23 MARCH 2012 / GLOBAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FORUM ADOPTS ‘ISTANBUL DECLARATION’ URGING ACTION AT ‘RIO+20’: Delegates to the first Global Human Development Forum unanimously adopted an “Istanbul Declaration” calling on the world community to take bold action against global social inequities and environmental deterioration at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio this June. The Istanbul Declaration was adopted by consensus at the conclusion of the two-day Global Human Development Forum, a gathering of more than 200 leading development experts, civil society activists, government ministers, private sector representatives and UN officials from all regions of the world. The Forum was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of Development. The Declaration stresses the need for global and national development strategies to put “strong emphasis on social inclusion, social protection, and equity, in recognition of the fact that economic development has too often gone hand in hand with environmental degradation and increased inequality.” Access the Declaration here.
22 MARCH 2012 / UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON THE ISSUE OF BIRTH REGISTRATION [Contributed with thanks by Melinda Henry, WHO Geneva]: The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.24) dedicated to the issue of birth registration and legal identity for all without any discrimination. The resolution was adopted unanimously without requiring a vote, indicating a wider acceptance of the need for birth registration among member States. WHO estimates that 40 million or approximately one third of births are not registered each year. Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, commented, “Lack of birth registration not only impacts the enjoyment of rights to which all persons are entitled, but may also hinder access to a range of essential services, including health care. Moreover, without data on births, national governments will not have credible evidence as a basis for planning, implementing and monitoring public health policies and programmes, and the global community will have less facility in reaching internationally-agreed development goals.” Read more here and access the resolution here.
22 March 2012 / STATEMENT BY UN WATER AND SANITATION EXPERT CATARINA DE ALBUQUERQUE ON WORLD WATER DAY: On World Water Day, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, called on countries not to go back on their decisions to recognize the right to water and sanitation for all, and act consistently with them. The right to water and sanitation was explicitly recognised by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in 2010. “States are wasting their time on re-negotiating their own decisions rather than moving forward to implement the right to water and sanitation for all,” Ms. de Albuquerque stressed. “In order to achieve the future we want, we need to again underline our commitments to the human right to water and sanitation. We need to speak up for the millions who are marginalized and forgotten.” Ms. De Albuquerque further stressed, “we should not forget that billions still lack a safe supply of water and access to safe sanitation.” Read more of the statement here. To learn more, click here.
19 MARCH 2012 / RIO+20: NO GLOBAL GOALS WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY SAY OVER 20 UN EXPERTS [Contributed with thanks by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDOCO, New York]: In an open letter to world Governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals. “Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” the rights experts warned, raising the bar for what the conference can and should achieve. “Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said. They further state: “Human rights must now be the glue in Rio: they must bind countries to the commitments they make. States have an opportunity in Rio to create the transformative changes needed or else fare no better than in previous global attempts in this regard.” Access the full open letter here. For more information on Rio+20, click here.
13 MARCH 2012 / MAASTRICHT PRINCIPLES ON EXTRATERRITORIAL OBLIGATIONS OF STATES IN THE AREAS OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS: The Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were officially launched at a side event during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. They were elaborated by 44 international legal experts after years of extensive study and adopted by the experts in their individual capacity. Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) refer to the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfill a person’s human rights not only within, but also outside their territories. In the light of the ongoing globalization processes, it is inevitable to take into account the international dimension of human rights in policy-making. Nevertheless, ETOs have often gone unrecognized in law, policy and practice of many States, as they have tended to limit obligations to their own territory. The situation is particularly challenging in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. Click here to watch a video of Professor Coomans of the University of Maastricht describe the importance of the newly launched Maastricht Principles. Access the Maastricht principles here; access a commentary by international human rights experts here.
08 MARCH 2012 / RELEASE OF UN JOINT STATEMENT ON COMPULSORY DETENTION AND REHABILITATION CENTRES FOR DRUG USERS, SEX WORKERS AND CHILD VICTIMS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: United Nations entities have released a Joint Statement on Compulsory Detention and Rehabilitation Centres for Drug Users, Sex Workers and Child Victims of Sexual Exploitation. The Statement has been endorsed by the Principals of all the co-branding agencies. The Statement articulates UN principles and joint concerns and will provide a strong platform for support to Member States to implement voluntary and evidence-informed alternatives to compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres, for drug users, people involved in sex work, and children who have been victims of sexual exploitation. To access the statement, please click here.
