Russia

 

  • Joint NGO Statement on the human rights situation in Russia

    Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Joint NGO Statement under item 4 on the human rights situation in Russia

    Delivered by Dave Elseroad, Human Rights House Foundation 

    I make this joint statement on behalf of Human Rights House Foundation, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights.

    A year after last year’s joint statement on the situation in Russia, authorities there have further intensified the already unprecedented crackdown. A fully-fledged witch hunt against independent groups, media outlets and journalists, and political opposition, is decimating civil society and forcing many into exile.

    In a shocking development, the authorities moved to shut down “Memorial,” one of the country’s most authoritative human rights organisations. At the end of December, courts ruled to “liquidate” the group’s key legal entities, International Memorial Society and Human Rights Center Memorial over alleged persistent noncompliance with the repressive legislation on “foreign agents.”  

    The rulings came at the end of a particularly terrible year for human rights, during which authorities threw top opposition figure Alexei Navalny in prison, banned three organisations affiliated with him as “extremist,” launched criminal proceedings against several of his close associates, doubled down on Internet censorship, and designated more than 100 journalists and activists as "media-foreign agents."

    Recent months also saw a dramatic escalation of repression in Chechnya, where Russian law and international human rights obligations have been emptied of meaning. With the Kremlin’s blessing, the local governor, Ramzan Kadyrov has been eviscerating all forms of dissent in Chechnya, often using collective punishment. In December 2021, Kadyrov opened a brutal offensive against his critics in the Chechen diaspora, by having the police  arbitrarily detain dozens of their Chechnya-based relatives. It continued in January with the abduction and arbitrary detention on fabricated charges of Zarema Musaeva, mother of human rights lawyer Abubakar Yangulbaev, and death threats issued against the Yangulbaevs family and some prominent human rights defenders and journalists.

    It is crucial the High Commissioner and members of this Council press the Russian authorities to reverse the course of the unprecedented human rights crackdown, and appoint a dedicated Special Rapporteur to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Russia.


      Civic space in Russia is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

  • Russia: Stop smear campaigns, persecution of civil society

    The ongoing violations of the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression, and particularly the labelling of civil society groups as “foreign agents,” is intended to force associations to close operations or self-censor, said CIVICUS, global alliance of civil society organisations. Russia is experiencing the most severe restrictions on civic space in decades as the authorities use legislation on “foreign agents” or “undesirable organisations” to restrict the activities of civil society organisations and subject their leaders and members to judicial persecution.

    On 29 September 2021, the Ministry of Justice listed the Media Human Rights Project OVD-Info as one of the organisations designated as a “foreign agent.” The inclusion of OVD-Info on the list of organisations accused of functioning as a foreign agent is a direct response to OVD-Info’s civil society campaign against legislation used by the authorities to smear and stigmatise civil society groups. More than 229 organisations and over 154,000 people across Russia joined the campaign. OVD-Info is an independent media project focusing on human rights and political persecutions, which also tracks and monitors persecution of protesters in Russia. It depends on volunteers and donations to do its work and calls on the Russian authorities to respect the Constitution and other European Conventions on human rights.

    Russia has often been known for targeting civil society organisations, opposition figures and human rights defenders. However, human rights violations have reached unprecedented levels as the authorities routinely use legislation to stigmatise civil society organisations and prosecute their leaders and members. The international community must intervene now to prevent a total dismantling of civil society, said Sylvia Mbataru, civic space researcher at CIVICUS.

    Those included on the list on 29 September are members of the civil society group Golos that monitors elections and journalists from the media rights body Mediazoma. Organisations listed as foreign agents are required to undergo cumbersome administrative procedures and indicate their status as “foreign agents” in all official correspondence and materials. Media organisations designated as foreign face challenges collaborating with advertisers and partners and are hindered from doing interviews as few people would want to be associated with “foreign agents.” Several associations have been forced to close down while many more now self-censor as representatives of civil society are also subjected to judicial persecution.


    Background

    Over the last several months, the Russian authorities have increased restrictions on civic space and targeted human rights defenders and protesters. Several civil society organisations and media groups have been added to a list of organisations accused of performing the functions of a foreign agent. The implications have been the closure of civil society and media groups, loss of income of many others, and the judicial persecution of leaders of these groups. Early in 2021, OVD-Info reported that more than 17600 were detained in response to large-scale protests calling for an end to the judicial persecution of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Due to the spiraling decline in fundamental rights and freedoms in the country, in February 2021, Russia was added to a watchlist of countries that have seen a rapid deterioration of fundamental democratic freedoms.

    Civic space in Russia is rated 'repressed' by the CIVICUS Monitor. 

     

  • 5 countries on CIVICUS Monitor watchlist presented to UN Human Rights Council

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    This Council has identified restrictions on fundamental freedoms as a warning sign of an impending human rights crisis. Five countries were highlighted in the latest CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, which puts a spotlight on a group of countries where there has been a rapid decline in respect for civic space. 

    These include Myanmar, where a military coup has led to deaths of at least 50 protesters, and the arbitrary detention of more than a thousand activists, protesters and politicians, while journalists are targeted daily. 

