Category Archives: civil society

Universal Review of 14 Countries’ Human Rights Records Underway

Kenya participates in the UPR
Kenya participates in the UPR

Kenya participates in the UPR
Credit: UN Web TV

The human rights records of 14 States are under review during the 21st session of the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, being held in Geneva, Switzerland from January 19 to January 30, 2015. [OHCHR Press Release] Through this peer review process, United Nations Member States review one another’s overall human rights record every four and a half years, with input from civil society and UN human rights bodies.

Representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Guyana and Kuwait are before the Working Group presenting challenges and successes in fulfilling their human rights obligations, with a focus on efforts to implement recommendations presented to them at their first UPR cycle. [OHCHR Press Release]

The reports providing the basis for current review, as well as the timetable for the reviews, are available through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A live webcast and archived videos of each country’s review are available through UN Web TV and UPR-Info. Read more

IACHR to Assist Mexico in Investigating 43 Students’ Disappearance


The IACHR, Mexico, and families’ representatives sign the agreement.
Credit: IACHR

In response to the disappearance of 43 student protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has signed a tripartite agreement with the government of Mexico and a group of nongovernmental organizations representing the student victims and their families to provide technical assistance with the search for the students, the investigation and subsequent actions regarding their disappearance, and support for the families of the victims. [IACHR: Official Agreement] The students have been missing since September 26 after a shooting incident with police that left six people dead and 17 injured. Although the students are believed to be dead, their whereabouts are yet to be discovered, fueling complaints of gang-related violence, impunity, and State corruption in the country. [Al Jazeera: Protests rage]

IACHR Chair, Tracy Robinson, stated:

For the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights this historic agreement is of fundamental importance in the sense that it represents a key opportunity to advance in solving a structural issue that Mexico has been experi[enc]ing for years: forced disappearances … The main objective is to solve the underlying structural problems to these disappearances, not only the cases involving the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, but other cases, which unfortunately are many.

[IACHR: Official Agreement] Read more

IACtHR: Guatemala Failed to Investigate Human Rights Defender’s Killing, Protect Family

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in the Gudiel Ramos case.Credit: IACtHR
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds a hearing in the Gudiel Ramos case.Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights hears the Gudiel Ramos case.
Credit: IACtHR

Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala, concerning the State’s failure to adequately investigate and address the 2004 killing of human rights defender Florentín Gudiel Ramos. See I/A Court H.R., Case of Human Rights Defender et al. v. Guatemala. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of August 28, 2014. Series C No. 283, para. 288 (Spanish only).

The Court held Guatemala internationally responsible for violations of the rights to: humane treatment, freedom of movement and residence, participate in government (as applied to Mr. Gudiel’s daughter), judicial protection, judicial guarantees, and the rights of the child (with regard to the children in the family), as set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights. See id. at para. 288. The Court held, by three votes to two, that the petitioners did not sufficiently establish violations of Mr. Gudiel’s right to life or right to participate in government. See id. at paras. 144, 149, 189. Human rights defenders in Guatemala continue to face threats and violence, in a prevailing climate of impunity. See generally, Front Line Defenders, Guatemala. Read more

UN Climate Summit 2014 Yields Mass Public Mobilization, Political Commitments as Participants Hope to Lay Groundwork for Global Climate Change Treaty

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joins the People's Climate March.Credit:UN Photo/Mark Garten
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joins the People's Climate March.Credit:UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joins the People’s Climate March.
Credit:UN Photo/Mark Garten

The much anticipated one-day Climate Summit 2014 took place this Tuesday, September 23 at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, marking the international community’s latest effort to address climate change. Hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Climate Summit 2014 aimed to engage world leaders and encourage international action to slow climate change. Governments at the Summit were expected to produce “concrete initiatives” and discuss ways to lower industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases that contribute to the heating of the planet. [Washington Post: CO2 Levels Rise; UN News Centre: No ‘Plan B’] Read more

On 4th International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Advocacy and Monitoring Continue on Behalf of Victims and Families

Remembrance, Truth and Justice.Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

On August 30th, the international community will commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, honoring those who have been forcibly disappeared, while encouraging States to cease this practice and remedy the damage it has caused. Enforced disappearance is defined as arrest, detention, abduction, or other deprivation of a person’s liberty by agents of the State, combined with the “refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” See International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, art. 2. In honor of this year’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that enforced disappearance “is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century,” urging States to “provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared [and to] effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families.” [UN]

Remembrance, Truth and Justice.<br>Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

A mural urges remembrance, truth, and justice.
Credit: Lisa Reinsberg

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In July Sessions, UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies Review 14 States and Develop 3 General Comments

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.44.34 PM
Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.44.34 PM

The UN Human Rights Committee reviews Sudan
Credit: UN Treaty Body Webcast

Last month, both the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) held regular sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. During these sessions, the committees reviewed States parties’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), respectively. Read more

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