Posts Tagged ‘Uruguay’

Important side event in Geneva on ending reprisals coming up

September 12, 2018

On Wednesday 19 September (16:00-17:30 – Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva) the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is organizing a side event Ending reprisals: Discussion with human rights defenders and experts.

This event seeks to provide a space for human rights defenders and experts to shed light on the nature and extent of reprisals and intimidation against those cooperating with the UN; discuss and expand on the Secretary-General’s report; and to consider efforts to date to address reprisals and intimidation against those cooperating with the UN as well as ways to further develop and strengthen policies and practices to prevent and address reprisals.

Participants: 

  • Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights
  • Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • National human rights defenders

Moderator: Phil Lynch, Director of ISHR (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/06/08/ishr-new-report-on-reprisals-and-restrictions-against-ngo-participation-in-the-un/)

The event is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the Office of the United Nations.

Download the flyer here

some of my earlier posts on reprisals: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/reprisals/

The saga of the “anti-NGO” committee in the UN continues

February 9, 2018

This blog has several times paid attention to the rather weird situation that the UN “NGO Committee” (at NY level) has a rather negative attitude towards the very NGOs that it is supposed to assist. See e.g.:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/01/ngo-committee-of-the-un-shows-its-bizarre-bias-against-human-rights-ngos/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/05/04/ishr-starts-campaign-to-monitor-committee-that-throttles-ngo-access-to-the-un/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/02/08/un-committee-on-ngos-denies-ngo-the-right-to-speak/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/07/uns-ngo-committee-seems-not-very-fond-of-ngos/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/04/jean-daniel-vigny-hopes-to-improve-ngo-participation-at-the-un/

Now, on 29 January 2018, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) came out with the video above as well as the following statement:

A group of regional and international human rights NGOs was blocked from making a statement at the UN NGO Committee session today.  Despite a precedent set two years ago for the delivery of a general statement, all requests since have been refused.  Read here the NGOs’ call for leadership and reform:

Today a group of NGOs sought to deliver a general statement  urging the Committee to embrace the principles of transparency, accountability and accessibility in its work to ensure its practice is fair, expeditious and apolitical. The ECOSOC NGO Committee reviews applications for accreditation, providing a gateway for NGOs into the UN.  It has been much criticised – by States, UN officials and NGOs – for practices including repeated questioning of applicants and multiple deferrals of applications for no good reason. The NGOs’ attempt to speak was blocked.

ISHR along with Amnesty International, Civicus, Conectas Diretos Humanos, Human Rights Watch, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists and Outright Action International came with two key calls for Committee and observer States, related to participation and membership.

1/  The NGO Committee must provide for remote participation by accredited NGOs:

ECOSOC recently requested the NGO Committee to institute regular meetings with accredited NGOs in regard to the ‘evolving relationship’ between NGOs and the UN. Despite the fact that these have been required since 1996, the meeting scheduled to take place in the next months, will be the first. The NGOs urge that provision be made for remote participation by accredited NGOs unable to travel to New York for the meeting. ‘Clearly, access to UN conversations should not be limited to those who have resources to travel to New York or Geneva or other major UN hubs.  A diversity of voices should be heard,’ they note.  ‘We hope that States will ensure that the principle of accessibility to UN processes will be applied when defining working methods for the upcoming meeting.’

2/  States with good records on key freedoms should stand for membership of Committee:

Safeguarding civil society space at the UN is an essential component in the struggle to protect civil society space globally.  With this in mind, the NGOs call on all States with a commitment to defending the work of civil society to put themselves forward as candidates for the elections to the Committee in April. ‘Action to defend civil society space at the UN starts here at this very Committee’, say the NGOs.

Uruguay invokes ‘right to be heard’ as statement is blocked:

In response to China and Russia’s objections to the presentation of the NGO statement, Uruguay spoke forcefully in favour of hearing from civil society.  Opposition to the NGOs’ ‘right to be heard’ went against the principle of transparency in Committee practice, Uruguay said.  It also represented a step back by a Committee whose very mandate speaks to strengthening links between NGOs and the UN system.

Through their statement, civil society could provide insights that contribute to improving the work of the Committee,’  Uruguay noted. Hearing the statement ‘would allow the Committee to understand civil society’s ideas, experiences and expectations.’ The EU, UK and US also made statements of support.  These were not enough to overcome the opposition.

As we were not permitted to deliver our statement to the Committee today, we shall now request a written version be circulated to all ECOSOC members,‘ said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw, reflecting on the morning’s events. ‘We shall also look into ways to ensuring NGOs can make general statements at the Committee in future.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/ngo-committee-ngos-blocked-delivering-statement

Binding UN treaty needed for protection of environmental human rights defenders

June 11, 2014

Defenders of the environment often face terrible consequences for their actions, suffering rights violations and violence, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International to be released on June 26, during the 26th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council . “A new case of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights is reported to us on average once a week, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lucia Ortiz, of Friends of the Earth International. “Environmental defenders who uphold the right of communities to determine their own development path in opposition to corporate-driven mega projects are subject to many types of human rights abuses, often committed by corporations or on their behalf”.

