• Outcomes from the UN Human Rights be continued

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 43rd Session, which was scheduled to run from 24 Feb – 20 March, was suspended after three weeks on 13 March until further notice.

    CIVICUS fully supports the suspension of the Session on public health grounds, and the precautionary measures taken before the suspension. However, we remain concerned that public participation in the Council risks being disproportionately affected, especially in light of the decision to cut General Debates from the 44th Session (June), which removes a key platform for civil society to engage with governments. The UN depends on information from the ground in order to make evidence-based decisions, and we call on states to take steps to ensure that the participation of civil society is not compromised.

    In Nicaragua, a human rights crisis has seen hundreds of thousands flee the country and an ongoing crackdown against human rights organisations, community leaders, and journalists. The situation is compounded by a lack of political will from the government to engage with regional or international mechanisms, or to ensure accountability. CIVICUS welcomes that the draft resolution on Nicaragua tabled during the Session would provide a mandate for enhanced monitoring and reporting by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation at this critical time, and we urge all states to support this resolution when the Session resumes.

    We also call on states to support the renewal of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. The 43rd session marked the final one for the current Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, and we thank her for her outstanding work during her mandate. Myanmar has undergone significant developments in its human rights framework since the Special Rapporteur began her term – from elections in 2015 which saw a groundswell of hope for positive change, to the dawning realisation of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Rakhine state. But the curtailment of fundamental freedoms and total crackdown on any criticism of authorities has remained grimly consistent. Those on the ground, the human rights defenders and activists who are trying to achieve change, need international support from the Human Rights Council.

    In late 2019, Iran erupted into a series of protests against the lack of political and democratic freedoms and the deteriorating economic situation. Protesters were met with violent repression through mass arrests and lethal force. When the Session resumes, the Human Rights Council will vote on extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran. We welcome support shown by states so far for the renewal of the mandate, and we urge adoption of this resolution when the Session continues.

    What is a Special Rapporteur?
    Special Rapporteur is a title given to an independent expert who works on behalf of the United Nations who has a specific country or thematic mandate from the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs often conduct fact-finding missions to countries to investigate allegations of human rights violations. They can only officially visit countries that have agreed to invite them. Aside from fact-finding missions, Rapporteurs regularly assess and verify complaints from alleged victims of human rights violations. 

    The mandates for Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and opinion, and on human rights defenders, are set to be renewed when the Session resumes. We encourage all member and observer states to show their full support for these mandates by co-sponsorsing the resolutions.

    Just prior to the suspension of the Session, Mary Lawlor was appointed as new Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. We look forward to working with her as she protects those on the frontline of defending human rights around the world, and we thank Michel Forst, the outgoing mandate holder, for his tireless work.

    Towards the beginning of the Session, the High Commissioner’s update on Sri Lanka highlighted ongoing impunity for past grave human rights abuses in the country. The new Sri Lankan government, which came into power in 2019, has said that it intends to renege on Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 which provided commitments to accountability, truth and reconciliation. The human rights space in Sri Lanka has deteriorated sharply under the new administration, and the undermining of this resolution – currently the only route to ensuring transitional justice in Sri Lanka – would not only be fatal to victims and their families, but also a significant setback to the UN itself. We urge states to strongly encourage Sri Lanka to uphold its commitments and reiterate calls for an international accountability mechanism to ensure that accountability remains a possibility.

    Although India was not on the official agenda of this Session, the ongoing crackdown on Kashmir, a discriminatory citizenship law and violent suppression of protests proved an ongoing issue throughout the Session.

    CIVICUS, FORUM-ASIA, ISHR, FIDH, OMCT and ICJ organized a side event to discuss the current situation and ways in which the international community, including the Council, could contribute to constrictive progress. With key partners, CIVICUS also joined important statements on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well as on India’s recent discriminatory citizenship law, and we were encouraged to see several states raise their own concerns about India during debates.

