Equal Rights – Equal Responsibilities

Human Rights Council, News

Civil society calls on the solidarity of member states of Human Rights Council

By on 13 July 2016

In an open letter to member states of the UN Human Rights Council, 244 civil society organizations including IAW call on the support and solidarity of member states in rejecting amendments to HRC32 draft resolution protecting civil society space. The draft resolution is to be considered for adoption at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council

Once adopted, the resolution will be a substantive contribution to the Council’s work to protect civil society space. Among other things it

  • Emphasizes the positive contribution of independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society topeace, security, sustainable development and human rights, and highlights good practice in protecting and supporting this role;
  • Provides useful guidance for States to ensure that legal and policy frameworks are enabling for civil society and prevent intimidation and reprisals against civil society actors;  Helps States and civil society to identify areas of legal, policy and administrative reform to safeguard the ability of civil society actors to fully exercise the rights to freedoms of expression, opinion, assembly and association, and to participate in democracy and public life, without hindrance. This includes on registration and reporting requirements, access to information, and securing resources for the vital work of civil society;
  • Creates opportunities and incentives for States to voluntarily share and develop their good practices, and to lay the groundwork to benefit from the transformative potential of a vibrant civil society in any healthy, pluralistic and participatory democracy;
  • Mandates OHCHR to study practices and procedures for civil society to contribute to the work of international and regional organisations, and consolidate best practices and challenges in that regard; and
  • Invites United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programs to themselves contribute to the protection and expansion of space for civil society.

However, fifteen amendments (L. 51 – L. 66) tabled by the Russian Federation3 seek to remove these essential elements from the draft resolution, and insert language to justify illegitimate restrictions on civil society that would undermine the protections of international human rights law. Many of the amendments challenge previously agreed HRC or General Assembly language.

Read the whole letter

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