    In Nicaragua, there has been systematic repression of demonstrations. Human rights defenders, journalists and perceived political opponents face criminalisation and harassment, and a recent onslaught of repressive laws hinders civic space still further.

    In Poland, months of ongoing protests sparked by a near-total ban on abortion have been met with excessive force by authorities and far-right groups. Laws and reforms which undermine judicial independence and the rule of law have been passed since 2015 and media freedom is under threat. 

    In Russia, there have been large scale attacks on peaceful assembly and journalists during the massive nationwide peaceful protests. Over 10,000 protesters have been detained.

    In Togo, where civic space has been backsliding since 2017, the detention of a journalist and trade unionists and the suspension of a newspaper are recent examples highlighting the deterioration in the respect of civic freedoms.

    The Council cannot fulfill its protection or prevention mandates unless it is prepared to take meaningful action in situations which show such warning signs. We call for stronger scrutiny on Myanmar and Nicaragua to be brought by the Council this session, and for due attention on Poland, Russia and Togo to prevent deteriorating situations on the ground. 

    Civic space ratings by CIVICUS Monitor
    Open Narrowed Obstructed  Repressed Closed

     

     

  • 5 países de la lista de vigilancia de CIVICUS se presentan al Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU

     

    Declaración en el 46º período de sesiones del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU

    Este Consejo ha identificado las restricciones a las libertades fundamentales como una señal de alarma de una inminente crisis de derechos humanos. Cinco países han sido destacados en la última lista de vigilancia de CIVICUS Monitor, la cual pone el punto de mira un grupo de países en los que se ha producido un rápido declive del respeto al espacio cívico.

    Entre ellos se encuentra Myanmar, donde un golpe militar ha provocado la muerte de al menos 50 manifestantes y la detención arbitraria de más de mil activistas, manifestantes y políticos, mientras que los periodistas son objeto de ataques diarios.

    En Nicaragua se ha producido una represión sistemática de las manifestaciones. Los defensores de derechos humanos, los periodistas y los presuntos opositores políticos sufren criminalización y acoso. Además, una reciente oleada de leyes represivas obstaculiza aún más el espacio cívico.

    En Polonia, las autoridades y los grupos de extrema derecha han respondido con una fuerza excesiva a los meses de protestas desencadenadas por la prohibición casi total del aborto. Desde 2015 se han aprobado leyes y reformas que socavan la independencia judicial y el Estado de derecho. Asimismo, la libertad de los medios de comunicación está amenazada.

    En Rusia se han producido agresiones a gran escala contra las reuniones pacíficas y los periodistas durante las masivas protestas pacíficas a nivel nacional. Más de 10.000 manifestantes han sido detenidos.

    En Togo, donde el espacio cívico se ha visto limitado desde 2017, la detención de un periodista y de sindicalistas y la suspensión de un periódico son ejemplos recientes que ponen de manifiesto el deterioro del respeto a las libertades cívicas.

    El Consejo no puede cumplir sus mandatos de protección o prevención a menos que esté preparado para tomar medidas significativas en situaciones que muestren tales señales de alerta. Pedimos que el Consejo lleve a cabo un examen más riguroso de Myanmar y Nicaragua en este periodo de sesiones, y que preste la debida atención a Polonia, Rusia y Togo para evitar el deterioro de la situación sobre el terreno.

    Calificaciónes de espacio cívico - CIVICUS Monitor
    Abierto Estrecho Obstruido  Represivo Cerrado

     

     

  • A joint call to the UN to Address human rights situation in the Russian Federation

    This statement is made on behalf of 8 organisations, who together call on the Human Rights Council to address the human rights situation in the Russian Federation.

     

  • Arrêtez la guerre: Déclaration de solidarité

    Nous, groupes de la société civile des cinq continents, qui travaillons ensemble pour un monde juste, pacifique, durable et prospère, appelons conjointement à une solution négociée pour mettre fin à la guerre en Ukraine aussi rapidement que possible. Cela doit inclure une cessation immédiate des hostilités contre les civils et le retrait des forces militaires et des armes russes d’Ukraine, associées à une déclaration commune et à la fourniture de garanties de sécurité par et pour toutes les parties.

    Dans un monde déjà ravagé par de multiples crises, telles que la pandémie de COVID-19 et l’escalade du changement climatique, ce conflit déchire des communautés déjà fragiles et des millions d’individus sont confrontés à la guerre, au déplacement, à la perte de leurs maisons et de leurs moyens de subsistance.

    Un mois s’est déjà écoulé, mais plus ce conflit dure, plus il est susceptible d’être dévastateur pour les personnes vivant en Ukraine, en Russie et partout dans le monde. Il faut l’arrêter maintenant.

    1) Arrêtez la guerre

    L’attaque contre l’Ukraine par l’armée russe et la guerre contre un pays souverain marquent une violation inacceptable du droit international. Nous appelons à la fin immédiate de la guerre en Ukraine, à un cessez-le-feu et au retrait des forces russes, ainsi qu’à la suppression progressive de toutes les sanctions selon un calendrier convenu. La dévastation de nombreuses villes et le meurtre de civils innocents et d’infrastructures civiles ne peuvent être justifiés.