    Civic space ratings by CIVICUS Monitor
    Open Narrowed Obstructed  Repressed Closed


    Our joint and stand alone country statements at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council
    Angola Burundi El Salvador  Eritrea Fiji
    India Iraq Iran Jammu & Kashmir Madagascar
    Myanmar Nicaragua Sri Lanka See all statements



  • Rights groups call for repeal of online defamation law in Myanmar

    Joint statement by 61 Myanmar and international human rights organizations

    Concerned by reports that the Myanmar authorities will retain the criminal defamation provision of Section 66(d) during a review of the Telecommunications Law, 61 national and international human rights organizations are urging the Myanmar authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Parliament, to ensure it is repealed in the amended law.

    Section 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law provides for up to three years in prison for “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person using a telecommunications network.” In the last two years, this law has opened the door to a wave of criminal prosecutions of individuals for peaceful communications on Facebook and has increasingly been used to stifle criticism of the authorities. According to the 2013 Telecommunications Research Group, which has been documenting prosecutions under Section 66(d), at least 71 people are known to have been charged for online defamation under the law.

    The current review of the Telecommunications Law offers an important opportunity to repeal Section 66(d) and bring the 2013 Telecommunications Law fully in line with international human rights law and standards.  Failure to do so would raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to freedom of expression. It would, worryingly, leave people in the country at risk of imprisonment simply for sharing opinions online. It would also undermine the government’s reform and responsible business agenda, by chilling or even silencing the ability of the public and the media to report on public sector mismanagement, harmful and illegal business practices, and corruption.


    One of the most problematic aspects of Section 66(d) is its vagueness. Under international human rights law and standards, restrictions on the human right to freedom of expression are allowed for certain, narrowly defined purposes only, including to protect the rights and reputation of others.  Restrictions should be clear, detailed and well-defined in law, limited to those specified purposes, and necessary and proportionate to achieve their aim. 

    Section 66(d) does not adequately define what actions would be considered “disturbing”, or “causing undue influence.” These terms are overly broad and subject to widely different interpretations. Previous military governments for example, deemed the views of people who promoted democracy and human rights to be “disturbing.”

    This vagueness carries risks. Section 66(d) has been used to stifle criticism of both the civilian government and the military. For instance, individuals have been imprisoned for Facebook posts calling Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw an “idiot” and “crazy” and for posts mocking the Myanmar Army. One criminal prosecution revolved around the posting of an image depicting the Army’s Commander-in-Chief with a women’s htamein (a sarong-like garment) on his head.

    It is important to keep in mind that under international law, the purpose of laws covering defamation, libel, slander and insult is to protect the rights and reputations of people, not to prevent criticism of the government or of individual officials. According to UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of expression and the UN Human Rights Committee, public figures are necessarily subject to a greater degree of criticism than private citizens because of their institutional role, to ensure open debate about matters of public interest.

    The high volume of cases brought under Section 66(d) has also been facilitated by the fact that it allows anyone to file a complaint, even individuals other than the person who has allegedly been defamed. As a result, in Myanmar people have filed complaints on behalf of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw, as well as members of the military.

    In the past year we have also seen a surge in the number of criminal prosecutions initiated by private Facebook users against each other for posts that they believe to be untrue, insulting, offensive, or otherwise objectionable. These include, for example, Facebook posts saying that someone was a cheat, warning people against using specific businesses, or complaining about land disputes.


    Although international human rights law and standards do not prohibit the use of defamation laws for purposes such as protecting the rights and reputations of people, international authorities including the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression and the UN Human Rights Committee have affirmed that defamation should never be a criminal offence.  This is because imprisoning someone for defaming another person is disproportionate and can threaten the right to freedom of expression itself. The threat of imprisonment can prevent people from peacefully speaking out on sensitive issues and lead to self-censorship.

    There are other ways to address defamation, including online defamation, which do not involve imprisonment, for example through making it a matter of civil rather than criminal law. In addition, those responsible could be made to issue an apology, a public rectification or clarification in order to restore the reputation that has been harmed.

    Our organizations are deeply concerned that some members of the administration appear to view Section 66(d) as a solution to address advocacy of hatred. We recognize that Myanmar has a growing problem in this regard and welcome attempts to address this. However, Section 66(d) has done little to prevent such activity. Instead, it has enabled an environment of intolerance and conflict by allowing anyone who deems a Facebook post “offensive” to sue the author.

