Category Archives: civil society

AU-EU Meetings Emphasize Cooperation to Protect Human Rights

Participants in the Human Rights DialogueCredit: Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Rwanda
Participants in the Human Rights DialogueCredit: Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Rwanda

Participants in the Human Rights Dialogue
Credit: Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Rwanda

In November 2015, representatives of African and European intergovernmental organizations and civil society gathered in Rwanda for the 11th African Union – European Union (AU-EU) Human Rights Dialogue, a platform for sharing experiences concerning human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Participants in the Human Rights Dialogue, which was held in Kigali on November 24, 2015, included the Hon. Justice Augustino S. L. Ramadhani, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR); Hon. Madam Zainabu Kayitesi, Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); Ambassador Gary Quince, Head of the EU Delegation to the AU; Ambassador Michael Ryan, Head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda; and other AU and EU staff working on human rights issues. The outcome document summarizes previous and future areas of cooperation between the AU and EU, including protecting the freedom of expression, migrants’ rights, human rights and business, and the abolition of the death penalty. See European Union External Action Service, Joint Communiqué. Read more

African Commission and NGOs Review Human Rights Concerns at November Session

Participants in the NGO ForumCredit: African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
Participants in the NGO ForumCredit: African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

Participants in the NGO Forum
Credit: African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

During its most recent session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) welcomed two new commissioners; examined four States’ human rights records; heard activity reports from its special mechanisms; and focused particular attention on the rights of women, implementation of ACHPR decisions, its relationship with non-governmental organizations and with national human rights institutions, and the intersections between international humanitarian law and human rights standards. The 57th Ordinary Session took place from November 4 to 11 and 18, 2015 in Banjul, the Gambia and the agenda included consideration of the periodic reports of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. Prior to the session, members of civil society gathered in Banjul for the NGO Forum and 31st African Human Rights Book Fair. Read more

Burundi: International and Regional Bodies Urge Dialogue, Fear Mass Violence

Security Council meeting
The situation in Burundi
The UN Security Council considers the situation in Burundi.

The UN Security Council considers the situation in Burundi.
Credit: UN Photo

Amid an ongoing human rights and political crisis in which hundreds have lost their lives, civil society and human rights bodies are calling on Burundian authorities to avoid inciting violence, put a stop to attacks against advocates and journalists, and cooperate with monitoring efforts. On November 12, 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution condemning the killings and human rights abuses in Burundi and threatening possible sanctions against responsible parties. [The Guardian] The resolution came at the same time as the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) met to discuss moving peacekeepers from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo to Burundi. [The Guardian] The international and regional actions seek to end a spate of violence and repression that began in April 2015 surrounding the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza in a vote boycotted by the opposition. [VOA News] The political unrest, which has led to over 240 killings and an estimated 200,000 displaced, now threatens to devolve into civil war and mass atrocities that some are warning could resemble the 1994 Rwandan genocide. [VOA News] Read more

Six United Nations Human Rights Bodies Meet in November 2015

The Human Rights Committee during its 115th SessionCredit: UN Treaty Body Webcast
The Human Rights Committee during its 115th SessionCredit: UN Treaty Body Webcast

The Human Rights Committee during its 115th Session
Credit: UN Treaty Body Webcast

During the month of November 2015, six United Nations human rights mechanisms will meet in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee), Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, Committee Against Torture (CAT), Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will each be holding sessions, during which they will review States’ compliance with the relevant human rights standards, consider individual complaints, and discuss best practices. Video of the public portions of these sessions is available on UN Treaty Body Webcast or UN Web TV. Read more

GQUAL Campaign to Increase Gender Parity on International Rights Bodies

Credit: GQUAL
Credit: GQUAL

Credit: GQUAL

A new campaign, GQUAL, aims to address the gender imbalance on international courts and human rights bodies, where women make up less than 25% of the existing membership. [GQUAL Press Release] The campaign will work to change the nomination and voting practices of States and the relevant institutions, to ensure that gender balance is a real consideration. Through its website, declaration, petition, events, and informational materials, the campaign is striving to raise awareness, engage civil society voices, and increase the transparency of election processes. Additionally, the GQUAL Jobs Board provides information on recent and upcoming elections for nearly all international tribunals and monitoring bodies. On September 17, 2015, the GQUAL (for “gender equal”) campaign formally launched at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. [GQUAL Press Release] Read more

Burkina Faso’s President Reinstated and Elections Rescheduled after Coup


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and interim President of Burkina Faso, Michel Kafando
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Burkina Faso’s interim President Michel Kafando was reinstated on September 23, 2015, following a truce agreement between coup leaders and the national army. [BBC News: Reinstated; Al Jazeera: Coup leaders sign truce] This truce agreement came after the September 16th coup in which members of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP, for its French name: Régiment de sécurité présidentielle), calling themselves the National Democratic Council, under the leadership of General Gilbert Diendéré, kidnapped interim President Kafando, Prime Minister Zida, and two ministry officials, Augustin Loada and Rene Bagoro. [The Guardian: Warning Shots; The Guardian: Violent Protests] Following this, the military announced that it was in power and that the transitional government, which had been put into place in November 2014, had been dissolved. [Al Jazeera: Military Claims Control; Al Jazeera: Transitional Government] Under the agreement that was reached on September 23rd, the RSP agreed to step down and return to its barracks and the national army agreed to withdraw its troops from the capital, Ouagadougou, and guarantee the RSP’s safety. [Al Jazeera: Coup leaders sign truce]

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Ecuador Attempts to Dissolve Only Remaining Independent Press Freedom Organization


The directors of Fundamedios, César Ricaurte and Mauricio Alarcón, during a press conference
Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Carlos Rodríguez

On September 8, 2015 the National Secretariat of Communications of Ecuador (SECOM) sent a letter of notification to La Fundación Andina para la Observación y Estudio de los Medios [The Andean Foundation for the Social Observation and Study of Media] (Fundamedios), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, that it was initiating an administrative process to dissolve the organization. [Committee to Protect Journalists] The SECOM order accuses Fundamedios of violating both its own founding statutes as well as Ecuadorian law governing the role of civic organizations by publishing messages, alerts, and essays with “political overtones.” [El Universo; OAS Press Release] As evidence of this, the annex to SECOM’s notice contains 57 tweets, many of which it claims contain links to opinion pieces or news articles that criticize the government. [Human Rights Watch] The organization was given 10 days since the receipt of this dissolution order to present evidence in its defense. [Freedom House]

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