Tag Archives: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

[Resources] New Practical Guide for civil society on follow up on human rights recommendations-OHCHR

New Practical Guide for civil society on follow up on human rights recommendations
Launch in Geneva on 29 November 2013

How to ff up UN recom

The Guide describes methods and activities that civil society actors can use to promote the implementation of human rights recommendations as well as existing follow-up procedures and practices of UN human rights mechanisms and how civil society can participate.

Complemented by real experiences contributed by civil society actors and OHCHR field presences, the Guide offers a menu of options from which civil society actors can select on the basis of their own priorities and capacity.

The Guide is being translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. We will share translations once available in the coming weeks.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights will launch the Guide in an event in Geneva. The launch will take place on Friday 29 Novemberin Palais des Nations, room XXIII, Geneva.

Download guide from www.ohchr.org

Best regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Resources] Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders -HRD-P

Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders
by Human Rights Defenders- Pilipinas

Protecttion manual for HRD cover

Introduction

hrd-logo-sample-colored5The universality of human rights does not guarantee that it is indeed respected, protected, and fulfilled. On the other hand, cases of human rights violations persist, in the Philippines and all over the world. Hence, there is a need to raise people’s awareness on human rights and how to defend them.

According to the United Nations document Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29, “Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. Human rights defenders are identified above all by what they do…[1]

In summary, gathering and disseminating information, advocacy and the mobilization of public opinion are often the most common tools used by human rights defenders in their work…they also provide information to empower or train others. They participate actively in the provision of the material means necessary to make human rights a reality – building shelter, providing food, strengthening development, etc. They work at democratic transformation in order to increase the participation of people in the decision-making that shapes their lives and to strengthen good governance. They also contribute to the improvement of social, political and economic conditions, the reduction of social and political tensions, the building of peace, domestically and internationally, and the nurturing of national and international awareness of human rights.[2]

Sadly, those who defend human rights are the ones who often face risks and challenges. Human rights defenders have become victims of harassment, arrest and detention, vilification campaigns, sometimes, even torture, or worse, enforced disappearance, or extrajudicial killing. State authorities are the most common perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders.
Who will then defend the defenders in situations when the human rights defenders themselves become targets of attacks?

In recognition of the risks faced by human rights defenders, steps have been made by the United Nations, no less, to guarantee their protection.

The first major step was formally to define the “defence” of human rights as a right in itself and to recognize persons who undertake human rights work as “human rights defenders”. On 9 December 1998, by its resolution 53/144, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the “Declaration on human rights defenders”). The second step was taken in April 2000, when the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asked the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative on human rights defenders to monitor and support the implementation of the Declaration.

Despite positive developments on the protection of human rights defenders, there is a need for human rights defenders themselves to come up with comprehensive and realistic strategies to ensure their protection.

This manual aims to provide human rights defenders with practical knowledge and some effective tools that may be useful for improving their understanding on human rights defender’s security and protection. The manual is intended to help defenders to undertake their own risk assessments and define security rules and procedures which suit their particular situation.

Click to Download Entire Manual/Document: HRD PROTECTION MANUAL (1)

also available @renatomabunga.wordpress.com

[1] Human Rights Defenders: Protecting the Right to Defend Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 29, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva, April 2004.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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[Statement] by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Human Rights Day – 10 December 2012

Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Human Rights Day – 10 December 2012

source: ohchr.org

source: ohchr.org

Millions of people have gone on to the streets over the past few years, in countries all across the world, emboldened by what is happening elsewhere, some demanding civil and political rights, others demanding economic, social and cultural rights.

This groundswell is not simply a question of people demanding freedom of expression and freedom to say what they think and make clear what they want.

They are asking for much more than that. They are asking for an end to a situation where governments simply decide what is best for their populations without even consulting them. They are asking for their right to participate fully in the important decisions and policies affecting their daily lives, at the international, national and the local levels. Many people in many countries have been making it clear they are fed up with their leaders treating them with disdain and ignoring their needs, ambitions, fears and desires.

They have been, in effect, asking for what has been, for more than sixty years, under international law, rightfully theirs. They have been asking for the human rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which is commemorated every year on 10 December – and subsequently fleshed out in other binding international treaties.

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Every person shall have the right to vote and be elected, and to have access to public service, as well as to free expression, assembly and association. These are among the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which 167 States are party. And they have been restated in many similar ways in other laws and documents.

These rights are supposed to apply to everyone. No one should be excluded from any of them because they are female, belong to a minority, or worship a certain religion; or because they are gay, have a disability, have particular political beliefs, are migrants or belong to a certain racial or ethnic group. We all should have a voice that counts in our societies. We should all have free, active and meaningful participation in both economic and political affairs.

Unfortunately, many people don’t.

Instead they are ignored. Or, worse, they are actively persecuted, and the people who are trying to help them gain their rights – the human rights defenders – are intimidated, threatened, and persecuted as well. Sometimes, it is less deliberate, more insidious: certain individuals or groups are simply not given the opportunity: the opportunity to raise their voice, or use their brains and talents to achieve the successes of which they are capable, to climb out of poverty or achieve high office – or even any office.

Many millions of people cannot even dream of aiming high, they just dream of getting by – of surviving until tomorrow.

That may be because they have not been to school, or because they have no health care, no adequate shelter, insufficient food, and none of the basic rights and services that would give them the opportunity to build a better future.

Or it may be because they are specifically excluded from seizing opportunities by discriminatory laws or practices. Or because, through no fault of their own, they are stateless, citizens of nowhere, and therefore not only do not have a voice, but do not officially exist.