    As the government has expressed its intention to adopt a separate law on hate speech, we would like to stress that any prohibition of advocacy of hatred must be formulated precisely and not unlawfully restrict freedom of expression. Beyond legislation, our organizations believe authorities at all levels should speak out against discriminatory rhetoric and ensure broader policy measures are undertaken to tackle the root causes of intolerance, including for instance by promoting intercultural dialogue and education on diversity and pluralism. 

    In light of the above, our organizations are urging the Myanmar authorities to:

    • Repeal Section 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law;
    • Or at a very minimum, amend it to ensure that: defamation is no longer criminalized and that where recognizably criminal acts such as “extortion”, “coercion”, “wrongful restraint” and “threats” occur in the law they are clearly defined in line with international human rights law, so as to ensure it is not used to criminalise the peaceful expression of views. 

    As long as Section 66(d) remains, people in Myanmar – especially those who criticise officials and government policies online – will be at risk of being imprisoned for their peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression. 

    List of signatories:

    1. Alin Mee Ain 
    2. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) 
    3. All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC) 
    4. Amnesty International 
    5. Arakan Rivers Network (ARN)  
    6. Area Peace and Development Forward 
    7. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) 
    8. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma (AAPP-B) 
    9. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP) 
    10. Association Suisse Birmanie (ASB)  
    11. Burma Campaign UK (BCUK)  
    12. Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) 
    13. Burma Link 
    14. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
    15. Charity-Oriented Myanmar 
    16. Cherry Images  
    17. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
    18. CIVICUS
    19. Civil Rights Defenders (CRD)  
    20. Colors Rainbow 
    21. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)  
    22. Equality Myanmar (EQMM) 
    23. Farmer Rights and Development Organization 
    24. Farmer Union, Magway 
    25. Fortify Rights  
    26. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa) 
    27. Free Expression Myanmar (FEM) 
    28. Future Light Center 
    29. Gender Equality Network  
    30. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group 
    31. Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) 
    32. Human Rights Educators Association (HREA) 
    33. Human Rights Educators Network (HREN) 
    34. Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) 
    35. Human Rights Watch (HRW) 
    36. Info Birmanie (France) 
    37. Institute for Asian Democracy  
    38. International Campaign for the Rohingya  
    39. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)  
    40. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) 
    41. Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) 
    42. Korean House for International Solidarity
    43. Magway EITI Watch Group  
    44. Mon Youth Educator Organization (MYEO) 
    45. Mwetaung Area Development Group 
    46. Myaing Youth Development Organization 
    47. New Generation (Shan State) 
    48. Nyein Chan Yar 
    49. Norwegian Burma Committee
    50. Odhikar 
    51. Peace and Justice Myanmar (PJM)  
    52. Progressive Voice (PV) 
    53. Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT) 
    54. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)  
    55. Shwechinthae Social Service Group (Shwe Bo) 
    56. Swedish Burma Committee  
    57. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace & Development 
    58. United-ACT  
    59. US Campaign for Burma
    60. Women and Peace Action Network (Shan State) 
    61. Women Peace Network


  • ROHINGYA REFUGEES: ‘We want to go back home in peace’

    Maung SawyeddollahCIVICUS speaks about the situation in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh and youth activism with Maung Sawyeddollah, founder and executive director of the Rohingya Students Network, a global network of Rohingya students and young people based in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

    What is the Rohingya Students Network and what does it do?

    The Rohingya Students Network is a global interconnected network of Rohingya students and young people. I founded it in December 2019 and it now has members in all 33 camps in Cox’s Bazar. We operate through WhatsApp and we arrange weekly meetings with all members to work towards our objective, which is to ensure the life, liberty and security of the Rohingya people.

    We do two kinds of work. We work on community development by organising activities such as skills training and youth workshops. And we advocate for our people by talking to international media and working alongside the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As bringing justice to our people is very important for us, we help by collecting materials such as victims’ testimonies. We also oversee the overall situation of our people and collect data to share with our members.

    We are bringing a case against Facebook because we believe Facebook used the genocide in Myanmar for business. We would normally send a letter to Facebook and ask them for help to fund Rohingya education camps. But they refuse to compensate for what they did, and so we had to take the legal way. Facebook is responsible for many human rights violations in Myanmar, so now we are legally pursuing the matter. We are getting help from Victim Advocates International, an organisation of lawyers.

