Posts Tagged ‘UN Resolution’

UN archive on North Korean human rights violations to be established in Geneva

April 8, 2017

The 34th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, 2017

An archive of information and evidence on human rights abuses by the North Korean regime is to be established in Geneva. Quoting a report by the UN Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts (OPPBA), VOA explained that the independent archive, to be created in accordance with a North Korean human resolution adopted by the 34th UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), will be established in physically distant Geneva for the security and total confidentiality of sensitive information.The OPPBA was also quoted as saying a legal officer with at least seven years of experience would be needed to integrate and preserve information and evidence in connection with the archive’s establishment at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, along with another information management officer with at least five years of experience to conduct practical affairs. It also said its UN human rights office in Seoul would require three staffers: one international criminal system expert, one expert in South Korean criminal law, and one expert in interpreting for South Korean law. On 24 March 2017, the UNHRC adopted a North Korean resolution by non-voting agreement that recommends the international community’s cooperation in investigating responsibility in connection with the findings of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on crimes against humanity by the North Korean regime.The resolution suggested specific procedures and methods over the next two years for assigning responsibility for North Korea’s human rights abuses, including boosting the capabilities of the North Korean human rights office and OHCHR, establishing the archive, and appointing legal experts to collect and preserve information and evidence needed for procedures in investigating responsibility.

see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/20/north-korea-the-un-report-in-images/

Source: UN archive on N. Korean human rights abuses to be established in Geneva : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh

Reprisals reach even an international NGO attending the Human Rights Council in Geneva

June 13, 2016

This blog has always had a keen eye out for reprisals against human rights defenders as I believe strongly that this issue is one of the most crucial facing the human rights movement. See e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/. Now it turns out that Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), received a death threat during the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council (in March). Evidence strongly suggests that a diplomat working for the Russian Federation in Geneva and attending the Human Rights Council made this threat [see confirmation in link at the end of this piece]. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Human rights resolutions count at RightDocs

March 7, 2016

huridocs-signature-logo

has now launched RightDocs [see announcement https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/huridocs-launches-rightdoc-to-improve-access-to-un-human-rights-documents/] You can try it out yourself: #RightDocs. This tool is a work in progress, so in addition to adding new features, the website and experience will improve over time. Your feedback is welcome: feedback@right-docs.org.

Source: RightDocs – Where human rights resolutions count

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 »

Follow up on the Human Rights Defenders Resolution in the UN

December 5, 2015

Last week I wrote about how the UN Resolution on HRDs did in the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/unfortunately-the-un-voted-on-the-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/] and how South Africa has turned around [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/south-africa-does-about-turn-on-un-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/]. The date of the vote in the Plenary is not yet confirmed but is likely to be 18 or 21 December. The voting record is available: http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/70/docs/voting_sheets/L.46.Rev.1.pdf

Fourteen States voted no on the resolution (China, Russia, Syria, Burundi, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, North Korea, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan). In some of these countries civil society has expressed disappointment. e.g.

In Pakistan the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a statement issued on Tuesday, said: “At the same time, HRCP must express alarm and great disappointment that Pakistan chose to be one of the 14 nations that voted against the resolution.“ “While regretting Pakistan’s decision to oppose the resolution, the civil society is entitled to ask what rights defenders have done to deserve this step-motherly treatment. It is unfortunate that the government wishes to see civil society as an adversary. The civil society cannot, and must not, surrender its role as a watchdog for people’s rights because that constitutes an entitlement, by virtue of citizens’ social contract with the state, and not as a concession” “The HRCP also stresses people’s right to know through an explanation in parliament the reason why the government chose to deny the need for protection for HRDs, who include, besides human rights groups, journalists, lawyers, political and social activists.Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Civil Society Space – a euphemism for Killing Human Rights Defenders

November 30, 2015

The Huffington Post of 29 November 2015 carried a good piece by Brian Dooley (Human Rights First) under the title “When Closing Civil Society Space Means Killing Human Rights Defenders”. He states that “what sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion around “shrinking civil society space” are direct, violent attacks on human rights defenders.”

He refers to this year’s Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) which details killings of HRDs in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. And a Note by the UN Secretary-General in July this year included how “defenders also describe their sense that they are often on their own, with the media showing little interest in reporting acts of aggression against them and with little support from political figures…”

Read the rest of this entry »

South Africa does ‘about-turn’ on UN resolution on human rights defenders

November 30, 2015

In relation to my post of 26 November [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/unfortunately-the-un-voted-on-the-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/] there is an interesting development. South-African media, NGOs and human rights defenders (e.g. http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/11/27/We-join-the-bullies) criticized heavily the position taken by Government in voting against. Today Barry Bateman reports that the South African government appears to have done an about-turn on its position and will now support the resolution when the matter is referred to the full General Assembly in the next few days.  The Department of International Relations says the Africa group of members’ states had about 39 proposed amendments to the resolution following intense negotiations. The department raised concerns around the definition of a human rights defender, the responsibilities placed on sovereign parliaments and issues of NGO funding.  It says the resolution’s main sponsor introduced oral amendments at the last-minute without informing South Africa.  These amendments rendered the country’s concerns redundant.

