Special event with Michel Forst on 2 December in London: Protection Regime HRDs

November 27, 2015

In an earlier post [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/new-tactics-in-human-rights-follows-up-on-the-protection-regime-of-hrds/] I referred to the latest Special Issue in OUP’s International Journal of Human Rights on ‘Critical Perspectives on the Security and Protection of Human Rights Defenders’, in which scholars and practitioners critically appraise the construction and functioning of this protection regime.

In this context there is an evening event in London on 2 December 2015 in collaboration with the Human Rights Researchers Network at Senate House, University of London from 6.00-8.30pm. Special guest at this event is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst.

Tickets are limited and available here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/critical-perspectives-on-the-security-and-protection-of-human-rights-defenders-tickets-19171391147

For the network see: http://www.sas.ac.uk/hrc/networks-study-groups/human-rights-researchers-network

On-line Tribute to Women Human Rights Defenders updated

November 26, 2015

AWID is an international, feminist, membership organisation committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights.  AWID honors feminists and Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) who have died and whose contributions to the advancement of human rights are very much missed. This tribute takes the form of an online photo exhibition featuring photographs and biographies of women’s rights leaders from around the world – was first launched at AWID’s 12th International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development, held in April 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey, and is updated every year as part of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence women human rights defenders(November 25 – December 10).

for last year: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/call-for-submissions-contribute-to-awids-tribute-to-women-human-rights-defenders-awid/

Source: WHRD Tribute | AWID

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:



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… 

In Memoriam for Indonesian Education campaigner Yanti Muchtar

November 24, 2015

A leading campaigner for adult education in Indonesia, Darmiyanti [Yanti] Muchtar, passed away on Tuesday 17 November 2015 after a long battle with cancer.

She was a noted feminist who had been part of the country’s women’s movement since the 1980s, she was a cofounder of Solidaritas Perempuan or the Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights group, and later joined Kapal Perempuan or the Women’s Ship Institute, where she once served as a director.

Kapal represented her passion for alternative education targeting adults in disadvantaged and marginalized communities. In her last months, Yanti’s colleagues said she continued working on numerous projects including a women’s education module.  Among her other passions was pushing for the passing of a draft law on domestic workers, in her capacity as a member of the Jala PRT advocacy network for domestic workers. The campaigner believed adult education was key to fighting illiteracy and promoting critical thinking.

Yanti, a sociology graduate from the University of Indonesia, completed a PhD at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, late last year, with a thesis on local Islamic politics in West Nusa Tenggara, under the supervision of sociologist Vedi R. Hadiz. Her thesis also reflected her concern for identity politics based on ethnicity and religion, while she championed equal rights for minorities and the marginalized, including women and low-income people, as well as equal recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and for interfaith couples.

For more see the Jakarta Post of 19 November:  Education campaigner Yanti Muchtar dies | The Jakarta Post

16 days of Activism: Stop Violence against SRHR defenders

November 24, 2015

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) calls for an end to the violence directed at SRHR defenders, as well as their recognition and protection as Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs). For those who are not familiar with the term: SRHR stand for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.The 16-day campaign encourages all to share stories and experiences on social media using the hashtags #SRHRvoices #SRHRheroes, speak out for the recognition of SRHR defenders as Women Human Rights Defenders and demand their protection.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign links two international days of action: 25 November, International Day of Action for Elimination of Violence against Women, and 10 December, International Human Rights Day. In between falls 29 November, International Women’s Human Rights Defenders Day.

WHRDs who work on sexual and reproductive rights issues have been recognized at particular risk of grave consequences because of their work, as they are often perceived to be “challenging accepted socio-cultural norms, traditions, perceptions and stereotypes about femininity, […] and the role and status of women in society“. Not only are the advocacy efforts of SRHR activists often shunned, ignored or feared by broader society, but they often find their own lives and well-being at risk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alberto Solis Castro explains the unbalanced power of government and businesses in Mexico

November 24, 2015

On 2 November the ISHR carries an interview with Alberto Solis Castro, a human rights defender concerned with the indigenous communities in Mexico.

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Ongoing police harassment against Imelda Urio and 35 other human rights defenders in Tanzania

November 23, 2015

With International Women Human Rights Defenders Day coming up (29 November) I will pay special attention to questions that concern them. Here a case of police harassment from Front Line concerning Tanzania:  Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental Human Rights Defender Muhammad Dairyman Indonesia

November 23, 2015

In the series Human Rights Defender Profiles [ISHR] this time: Muhammad Darisman, from West Java, Indonesia:

In the context of breakneck pace of economic development Muhammad Dairyman stands out. He currently partners with U.S.-based Worker Rights Consortium to monitor and improve working conditions in garment factories, but he is also the founder, since 2009, of a local NGO that raises awareness of occupational disease and victim’s rights. He has led campaigns to highlight the ongoing (and legal) use of asbestos in Indonesia and across the Asian region, and to raise awareness about the negative health impacts on workers and communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Contrasting views of human rights in business: World Bank and IT companies

November 19, 2015

Here two contrasting statements on the theme of business and human rights. One describes the hesitation of the World Bank to apply human rights criteria and even use the word human rights (posted in the Huffington post of 18 November 2015 by Nezir Sinani [www.twitter.com/NezirSinani] and Julia Radomski, and the other is a piece written by Owen Larter and Nicolas Patrick entitled “Microsoft & DLA Piper – Why Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders are Right for our Business” [published in the ISHR Monitor on 27 October 2015]. Read the rest of this entry »


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