    What is the education situation in refugee camps?

    The situation is bad. There are several schools in the camps but they all have a very dated system. One of them is the Rohingya Learning Centre. But all they do is give Rohingya students biscuits! Kids tell us, ‘We go to the Learning Centre to get biscuits, not to get education’.

    There’s a lack of learning centres and qualified teachers inside the camps, even though we’ve been living here for five years. Teachers just teach basic things such as A is for apple, B is for ball. Our kids aren´t getting the quality education they deserve.

    Have there been any changes in the situation of Rohingya people?

    I would say there hasn’t been any change to our situation since 2017. It’s true there have been meetings about the Rohingya and many organisations and groups have issued statements regarding our situation. However, all these meetings and statements have brought no positive outcome. The solutions offered to end the conflict still equal zero.

    There have been some minor improvements though. For instance, the USA has declared the Rohingya situation as genocide. The case has made some progress in the ICJ and the International Criminal Court. But still, solutions haven’t gone past an initial stage. Our crisis is a complicated one. 

    The long-term scenario is complex. We left our country, Myanmar, in 2017 and are still facing systematic violence there. We were a minority and had to leave because of the violence towards us. We are now living in Bangladesh but continue to fight in various arenas to get the justice our people deserve.

    There are many factors we need to consider to get our rights back. We can say there’s a civil war happening in Myanmar. There are two parallel governments competing to rule the country: the military government and the National Unity Government.

    In Rakhine State – where Rohingya people are from – there are powerful groups such as the Arkan Army, which are also a challenge because they prevent people from getting back to their homes. These are challenges we need to address. And who knows, maybe someday we can get back home.

    What challenges do you face when doing your work?

    The threats and dangers are constant. For every single activity we want to do, there is some kind of opposition. A big part of society is opposed to the kind of work we do. We are respected by the government of Bangladesh and allowed to do our work freely, although I think they are now changing their minds. I think our Going Home Campaign, which we launched a few weeks ago, will make our relationship a bit harder.

    There is also the fact that we continue to demand our rights, and many people speak up online and advocate for our rights, but the audience that we really need to listen to us, those responsible for the persecution we suffer, and those we need to sort out our situation, are sitting in government chairs in Myanmar and won’t address our demands because they simply don’t want us.

    What international help do Rohingya people need?

    We need as much international help as we can get. We need the international community to pressure the government of Myanmar so that they accept all of our demands for basic needs and rights. We need them to accept Rohingya people in Myanmar.

    What we expect from the world is to help us create the right conditions to put pressure on Myanmar’s power holders, the main stakeholders to solve this crisis. There are many ways they can help us. For instance, as the USA helped us by declaring our situation as genocide; other big powers should do the same. We need the world to speak out and stand together with us. We want to go back home in peace!

    Civic space in Bangladesh is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Follow@NetworkRsn and@M_Sawyed on Twitter. 


  • Statement: Severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

    We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s oral update on Myanmar and urge the Government to resume its cooperation and grant access to the Special Rapporteur, and to address the situation on the ground.

    We are particularly concerned that severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar. Peaceful protesters continue to face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force by the police. In the last few months, protesters have been charged under the Penal Code or the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for their activism.

    A Resolution adopted at the last Session of this Council called on Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders and activists detained under various restrictive laws. While journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo may have been freed, restrictive laws including the Telecommunications Law, Unlawful Associations Act, Official Secrets Act and defamation provisions in the Penal Code continue to be used to prosecute activists and journalists in Myanmar. Irrawaddy editor U Ye Ni is facing defamation charges for an article on the conflict on the Rakhine state which the Myanmar military deemed “one-sided”.

    Those who criticize the military, even satirically, are persecuted. Members of the Peacock Generation troupe face defamation charges after live-streaming on Facebook a satirical performance which criticized the military. In April, prominent filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was detained in connection with a series of social media posts in which he criticised the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

    We are deeply concerned by increasing restrictions to humanitarian access in Rakhine State, deliberately denying support to a population which is gravely in need of it, and willfully obstructing independent reports of the atrocities which are being committed there.