    Nous demandons aux tierces parties d’empêcher une nouvelle escalade militaire du conflit et d’aider à faciliter les négociations de paix.

    En outre, il est inacceptable et insuffisant que jusqu’à présent seule une poignée d’hommes ait été impliquée dans les négociations de paix.

    Nous appelons à ce que les négociations de paix incluent la société civile et les représentants de ceux qui sont directement concernés, en particulier les femmes, notamment d’Ukraine et de Russie.

    2) Respectez les droits humains internationaux

    Nous sommes solidaires du peuple ukrainien. Les droits des civils doivent être respectés. Après un mois de conflit, les impacts humanitaires entraînent des déplacements massifs de personnes, des pertes de vies et de moyens de subsistance. Nous sommes très inquiets que cette grave violation du droit international ait un impact extrêmement négatif sur la sécurité et la démocratie en Europe et dans le monde.

    Nous appelons également au respect des droits de l’homme en Russie, de nombreux Russes se sont levés pour condamner la violence et leurs voix doivent être entendues. La protestation pacifique doit être reconnue comme une forme d’expression légitime.

    Nous appelons au respect des droits de l’homme et de l’État de droit.

    3) Arrêtez le militarisme et l’agression dans le monde

    Tragiquement, ce n’est pas la première fois que de tels conflits et guerres se produisent, loin de là  – il est donc crucial de réduire la militarisation et l’autoritarisme partout dans le monde.

    La situation actuelle en Ukraine intervient dans un contexte humain où les conflits armés, la violence sous toutes ses formes, l’autoritarisme, la corruption et la répression aveugle affectent la vie de millions de personnes dans le monde et violent les droits humains des personnes jeunes et âgées dans des pays tels que : Myanmar, Yémen, Palestine, Syrie, Soudan du Sud, République centrafricaine, Éthiopie, Colombie, Brésil, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Guatemala, El Salvador et autres.

    Tous les conflits doivent être traités avec le même niveau de préoccupation, toutes les vies affectées par un conflit ont la même valeur.

    Nous appelons au même niveau de soutien pour mettre fin aux conflits et assurer un soutien financier aux personnes déplacées et aux réfugiés d’autres conflits.

    4) Réorienter les fonds militaires vers un avenir juste et durable

    La guerre en Ukraine a déjà eu un impact dévastateur sur l’économie mondiale, en particulier sur les pays du Sud. Il y aura probablement des perturbations majeures et des augmentations significatives du coût de l’énergie et de la production, une augmentation des coûts alimentaires et, en même temps, les budgets seront réorientés vers les dépenses militaires.

    Le militarisme de la Russie est alimenté par les combustibles fossiles et il est donc essentiel d’arrêter les investissements dans les combustibles fossiles et de passer immédiatement à des formes d’énergie propres. Il est d’une importance cruciale que nous réduisions la consommation de pétrole et de gaz et augmentions rapidement les investissements dans les énergies renouvelables afin de lutter contre la crise climatique qui commence maintenant.

    Nous appelons à un engagement spécifique de l’ONU pour réduire les dépenses consacrées aux conflits militaires et réinvestir ces dépenses dans la protection sociale et l’énergie propre.

    5) Établir un fonds mondial pour la paix

    Nous appelons les États membres à se souvenir de la vision fondatrice de l’ONU et de son Conseil de sécurité, à respecter la principale raison pour laquelle cet organisme international  a été créé : éviter toute forme de guerre et la souffrance de l’humanité.

    L’Agenda 2030 trace la voie vers un monde pacifique, juste, durable et prospère ; et des étapes et des actions beaucoup plus ambitieuses doivent être entreprises pour s’assurer que les cibles et les objectifs sont atteints.

    Nous appelons les États membres à créer un fonds mondial pour la paix afin de renforcer le rôle des médiateurs internationaux et des forces de maintien de la paix, l’ONU doit agir !

    Les 191 signataires: (Signez cette déclaration)
    Global

    • Action for Sustainable Development
    • CIVICUS
    • GCAP
    • SDG Watch Europe
    • SHERPA Institute
    • Vivat International
    • Academics Stand Against Poverty
    • Gaia U International, Global Ecovillage Network US
    • VIVAT International
    • International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana, Asia Pacific.
    • Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