08 MARCH 2012 / STATEMENT BY UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, ITS CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES TO EMPOWER WOMEN, PARTICULARLY RURAL WOMEN: On International Women’s Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, called on States to promote, in particular, the social, cultural, and economic rights of rural women: “Violence against women results from a complex interplay of individual, family, community and social factors. I have emphasised the need for a holistic approach that does not treat all women homogenously, but recognizes that discrimination and violence affect women in different ways depending on how they are positioned within different social, economic and cultural contexts… I call upon States and other stakeholders to step up efforts aimed at empowering women, particularly rural women. The active participation of women in development and poverty reduction programmes is an issue of utmost importance to tackle and eliminate the structural causes of violence against women.”
Access the full statement here.
08 MARCH 2012 / UN WOMEN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MICHELLE BACHELET CALLS FOR WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN ALL SPHERES OF LIFE AS FUNDAMENTAL TO DEMOCRACY AND JUSTICE: Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet commemorated International Women’s Day on 08 March 2012 in Morocco, in solidarity with women striving for equality. Calling for women’s increased political participation and economic empowerment, with a focus this year on rural women, Ms. Bachelet underlined urgent actions needed to ensure gender equality, in her 2012 International Women’s Day message, including the need for women in the region to be fully involved in the democratic transition process. The official UN observance for International Women’s Day, with the theme “Empower Rural Women: End Poverty and Hunger,” was held at UN Headquarters in New York on 7 March. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the event along with other high-level officials and activists who work on issues related to rural women worldwide. Ms. Bachelet joined the gathering through a video message.
NEWS FROM HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES
27 FEBRUARY – 23 MARCH 2012 / HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONCLUDES 19TH SESSION: On 23 March the Human Rights Council concluded its 19th regular session, adopting 41 texts on a wide range of issues, including appointing a Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. There is a current call for applications for the expert with an appointment expected during the upcoming 20th session of the HRC. Access the resolution here and access information about the application process here. The Council also extended mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on Iran, on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and on Myanmar, and the mandate of the Special Procedure in the field of cultural rights, for a period of three years, as a Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. At the request of the Haitian authorities, the Council extended for one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in this country. It also extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and requested the Commission to conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures, and to publish it periodically. For more information, click here. A full list of resolutions adopted during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council can be found here.
07 MARCH 2012 / THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST EVER PANEL DEBATE ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY: On 07 March the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first dedicated discussion on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. The debate opened with a recorded video address from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon who iterated that discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was a monumental stain on the collective conscience and a violation of international law. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, made a statement against ‘bigotry and intolerance’ and clearly affirmed the primacy of international human rights law while noting that currently 76 countries had laws that either explicitly criminalized or prohibited same-sex relations between consenting adults. The full panel discussion can be viewed here. The session also saw the delivery of a joint statement by A-status NHRIs, supporting the call for dialogue and reaffirming that the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is integrated into the existing international legal framework that States have committed to protecting. Read more here.
21 MARCH 2012 / UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS ANNUAL THEMATIC DISCUSSION ON SHARING BEST PRACTICES AND PROMOTING TECHNICAL COOPERATION: PAVING THE WAY TOWARDS THE SECOND CYCLE OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR): The Human Rights Council held a thematic discussion on sharing best practices and promoting technical cooperation in paving the way towards the 2nd cycle of the UPR. The focus of the discussion was on practical aspects of technical cooperation as an important tool to help countries with a lack of resources overcome challenges to implementing UPR recommendations including what kind of cooperation is needed and how relevant UN agencies can provide assistance. Discussants included inter alia the High Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives from UNDP, the Kenya Stakeholders Coalition for the Universal Periodic Review and the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of the Philippines. Read more here [Fr].