Or it may simply be because their leaders are so focused on their own grip on power and wealth that they simply don’t care what happens to those whose lives they govern. They’ll give just enough to keep people quiet and stop them protesting. If they are obstinate and raise their voice, they will lock them up, torture them or find other ways to distract them, silence them or make them disappear.

But in the past two years, people in many countries have raised the stakes, and made it clear that “just enough” is no longer good enough. In many countries, they have confronted their governments head on, not just in the Middle East and North Africa, but in other parts of the world as well, on issues covering the full range of fundamental civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights.

In a number of countries in recent months, we have continued to see the most extreme examples of rights being trampled underfoot. Many thousands of men, women and children tortured to death, raped, bombed, shelled, shot, forced from their homes, deprived of food, water, electricity and health care by their own governments or by armed groups, apparently intent on nothing more than their own hold on power. These are governments and non-state actors who are continuing to behave in a way that is the complete antithesis of everything we celebrate on Human Rights Day.

Today, I salute all those who have suffered so much seeking what is rightfully theirs, and all those people in other countries who in their own way – whether it is in Santiago or Cairo, Athens or Moscow, New York or New Delhi – are also saying we have a voice, we have our rights and we want to participate in the way our societies and economies are run.

Because that is how it should be.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Resources] Manual on human rights reporting under six major international human rights instruments -OHCHR

MANUAL ON
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING
UNDER SIX MAJOR INTERNATIONAL
HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS
UNITED NATIONS
Geneva, 1997

The promotion of the respect for human rights is one of the essential purposes of the United Nations. The commitment to “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all with out distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”, as stated in the Charter of the United Nations, has guided the Organization in its efforts towards setting and implementing standards in the area of international human rights.

The system of periodic reporting established within the context of all major international human rights instruments is the central element in monitoring the full and effective national implementation of international human rights standards. The reports submitted to independent expert bodies are expected to provide comprehensive information on the measures taken by a government to fulfil its commitments resulting from the ratification of or accession to a particular human rights convention. The reporting procedure establishes a government’s international accountability with regard to its human rights responsibilities.

Read complete guide @ www.ohchr.org

[Statement] ASEAN human rights activists call for a SOGI-INCLUSIVE ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

ASEAN human rights activists call for a SOGI-INCLUSIVE ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

The ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has worked hard to draft an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) that reflects the true commitment among Member States to upholding human rights, promotes adherence to recognized international human rights standards and meets ASEAN’s main goal: “strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, with due regard to the Rights and Responsibilities of the Member States of ASEAN .”

Under the ASEAN Charter, Member States reaffirm their adherence “to the fundamental principles contained in the declarations, agreements . . . and other instruments of ASEAN .” Member States undertake to“[Uphold] the United Nations (UN) Charter and international law, including international humanitarian law, subscribed to by ASEAN Member States .” In addition, Member States must comply with those rights, which now form part of customary international law and which are universally applicable.

The ASEAN Charter commits Member States to upholding the Charter of the United Nations, of which all ASEAN countries are members. Under the UN Charter, Member States pledge to maintain international peace and security, reaffirm their faith in the “dignity and worth of the human person,” and promote respect for human rights for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion .” The ASEAN Charter and ASEAN human rights bodies and declarations reinforce these principles.

Being one of ASEAN’s human rights bodies, AICHR must be guided by “respect for international human rights principles, including universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, non-discrimination, and avoidance of double standards and politicization .”

The recommendations listed in this submission have been formulated by groups and activists from the LGBT, women’s rights and human rights sectors, representing regions from across Asia. They have participated in local and regional workshops and consultations concerning the AHRD, including The Women’s Caucus, the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum and PhilWomen on ASEAN Workshop.

We believe that LGBT persons in Asia have the right to be included in the consultation process and have their recommendations scrutinized with non-biased and non-prejudiced eyes, free from discrimination and religious bigotry. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has noted: “no discussion of human rights can be complete or credible without significant input from civil society and national human rights institutions ”.

Seeing the value of the AHRD as a legal human rights document, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals across Southeast Asia aspire that the final document will recognize ASEAN’s obligations under the UN Charter and protect the rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) We believe that this will only be achieved with the cooperation of AICHR, and its willingness to include the human rights of LGBT individuals.

RATIONALE FOR THE INCLUSION OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY IN THE AHRD

Every ASEAN Member State is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). They are therefore bound by the terms of each of these treaties.

During the 32nd Session of CRC (March 2003), the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted sexual orientation in its General Comments No. 3 , which focuses on HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child. Similarly, during the 33rd Session of the CRC (July 2003), the Committee on the Rights of the Child made explicit reference to sexual orientation in its General Comment No. 4, which focuses on the Adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child .

The CRC is universally ratified within ASEAN and no ASEAN Member-State made any reservations on the non-discrimination provision of the CRC, which specifically mentioned sexual orientation as one of the protected categories under the CRC’s non-discrimination principle.

During the 47th Session of CEDAW (October 2010), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (“the CEDAW Committee”) adopted sexual orientation and gender identity in its General recommendation No. 27 , which focuses on older women and the protection of their human rights. Similarly, in General Recommendation No. 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of CEDAW , the CEDAW Committee made explicit reference to SOGI. The CEDAW Committee practice in the past has strongly urged states parties through its Concluding Observations for decriminalization where sexual orientation and related behavior is criminalized in the law .

Both General Recommendations clearly identify that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is inextricably linked with discrimination against women on the basis of sex or gender and that it must be prohibited and addressed under States’ CEDAW obligations.

Therefore, we propose that sexual orientation and gender identity be included in the AHRD:

GENERAL PRINCIPLE
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status. No one shall be discriminated against by any public authority or any third parties on any grounds. The State shall take action to eliminate both discrimination de jure (in law) and de facto (in fact).