    Asie

    • Farmers’ Voice (Krisoker Sor), Bangladesh
    • Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights(BIHR), Bangladesh
    • JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Bangladesh
    • Circular Economy Alliance India, India
    • Kethoseno Peseyie, India
    • CHIKKA FEDERATION OF INDIA, India
    • Independent Individual freelancer named Hitesh BHATT & MS JALPA PATEL-INDIA., India
    • Sikshasandhan, India
    • Sustainable Development Council, India
    • Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
    • Peace in Education, India
    • THE CATALYSTS CO, India
    • SOCIETY FOR ORPHAN, NEGLECTED AND YOUTHS (SONY), India
    • FAUDAR RURAL EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HARIJANS, India
    • GIRL UP CHIKKA, India
    • International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, Indonesia
    • Sustainable agriculture and environment, Iran
    • Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability(JYPS), Japan
    • UNISC International, Japan
    • Silambam Asia, Malaysia
    • World Yoga Association, Malaysia
    • World Silambam Association (WSA), Malaysia
    • Climate Change Working Group, Myanmar
    • COMMUNITY SUPPORT ASSOCIATION OF NEPAL, Nepal
    • Sheni legal Service and Research Center, Nepal
    • SATHI SAMUHA (Friends Group), Nepal
    • Youth Advocacy Nepal (YAN), Nepal
    • Restructuring Nepal, Nepal
    • Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), Pakistan
    • Haakro Welfare Association, Pakistan
    • SSpS, Philippines
    • Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka
    • Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, Viet Nam
    • AwazCDS, Pakistan
    • Korean Advocates for Global Health, Korea
    • National Campaign For Sustainable Development (NACASUD-Nepal), Nepal
    • Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan
    • General Secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Pakistan
    • Think Centre Singapore, Singapore

    Europe

    • Missionsprokur St. Gabriel International, Austria
    • Greenskills, Austria
    • Mikel Díez Sarasola, España
    • Circular Initiatives Roadmap (CIR), Estonia
    • Pekka Kuusi Ecofoundation, Finland
    • World Family Organization, France
    • ONG (Nouveau Point de vue ), France outre-mer
    • Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD, Georgia
    • Global Ecovillage Network, Germany
    • Forum on Environment and Development, Germany
    • IAHV, Germany
    • Patrick Paul Walsh, Ireland
    • International Presentation Association, Ireland
    • DMDA, Ireland
    • Jan Martin Bang, Norway
    • Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment, Norway
    • Moray Carshare, Scotland
    • Salisbury centre Edinburgh, Scotland UK
    • Drustvo Soncni gric, Slovenija
    • Alfonso Flaquer, Spain
    • Centro de Transformacion del Conflicto Humano, Spain
    • Findhorn Foundation Fellows, Sweden
    • Justice for Prosperity Foundation, The Netherlands
    • British Autism Advocates, U.K.
    • Integral City Meshworks Inc., UK
    • BPWUK, Uk
    • Findhorn Fellows, UK
    • Emerson College, Forest Row, East Sussex, UK., UK
    • Barnaby Green, United Kingdom
    • Dr. Colin Thomas Barnes, United Kingdom
    • Development Alternatives, United Kingdom
    • NAWO and the Judith Trust, United Kingdom
    • Victor S Ient, United Kingdom
    • Findhorn Foundation & Park Ecovillage Trust, United Kingdom
    • InnerLinks, United Kingdom
    • Alan Watson Featherstone, United Kingdom
    • Open Circle Consulting Ltd, United Kingdom
    • Poems for Parliament, United Kingdom
    • Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, United Kingdom
    • Ecologia Youth Trust, United Kingdom
    • Soroptimist International, United Kingdom
    • Commonwealth Medical Trust, United Kingdom
    • Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), United Kingdom
    • SecurityWomen, United Kingdom

    Moyen-Orient et Afrique du Nord

    • Gatef, Egypt
    • Junior enterprise, Tunisia

    Océanie

    • Plowright Studios, Australia
    • Aaron Owen, Australia
    • PIANGO, Fiji
    • Deepti Karan Weiss, Fiji
    • The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women, New Zealand
    • GENOA, Oceania and Asia

    Afrique subsaharienne

    • RESEAU SOS FEMMES EN DETRESSE – SOS FED, BURUNDI
    • YUNIBF (Youth United for a Brighter Future), Cameroon
    • Action pour le Développement (A4D), Cameroun
    • Centre Oecuménique pour la Promotion du Monde Rural, Congo-Kinshasa
    • AGIR POUR LA SÉCURITÉ ET LA SOUVERAINETÉ ALIMENTAIRE ASSA, Congo-Kinshasa( RDCONGO)
    • Save the Climat, Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Locate software, Ethiopia
    • Michael Girimay Gebremedhine, Ethiopia
    • New English private school, Ethiopia
    • Taminnova, Ethiopian
    • Apostolic Ministerial International Network, Ghana
    • Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, Ghana
    • Abundant Grace Female Foundation, Ghana
    • Elizka Relief Foundation, Ghana
    • Parlement des Jeunes Leaders de la Société Civile Guinéenne, Guinée
    • BASO, Kenya
    • The Social Justice Centers Working Group, Kenya
    • New Generation Outreach, Kenya
    • Thomas Kaydor,  Jr., LIBERIA
    • Innovations for change, Malawi
    • Action for Environmental Sustainability, Malawi
    • Peoples Federation for National Peace and Development (PEFENAP), Malawi
    • Association du Développement et de la Promotion de Droits de l’Homme, Mauritanie
    • Dieumax Ventures, Nigeria
    • Leadership Watch, Nigeria
    • Initiative For Peace And Stability ( IPAS), Nigeria
    • HETAVED SKILLS ACADEMY AND NETWORKS INTERNATIONAL, Nigeria
    • Environment and Development Advocates (EDA), Nigeria
    • ASSOCIATION COMMUNAUTAIRE POUR LE BIEN ETRE ET LA PROTECTION ENVIRONNEMENTALE /ACOBEPE ONGD, REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO
    • Nouveaux Droits de l’homme Congo Brazzaville, République du Congo
    • GCAP-SENGAL, Senegal
    • EARTH REGENERATIVE PROJECT SIERRA LEONE-NGO, SIERRA LEONE
    • Volunteers Involving Organisations Network, Sierra Leone
    • Mahawa Foundation, Sierra Leone
    • Waste For Change NPC, South Africa
    • Kadesh International, South Africa
    • African Monitor Trust, South Africa
    • Community Health Organization(CH), Tanzania
    • VEILLE CITOYENNE TOGO, TOGO
    • Espace Vie et Action-Togo (EVA-T), Togo
    • Sugur Development Agency (SDA), Uganda
    • Vision Centre Africa, Uganda
    • Human Nature Projets Uganda, Uganda
    • Step Up Youth Initiative, Uganda
    • Development Education Community Project, Zambia