UN WORK IN FOCUS
UNDG – HRM SENIOR POLICY RETREAT [Contributed with thanks by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDG New York]: On 17 February 2012, the UNDG – Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (HRM) organized a full-day senior policy retreat to discuss how to strengthen policy coherence across the UN in mainstreaming human rights. Specifically, the retreat aimed to define a common vision and strategy for mainstreaming human rights into the current and emerging development agendas, including the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) QCPR, Rio+20 and post-2015 development agenda. Some 25 participants, including senior officials and human rights focal points from DESA, FAO, ILO, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNEP, UNFPA, UNDOCO, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNWOMEN and WHO attended the retreat. The Resident Coordinators (RCs) of Venezuela and the Republic of Congo shared their views during the discussion based on their experiences in mainstreaming human rights. Participants engaged in a frank, productive and substantive dialogue on key policy issues confronting the UNDG and emphasized the importance of ensuring that Rio+20 and the QCPR integrate human rights as a fundamental aim of the UN. The retreat provided a useful forum for senior policy dialogue. It also facilitated initial steps towards the development of an Action Plan to further enhance policy and operational coherence, as well as advocacy on human rights and development.
02 MARCH / 43rd ANNUAL MEETING OF THE UN STATISTICAL COMMISSION STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF DATA ON PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: The Commission reviewed the progress made on collecting data and statistics about persons with disabilities. In a DESA hosted side-event the absence of a demand driven disability statistics culture and the importance of collecting specific data on persons with disabilities was stressed. The opportunity afforded through the data collection on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was discussed and a representative of UN-ESCAP, Margarita Guerrero, while stating that data was ‘scarce and sparse’, referred to Fiji, the Philippines, Mongolia and India as good practice for national efforts. Read more here.
AWARDS, LEARNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS / 2012 OHCHR MINORITIES FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME – ENGLISH LINGUISTIC COMPONENT / OHCHR: The Minority Fellowship Programme (MFP) aims to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, an opportunity to gain knowledge of the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights in general and minority rights in particular. The MFP is intended to assist organizations and communities in protecting and promoting the rights of minorities the fellows belong to. The MFP is interactive and consists of briefings on several topics (e.g. the UN system, OHCHR work, human rights mechanisms and instruments), fellows also undertake individual and group assignments. The 2012 English language component of the MFP will take place from 29 October to 30 November 2012, giving five (5) selected fellows the opportunity to learn more about the promotion and protection of minority rights, OHCHR, and the UN system as well give them an opportunity to attend the 5th session of the Forum on Minority Issues. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2012. The call for applications for the 2012 OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme – English linguistic component – is now open.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD AND THE ISSUES ADDRESSED IN THE RESOLUTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, WITH A FOCUS ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN: At its sixty-sixth session, in its resolution A/RES/66/141, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the rights of the child containing information on the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the issues addressed in the resolution on the rights of the child, with a focus on the rights of indigenous children. The report will focus mainly on: a) human rights of indigenous children, and b) General Measures of Implementation and indigenous children, c) culture and identity, d) survival and development, e) protection, and f) participation. Interested organizations and individuals are invited to submit a contribution (max. 3 pages plus attachments) in electronic format (preferably WORD) on the above mentioned issues or other issues related to indigenous children, by 30 April 2012. Please send your contributions, preferably in English or French, to Beatrice Duncan, Human Rights Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) or Nicola Brandt, Human Rights Specialist, Gender and Rights Unit, Division of Policy and Practice, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). For more information, please click here.
CALL FOR CASE STUDIES / IMPACTS OF FOREIGN DEBT ON WOMEN’S ESC RIGHTS [Contributed with thanks by Dominic Renfrey, International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights]: Dr. Cephas Lumina, the UN Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (ESC), is producing a report on the effects of foreign debt on Women’s ESC rights. The report will feature in an intervention at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June. In addition to being presented formally, it will be the focus of a side event during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. Further to this, Dr. Lumina is accepting inputs, preferably case studies of the impacts of foreign debt on Women’s ESC rights, from groups working in the Asia-Pacific region. To contribute case studies from the Asia Pacific region, contact Misun Woo at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD) by 24 April 2012. Groups from all other regions can contact Dominic Renfrey by 24 April 2012.
