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
Category Archives: international human rights
On September 16, 2015, the Constituent Assembly of Nepal adopted a new constitution almost a decade after the end of its civil war. The country’s constitution, the first to be drafted by popularly elected representatives, establishes Nepal as a secular federal republic. The constitution also divides Nepal into seven provinces and establishes a proportional electoral system to elect federal and state officials. While on the one hand, the constitution has received praise for its provisions protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, there has also been strong criticism about other aspects of the constitution. For example, the Madhesi and Tharu ethnic minority groups continue to protest provisions concerning the proposed provincial boundaries, on the basis that their political representation will be more limited. Additionally, women’s rights groups have protested on the basis that certain constitutional provisions discriminate against women. Scholars have also expressed concerns regarding the lack of public participation in the process of drafting and implementing the constitution. Protests against the constitution have already resulted in more than 40 deaths since August 2015. [NY Times: Amid Protests; BBC: Why is Nepal’s Constitution Controversial?]
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]
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]
On September 16, 2015, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a report on the human rights violations, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and gender-based violence, committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan government forces from 2002-2011. See Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), 16 September 2015 (hereinafter Report). The report concludes with a number of recommendations, including those of a general nature as well as more specific ones regarding institutional reforms, justice, truth and the right to know, reparations, and suggestions directed at the United Nations and Member States. See id. at 248-251.
On September 14, 2015 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) commenced its 70th session in Geneva, Switzerland. During this session, which will end on October 2, the Committee will review the reports of Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Kazakhstan, Poland, Timor-Leste, and the United Arab Emirates concerning the States’ implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; examine the reports of Brazil and Cuba with respect to their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OP-CRC-SC); and evaluate the reports of Brazil, Cuba, and Madagascar regarding their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OP-CRC-AC). The Committee will also review reports by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ implementation of the Convention and optional protocols.
The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) is currently holding its 9th session in Geneva, Switzerland from September 7th to 18th. The CED is reviewing State reports of Iraq and Montenegro regarding their implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Convention). During the session, the CED and each State engage in dialogue on the State’s national report and responses to the issues the CED requested the State to address; the Committee will also consider supplemental reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) concerning the States’ compliance with the Convention. The CED will then adopt concluding observations on the States’ implementation of treaty provisions.
On July 23, 2015, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) adopted a general recommendation on women’s access to justice, noting that the right of access to justice for women is essential to the realization of all the rights in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). See Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, General Recommendation No. 33 on Women’s Access to Justice, UN Doc. CEDAW/C/GC/33, 23 July 2015.
Political upheaval and human rights violations in parts of Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Eritrea, Kosovo, and Syria, are increasing migration flows to Europe at an unprecedented rate. While the European Union (EU) received approximately 626,000 applications for asylum in 2014, Germany alone is expected to receive 800,000 applications this year. [Financial Times: Germany] Europe has not yet responded to this crisis with a uniform and coherent approach. For example, the Council on Foreign Relations notes that while Greece implemented stricter border-control operations in 2013 and Italy phased out its sea rescue program in October 2014, Sweden, on the other hand, stated that it would offer permanent residency to all Syrian refugees in 2013. European ministers will participate in an emergency summit on September 14, 2015 in Brussels to develop a more unified response to the migration crisis. [WSJ]
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) held its 53rd Extraordinary Session in Honduras, which began on August 24 and concluded on August 29, 2015. During this session the Court held public hearings in two cases: Quispialaya Vilcapoma v. Peru and Ángel Alberto Duque v. Colombia. The Court also held a private hearing concerning compliance on the part of Honduras with sentences in six cases: Juan Humberto Sánchez v. Honduras, López-Álvarez v. Honduras, Servellón-García and others v. Honduras, Kawas-Fernández v. Honduras, Pacheco Teruel and others v. Honduras, and Luna López v. Honduras. The Court prepared judgments in two cases: Gonzáles Lluy (TGGL) and family v. Ecuador and Galindo Cárdenas and others v. Peru. Additionally, the Court started proceedings in two cases: Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its members v. Honduras and Garífuna Community of Punta Piedra and its members v. Honduras. The Court also reviewed various pending cases and administrative issues.