Friends of the Earth International recorded more than 100 incidents of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights in 27 countries around the world in the period November 2011 – October 2013. More than half of the killings recorded were targeted assassinations of peasant leaders and deaths of peasants during violent confrontations regarding land disputes, often involving the protection of peasant territories from polluting development projects such as hydroelectric dams, monoculture plantations or the extraction of oil, gas and minerals.

The new report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations. [On may 7, 2014, a global alliance of civil society organizations known as the Treaty Alliance representing more than 500 groups called on UN Human Rights Council members to support an initiative in June that would begin a process towards creating an international legally binding treaty to address corporate human rights violations. For more information read: www.foei.org/news/groups-call-for-un-treaty-to-tackle-corporate-human-rights-violations/ –  A regulatory and enforcement framework that is legally binding for corporations has been proposed at the Council by a group of 84 nations since September 2013]

The following environmental defenders will be in Geneva on June 23-27:

1) Micaela Antonio Gonzalez from Guatemala and Victor Barro from Friends of the Earth Spain will expose the human rights violations by the Spanish company Hidralia in Guatemala.

2) Abeer Al Butmah from Friends of the Earth Palestine will expose the human rights violations by Israeli water company Mekorot in Palestine.

3) Godwin Ojo from Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe will expose the human rights violations by Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta.

4) Alberto Villarreal will expose the violations of the human right to health posed by the Philip Morris International challenge to the tobacco control legislation in Uruguay.

Friends of the Earth International is critical of ‘voluntary mechanisms’ such as the Global Compact and Ruggie’s UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and believes they have not reduced attacks on human rights defenders and are thus insufficient to protect human rights.

The report ‘We defend the environment, we defend human rights‘ is available at www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/human-rights-defenders-publications/we-defend-the-environment-we-defend-human-rights/

For some of my earlier posts on environmental issues and human rights defenders see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-issues/

Historic tribute to Human Rights Defenders by Uruguay

December 13, 2012

This blog – understandably – published a lot information critical of Governments. It is with pleasure to report something positive done by a State. On 12 December 2012, the Mission of Uruguay to the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted a public and ceremonial tribute to the Human Rights Defenders who took part in the struggle for human rights in the South American country during the military dictatorship that took place between 1973 and 1985. The public recognition – by name – of human rights defenders even 30 years later sets an example worth following by other countries with similar experience.

“We have some debts. Among them one of a moral order with the citizens of the United States as well as our Latin America. Today we want to express a heartfelt appreciation for the generous, lucid and courageous actions of solidarity in defense of human rights, in our country´s darkest hour,” said the Ambassador of Uruguay to the OAS, Milton Romani, who led the ceremony, held in the Patio Azteca of the hemispheric organization’s main building in Washington, DC.

The event was called “Teacher Elena Quinteros Day,” referring to the Uruguayan teacher who was abducted by the Uruguayan military inside the Embassy of Venezuela in Uruguay in June 1976 and whose arrest led to the severance of diplomatic relations between Montevideo and Caracas. The people honored by the Uruguayan mission to the OAS were: the Reverend Joe Eldridge, former Director of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and who lead the campaign by Julio Castro (first official case of a “disappeared” person presented before the OAS ); Doctor Robert Goldman and Jo Marie Griesgraber, who took part in the first humanitarian mission to Uruguay to confirm the allegations of human rights violations; Louise Popkin, who accompanied the former Uruguayan legislator Zelmar Michelini (murdered in Argentina in 1976) in his complaints and (former leader of the National Party of Uruguay) Wilson Ferreira Aldunate in his complaint to the U.S. Congress; Juan Mendez of Americas Watch (predecessor to Human Rights Watch); and Patricia “Polly” Pittman for their support of the exiles.

The Uruguayan mission to the OAS also paid tribute to the now deceased Julio Ramos, former Ambassador of Venezuela in Uruguay. The current Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the OAS, Roy Chaderton received the distinction on his behalf. In their addresses, Ambassador Chaderton and the rest of the honorees recalled their ties with Uruguay. http://www.flickr.com/photos/oasoea/8268180860/

“The lessons of this chapter are part of our guiding principles. These are not things of the past. They are present as a challenge to all of humanity facing injustice. Our ability to be outraged, to be supportive of one another, because inequalities are committed in the name of noble principles. In the name of peace, freedom and of democracy or revolution, or invoking reasons of state or religious reasons,” said Ambassador Romani. The Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the OAS said the victims’ perspective is “the only one that allows us to remember that “all human beings, born free and equal in dignity and rights and endowed as they are with reason and conscience, should act in a brotherly way toward one other.”

At the end of his speech, the Uruguayan diplomat said: “We have a strong commitment to the strengthening of the Inter-American Human Rights System. We affirm that making the system universal is urgent so that all states be equal before the law, that the autonomy and independence of all the organs are its fortresses.”

The video of the event is available on VIMEO: here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org