INVITATION TO STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION / WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES / FORUM ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: During its second session from 7 to 11 May, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold an open multi-stakeholder consultation to discuss the Forum on Business and Human Rights. Through this consultation, the Working Group seeks to solicit the views and recommendations of Governments, business representatives, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders on the methodology and thematic subject(s), as well as procedural matters, for the first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, as established by Human Rights Council resolution 17/4. A concept note to inform the consultation is available here. A listen-in number will be enabled to allow stakeholders who cannot attend in person to dial in and listen to the exchange. Stakeholders who are unable to attend may also submit their input to the discussion questions presented in the concept note in writing before 27 April to email@example.com. All stakeholders that will attend are invited to register for the consultation. Access information on how to register here. For any queries related to the consultation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORKSHOP / HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH TO PROGRAMMING AND RESULTS-BASED MANAGEMENT / UN SYSTEM STAFF COLLEGE: Taking place between the 4th and 8th of June, 2012 in Turin, Italy, the HRBA Workshop is designed for UN programme staff who seek to advance their skills to effectively apply HRBA and rights-based results-based management (RBM) tools and principles to their daily work, particularly for the UN Common Country Programming Process. The course is interactive in nature and will use real-time. Enrolment dates are between 01 March 2012 and 25 May 2012, inclusive. For more information on the course and to register, click here.
COURSE / SUMMER SCHOOL ON PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH UNITED NATIONS MECHANISMS / THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW CENTRE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM, UK: The Summer School will take place from 11 June to 15 June 2012 and will be led by key experts in the field. The focus throughout will be practical and applied: It will give participants an insider understanding of the mechanisms and will equip them with the tools to best use the UN system for the protection of human rights. The School will have sessions devoted to the human rights treaty bodies (the reporting and individual communications procedures), the Human Rights Council’s Universal Period Review Procedure, Special Procedures (UN human rights special rapporteurs, etc.), and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its field presences. The course is designed to benefit professionals in non-governmental organisations, national human rights institutions, governments, international governmental organisations, field operations, and interested academics and students. Further details on the 2012 Summer School, including contact details and names of expert speakers, please click here.
TRAINING PROGRAMME / JUSTICE SECTOR REFORM: APPLYING HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACHES / NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, MAYNOOTH [Contributed with thanks by Pamela Harney, International Human Rights Network]: The annual International Human Rights Network training programme will take place between June 25th and 29th, 2012. The programme is designed for people working in the justice sector or undertaking rule of law or governance assignments, or for justice sector personnel wishing to adapt their expertise for international consultancy work. Knowledge and skills enhanced include, amongst others: a) the legal principles, policies & practice underpinning human rights-based approaches to justice sector reform; b) the inter-linkages between justice sector roles (law enforcement, judiciary, corrections/rehabilitation, etc); c) the relationship between the justice sector and related terms – i.e. ‘security sector’, ‘rule of law’, ‘good governance’; d) human rights-based needs assessment, programme design, implementation, as well as monitoring & evaluation; e) case studies from national contexts as well as international field missions (including conflict and post-conflict); and f) teamwork, advocacy, strategic partnerships and consulting opportunities. Further information and application details, please click here.
COURSE / HUMAN RIGHTS FOR DEVELOPMENT (HR4DEV) COURSE / FLEMISH INTERUNIVERSITY RESEARCH NETWORK ON LAW AND DEVELOPMENT (LAW&DEV), THE CHILDREN’S RIGHTS KNOWLEDGE CENTRE (KeKi) AND THE INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT POLICY AND MANAGEMENT (UNIVERSITY OF ANTWERP): The international course “Human Rights for Development” (HR4DEV) will take place from 30 July to 10 August 2012 in Antwerp, Belgium. The training programme targets ‘leaders of the future’ in practice, policy and academia, from the South and North. Some questions to be addressed during the course include: What are the potential and limits of human rights for development? What is the added value of children’s rights’ approaches to global problems such as poverty, environmental challenges, armed conflict and migration? In addition, this course can be combined with a two-week programme on ‘Children’s Rights in a Globalized World: Critical Approaches’, which takes places from 12 to 24 August. The deadline for applications has been extended to 30 April 2012. Please click here for further details and to submit applications.
