silence those who speak truth to power. The UK government has so far done very little about credible reports of the torture, sexual harassment, and assault of Saudi women activists currently on trial for defending human rights in their country. It has failed to hold Hungary to account for its efforts to clamp down on human rights groups and rule of law. And it has failed to criticize United Arab Emirates authorities for the unjust imprisonment of Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor on his peaceful calls for reform. The UK hopes that by publishing these guidelines, defenders might be encouraged to understand that the British government might be able to support them. But if the UK is really serious about this, it should be willing to speak out publicly on their behalf when they are in trouble, including when their safety is at risk in countries that are UK allies. In short, the UK’s new Prime Minister should make it a priority to protect and support human rights defenders no matter where they are in the world.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/07/19/will-next-uk-government-stand-human-rights-defenders

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/815986/UK-Support-for-Human-Rights-Defenders.pdf

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

Facing a global attack on the very idea of human rights defenders – funders need to step up

October 19, 2016

Andrew Anderson, in the meantime confirmed as the new Director of Front Line Defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/front-line-defenders-announces-steady-hand-andrew-anderson-as-new-executive-director/], argues – in a very interesting piece published by the International Human Rights Funders Group on 8 September 2016 – for the following:

(1) increased direct support to human rights defenders working at the local and national level,

(2) more flexibility in funding, and

(3) a greater focus on core, multi-year support.

As the piece is short and to the point, here the full text: Read the rest of this entry »

Austria and Netherlands pledge €1.35 million to African human rights defenders

February 16, 2015

World Bulletin News (from Turkey) reports on 13 February about the Dutch and Austrian governments funding a three-year project to support African human rights defenders. One always wonders why this kind of information pops up in one news source but not in others. Read the rest of this entry »

Important Report: “Keeping Defenders Safe: A Call to Donor Action”

November 8, 2014

I am sharing with you an important new report on the protection and security of human rights defenders entitled, “Keeping Defenders Safe: A Call to Donor Action”. The report was released this summer but did not get the attention it deserves. The report reviews existing responses to the security challenges that human rights defenders face, with a focus on the grant-makers who support work aimed at strengthening HRD protection and security. The author, Borislav Petranov, conducted more than 150 interviews with defenders and related stakeholders around the world, seeking to capture the viewpoints of activists on the ground.  Monette Zard prepared it for publication. The report’s conclusions suggest changes in focus and approach with recommendations that donors can implement individually as well as collectively to enhance the protection and security of HRDs. While it is not a roadmap or comprehensive analysis of protection mechanisms, it does recommend considered reflection on current policies and practices in the field:  Read the rest of this entry »

EU foreign ministers confirm backing and supporting human rights defenders

May 20, 2014

Yesterday, 19 May 2014, EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels for the Foreign Affairs Council on Development, reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to promoting all human rights, whether civil and political, or economic, social and cultural, in all areas of its external action without exception, as part of working towards a rights-based approach to development coöperation.  “The implementation of a rights-based approach to development cooperation should be based on the universality and indivisibility of human rights and the principles of inclusion and participation in decision-making processes; non-discrimination, equality and equity; transparency and accountability. The application of these principles should be central to EU development cooperation, thereby also ensuring the empowerment of the poorest and most vulnerable, in particular of women and girls, which in turn contributes to poverty reduction efforts,” said the Council conclusions. The Council also stressed the need for continued EU support for human rights defenders, capacity-building of local civil society organisations and promoting a safe and enabling environment in both law and practice that maximizes their contribution to development. Being closer to citizens and interacting with civil society, local authorities also play a crucial role in the effective implementation of a rights-based approach.
Moreover, the Council underlined that investment and business activities in partner countries should respect human rights and adhere to the principles of corporate social and environmental responsibility and accountability.
EU foreign ministers back human rights-based approach to all development cooperation.

Ganji: Human rights in Iran improved, but still short of expectations

March 26, 2014

 

Remise du Prix Martin Ennals 2006

(Ganji – second from the right – at the MEA ceremony of 2006, where he received the award from UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour)

Al-Monitor of 25 March carries a lengthy interview with MEA Laureate Akbar Ganji in which Jahandad Memarian records many interesting insights, especially on the issue of sanctions and support to human rights defenders. The whole interview is certainly worth reading; here follow some long excerpts:

It is not an exaggeration to say that Akbar Ganji is the most celebrated dissident within the ranks of Iranian journalists since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. A former supporter of the revolution, Ganji became disenchanted and turned into one of its most vocal critics. He is best known for his work as a journalist covering the 1998 murders of Iranian dissidents in Reformist newspapers, a series which came to be known as “the chain murders” that implicated top governmental officials. For his work revealing the murders of dissidents and attending a conference in Berlin that was condemned by hard-liners who were reeling after a Reformist victory in parliament, Ganji was arrested and served time in Tehran’s Evin Prison from 2001 to 2006. During his final year in prison, he went on a hunger strike that doctors urged him to end for concerns he would suffer permanent brain damage.

Ganji has won several international awards, including the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’s International Press Freedom Award, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and the Cato Institute Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. In an exclusive interview via email with Al-Monitor, Ganji, based in New York, shared his thoughts about human rights and democracy in the context of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.

Al-Monitor:  The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has sharply criticized the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, saying, “He has not made any significant improvement” in ending human rights abuses since taking office. Nevertheless, Mahmoud Sadri — Iranian professor of sociology at the Federation of North Texas Area Universities — is optimistic about the new administration and has asked Iranian dissidents and intellectuals to take advantage of this historic opportunity. How do you evaluate the Rouhani administration?

