The UN Secretary-General released his annual report today on reprisals and intimidation against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN on human rights. Once again, the report identifies a very concerning number of threats and attacks aimed at silencing human rights defenders in retaliation for engaging with the UN, with evidence that a number of States have a strategy or systematic approach to obstructing and punishing those who give information, evidence or testimony in relation to human rights.
On 18 June, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) launched the ‘ASPIRE’ guidelines on a COVID-19 response free from discrimination against LGBTI persons.
In order for the African human rights system to function to its fullest potential, human rights defenders must be able to share crucial information and perspectives regarding situations on the ground. However, many defenders still face unacceptable risks and are unable to cooperate safely with the African human rights system.
Human rights defenders must be able to access and communicate with the UN freely and safely so that the UN can do its crucial work to monitor countries’ compliance with human rights obligations and protect victims from abuse. Some defenders are afraid of even attempting to engage with human rights mechanisms, yet the scale of this problem is unclear, and solutions to address it elusive. To respond to these challenges, ISHR launched a new study on the methodological challenges and opportunities inherent in measuring the impact of intimidation on engagement with the UN human rights system.
Defenders are crucial to the work of the UN Security Council. They bring critical information and perspectives regarding human rights situations on the ground and the Security Council depends on that knowledge and input to make informed decisions. However, many defenders face unacceptable risks and are unable to cooperate safely with the Security Council. In a new Policy Brief, ISHR sheds light on the situation of intimidation and reprisals related to the engagement of human rights defenders with the Security Council and provides concrete recommendations on how to prevent and address reprisals and intimidation in relation to that engagement.
ISHR’s ‘action sheets’ on diplomatic initiatives for the protection of human rights defenders are tools to enhance the impact of diplomatic guidelines and other forms of support to HRDs. They help defenders better leverage diplomatic support, and assist diplomatic representatives to provide better quality, consistent and targeted support to HRDs, including women human rights defenders, defenders working in restrictive environments and environmental human rights defenders.