    Amérique

    • AidWatch Canada, Canada
    • Vision GRAM-International, Canada and  D R Congo
    • Gloria Rodríguez, Colombia
    • Movimiento Nacional Cimarrón, Colombia
    • Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic
    • Christian Acosta, Ecuador
    • CECADE, El Salvador
    • Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Developpement (UNASCAD), Haiti
    • Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, Jamaica
    • Uso Inteligente ASV AC, México
    • MY World México, México
    • Humberto Soto, México
    • Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia de Paraguay, Paraguay
    • Consorcio Agroecológico Peruano, Perú
    • Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc, Saint Lucia
    • UNANIMA International, United States
    • Congregation of the Mission, United States
    • World Union for Progressive Judaism, United States
    • Transdiaspora Network, United States
    • Sustainably Wise, United States
    • Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights, United States
    • The GOOD Group, United States
    • Let There Be Light International, United States
    • ALICIA STAMMER, United States
    • Andrea Ruiz, United States
    • TRIPPINZ CARE INC, United States
    • Pleading for the Widows International Foundation, United States
    • Missionary Oblates of Immaculate, United States
    • Oblate Ecological Initiative, United States
    • United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, United States
    • New Future Foundation, United States
    • World Roma Federation, US
    • Kosmos Journal; Unity Earth, USA
    • NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, USA
    • Volunteer Groups Alliance, USA
    • Findhorn Foundation, USA
    • TAP Network, USA
    • Global Choices, USA/ UK
    • REDHNNA, Venezuela
    • OMEP World Organization for Early Childhood Education, Argentina
    • Fundación para la Democracia Internacional, Argentina
    • Fundacion para Estudio e investigacion de la Mujer, Argentina
    • Reaccion Climatica, Bolivia
    • Viviane Weingärtner, Brazil

     

  • As NGOs speak out, expect clampdowns to grow

    By David Kode

    Across the globe, from East Africa to eastern Europe, there is a trend of increasing attacks on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that support reforms governments are opposed to.

    Read on: Open Global Rights

     

     

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  • Can Democracy Stand Up to the Cult of the Strongman Leader?

    By Mandeep Tiwana and Andrew Firmin

    Donald Trump’s presidency, recent protests in Russia and South Africa and the referendum to consolidate presidential power in Turkey have reignited debate about an emerging form of macho conservative politics called ‘Putinism’. This new form of politics is shaping contemporary notions of democracy while undermining the international rules-based system and harming civil society.

    Read on: Diplomatic Courier

     

     

     

  • Civil society expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemn Putin’s War

    We civil society organisations, including national umbrella bodies from across the world, stand united in our condemnation of Russia’s military aggression toward Ukraine in gross violation of international law. We deplore the targeting of civilian populations and infrastructures by Russian forces, which amounts to war crimes.

     

  • Council must heed warning signs and address rights violations in Russia, India and elsewhere

    Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Item 4 General Debate

    Delivered byLisa Majumdar

     

  • Country recommendations on civic space for the UN´s Universal Periodic Review

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 9 countries in advance of the 30th UPR session (May 2018). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations. Countries examined include: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan:

    Bangladesh (Individual/Joint): In this UPR, CIVICUS draws attention to a range of legislative restrictions which have been strengthened and imposed to curtail the operation of independent civic groups in Bangladesh. Of particular concern, are new restrictions on groups seeking funds from abroad, as well the repeated use of the penal code to arrest HRDs and place blanket bans on meetings and assemblies. We further examine the spate of extrajudicial killings against secular bloggers and LGBTI activists which is illustrative of Bangladesh’s downward spiral with respect to civic freedoms and systemic failure to protect civil society.

    Burkina Faso (EN/FR): CIVICUS, the Burkinabé Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and the West African Human Right Defenders Network examine unwarranted limitations on freedom of expression and assembly. Despite several positive developments since the popular uprising of 2014, such as the decriminalisation of defamation and the adoption of a law on the protection of human right defenders, restrictions on the freedom of expression including suspensions of media outlets by the national media regulator and attacks and threats against journalists continue.