The human rights of women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, migrants, victims of natural calamities, internally displaced persons, ethnic groups, indigenous peoples, and other vulnerable groups regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, are inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.

STATE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ASEAN MEMBER STATES
We propose this provision be included in the AHRD:

ASEAN Member States shall undertake to prohibit and to eliminate all forms of discrimination of any kind, including race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, social and legal status.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
We propose this provision be included in the AHRD:

Everyone regardless of gender, ethnic origin, social status, political opinion, language, age, nationality, or religion, sexual orientation and gender identity has a responsibility to treat all people in a humane way.

CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
We propose this provision be included in the AHRD:

Within the ambit of the law, no one shall be forcibly returned or transferred extradited to a place where he or she may face persecution on grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, social status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The promotion and protection of religious freedom, indigenous culture shall not prejudice nor be used to discriminate and/or violate the inherent human rights of person or people not in conformity with the religion and culture such as but not limited to those with diverse sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Every person has a right to form a family. The family is the basic unit of society (in lieu of “natural and fundamental unit of the society). ASEAN Member States shall recognize and protect the rights of all forms of families, without distinction on nationality or citizenship, sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes the right of migrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families to social services, co-own properties, and be recognized as rightful beneficiaries of the partners, with custody of their children.

All ASEAN Member States shall ensure that no religious beliefs or teachings should influence laws, and State policies nor it be imposed to all citizens in any ASEAN member state.

RIGHTS OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS
We propose this provision be included in the AHRD:

The human rights of vulnerable groups including women, children, persons with disabilities and elderly regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity are inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of universal human rights.

Migrant workers and members of their families within the territory or subject to the jurisdiction of any ASEAN member State shall enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction of any kind such as to sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, material status, disability, birth or other status.]
STATEMENT ENDORSED BY:
1. Anjaree Lesbian Organization – Thailand
2. Arnel Rostom Deiparines – Philippines
Arus Pelangi – Indonesia
3. B-Change Foundation, Philippines
4. B-Change Technology Pte. Ltd, Singapore
5. Burma Partnership
6. Coalition for the Liberation of the Reassigned Sex (COLORS) Cebu – Philippines
7. Colour Rainbow – Burma
8. Deaf Rainbow Philippines
9. Developed Asia Network for Sexual Diversity & HIV
10. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
11. Dr. Dédé Oetomo (shortlisted candidate, Indonesian National Human Rights Commission)
12. Eva Callueng – Philippines
13. For Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Rights Project (For-SOGI) – Thailand
14. Forum Komunikasi Waria se-Indonesia
15. Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia
16. Foundation For Women – Thailand
17. Galaya Club (Thailand)
18. GAYa NUSANTARA – Indonesia
19. Housing Rights Task Force – Cambodia
20. Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
21. Human Rights Working Group-Indonesia (HRWG)
22. Indonesia for Humans
23. Institut Perempuan (Women’s Institute) – Indonesia
24. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
25. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW – Asia Pacific)
26. Islands of Southeast Asia Network for Male & Transgender Sexual Health
27. Joy Cruz – Philippines
28. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS) – Malaysia
29. Lesbian Activism Project (LeAP!), Inc. – Philippines
30. LovePattaya (Thailand)
31. Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. – Philippines
32. Ms. Valentina Sagala – Indonesia
33. Nex Beñas representing AKEI – Philippines
34. Outrage Magazine
35. People Like Us – Singapore
36. Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights)
37. PhilWomen on ASEAN – Philippines
38. Poedjiati Tan – Representative Female, ILGA – ASIA
39. PT Foundation – Malaysia
40. Queer Pagan Network – Philippines
41. Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) – Philippines
42. Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT)
43. Sayoni – Singapore
44. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
45. Teeranat Kanjanauksorn Foundation (TKF) – Thailand
46. Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)
47. Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS
48. Thai Transgender Alliance
49. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
50. The Islands of Southeast Asian Network on Male and Transgender Sexual Health (ISEAN)
51. Viena Tanjung representing Pegerakan Indonesia – Youth Movement
52. Women Health Advocacy Foundation – Thailand
53. Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) – Philippines
54. YULI Rustinawati – Indonesia

ENDNOTES:
Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN Charter), art. 1(7) (2007)
ASEAN Charter, art. 2(1)
ASEAN Charter, art. 2(2)(j).
UN Charter, art. 1(3).
AICHR TOR, art. 2(2).
Civil society must play bigger role in human rights in South-East Asia – UN official, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40546
CRC/GC/2003/3 page 3
CRC/GC/2003/4 page 2
CEDAW/C/2010/47/GC.1
CEDAW/C/2010/47/GC.2
Concluding Observations to Kyrgyzstan CEDAW A/54/38 page 4 para 127-128

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] A one-of-a-kind UN Human Rights database -OHCHR

A one-of-a-kind UN Human Rights database

23 April 2012

Source: www.ohchr.org

The updated Universal Human Rights Index (UHRI) database is “one of the most important human rights research tools that has been created in the past twenty years,” according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. This comprehensive database is the only online tool, which brings together human rights recommendations from all parts of the UN system.

The Universal Human Rights Index database increases visibility, and offers easier access to recommendations on human rights, both key objectives of the UN Human Rights office, Pillay says. States, international organizations, NGOs, as well as individuals, have improved access to up-to-date human rights efforts worldwide.

At the relaunch celebration in March, 2012, Pillay said, “we have received very enthusiastic comments from States’ representatives, independent experts, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies, and researchers, noting that the amount of time required to undertake research has been dramatically reduced.”

Since December 2010, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is fully responsible for updating and further developing the Index, which had initially been developed by the Swiss authorities.

