Posts Tagged ‘UNHCR’

Louise Arbour of Canada appointed Special Representative for International Migration

March 13, 2017

On 9 March 2017 the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the appointment of Louise Arbour of Canada as his Special Representative for International Migration. The Special Representative will lead the follow-up to the 19 September 2016 High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.  Ms. Arbour will work with Member States, in partnership with other stakeholders, as they develop a first-ever global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.  She will lead United Nations advocacy efforts on international migration, provide policy advice and coordinate the engagement of United Nations entities on migration issues, particularly in implementing the migration-related components of the New York Declaration.  She previously served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  She is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  From 2009 to 2014, Ms. Arbour was President and CEO of the International Crisis Group.

Louise Arbour Walk of Fame 20150608

Louise Arbour smiles after having her star unveiled on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto on 8 June, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese (Canadian Press).

Talking about refugees, please note that the Sergio Vieira de Mello Lecture by Angelina Jolie on 15 March [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/27/angelina-jolie-gives-2017-sergio-vieira-de-mello-lecture-on-15-march-2017/] is ‘sold out’, but it will be streamed live on UN TV and UNHCR’s Facebook.

Sources:

Secretary-General Appoints Louise Arbour of Canada Special Representative for International Migration | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thehouse/first-ottawa-visit-by-trump-cabinet-member-focuses-on-security-border-1.4015295

The Situation of Human Rights Defenders – Amnesty International’s Statement to the UN Human Rights Council 2017

February 15, 2017

The document “The Situation of Human Rights Defenders – Item 3: Amnesty International’s Written Statement to the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February- 24 March 2017)” could of course be obtained directly from AI. However, I do it via: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58a195034.html, in order to highlight this very useful service provided by the documentation service of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which regularly gives links to documentation concerning countries of origin of refugees. The entry will look like this:

Title The Situation of Human Rights Defenders – Item 3: Amnesty International’s Written Statement to the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February- 24 March 2017)
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 13 February 2017
Topics Human rights activists | Human rights and fundamental freedoms
Reference IOR 40/5647/2017
Cite as Amnesty International, The Situation of Human Rights Defenders – Item 3: Amnesty International’s Written Statement to the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February- 24 March 2017), 13 February 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58a195034.html %5Baccessed 13 February 2017]
Disclaimer

In their submission AI states in part:

In 1998 the international community adopted, by consensus, the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms thereby recognising the importance that civil society actors play in the defence of the values that underpin human rights. The Declaration stresses that we all have a role to fulfil as human rights defenders and urges States particularly to protect human rights defenders from harm as a consequence of their work.

However, almost two decades after that historical moment human rights defenders continue to be harassed, tortured, jailed and killed for speaking out against injustice. During the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in the USA last year, the security forces used excessive and unnecessary force when arresting members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous communities who oppose its construction.

Over 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed since the Declaration was adopted in 1998 and according to recent figures released by Frontline Defenders, the number of killings in 2016 marked an increase in the number reported in the previous year.

These killings usually occur after threats and warnings. Berta Cáceres, the leading indigenous, environmental and women’s rights defender from Honduras was killed in March 2016 despite enjoying a high national and international profile. In the aftermath of her killing, Honduras was under increased pressure to protect its human rights defenders, nonetheless, in October 2016, José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George of the Unified Movement of the Aguán were murdered, and currently international organization Global Witness, along with Honduran organizations MILPAH, COPINH and CEHPRODEC are facing a smear campaign against them for their work defending land, territory and environmental rights.

Amnesty International also continues to receive reports of human rights defenders being subjected to unfounded criminal proceedings, arbitrary detention and judicial harassment, which prevents them from speaking up against injustice, delegitimizes their causes and creates a chilling effect on activities that promote human rights. Human rights defender Narges Mohammadi is serving 22 years’ imprisonment after being convicted of national security related charges in Iran. Her conviction stems from her peaceful human rights activities, including her work to end the death penalty and her 2014 meeting with the former European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In Egypt civil society has been subjected to an unprecedented crackdown. In 2016, the authorities intensified a criminal inquiry into NGOs’ registration and foreign funding that could lead to criminal prosecution and sentences reaching up to life imprisonment. The authorities have also subjected NGO personnel to interrogation, freezing of personal and organizational assets, preventing leading human rights defenders from foreign travel, arbitrary arrest and detention.