    Cameroon: CIVICUS, Réseau des Défenseurs Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) and the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) highlight Cameroon’s fulfilment of the right to association, assembly and expression and unwarranted persecution of human rights defenders since its previous UPR examination.  We assess the ongoing judicial persecution and detention of human rights defenders on trumped up charges, the use of anti-terrorism legislation to target journalists and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.  

    Colombia(EN/SP): CIVICUS highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders, social leaders and unions workers who are routinely subject to physical attacks, targeted assassinations, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors. CIVICUS examines the increased number of attacks against journalists as well as the government’s lack of effective implementation of protection mechanisms to safeguard the work of journalists and human rights defenders.

    Cuba (EN/SP): CIVICUS and the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) highlight the constitutional, legal and de facto obstacles to the exercise of the basic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. The submission discusses the situation of CSOs, HRDs, journalists and bloggers, who face harassment, criminalisation, arbitrary arrests, searches of their homes and offices and reprisals for interacting with UN and OAS human rights institutions. The submission further examines the multiple ways in which dissent is stifled both in the streets and in the media, offline and online. 

    Djibouti (EN/FR): CIVICUS, Defend Defenders and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submission describes how the government of Djibouti has patently ignored the 14 recommendations made during the second UPR cycle related to the protection of the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. Instead, in the intervening period, authorities in Djibouti have continued their campaign against dissent, regularly detaining human rights defenders, journalists and trade union activists because of their criticism of the government or human rights activists.  

    Russia: CIVICUS and Citizens’ Watch address concerns regarding the adoption and application of several draconian laws that have resulted in the expulsion and closure of numerous CSOs and restrictions on the activities of countless others. The submission also lays out the increasing criminalisation and persecution of dissenting views by means of growing restrictions, in both law and practice, on the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. 

    Turkmenistan: CIVICUS highlights restrictions to freedom of association in Turkmenistan including recent amendments to the 2014 Law on Public Associations which further limit CSOs’ ability to register, operate independently and receive funding from international sources. Additionally, we assess the use of the arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders as well as unwarranted limitations to online and offline freedom of expression.

    Uzbekistan: CIVICUS, The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia and the International Partnership for Human Rights assess the conditions of freedom of association, assembly and expression in Uzbekistan. We highlight the lack of progress made in implementing recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle. It particular, we note that although there have been some notable improvements to the environment for civic space, the situation for human rights activists and journalists remains deeply constrained.

     

  • Environmental Movement in Russia Once Again Under Attack

    19 April 2010, Johannesburg. CIVICUS has received information from local sources that the offices of Socio-Ecological Union (SEU) in Samara, Russia, have been raided by the police in connection with alleged criminal charges of extremism against Mr. Sergey Simak the Co-Chair of the Organization,.

    On the 13th of April, staff from the regional branches of the Department for Economic Crimes and the Center for the Combat of Extremism raided the SEU offices and seized Mr. Simak's computer and documents, which are alleged to have been used for criminal purposes.

    According to local reports, a source in the regional Police Department stated that the case was initiated on 12 April, the same day that activists from Samara, and 44 other cities in Russia, held protests over the felling of virgin Mediterranean pistachio-juniper forests, to make space for a health and sports complex. Furthermore, ecologists and activists from Samara have been actively involved in protesting the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill, which reopened with the support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and has grave ecological consequences for Lake Baikal and surrounding region.

    CIVICUS is deeply concerned that attacks on the environmental movement in Russia are becoming common and systematic. A member of SEU has expressed fears to CIVICUS that, as SEU is currently headquartered out of Samara, the whole organization may be jeopardized by this latest attack. CIVICUS urges President Medvedev to protect freedoms of association and expression in the country, and ensure that peaceful environmentalism is not regarded as extremism in Russia.

    Environmental groups in Russia are repeatedly stripped of their fundamental right to freedom of expression when the issues are political or economic in nature. In January 2010, police raided NGO Baikal Environmental Wave, a member of the SEU Network, and confiscated computers in response to the NGO's advocacy surrounding the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. Further, in Turkmenistan, the authorities arrested Mr. Andrey Zatoka under trumped up charges, a renowned ecologist, activist and member of SEU.

    The Socio-Ecological Union remains to be the oldest, largest, and one of the most respected NGOs in the post-Soviet region. The compromise of the operations and existence of this organization would have grave consequences not only for the region's rich and diverse ecology, but also for the civil society in Eurasia as a whole.

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over a hundred countries. The Civil Society Watch (CSW) programme of CIVICUS tracks threats to civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the world. In 2009, CSW tracked threats in 75 countries across the globe.

    For more information, please contact:

    Devendra Tak, Media and Communications Manager, CIVICUS
    or
    Sonia Zilberman, Civil Society Watch Programme, CIVICUS
    Tel: +27 -11- 8335959

     

  • Es necesaria una respuesta internacional unificada y coordinada a los ataques de Rusia en Ucrania

    La alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS se solidariza con el pueblo ucraniano y pide una respuesta internacional rápida, unificada y dirigida a Rusia.

     

  • Firm, unified response needed to Russia’s aggression

    By Andrew Firmin, Editor in Chief, CIVICUS

    It is now clear diplomacy matters little to Vladimir Putin. Despite the efforts of a string of presidents and prime ministers to prevent conflict, on 24 February, Putin started the war he’d been itching for.