The UHRI database carries information dating back to 2000. Following its restructure, almost all of the documents dating from 2011 on are available in all six UN languages, and can be accessed by people with disabilities using technologies like screen readers. Additionally, each document now links to other related information in the database, which makes browsing easier.
A major inclusion in the updated UHRI is the new search function for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a regular review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Each State is assessed every four and a half years by a working group, made up of representatives from all 47 member states of the Human Rights Council.

The recommendations from the UPR are available on the database and can now be searched by country, by individual human right, by affected groups of people, and more. This information can then be easily cross-referenced with assessments from other UN bodies, so that users can get a very detailed picture of the human rights situations of all of Member States.

With the second round of the UPR about to commence, the High Commissioner has expressed her hope that the increased transparency and functionality provided by the UHRI database will encourage better prioritization and implementation of recommendations to improve States’ human rights.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] Indigenous Fellowship Programme -www.ohchr.org

Indigenous Fellowship Programme

English speaking programme (sessions imparted in English):

The English speaking component of the Indigenous Fellowship Programme (IFP) was established in 1997.

The Fellows are based at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland. The programme is an inter-active process, which consists of briefings on several topics (OHCHR’s mandate and activities, the UN system, Human Rights instruments and mechanisms, including those more specifically dealing with indigenous issues) and individual and group assignments.

Fellows will also have the opportunity to receive training/briefing sessions with other UN and specialized agencies (ILO, WIPO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNITAR) and with other international organizations and Geneva based Human Rights NGOs.

At the end of the Programme, each Fellow will have a general knowledge on the United Nations system, international human rights instruments and mechanisms, in particular those relevant to indigenous peoples and be capable of giving training sessions within their communities/organizations on the knowledge acquired.

Fellows attending the English speaking component of the programme are entitled to the following: a return ticket (economy class) from the country of residence to Geneva; modest accommodation in Geneva for the duration of the Programme; basic health insurance for the duration of the Programme; a monthly grant to cover other living expenses in Geneva.

New: In 2012, the English linguistic component of the IFP will run from 11 June to 13 July In 2012, the English linguistic component of the IFP will run from 11 June to 13 July and fellows will be able to participate in the session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Participants to the 2012 English linguistic component of the IFP are still in the process of being identified.

Please note that the deadline to receive applications for the 2013 English speaking programme is: Tuesday 1 May 2012.

For application online pls visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/IFP.aspx

[Event] Civil Society Update – Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human

Civil Society Update – Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change on the Full Enjoyment of Human

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Seminar on Addressing the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change
on the Full Enjoyment of Human Rights

23 – 24 February 2012
Room XII (12), Palais des Nations, Geneva

Dear All,

On behalf of the OHCHR Human Rights and Economic and Social Issues Section, we are pleased to send you the following message.

The “Human Rights and Climate Change” resolution (18/22) led by the Philippines and Bangladesh was adopted by the Human Rights Council on 30 September 2011. It was adopted without a vote with 43 cosponsors, including Costa Rica, Germany, the Maldives and Spain.

Pursuant to resolution 18/22, OHCHR is convening a seminar to “(a)ddress the adverse impacts of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights, with a view to following up on the call for respecting human rights in all climate change-related actions and policies, and forging stronger interface and cooperation between the human rights and climate change communities”. The seminar will build on the previous work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, such as the Social Forum and relevant special procedures, while taking into account the outcome of the 16th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 (COP16), and issues arising from the 17th session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention held in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 (COP 17).

Resolution 18/22 can be found at the following link : http://goo.gl/nQvo7

The seminar will be a public meeting held in Geneva at the Palais des Nations in RoomXII (12) on 23-24 February 2012 (10:00-18:00 with a lunch break during 13:00-15:00).

The High Commissioner for Human Right will be delivering a Key Note address during the Opening Session on Day 1 along with Dr Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace. Mary Robinson will be presiding over the meeting on Day 2.

Expert panelists and participants will include representatives from the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with States and other relevant stakeholders, including IOM, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO,as well as Ms Virginia Dandon, the UN Special Rapporteur on International Solidarity, Mr Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons, and environmental law and climate change advocates from academia and civil society.

The Concept Paper and the Draft Agenda can be found at the following links:

Concept Paper: http://goo.gl/24Ohu
Draft Agenda: http://goo.gl/Jy5KU

For additional information please contact: civilsociety@ohchr.org
Best regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656

Visit our website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/CivilSociety.aspx

Click here to join our mailing list: http://goo.gl/wmPyC

[Video] Video explaining the functioning of the UPR- www.upr-info.org

Video explaining the functioning of the UPR
Uploaded by UPRInfo on May 3, 2010

This video explains what is the Universal Periodic Review, a new human rights mechanism of the United Nations. It was prepared by UPR Info, an NGO dedicated to the promotion and strengthening of the UPR. Please visit our website http://www.upr-info.org for explanations, documents, news, analysis and a database on the UPR.

Read more

Basic facts about the Universal Periodic Review

Basic facts about the UPR


What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists.

How was the UPR established?

The UPR was established when the Human Rights Council was created on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly in resolution 60/251. This mandated the Council to “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States”. On 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting, members of the new Council agreed to its institution-building package (A/HRC/RES/5/1) providing a road map guiding the future work of the Council. One of the key elements of this package was the new Universal Periodic Review.

What is the goal of the UPR?

The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing States’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.

When will States have their human rights records reviewed by the UPR?

All UN Member States will be reviewed every four years – with 48 States reviewed each year. All the 47 members of the Council will be reviewed during their term of membership . On 21 September 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted a calendar detailing the order in which the 192 UN Member States will be considered during the first four-year cycle of the UPR (2008-2011). The reviews will take place during the sessions of the UPR Working Group (see below) which will meet three times a year.