Ganji:  The situation has improved from various aspects compared with the [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad administration. However, it falls short of the expectations of democracy advocates and human rights activists. The Rouhani administration truly seeks to improve the state of human rights, but it has faced obstacles in Iran’s power hierarchy, including organizations that [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei oversees, such as the judiciary, law enforcement, etc., in addition to the Majles [parliament] that is controlled by the conservatives and some radical reactionaries.

…….Since his administration came to power, Rouhani has spoken with the supreme leader about freeing the Green Movement’s leaders (former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former Majles speaker Mehdi Karoubi) and political prisoners, guaranteeing that nothing would happen, if they were freed.

Al-Monitor:  In January, you wrote a Huffington Post article titled “The Iran Nuclear Accord Is Good for Human Rights.” It seems to me whenever international pressure on the Iranian government increased, Iran improved its record. For example, Tehran released political prisoners ahead of Hassan Rouhani’s UN speech, including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Don’t you think such actions stem from international pressure? In the absence of this leverage — i.e., international pressure — Iran would continue human rights violations.

Ganji:  With regard to “external pressure on an undemocratic regime and improvement of human rights or increased oppression,” there is no law/rule that would address the cause-reaction relationships. At most, one can speak of “correlation.”[…] we need to know the following:

First, economic sanctions represent the collective punishment of a country’s people and do not necessarily lead to dictatorships’ downfall.

Second, long-term sanctions destroy the internal infrastructure of societies. ..Consequently, trust that is the basis of social capital is destroyed. Because of the sanctions, the oppressive regime’s increasing level of oppression, the internal destruction of society, is not visible. It is only in the aftermath of the dictatorship’s downfall that we will witness the visible spread of a wave of hatred, revenge and violence.

Third, in a life and death situation, the state of human rights, democracy and freedom completely falls by the wayside.

Fourth, consider Iraq’s example again. Before, the invasion al-Qaeda forces did not exist in Iraq, but they were born and bred as a result of the US sanctions and the US attack on Iraq. This story has been repeated in Libya and Syria. …..Iranian, US and European officials have professed that economic sanctions against Iran have affected Iran’s economy negatively. Last year, the economic growth rate fell to -5.8%. The inflation rate rose to 40%. The corruption rate climbed, and other negative outcomes followed. We should ask ourselves, what is the impact of recession on ordinary people’s lives?

The middle class, as a vehicle of democracy, has been transformed to the impoverished class, and its democratic movement may lose its agents. Democracy is the product of the balance of power between the government and civil society.

The transformation of the nuclear agreement from temporary to permanent, improvement of Iran’s relationship with Western governments, rekindling of ties between Iran and the United States, lifting of all the economic sanctions and alleviation of foreign threats can help empower the people through their mobilization and expansion of civil society. In that sense, the regime’s focus and its supporters will not be on discovering conspiracies of foreign governments and military attacks to destroy the regime. Let’s not forget that democracy and human rights have a direct relationship with economic development.

Al-Monitor:  You have opposed US aid to Iranian dissidents and human rights activists. What are your key criticisms against such aid? What actions should foreign countries.. take or avoid ?

Ganji:  The opposition that I have spoken about consists of groups and people that advocate regime change in Iran, so they can come to power. It is not possible for the leaders of a country to be indebted to other foreign governments, including the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. In that case, they will become the greater powers’ pawns. Look at the groups that have received financial aid from foreign governments in the past 35 years. What have they done? Do their terrorist and espionage activities constitute human rights activism, or are such activities considered criminal in all countries, including the United States and Israel, and are they strongly punished?

However, I support educational financial aid, including student scholarships and research fellowships for scholars. Just think about what would have happened if the $1.5 trillion that was spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would have been used toward education and development of the Middle East, and how that would have changed the region. Why do Western governments, the United States included, not grant scholarships to tens of thousands of talented and smart Iranian youth as students in social sciences?

Western governments should protest all human rights violations; they should give ethical and spiritual support to pro-democracy and human rights activists; they should file complaints at the UN Human Rights Council and ease the process of bringing perpetrators to justice. Moreover, Western powers should stop selling weapons of torture and oppression to dictatorial regimes. Ultimately, they should allocate financial resources to form independent labor unions and improve the state of human rights.

Ganji: Human rights improved, still short of expectations in Iran – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Read more:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/iran/

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/03/rouhani-reform-nuclear-iran-politics-student-human-rights.html#ixzz2x3K4G8RK

“It’s human rights defenders that make human rights a reality”

December 17, 2013

This video clip was published on 5 December 2013 by the International Service for Human RightsHuman Rights experts, Hina Jilani, Mehr Khan Williams, Jean-Daniel Vigny, and Walter Kalin tell us why human rights defenders play a critical role and why supporting them is a good way to support the whole global human rights movement.

Prayer for Human Rights Defenders by Robert Fulghum

October 23, 2011

At the luncheon in honor of MEA Laureates of the MEA Kasha J. Nabagesera and Muhanad Al-Hassani on 13 October in Geneva, Robert Fulghum, well-known author and Patron of the MEA, asked me to read what he would have said if he could have come to the event. I think it is so beautiful and pertinent to human rights defenders and their supporters worldwide that I share it with you here. I am sure Robert Fulghum would have no problem with anybody using it as long as credit is given:

 

Please do not bow your heads, but allow your eyes to look around the room and notice those present.

Know that the finest blessing a meal can have is the presence of great company.

With such companions as these this meal could not be more blessed.

What the gods may do is often difficult to discern or understand.

What people like you do and continue to do is clear :

  to lift and set free the human spirit

  to keep alive the flame of basic rights

  and to support those men and women are willing to live and to die for the sake of human freedom.

May the meal sustain your bodies as your values sustain meaning in your lives.

May those who are not here to share this meal know that bread is being broken here for their sake.

May the cause of human rights never end, but go on as long as human beings are on the earth.

Let us continue . . .

Amen.”