COURSE / INTENSIVE COURSE ON HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS: CONCEPTS, IMPLEMENTATION AND IMPACT / HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: This intensive course will be held June 11 – 13, 2012. Recognizing the importance and utility of the intersection between health and human rights, this three-day intensive program equips professionals and leaders with the concepts, skills and tools to integrate human rights into their professional activities. Participants will acquire an in-depth knowledge of international human rights and humanitarian law through the lens of real-world application, especially in contexts of poverty, conflict and social upheaval. For more information and to register please click here.
RESOURCES: WEBSITES, GUIDES AND TOOLS
GENDER EQUITY INDEX 2012: THE GAP HAS NOT REACHED AN “ACCEPTABLE” LEVEL IN ANY COUNTRY / SOCIAL WATCH: The Gender Equality Index (GEI) 2012, published by Social Watch, indicates that the achievements made by women all over the world towards equity in education are still very far from making an impact on their having a fair share in the economy or in political power. The GEI prepared annually by Social Watch measures the gap between women and men in education, economy and political empowerment. The index is an average of the inequalities in the three dimensions – literacy, economic participation and empowerment For more information, click here.
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS
REPORT / NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: GOOD PRACTICES TO ENSURE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN THE PAN-EUROPEAN REGION / UNECE: This report by the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE) highlights the need to address unequal water access in Europe, stressing certain populations such as rural communities and marginalized groups are still not getting this vital resource.It provides guidance on how to address water access disparities, and showcases successful policies that have been implemented by governments, water operators and civil society. The report further underscores that social inclusion policies are needed to be able to provide water access to marginalized and vulnerable groups such as the homeless, disabled, sick, or those living in unsanitary housing, who are often unable to get access to safe drinking water. Increasing water prices are also singled out as a key factor for unequal water access in European Union countries, with the report highlighting how tariffs and social protection measures can help consumers cover the costs. The report is available in English and French. The report brochure is available in English, French and Russian.
06 MARCH 2012 / REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF, HEINER BIELEFELDT: State-sanctioned religions risk alienating minorities and discriminating against members of other faiths, warned Heiner Bielefeldt, an independent United Nations human rights expert. Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where he presented his latest report on freedom of religion or belief and recognition issues, he urged governments around the world to ensure that ‘official’ religions do not discriminate against communities of other faiths within their jurisdictions. The new report explores the key issues affecting the right to religious freedom around the world – from the limits imposed on communities of faith by strict registration procedures to the potential risk that official State religions pose to minority groups. In addition, it distinguishes between three separate meanings of the concept of State ‘recognition’ of religion so as to avoid any potential misunderstandings which could affect freedom of religion or belief or even undermine it as a universal human right. He also called on States to offer “quick, transparent, fair, inclusive, and non-discriminatory” options for religious communities to achieve the status of legal personality, which is frequently necessary for a community to fully enjoy its freedom to worship. Access the report here.
06 MARCH 2012 / REPORT SUBMITTED BY THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD, OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter presented an official report, entitled ‘The right to an adequate diet: the agriculture-food-health nexus’ to the UN Human Rights Council on 06 March 2012. He warned that current food systems are making people sick: “One in seven people globally are undernourished, and many more suffer from the ‘hidden hunger’ of micronutrient deficiency, while 1.3 billion are overweight or obese.” Thus, “[f] aced with this public health crisis, we continue to prescribe medical remedies: nutrition pills and early-life nutrition strategies for those lacking in calories; slimming pills, lifestyle advice and calorie counting for the overweight. But we must tackle the systemic problems that generate poor nutrition in all its forms,” the independent expert said as he presented his report on nutrition to the UN Human Rights Council. Access the full report here.
05 MARCH 2012 / FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, MARGARET SEKAGGYA: The Special Rapporteur (the SR) on human rights defenders (HRDs), Margaret Sekaggya presented her fourth annual thematic report to the Human Rights Council (the Council). The report focused on HRDs at particular risk, including journalists and media workers, defenders working on environmental and land issues, and youth and student defenders. During the presentation of her report, Ms. Sekaggya noted that during the last year, the vulnerable groups highlighted in her report suffered both physical and legal harassment by State and non-State actors. “Journalists and media workers have been targeted because of their reports on human rights violations or because they were witnesses to human rights violations themselves”, said Ms. Sekaggya. Violations included killings, arrests, arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment. Furthermore, legal frameworks and tools such as censorship have been “used and abused” to restrict the work of HRDs. Read more here and click here to access the full report.