Who conducts the review?

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States. Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs. The selection of the troikas for each State review is done through a drawing of lots prior for each Working Group session.

What are the reviews based on?

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information from other stakeholders including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions.

How are the reviews conducted?

Reviews take place through an interactive discussion between the State under review and other UN Member States. This takes place during a meeting of the UPR Working Group. During this discussion any UN Member State can pose questions, comments and/or make recommendations to the States under review. The troikas may group issues or questions to be shared with the State under review to ensure that the interactive dialogue takes place in a smooth and orderly manner. The duration of the review will be three hours for each country in the Working Group.

Can non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participate in the UPR process?

Yes. NGOs can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report which is considered during the review. Information they provide can be referred to by any of the States taking part in the interactive discussion during the review at the Working Group meeting. NGOs can attend the UPR Working Group sessions and can make statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when the outcome of the State reviews are considered. OHCHR has released “Technical guidelines for the submission of stakeholders”.

What human rights obligations are addressed?

The UPR will assess the extent to which States respect their human rights obligations set out in: (1) the UN Charter; (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (3) human rights instruments to which the State is party (human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned); (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State (e.g. national human rights policies and/or programmes implemented); and, (5) applicable international humanitarian law.

What is the outcome of the review?

Following the State review by the Working Group a report is prepared by the troika with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. This report, referred to as the “outcome report”, provides a summary of the actual discussion. It therefore consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by States to the country under review, as well as the responses by the reviewed State.

How is the review adopted?

During the Working Group session half an hour is allocated to adopt each of the “outcome reports” for the States reviewed that session. These take place no sooner than 48 hours after the country review. The reviewed State has the opportunity to make preliminary comments on the recommendations choosing to either accept or reject them. Both accepted and refused recommendations are included in the report. After the report has been adopted, editorial modifications can be made to the report by States on their own statements, within the following two weeks. The report then has to be adopted at a plenary session of the Human Rights Council. During the plenary session, the State under review can reply to questions and issues that were not sufficiently addressed during the Working Group and respond to recommendations that were raised by States during the review. Time is also allotted to member and observer States who may wish to express their opinion on the outcome of the review and for NGOs and other stakeholders to make general comments.

What steps are taken as follow up to the review?

The State has the primary responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the final outcome. The UPR ensures that all countries are accountable for progress or failure in implementing these recommendations. When it comes time for the second review of a State they must provide information on what they have been doing to implement the recommendations made during the 1st review four year’s earlier. The international community will assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance, in consultation with the country concerned. If necessary, the Council will address cases where States are not cooperating.

What happens if a State is not cooperating with the UPR?

The Human Rights Council will decide on the measures it would need to take in case of persistent non-cooperation by a State with the UPR.

Source: www.ohchr.org

[From the web] BACKGROUNDER UN report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

BACKGROUNDER
UN report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

What is the report?
The report, prepared by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, documents discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and outlines how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Where can I find a copy?
You can access the report through the UN website at:
www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/19session/reports.htm
(UN document A/HRC/19/41). The report is currently available in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, and versions in the remaining UN languages (French and Chinese) will be added as they become available.

How did the report come about?
The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution in June 2011 expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the report. The resolution was presented by South Africa and was supported by countries from all regions of the world.

Why is it important?
Around the world, people face human rights violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including killings, torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and other forms of violence and discrimination. This is the first ever UN report to document these systematic human rights abuses, and to outline the international human rights legal framework as it applies to discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The report affirms that States have a duty under international law to protect the human rights of all persons, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.

What does the report conclude?
The report emphasises that the Human Rights Council and UN Member States have a duty to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Specifically, the report calls on States to:
•    Repeal provisions that criminalise same-sex relations between consenting adults, including the use of the death penalty;
•    Legally recognise the self-identified gender of transgender persons, including in identity documentation;
•    Include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination legislation, and address related discrimination in employment, access to health care and education;
•    Ensure an equal age of consent for opposite and same sex relations;
•    Ensure accountability for killings and other acts of violence based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression;
•    Provide sensitisation and awareness-raising for police and other law enforcement officials;
•    Recognise discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity as valid grounds for asylum seeking;
•    Ensure the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

What’s next?
•    The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at an expert-led panel at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.  This will be the first UN debate specifically on human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, and is expected to include discussions of what might be appropriate follow-up to the report.
•    Governments might officially endorse the report and work to implement the recommendations.
•    Activists, policy-makers, national human rights institutions and others are also likely to draw upon the report in their own local or regional efforts to advance recognition of human rights for LGBT people.

[From the web] OHCHR released a ground-breaking report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has just released a ground-breaking report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity!

Copies of the report (UN document number A/HRC/19/41) are available at:

www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/19session/reports.htm

The report is currently available in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, and versions in the remaining UN languages (French and Chinese) will be added as they become available.

Various language versions of the report may also be accessed directly through the following links:

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_English.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Spanish.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Russian.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Arabic.pdf

This is the first ever report of the UN to tackle the subject of discrimination and violence targeted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The report affirms that governments have the duty to protect all persons from discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity under international human rights law.

The UN Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to prepare the study in a resolution in June of this year. The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

We attach here a background document providing additional information on the report, as well as a sample press release, and another NGO press release with a selection of quotes inserted.

Should you wish to, please feel free to:

·       draw upon the report to support your local or regional advocacy priorities;

·       modify the press release to publicise the report – the NGO release contains some quotes. Feel free to adapt it, edit it, insert your own quotes, or develop your own materials to ensure it is as relevant as possible to your own context;

·       circulate the OHCHR report broadly – for example to NGOs, policy makers, or national human rights institutions;

·       urge your government to implement the recommendations and engage constructively in the March panel.