Amnesty International notes with concern that the organisations, networks and methods people rely on to stand up for their communities are also attacked. Unions are threatened. Lawyers and activists in China have been ill- treated and sometimes tortured in detention. In Pakistan, human rights defenders are labeled as ‘foreign-agents’. In Viet Nam, attacks against human rights defenders are common, and include beatings and daily harassment and surveillance.

In other parts of the world, newspapers are closed down. Social media are banned and digital conversations monitored. Taking to the streets to protest is impossible.

In Turkey, against the backdrop of the failed military coup in 2016, unfair criminal prosecutions under criminal defamation and counter-terrorism laws targeted political activists, journalists and other critics of public officials or government policy. Over 180 media outlets have been arbitrarily shut down and 80 journalists remain in pre-trial detention.

States also repeatedly interfere with human rights defenders’ ability to communicate safely and expose human rights violations to regional and international human rights mechanisms, including this Council and its mechanisms. Recently the Special Rapporteur on the situation on the situation of human rights defenders noted, with great concern, the number of human rights defenders that received social media threats simply for meeting with him on his visit to Mexico at the beginning of this year.

In Burundi in January 2017, the Bujumbura Court of Appeal ruled to disbar three lawyers and suspend another. Each had contributed to a civil society report to the UN Committee against Torture prior to its review of the country in July 2016. The permanent closure of five human rights organizations and the suspension of five others was ordered in October 2016 on the allegation that they tarnished the image of the country. One of the suspended organizations was later banned following publication of a controversial report.

……..Amnesty International urges the Human Rights Council to:

  1. Renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and cooperate fully with it, including by encouraging swift and comprehensive responses to communications from the Special Rapporteur and acceptance of requests for country visits.
  2. Reaffirm that protecting human rights is necessary for individuals to live in dignity, and that deepening respect for these fundamental freedoms lays the foundation for stable, safe and just societies;
  3. Recognize the legitimacy of human rights defenders and applaud the role they play in the advancement of human rights, and urge States to facilitate and publicly support their work;
  4. Urge States to adopt and implement legislation which recognises and protects human rights defenders;
  5. Stress the urgent need for all States to establish national protection mechanisms for human rights defenders at risk;
  6. Urge States effectively to address threats, attacks, harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders, including, where applicable, by thoroughly, promptly and independently investigating human rights violations and abuses against them and bringing alleged perpetrators to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, and providing effective remedies and adequate reparations to the victims;
  7. Urge States to ensure that the criminal justice system or civil litigation is not misused to target nor harass human rights defenders;
  8. Refrain from bringing criminal charges or, other judicial proceedings or taking administrative measures against human rights defenders because of the peaceful exercise of their rights;
  9. Ensure that those who challenge injustice peacefully are not portrayed as threats to security, development or traditional values;
  10. Emphasize the fact that human rights defenders who work on gender equality, women’s rights or LGBTIQ rights face particular risk of being subjected to certain forms of violence and other violations that need to be particularly addressed;
  11. Pay particular attention to other groups who may be at risk, such as those who work for economic, social and cultural rights, defenders who work in the area of business and human rights; in an area exposed to internal conflict or a natural disaster; defenders living in isolated regions or conflict zones; and defenders working on past abuses, such as the families of victims of enforced disappearance;
  12. Condemn any acts of intimidation or reprisals against human rights defenders who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights mechanism;
  13. Urge States to cooperate fully with the recently mandated Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights to prevent, end and redress acts of reprisal and intimidation.

Source: Refworld | The Situation of Human Rights Defenders – Item 3: Amnesty International’s Written Statement to the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February- 24 March 2017)

Greek Volunteers share UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2016

September 6, 2016

Today, 6 September, UNHCR announced that the Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi of “PIKPA village” on Lesvos are the joint winners of  the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award. Read why:.. Read the rest of this entry »

UNHCR extends Nansen Refugee Award nominations until 25 April 2016

April 18, 2016

The UN Refugee Agency is inviting further nominations for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016 until 25 April 2016. For more information on this humanitarian award for an individual or group who has gone beyond the call of duty to assist refugees, internally displaced or stateless persons, see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/nansen-medal.

Nominations made during this additional period will join nominations from the previous round which closed on 8 February 2016. The winner will be announced in September 2016. Anyone can submit a candidate for the Nansen Refugee Award at www.unhcr.org/nansen.