    Myanmar’s backsliding on democratic norms compounds the gross human rights violations outlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report. We urge the government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and all other Human Rights Council mechanisms and, in the absence of such cooperation, we ask the Special Rapporteur what action she would suggest that states and national and international civil society could take in order to hold Myanmar accountable to upholding democratic norms?


  • Supreme Court set to rule on Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar


    • Myanmar’s Supreme Court is set to rule on an appeal by two jailed Reuters journalists on 23 April 
    • Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been jailed since December 2017, and convicted of violating a state secrets act in September 2018
    • The case highlights the increasing crackdown on press freedom in Myanmar

    The Myanmar Supreme Court must order the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) said today. The two journalists, who have been jailed since 2017, are set to go before the country’s highest court on 23 April. The court will rule upon their appeal, which was submitted on grounds that lower court rulings involved errors in judicial procedure.

    In December 2017, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were handed several documents during a dinner meeting that turned out to be secret government materials relating to Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and security forces.  They were then arrested  and charged under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act and in September 2018, they were convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for “illegal possession of official documents.”

    During the trial, a police captain, admitted in court that a senior officer had ordered his subordinates to “trap” the journalists by handing them the classified documents. He was subsequently sentenced to a one-year prison term.  

    At the time of their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din village in Rakhine during a brutal military crackdown against the Rohingya minority that began in August 2017. 

    An appeal by the two journalists to a lower court earlier this year on substantive grounds was rejected on the basis that lawyers failed to prove that the pair were innocent.

    “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have spent 16 months in prison on spurious charges. The Supreme Court must take this opportunity to address this travesty of justice,” said Josef Benedict, CIVICUS Civic Space Researcher. “No journalist should be in prison for doing their job. Their arrest and conviction have sadly created a chilling effect on the media in Myanmar.”

    A UN Human Rights Council Resolution adopted at the Council’s 40th Session called on Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, as well as other journalists, human rights defenders and activists detained under various restrictive laws.

    “This case highlights the bleak situation for freedom of expression and press freedom in Myanmar. Overly broad, vague, and abusive laws have been systematically used to prosecute dozens of activists and journalists for the peaceful activism,” said Ichal Supriadi, Secretary-General from the Asia Democracy Network.

    In March 2019, in the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar raised concerns about “a decreasing space for the expression of views that are critical” of the government and the “increasing self-censorship by journalists, as well as continued wielding of problematic laws by the government against those who speak out.” 

    CIVICUS and ADN call on the Supreme Court to order the immediate release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and reiterate calls for the authorities in Myanmar to take immediate steps to ensure that journalists can do their jobs. 

    TheCIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates the space for civil society in Myanmar asrepressed.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:



  • UN Human Rights Council adopts resolution on Myanmar

    Resolution on Myanmar adopted at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    This resolution, adopted by consensus, represents an important step towards achieving accountability and justice in Myanmar


  • United Kingdom responds to CIVICUS members’ Security Council questions

    Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN, addresses the Security Council. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

    French | Spanish

    As part of its consultations with civil society during its Presidency of the Security Council for the month of August, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations responded to questions submitted by CIVICUS members on the security situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Gaza and Myanmar.

    Civil society play an important role in the Security Council’s agenda and CIVICUS thanks the United Kingdom and all members of the Security Council for their ongoing commitment to involving civil society in the council’s workings.

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    Seven questions were submitted from civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflecting a high level of concern about the security situation there in the lead up to elections in December. Members asked if the Council is monitoring the current situation as well as how the Council plans to prevent deaths during the upcoming elections.

    The Security Council is monitoring the situation in DRC closely.  In resolution 2409 we asked the Secretary General to provide us with 30 day reports.  The Council also discusses the DRC frequently. The Security Council continues to underline the importance of peaceful, credible, inclusive and timely elections on 23 December 2018, in line with the electoral calendar, leading to a peaceful transfer of power, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution.  The Security Council also continues to stress the importance of protecting civilians, including through the mandate for MONUSCO which includes the protection of civilians as a strategic priority. During the UK Presidency, there was a Security Council briefing on the DRC, focusing on the upcoming elections. The Ambassador’s statement can be found here.