In line with the OHCHR’s standard policy regarding reports to the Human Rights Council, the Office will not be seeking to actively promote the report in the media or in public before it comes before the Council at its next session in March. Nevertheless, the OHCHR press officers have been authorized to respond to any media enquiries that may arise. The contact information for relevant OHCHR staff in Geneva and New York is as follows:

Fred Kirungi (OHCHR New York): kirungi@un.org. Tel. +1 917 367 3431
Rupert Colville (OHCHR Geneva): rcolville@ohchr.org. Tel. +41 22 917 9767

Contact information for OHCHR presences in the field is also available at:

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/Pages/MapOfficesIndex.aspx

We hope this report will provide additional legitimacy in our collective struggle towards the full enjoyment of human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Best wishes,

Sheherezade Kara
ARC International
mobile: +41 (0) 78 834 9916
office: +41 (0) 22 919 7114

[From the web] OHCHR report on SOGI

OHCHR report on SOGI

Dear friends and colleagues,

As you will be aware, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has just released a ground-breaking report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity!

Copies of the report (UN document number A/HRC/19/41) are available at:

www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/19session/reports.htm

The report is currently available in English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, and versions in the remaining UN languages (French and Chinese) will be added as they become available.

Various language versions of the report may also be accessed directly through the following links:

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_English.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Spanish.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Russian.pdf

Click to access A.HRC.19.41_Arabic.pdf

This is the first ever report of the UN to tackle the subject of discrimination and violence targeted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The report affirms that governments have the duty to protect all persons from discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity under international human rights law.

The UN Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to prepare the study in a resolution in June of this year. The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

We attach here a background document providing additional information on the report, as well as a sample press release, and another NGO press release with a selection of quotes inserted.

Should you wish to, please feel free to:

·       draw upon the report to support your local or regional advocacy priorities;

·       modify the press release to publicise the report – the NGO release contains some quotes. Feel free to adapt it, edit it, insert your own quotes, or develop your own materials to ensure it is as relevant as possible to your own context;

·       circulate the OHCHR report broadly – for example to NGOs, policy makers, or national human rights institutions;

·       urge your government to implement the recommendations and engage constructively in the March panel.

In line with the OHCHR’s standard policy regarding reports to the Human Rights Council, the Office will not be seeking to actively promote the report in the media or in public before it comes before the Council at its next session in March. Nevertheless, the OHCHR press officers have been authorized to respond to any media enquiries that may arise. The contact information for relevant OHCHR staff in Geneva and New York is as follows:

Fred Kirungi (OHCHR New York): kirungi@un.org. Tel. +1 917 367 3431
Rupert Colville (OHCHR Geneva): rcolville@ohchr.org. Tel. +41 22 917 9767

Contact information for OHCHR presences in the field is also available at:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/Pages/MapOfficesIndex.aspx

We hope this report will provide additional legitimacy in our collective struggle towards the full enjoyment of human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Best wishes,
Sheherezade.


Sheherezade Kara
ARC International

mobile: +41 (0) 78 834 9916
office: +41 (0) 22 919 7114

[Event] Consultation Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Consultation

Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Best Practices

Deadline 20 January 2012  

Dear All,

On behalf of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, you are invited to complete a questionnaire on best practices that promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

English – http://r20.rs6.net
Française – http://r20.rs6.net
Español – http://r20.rs6.net

Please send completed questionnaire by 20 January 2012: freeassembly@ohchr.org

Please circulate this message widely among your networks.

Visit the website: http://r20.rs6.net
Background

Resolution 15/21 of the Human Rights Council invited the Special Rapporteur to elaborate a framework through which he should consider best practices to promote and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. This report is expected to be considered by the Council in June 2012.

Facebook – http://r20.rs6.net/
Twitterhttp://r20.rs6.net/
YouTube –  http://r20.rs6.net/
******
For an unofficial translation into another language you may try: http://r20.rs6.net

Best Regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656
Visit our website: http://r20.rs6.net

Click here to join our mailing list:
http://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=0015de0J6wWFJ4-CxbRgTKZbQ%3D%3D

[People] Engaging governments through the UPR process by Dr. Boyet Mabunga

by Dr. Boyet Mabunga
FREE ZONE

(Note:  This article was first published in HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM, Volume 5, Number 1issue.  Updated and modified to incorporate latest developments and preparation on the Philippine 2nd Cycle Universal Periodic Review slated on the 13th HRC/UPR Working Group session in May to June 2012.)

……………………………………………………………………………………..

“Every day we are reminded of the need for a strengthened United Nations, as we face a growing array of new challenges, including humanitarian crises, human rights violations, armed conflicts and important health and environmental concerns. Seldom has the United Nations been called upon to do so much for so many. I am determined to breathe new life and inject renewed confidence in a strengthened United Nations firmly anchored in the twenty-first century, and which is effective, efficient, coherent and accountable.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

IN 1997, and again in 2002, reforms in the United Nations gained ground in Geneva and New York, respectively. These reforms came in the heels of then-Secretary General Kofi Annan’s challenge to the UN’s “continued significance” in the face of 21st century realities. He called for improvements in how the UN conducts its work, implements its mandate and manages the funds entrusted to it by its Member States in order to bring human rights to all peoples of the world.

These reforms took a significant turn during the General Assembly’s 60th session. The world’s leaders adopted UNGA Resolution 60/251 on the 15th of March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council (HRC). The HR Council is now a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, taking over the role of the Commission on Human Rights, which was created under article 68 of the UN Charter on Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HRC was mandated to conduct a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism to evaluate each member state’s human rights commitments. The said review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialog, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs. The UPR is intended to complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies.