REPORT / COLLATERAL CONVICTS: CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED PARENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND GOOD PRACTICE FROM THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD DAY OF GENERAL DISCUSSION 2011 / THE QUAKER UNITED NATIONS OFFICE [Contributed with thanks by Rachel Brett, Quaker UN Office, Geneva]: The author, Oliver Robertson, draws together many of the examples of good policy and practice that were made at the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion (DGD) 2011, on the topic ‘Children of Incarcerated Parents’. It includes the written submissions made prior to the DGD, the oral interventions made by participants at the Day itself and at workshops before and after, and the speeches made by invited experts to the opening plenary session of the DGD. To access the report, click here.
REPORT / CHILDREN OF (ALLEGED) OFFENDERS: DRAFT FRAMEWORK FOR DECISION-MAKING / THE QUAKER UNITED NATIONS OFFICE [Contributed with thanks by Rachel Brett, Quaker UN Office, Geneva]: Authors Holly Mason-White and Helen F. Kearney provide a comprehensive exploration of the relevant child rights issues throughout the criminal justice process, from a parent’s arrest or detention to release following imprisonment. Suited to a diverse readership, it is possible to select only those stages of the process that may be immediately relevant (e.g. ‘arrest’ for police officers or ‘imprisonment’ for prison staff). To access the report, please click here. In addition, the authors welcome input from interested parties on the content, format and structure of this Draft Framework, and particularly welcome examples of good practice from countries not yet represented. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
ARTICLE / BRAZILIAN POLICY RESPONSES TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: GOVERNMENT STRATEGY AND THE HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIORS OF WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCE VIOLENCE / HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL: Despite a growing understanding of factors that may influence women’s vulnerability to violence and its effects, key questions about intervention options persist. Using evidence from a WHO household survey on domestic violence, the authors discuss women’s help-seeking patterns and consider these findings in relation to Brazil’s policies and strategies on violence against women. Findings from this survey indicate that the majority of women were likely to contact only informal sources of support, such as family, friends, and neighbors. Women who used formal services were primarily those who experienced more severe levels of violence, were severely injured, have children who witnessed the violence, or whose work was disrupted by the violence. To translate international standards and national policies into actions that genuinely reach women experiencing violence, states must carefully consider evidence on women’s options and decision making. Access the article here.
ARTICLE / INTERNATIONAL LAW’S INVISIBLE HAND AND THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS / JOURNAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: In May 2011, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises (SRSG), Professor John G Ruggie, submitted to the Human Rights Council his ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ aimed at implementing his ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ policy framework. The Council unanimously adopted the Guiding Principles at its June 2011 session. The author, Penelope Simons, contends that to address corporate impunity effectively, one cannot simply deal with the governance gaps alone. One must also identify and address the root causes of those gaps. She argues that corporate human rights impunity is deeply embedded in the international legal system and that along with the interventions of international financial institutions in the economies of developing states, one of the most significant impediments to corporate human rights accountability is the structure of the international legal system itself. It concludes with some recommendations for developing such obligations incrementally. To access the full article, click here.
ARTICLE / THE HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK IN CONTEMPORARY AGRARIAN STRUGGLES / JOURNAL OF PEASANT STUDIES: Important demands of contemporary rural social movements, such as the food sovereignty vision, have been increasingly framed as rights issues and by a rights discourse: for instance, food sovereignty is the ‘right’ of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sustainable methods, and their ‘right’ to define their own food systems. Historically, this concept may not be new. This issue of the ‘Grassroots Voices’ section of the Journal of Peasant Studies, guest edited by Sofia Monsalve of Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), attempts to shed light on why and how agrarian movements are now employing the human rights framework in their struggles, what have been the impacts of using it, and what are the limitations of using this framework to advance the cause of the rural poor. Access the full article here.