India‘s Yes-vote was circumscribed by its statement that “stressed” that it does not feel it necessary to not create “any new obligations at national level”. Counterview  of 28 November takes issue with this citing examples of where human rights defenders in India are still missing protection. [see also: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/india-uk-narendra-modi-david-cameron-visit-human-rights]

In the meantime Khoo Ying Hooi writing in a post in the Malaysian Insider of 30 November welcomes the Yes-vote by Malaysia, but shares the skepticism of many local human rights defenders that it is mostly window-dressing way. (“Malaysia has in many instances not walked the talk when it comes to international commitments on human rights affairs. One glaring example is their lack of commitment to the peer-review mechanism, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the United Nations Human Rights Council. At this point of time, Malaysia’s adoption of the UN resolution in protecting human rights defenders does not reflect the reality back home. It was obvious that it is, at least for now, nothing more than diplomatic window dressing. While a UN resolution such as this would help in many ways, human rights protection must start at home.“)

Sources: Govt does ‘about-turn’ on its human rights defenders position

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/khoo-ying-hooi/article/malaysias-vote-on-protecting-human-rights-defenders-diplomatic-window-dress

http://www.counterview.net/2015/11/india-doesnt-need-new-legal-mechanism.html

Unfortunately the UN voted on the Resolution on human rights defenders!

November 26, 2015

The answer to yesterday’s post [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/will-the-un-today-adopt-the-strongest-possible-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-ask-over-100-ngos/] is that the UN did vote in favor but UNFORTUNATELY did have to vote at all. The unanimity by which UN resolutions on this topic were adopted since 1999 is now lost. But at least there is clarity: Russia and China were the main opponents.

In New York today, China and Russia broke the unanimity of the international community by requesting a vote on the resolution presented by Norway,” commented Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights House Network. The vote by 117 in favour of the resolution, against 14, and with 40 abstentions, in fact reflects the situation in which human rights defenders work in the countries that voted against the resolution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will the UN today adopt the strongest possible resolution on Human Rights Defenders? – ask over 100 NGOs

November 25, 2015

In a letter addressed to Member States, well over a hundred 100 international and national NGOs urged Members States to reject amendments intended to weaken the resolution on protection of human rights defenders, which will be adopted today, Wednesday, 25 November 2015 in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.
The resolution, as drafted, includes robust protection measures for human rights defenders, including the need to combat impunity for violence against human rights defenders and to release defenders who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms. With the recent attacks on human rights defenders in places such as Burundi where the prominent activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa and members of his family have been systematically attacked, it is time for UN Member States to take strong action to prevent and punish reprisals. However, amendments, tabled by the African Group, China, and Iran seek to dramatically weaken the resolution on human rights defenders and delete entire paragraphs regarding the need for their protection.At a time when the work of human rights defenders has become extraordinarily dangerous and increasingly criminalized in many states, it is important for Member States to send a strong message on the need to protect human rights defenders.

The text of the draft follows in toto:

SUPPORT THE DRAFT RESOLUTION ON RECOGNIZING THE ROLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND THE NEED FOR THEIR PROTECTION

Excellencies,

We write to you as a group of human rights defenders and civil society organizations located across the world working at national, regional and international levels. We write in regard to the draft resolution entitled ”Recognizing the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection“ currently being advanced in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, and due to be adopted on Wednesday 25 November 2015.

We urge your government to support the abovementioned resolution and to reject amendments, tabled by the African Group, China and Iran, designed to weaken the text.

Among other things, the proposed amendments remove references to the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, delete or weaken language regarding the need for their protection, and delete whole paragraphs related to the need to combat impunity for violations and abuses against defenders and the need to ensure adequate procedural safeguards in judicial proceedings. A call for the release of defenders detained or imprisoned in violation of international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms, is also proposed for deletion. In addition, the amendments introduce notions that States should only support and enable their work ‘as appropriate’, rather than in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other obligations arising under international human rights law

Human rights defenders make a vital contribution to the promotion and respect for human rights, democratic processes, securing and maintaining peace and security, and advancing development in our countries. However, in doing this work, defenders often face a range of violations and abuses at the hands of State and non-State actors. States must acknowledge the role of defenders and the specific risks they face, and commit to ensuring their protection.

Seventeen years ago, all States agreed to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, including State obligations to protect all human rights defenders working on all human rights. This commitment has been reiterated and built upon in subsequent General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions. We are therefore extremely concerned to hear that the abovementioned delegations have objected to several core elements of the draft resolution.

Based on consultations with over 500 defenders from 111 States, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders found that in the vast majority of States the situation for human rights defenders is deteriorating in law and in practice. He concluded that a lack of awareness regarding their vital and legitimate work, combined with a lack of political commitment and weak institutional arrangements for their protection, is placing them, their organisations and families at elevated risk.

 

The resolution as drafted reflects a number of these findings and makes a series of recommendations for States and other actors. Importantly, this year’s text includes a key focus on the implementation of the resolution itself. This will hopefully prompt States and other actors to move beyond rhetoric in addressing the challenges faced by human rights defenders and take action to ensure the implementation of the calls in the resolution.

We urge all States to live up to their human rights commitments by supporting this resolution, by rejecting amendments designed to weaken it, and by taking concrete steps to protect human rights defenders.

Sincerely, (names of the NGOs)

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/reprisals-states-must-r…