At its fifth session on June 18, 2007, the Council responded to this request and adopted, through resolution 5/1, detailed modalities regarding the UPR. Threshed out in particular were the basis of the review, principles and objectives to be followed, the periodicity and order of review of countries, process and modalities, as well as the outcome and the follow-up to the review. The HRC also decided that the review would be conducted in a working group composed of the 47 member States of the Council.

At its sixth session on September 21, 2007, the HRC adopted a calendar in relation to the consideration of 192 Member States of the United Nations for the first four-year cycle of the UPR mechanism. The Philippines was selected among the 16 countries to be reviewed in the 1st UPR session on April 7–18, 2008.

The 1st cycle of the UPR process ended last October 2011 at the 12th session of the Human Rights Council.  The whole process was considered a “historic review of the human rights situation of the 192 United Nations member States”.  Immediately thereafter, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released an updated “Universal Periodic Review: information and guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions” for the 2nd Cycle’s submission of report and onwards.  It underscores two main changes on the technical guidelines:

The scope of submission to the 2nd cycle must include information on the follow-up and developments to the recommendations for the State-under-review (SUR).

The length of submission is fixed not to extend 2815 words for individual submissions and 5630 words for joint submissions.

As preparation for review, HRC required the concerned governments and other stakeholders to submit human rights reports, which should follow the following guidelines:

Description of the methodology and the broad consultation process followed for the preparation of information;

Developments since the previous review in background of the State under review and framework, particularly normative and institutional framework, for the promotion and protection of human rights: Constitution, legislation, policy measures, national jurisprudence, human rights infrastructure including national human rights institutions and scope of international obligations.

Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground: implementation of international human rights obligations identified in the “basis of review”, national legislation and voluntary commitments, national human rights institutions’ activities, public awareness of human rights, cooperation with human rights mechanisms;

Presentation by the State concerned of the follow-up to the previous review;

Achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints; in relation to the implementation of accepted recommendations and the development of human rights situations in the State;

Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that the State intends to undertake to overcome challenges and constraints and improve human rights situations on the ground;

Expectations in terms of capacity-building and requests, if any, for technical assistance;

Read full article @ renatomabunga.wordpress.com

[From the web] Civil Society Update – OHCHR Human Rights Treaties Division Newsletter

Civil Society Update – OHCHR Human Rights Treaties Division Newsletter

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human Rights Treaties Division Newsletter

Dear All,

On behalf of the Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division, we are pleased to share with you Issue No. 13 of the Human Rights Treaties Division’s (HRTD) Newsletter.

The HRTD Newsletter has been issued in-house on a quarterly basis since 2008 with the purpose of providing in-depth information and analysis on the work and functions of the human rights treaty bodies. As such, the Newsletter complements other information tools produced by the Division which all aim at enhancing the understanding and knowledge of the work of the treaty bodies among key stakeholders.

The Newsletter is made available to the larger public with a view to further strengthen the impact and understanding of the work of the human rights treaty bodies where they matter most – at the country level.

Get it here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/treaty/newsletter_treaty_bodies.htm

Keeping all stakeholders abreast of the latest treaty developments and of the work of UN treaty bodies is an important component of the ongoing process of treaty body strengthening, as it provides further opportunities for dialogue and exchange of ideas on this common endeavour.

You may also wish to distribute this Newsletter within your own networks.

As key actors working every day in every part of the word for the protection, promotion and advancement of human rights, you as representatives of civil society are uniquely placed and play a critical role in the implementation of treaty bodies’ output.

Your comments, input and contributions to the Newsletter are hence warmly welcome and will contribute to further strengthening the impact of the work of treaty bodies where they matter most.

***

For an unofficial translation into another language:  http://translate.google.com/

Best regards,

Civil Society Section
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Tel. +41 (0) 22 – 917 – 9656

Visit our website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/CivilSociety.aspx

Click here to join our mailing list: http://goo.gl/O8snt

[From the web] Historic Decision at the United Nations:Human Rights Council Passes First-Ever Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

[We received this email from our friends in the LGBT community. Congratulations to all human rights defenders among the LGBT movement around the world for this groundbreaking leap. Padayon! -HRonlinePH]

(Geneva, June 17, 2011) In a groundbreaking achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity (L.9/Rev.1).

The resolution, presented by South Africa along with Brasil and 39 additional co-sponsors from all regions of the world, was passed by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against, and 3 abstentions.  A list of how States voted is attached. In its presentation to Council, South Africa recalled the UDHR noting that “everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind” and Brasil called on the Council to “open the long closed doors of dialogue”.

Today’s resolution is the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. It affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognizes the legitimacy of their work.

“The South African government has now offered progressive leadership, after years of troubling and inconsistent positions on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. Simultaneously, the government has set a standard for themselves in international spaces. We look forward to contributing to and supporting sustained progressive leadership by this government and seeing the end of the violations we face daily”. (Dawn Cavanagh, Coalition of African Lesbians)

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.

“That we are celebrating the passage of a UN resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable, however the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in,” added Justus Eisfeld, Co-Director of GATE.  “The Human Rights Council has taken a step forward in history by acknowledging that both sexual and gender non-conformity make lesbian, gay, trans* and bi people among those most vulnerable and indicated decisively that states have an obligation to protect us from violence.”