Source: UNHCR – UNHCR reopens Nansen Refugee Award nominations for 2016

for last year see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/nansen-refugee-award-to-afghan-refugee-teacher/

Thailand returns recognized refugees to China (and falsely claims they did not know about their status)

December 8, 2015

Anneliese Mcauliffe in Al Jazeera on 6 December 2015 reported that two Chinese human rights defenders recognised as UN refugees were forcibly deported from Thailand to China last month and have appeared on Chinese state-run television and confessed to human-trafficking offenses. CCTV reported that Jiang Yefei was arrested for “assisting others to illegally cross the national border”, and Dong Guangping was charged with using a trafficking network to flee China while awaiting trial on sedition charges. It was the first time the two men were seen since being taken from a detention centre in the Thai capital Bangkok in November and deported to China.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filippo Grandi new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

November 12, 2015

On 11 November 2015 the Secretary-General of the United Nations, following consultations with the regional groups, announced that Filippo Grandi of Italy is to be the new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). filippo_portrait_lng

This is good news for the organization and the millions of refugees as Filippo brings enormous humanitarian experience with him: He was Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 2010 to 2014 and it’s Deputy Commissioner-General from 2005 until 2010.  He served as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and has a long-standing career with UNHCR (1988-2004), notably as Chief of Mission in Afghanistan and Chief of Staff in the High Commissioner’s Executive Office.  His vast field experience includes various positions in Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, having also led emergency operations in Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen.

Filippo Grandi was born in Milan in 1957. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the State Universities of Venice and Milan, and from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Source: Secretary-General Nominates Filippo Grandi of Italy United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases

UNHCR launches 2015 World Refugee Day with celebrity support

June 17, 2015

For World Refugee Day 2015 (20 June) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] has released several films featuring celebrity supporters that tell the human side of the refugee plight. This years’ campaign aims to bring the public closer to the story, showing refugees as ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances. World Refugee Day 2015 is marked against a backdrop of multiple conflicts, growing numbers of forcibly displaced people and a rising tide of intolerance and xenophobia in many parts of the world.

The films feature UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and best-selling author, Khaled Hosseini, photographer and supermodel Helena Christensen, singer/songwriter Maher Zain and actor Jung Woo-Sung . The films were recorded during recent field visits. Each supporter introduces an individual refugee and their story. These films and other refugee stories can be found on UNHCR’s Campaign website: www.refugeeday.org.

UNHCR offices in some 120 countries are planning various events including the film première of Salam Neighbor in Washington D.C.

 

The site www.refugeeday.org features stories from refugees who describe in their own words their own passions and interests; cooking, music, poetry, or sports. Through their testimonials UNHCR aims to show that these are ordinary people living through extraordinary times.

via UNHCR – UNHCR launches its 2015 World Refugee Day Campaign.

2014 Nansen Award ceremony for Butterflies – video

November 23, 2014

To my horror I see that I missed this year’s Nansen Award. Rectified with the video clip above which was published on 1 October , 2014 by UNHCR.  UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, presented the Colombian women’s rights group, Butterflies with New Wings Building a Future, with the Nansen Refugee Award in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday 29 September. The courageous Colombian women’s rights network received the award for its outstanding work to help victims of forced displacement and sexual abuse in Buenaventura, Colombia.

The Nansen Refugee Award marked its 60th anniversary this year. see also: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/nansen-medal

Learn more: www.unhcr.org/nansen

UN: Turkey received as many Syrian refugees in three days as Europe did in three years

September 25, 2014

This post is not directly related to Human Rights Defenders, but the numbers in this press statement of 24 September 2014 are so striking that I could not  resist: 

Melissa Fleming

A spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees at the UN, Melissa Fleming, revealed that “Turkey received 138,000 [Syrian] refugees in three days, which is equivalent to what was received by Europe throughout the past three years,” Anadolu news agency reported.

UN: Turkey received as many Syrian refugees in three days as Europe did in three years.

Victims become human rights defenders against Female Genital Mutilation

March 29, 2014

On 7 March 2014 UNHCR published a series of 6 videos on female genital mutilation (FGM), Too Much Pain, with stories of refugee women who have undergone FGM and have become human rights defenders engaged to end this practice. These women explain their experiences of flight, asylum and integration in the EU. These video clips deserve much wider recognition.

In Part 1, refugee women talk about why they had to flee because of their commitment to end the practice. The other videos explain that FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health and physical integrity; the right to be free from torture and other rights. FGM is harmful not cultural; it has life-long consequences and can be a ground for asylum. (See all videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtPw-Y91GlmWvO9wxMUW-Ey3eMY2vwWYZ )

This video complements the UNHCR publication Too Much Pain: Female Genital Mutilation & Asylum in the European Union – A Statistical Overview, and updated in March 2014 (see here: http://goo.gl/lDnCRJ).