    What now seems evident is that Putin expects to maintain a Cold War-style sphere of influence around Russia’s borders. It isn’t only his treatment of Ukraine, seemingly punished for orienting a little more towards the west and entertaining a vague idea of joining NATO, that shows this.

    In the context of conflict, there’s a need to monitor and collect evidence of human rights violations – with the aim of one day holding the perpetrators and commissioners of crimes to account in the international justice system.

    Civil society can play a vital part here – not only in defending human rights and monitoring violations, but also in building peace at the local level and providing essential humanitarian help to people left bereft by conflict.

    Read more on Inter Press Service 

     

  • Nous sommes solidaires de l’Ukraine !

    Nous, soussignés, organisations de la société civile, pensons à vous, chers collègues, et sommes solidaires de vous et du peuple ukrainien en ces temps difficiles. Comme le reste du monde, nous avons regardé avec horreur la Russie attaquer l’Ukraine aux premières heures du 24 février. Cette attaque ne cesse pas. Nous condamnons cet acte d’agression avec la plus grande fermeté, car il constitue un crime au regard du droit international et menace l'ordre international.  

     

  • Paren la guerra: Declaración de solidaridad con la población civil

    Nosotros, grupos de la sociedad civil de los cinco continentes del mundo que trabajamos juntos por un mundo justo, pacífico, sostenible y próspero, hacemos un llamado conjunto a una solución negociada para poner fin a la guerra en Ucrania lo antes posible. Esto debe incluir un cese inmediato de las hostilidades contra los civiles y la retirada de las fuerzas militares y el armamento rusos de Ucrania, junto con una declaración acordada por ambas partes y la provisión de garantías de seguridad por y para todas las partes.

    En un mundo que ya está asolado por múltiples crisis, como la pandemia de COVID-19 y la escalada del cambio climático, este conflicto está desgarrando comunidades ya frágiles y millones de personas enfrentan guerras, desplazamientos, pérdida de hogares y medios de subsistencia.

    Ya ha pasado un mes, pero cuanto más dure este conflicto, más devastador será para las personas que viven en Ucrania, Rusia y en todo el mundo. Debe ser detenido ahora.

    1) Detener la guerra

    El ataque a Ucrania por parte del ejército ruso y la guerra contra un país soberano marcan una violación inaceptable del derecho internacional. Pedimos el fin inmediato de la guerra en Ucrania, un alto el fuego y la retirada de las fuerzas rusas, y la eliminación gradual de todas las sanciones de acuerdo con un cronograma acordado. La devastación de muchas ciudades y la matanza de civiles inocentes y de la infraestructura civil no se pueden justificar.

    Hacemos un llamado a la intervención de terceras partes  para evitar una mayor escalada militar del conflicto y ayudar a facilitar las negociaciones de paz.

    Además, es inaceptable e insuficiente que hasta ahora solo un puñado de hombres haya estado involucrado en las negociaciones de paz.

    Hacemos un llamado para que las negociaciones de paz incluyan a la sociedad civil y representantes de aquellos que se ven directamente afectados, en particular las mujeres, especialmente de Ucrania y Rusia.

    2) Respetar los derechos humanos

    Nos solidarizamos con el pueblo de Ucrania. Los derechos de los civiles deben ser respetados, después de un mes de conflicto, los impactos humanitarios están provocando desplazamientos masivos de personas, pérdida de vidas y medios de subsistencia. Estamos muy preocupados de que esta grave violación del derecho internacional tenga un impacto extremadamente adverso en la seguridad y la democracia en Europa y el mundo.

    También hacemos un llamado al respeto de los derechos humanos en Rusia, muchos rusos se han puesto de pie para condenar la violencia y sus voces deben ser escuchadas. La protesta pacífica debe ser reconocida como una forma legítima de expresión.

    Pedimos que se respeten los derechos humanos y el estado de derecho.

    3) Detener el militarismo y la agresión en todo el mundo.

    Trágicamente, esta no es la primera vez que ocurren tales conflictos y guerras, ni mucho menos, por lo que resulta crucial reducir la militarización y el autoritarismo en todo el mundo.

    La situación actual en Ucrania surge en un contexto humano donde el conflicto armado, la violencia en todas sus formas, el autoritarismo, la corrupción y la represión indiscriminada afecta la vida de millones de personas en todo el mundo y viola los derechos humanos de jóvenes y adultos en países que incluyen: Myanmar, Yemen, Palestina, Siria, Sudán del Sur, República Centroafricana, Etiopía, , Colombia, Brasil, Nicaragua, Afganistán, Guatemala, El Salvador y otros.

    Todos los conflictos deben ser tratados con el mismo nivel de preocupación, todas las vidas afectadas por el conflicto tienen el mismo valor.

    Pedimos el mismo nivel de apoyo para poner fin a los conflictos y garantizar el apoyo financiero para las personas desplazadas y refugiadas de otros conflictos.