“As treaty bodies, UN special procedures, and national courts have repeatedly recognized, international human rights law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.” (Alli Jernow, International Commission of Jurists)

The resolution is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, and just this week, the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS recognised the need to address the human rights of men who have sex with men, and the Organization of American States adopted by consensus a resolution condemning violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Earlier in this 17th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, reported to the Council that:

“[C]ontributory factors for risk of violence include individual aspects of women’s bodily attributes such as race, skin colour, intellectual and physical abilities, age, language skills and fluency, ethnic identity and sexual orientation.”

The report also detailed a number of violations committed against lesbian, bisexual and trans women, including cases of rape, attacks and murders.  It is therefore regrettable that a reference to “women who face sexuality-related violence” was removed from the final version of another resolution focused on the elimination of violence against women during the same session.

“Despite this inconsistency, we trust the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity will facilitate the integration of the full range of sexual rights throughout the work of the UN.” (Meghan Doherty, Sexual Rights Initiative)

A powerful civil society statement was delivered at the end of the session, welcoming the resolution and affirming civil society’s commitment to continuing to engage with the United Nations with a view to ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Now, our work is just beginning”, said Kim Vance of ARC International. “We look forward to the High Commissioner’s report and the plenary panel next March, as well as to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to support the resolution, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.”

ARC International, John Fisher (Geneva) +41 79 508 3968 or john@arc-international.net

Amnesty International, Peter Splinter (Geneva) +41 (0) 22 906 9483 or Emily Gray (London) +44 (0) 20 7413 5865

CAL – Coalition of African Lesbians, Dawn Cavanagh (South Africa) + 27 11 918 6115 or dawn@cal.org.za

COC Nederland, Björn van Roozendaal
(Netherlands) +31 6 22 55 83 00 or BvanRoozendaal@coc.nl

Council for Global Equality, Mark Bromley (Washington)  +1.202.719.0511 or Mark@globalequality.org

GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality, Justus Eisfeld (New York) jeisfeld@transactivists.org, +1-646-341-1699 or Mauro Cabral (Argentina) mcabral@transactivists.org or +54 9 351 5589876

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, Stefano Fabeni (Washington) +1 312-919-3512 or sfabeni@heartlandalliance.org

Human Rights Watch, Siphokazi Mthathi (South Africa) mthaths@hrw.org or + 27 82 777 1319/ +27 11 484 2640 or Juliette De Rivero (Geneva) +41 079 640 1649 or derivej@hrw.org

IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Joel Bedos (France) jbedos@dayagainsthomophobia.org

IGLHRC – International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Jessica Stern (New York) + 1 212 430 6014 or jstern@iglhrc.org

ILGA- the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Renato Sabbadini, +32 474 857 950 or renato@ilga.org

International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization STP 2012, Amets Suess, stp2012@gmail.com

International Commission of Jurists, Alli Jernow (Geneva) +41(0)22 979 3800) or allison.jernow@icj.org

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Bjorn Pettersson (Geneva), b.pettersson@ishr.ch, +41 22 919 7117

Sexual Rights Initiative, Meghan Doherty, Sexual Rights Initiative, +41 (0)78 871 6713 or meghan@acpd.ca

Thailand’s Sexual Diversity Network, Paisarn Likhitpreechakul +66 81 634 3450 or forsogi@gmail.com

Transgender Europe (TGEU), Carla LaGata (Germany), mana@zedat.fu-berlin.de

Attachment (Records of Vote and Co-Sponsorship)

States supporting the resolution: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay

States against the resolution: Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda.

Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Zambia

Absent: Kyrgyzstan, Libya (suspended)

Co-Sponsors of the resolution: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,  Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Uruguay.

[UN news] Supporting the rights of children living in the street -www.ohchr.org

File photo source: filipinolifeinpictures.wordpress.com

Source: http://www.ohchr.org

Everyday around the world, millions of children face neglect, abuse and poverty that force them to live and or work in the streets. There, children face more threats: violence, sexual abuse and in extreme cases even murder.

Youth representatives address the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council © OHCHR Sybilla LevenstonThe problem of street children is one from which no country is immune. “It is a shame that affects both the developing world and wealthy countries alike,” said UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay in a statement to the Human Rights Council. “Children do not belong there. They belong in school and in the safe environment of homes.”

An annual day of discussion on the rights of children is held by the Human Rights Council to encourage international support and to offer children a safe and empowering platform to speak up for their rights. The Human Rights Council invited youth representatives of two NGOs, the African Movement of Working Children and Youth, from Benin, and of Plan supported programs in Bangladesh. These youth representatives joined the panel to share their personal stories. “After all,” the High Commissioner said, “it is the children that know best.”

“Supporting the rights of the child, for us, means helping each child realize their full potential, but this should be everyone’s priority,” said Séverine, a 17-year old from Benin. “It is the silence of States and parents that have led to the miserable condition of children living in the street.”

Riaz, aged 16, from Bangladesh, spoke about his experiences living in the street and expressed his compassion for other children who are still struggling: “I feel sad for those children growing up without love and affection of their parents, or opportunities to go to school and have decent lives.”

“Everyone in the international community should join hands and come up with a long term solution,” said Tanya, aged 14, a former street child who is now a peer mentor for Plan in Bangladesh. She asked everyone to work together to help protect children, and prevent them from living and working in the street.

“Effective strategies to protect children in street situations must ensure their participation in the design, development and evaluation of such programmes,” said the High Commissioner. “Children living and/or working on the streets should not be seen as a social problem, but as human beings with full potential to contribute to society and as agents of change.”

Joining the panel was Rev. Patrick Shanahan, President of Street Invest, an NGO that supports street children, who urged the Human Rights Council to take innovative action: “I challenge you to rethink, replan, renew. This is not Harry Potter, there is no magic solution.”

The 16th session of the Human Rights Council took place from 28 February to 25 March at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

5 April 2011