BULLETIN / QUARTERLY BULLETIN ON BUSINESS & CHILDREN / BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE CENTRE: The non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has launched a Quarterly Bulletin on Business & Children in the six languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The bulletin aims to draw global attention to the many ways in which companies impact children’s rights, both positively and negatively. It also seeks to keep people informed about the important work that a range of organizations are doing on business and children’s rights. Access a press release here and the bulletin in six languages here.
NEWSLETTER / DIPLOMACY TRAINING PROGRAMME / MARCH EDITION [Contributed with thanks by Andre Frankovits, University of Sydney]: The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) is an independent NGO which seeks to advance human rights and empower civil society in the Asia Pacific region through quality education and training, and the building of skills and capacity in non-governmental organisations and for individual human rights defenders and community advocates. DTP’s monthly newsletter, which provides information on programmes, projects, training opportunities, new publications, campaigns, urgent appeals, general human rights concerns and regional and country-specific news can be accessed here.
PRIMER / CENTRAL BANKS: DO THEY HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS? / A BOTTOM UP APPROACH TO RIGHTING FINANCIAL REGULATION [Contributed with thanks by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: In the second of a series of small briefs produced by the initiative “A bottom up approach to righting financial regulation” which comprises a consortium of networks and organizations with human rights advocacy mandates, the notion that Central Banks are independent is challenged. Central Banks, as organs of their governments, are subject to the human rights obligations of their governments. While the principle of the independence of Central Banks has frequently been used to shield them from transparency and accountability, the governance of central banks is a political choice, as derived from the legislative or administrative mandates that establish them. This new primer argues that “democratic central banks, as opposed to purely independent institutions, could be easier to hold to account to their human rights obligations.” To access the primer, please click here.
REPORT / WOMEN’S LIVES, WOMEN’S RIGHTS: CAMPAIGNING FOR MATERNAL HEALTH AND SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS / AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL [Contributed with thanks by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: Women and girls have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their sexual and reproductive health. Yet the discrimination they face means they are denied this right. When they die or are injured in pregnancy or childbirth the devastating impact of this denial of rights is only too clear. With access to health care, information and decision-making power, these deaths and injuries are easily preventable. The report urges governments to ensure that women and girls are able to claim their sexual and reproductive rights. Access the report in English, French and Spanish.
REPORT / GLOBAL REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS / WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL COALITION (WHRD IC): This new report features 43 case studies, which demonstrate the links and differences in women human rights defenders identities, working environments and the violations they face. The report analyses their experience through the examination of several contexts, such as militarization, and through particular thematic areas of work, such as reproductive rights. It points to the urgent need for increased, systematic and more thorough documentation of human rights violations against women human rights defenders and underlines the importance of recognising that the risks women’s rights defenders face differ from those of human rights defenders in general; risks can be gender-specific and often have gendered consequences, such as threats or violence of a sexual nature, verbal abuse which targets women rights defenders’ gender, or exclusion due to their gender. In order to ensure the effective, long-term protection of the rights of women human rights defenders, the report recommends that these defenders participate in the planning and application of strategies designed to protect and assist them. Access the report here.
HURITALK NETWORK HAPPENINGS
ONGOING / E-DISCUSSION / UN ENGAGEMENT WITH THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR) – OPPORTUNITIES AND STRATEGIES FOR UN AND NATIONAL PROGRAMMING: An e-Discussion on UN Engagement with the UPR has been launched and will run from 16 April to 28 May 2012, organized by HuriTALK and cross-posted on the UN Coordination Practice network (CPN-net) and UNDP’s Democratic Governance Practice network (DGP-net). As the first cycle of the UPR, reviewing the human rights records of all UN member states has come to an end and the second cycle will being in May 2012, it is timely to build on the knowledge generated in the first cycle and to expand the opportunities to utilize the UPR to advance UN and national programming, with a view of supporting member states in implementing UPR recommendations. You can participate in the e-Discussion via email if you are a member of HuriTALK or click here to receive an invitation to participate in the discussion on an online UN platform where you can post your comments and access relevant resources related to the discussion. We encourage you to share your knowledge and experience!