    A question on Eritrean-Ethiopian relations noted that the relationship has begun to normalise and improve rapidly. While there is no doubt that international and regional efforts have played a role in this improvement it is remarkable that there has been a push for an improvement of human rights and the democratic situation on the Ethiopian side but that the same has not been extended to Eritrea. Does the Security Council now plan to push to improve the human rights situation in Eritrea?

    The Security Council issued a statement on the Signing of Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July 2018.


    Palestinian Consultative Staff for Developing NGOs, from the West Bank asked about why the Council is reducing UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services, especially to children, women and elderly people. They also asked if the Security Council would consider visiting Gaza.

    UNRWA was established and is mandated by the UN General Assembly.  The possibility of service suspension due to UNRWA’s current financial shortfall is a matter of grave concern to members of the Security Council; as was expressed during the 22 August Council consultations on the situation in the Middle East.

    The UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. In the face of growing financial pressures, the UK has provided approximately $60 million USD in 2018. We continue to urge others to provide additional funding and regular disbursements to ensure that UNRWA can continue its essential work.

    The Security Council is following closely and with concern the situation in Gaza, including through regular briefings such as that provided to the Council on 22 August by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo.


    Maisaa Alamoodi a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia asked if the Council would consider imposing sanctions on the Government of Myanmar if it continues to abuse the rights of the Rohingya and prevent their safe return home.

    The UK’s overriding long term aim is the safe, voluntary and dignified return to Rakhine, under international monitoring, of as many as possible of the million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh. We currently do not deem the conditions are right for the refugees to return. We will support Burma to do this, but it needs to make tangible improvements on the ground. Most immediately, Burma should allow the UN unfettered access to northern Rakhine.  

    The UK has welcomed Burma’s announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the violence in Rakhine. It is now essential that the Burmese government now sets out how the investigation will be credible, transparent and impartial. We are still awaiting the ICC's decision if it has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations to Bangladesh (a Rome Statute signatory).

    Other questions received from CIVICUS members this month covered civic freedoms in Colombia, the withdrawal of UNAMID troops from Darfur, food insecurity in the Sahel, the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the deterioration of civic space in Uganda, Sudanese leader, Omar Al Bashir’s case in the International Criminal Court and the global threat of cyber crime.

    These question/response are the outcomes of a Monthly Call to CIVICUS members to submit their question to the President of the UN Security Council. This is an opportunity for members to connect with an important international forum where decisions are made. CIVICUS staff pose the questions on CIVICUS members’ behalf during the President’s brief each month. Stay in touch and be part of this action by joining CIVICUS as a member.

    For more information please contact Lyndal Rowlands, 


  • United Nations adopts resolution on human rights on the internet

    CIVCUS welcomes the adoption by the Human Rights Council of a new resolution on human rights on the internet, particularly the resolution’s focus on internet shutdowns.

    The shutdown of internet access or access to social media has become a widespread tactic used by the authorities to quell protests or forms of online dissent. In the last year, the CIVICUS Monitor documented such tactics used in BangladeshChad, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar and Palestine, among other countries. The shutdowns significantly disrupt people’s ability to seek, receive or impart information online; in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has prevented people from obtaining essential information and services during the crisis. Such restrictions on access to the internet cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.

    The adopted resolution strongly condemns the use of internet shutdowns to intentionally and arbitrarily prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online. It further mandates the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to study the trend in internet shutdowns and present findings to the Council next year.

    Over the last year, as participation has moved online, new tactics of online restriction have subsequently developed. We welcome that the resolution calls upon all States to refrain from and to cease online censorship. Given the increasing use by repressive governments of online attacks against human rights defenders and activists, and online surveillance, we call on States to ensure that measures offline or online for the protection of national security, public order and public health are in full compliance with international law obligations and respect the principles of lawfulness, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality.

    Given that the digital divide has proven one of the biggest challenges facing civil society participation over the past year, it is particularly relevant that the resolution calls upon all States to accelerate efforts to bridge digital divides while applying a human rights-based approach.


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