    4) Desplazar los fondos militares hacia un futuro justo y sostenible

    La guerra en Ucrania ya ha tenido un impacto devastador en la economía mundial, especialmente en el Sur Global. Es probable que haya grandes interrupciones y aumentos significativos en el costo de la energía y la producción, mayores costos de los alimentos y, al mismo tiempo, los presupuestos se redirigen hacia el gasto militar.

    El militarismo de Rusia está alimentado por combustibles fósiles y, por lo tanto, es fundamental detener la inversión en combustibles fósiles y cambiar de inmediato a formas de energía limpia. Es de vital importancia que reduzcamos el consumo de petróleo y gas y aumentemos rápidamente las inversiones en energías renovables para combatir la crisis climática que comienza ahora.

    Pedimos un compromiso específico en la ONU para reducir el gasto en conflictos militares y reinvertir este gasto en protección social y energía limpia.

    5) Establecer un fondo de paz mundial

    Hacemos un llamado a los estados miembros a recordar la visión fundacional de las Naciones Unidas y su Consejo de Seguridad, para cumplir con la razón principal por la que fueron creados: evitar cualquier tipo de guerra y el sufrimiento de la humanidad.

    La Agenda 2030 marca un camino hacia un mundo pacífico, justo, sostenible y próspero; y se deben tomar medidas y acciones mucho más ambiciosas para garantizar que se cumplan las metas y los objetivos.

    Hacemos un llamado a los estados miembros para que establezcan un fondo de paz global para fortalecer el papel de los mediadores internacionales y las fuerzas de mantenimiento de la paz. La ONU debe actuar.

    191 firmantes actuales (Firma esta declaración)
    Global

    • Action for Sustainable Development
    • CIVICUS
    • GCAP
    • SDG Watch Europe
    • SHERPA Institute
    • Vivat International
    • Academics Stand Against Poverty
    • Gaia U International, Global Ecovillage Network US
    • VIVAT International
    • International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana, Asia Pacific.
    • Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs

    Asia

    • Farmers’ Voice (Krisoker Sor), Bangladesh
    • Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights(BIHR), Bangladesh
    • JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Bangladesh
    • Circular Economy Alliance India, India
    • Kethoseno Peseyie, India
    • CHIKKA FEDERATION OF INDIA, India
    • Independent Individual freelancer named Hitesh BHATT & MS JALPA PATEL-INDIA., India
    • Sikshasandhan, India
    • Sustainable Development Council, India
    • Association For Promotion Sustainable Development, India
    • Peace in Education, India
    • THE CATALYSTS CO, India
    • SOCIETY FOR ORPHAN, NEGLECTED AND YOUTHS (SONY), India
    • FAUDAR RURAL EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HARIJANS, India
    • GIRL UP CHIKKA, India
    • International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, Indonesia
    • Sustainable agriculture and environment, Iran
    • Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability(JYPS), Japan
    • UNISC International, Japan
    • Silambam Asia, Malaysia
    • World Yoga Association, Malaysia
    • World Silambam Association (WSA), Malaysia
    • Climate Change Working Group, Myanmar
    • COMMUNITY SUPPORT ASSOCIATION OF NEPAL, Nepal
    • Sheni legal Service and Research Center, Nepal
    • SATHI SAMUHA (Friends Group), Nepal
    • Youth Advocacy Nepal (YAN), Nepal
    • Restructuring Nepal, Nepal
    • Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), Pakistan
    • Haakro Welfare Association, Pakistan
    • SSpS, Philippines
    • Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka
    • Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, Viet Nam
    • AwazCDS, Pakistan
    • Korean Advocates for Global Health, Korea
    • National Campaign For Sustainable Development (NACASUD-Nepal), Nepal
    • Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan
    • General Secretary Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, Pakistan
    • Think Centre Singapore, Singapore

    Europa

    • Missionsprokur St. Gabriel International, Austria
    • Greenskills, Austria
    • Mikel Díez Sarasola, España
    • Circular Initiatives Roadmap (CIR), Estonia
    • Pekka Kuusi Ecofoundation, Finland
    • World Family Organization, France
    • ONG (Nouveau Point de vue ), France outre-mer
    • Association for Farmers Rights Defense, AFRD, Georgia
    • Global Ecovillage Network, Germany
    • Forum on Environment and Development, Germany
    • IAHV, Germany
    • Patrick Paul Walsh, Ireland
    • International Presentation Association, Ireland
    • DMDA, Ireland
    • Jan Martin Bang, Norway
    • Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment, Norway
    • Moray Carshare, Scotland
    • Salisbury centre Edinburgh, Scotland UK
    • Drustvo Soncni gric, Slovenija
    • Alfonso Flaquer, Spain
    • Centro de Transformacion del Conflicto Humano, Spain
    • Findhorn Foundation Fellows, Sweden
    • Justice for Prosperity Foundation, The Netherlands
    • British Autism Advocates, U.K.
    • Integral City Meshworks Inc., UK
    • BPWUK, Uk
    • Findhorn Fellows, UK
    • Emerson College, Forest Row, East Sussex, UK., UK
    • Barnaby Green, United Kingdom
    • Dr. Colin Thomas Barnes, United Kingdom
    • Development Alternatives, United Kingdom
    • NAWO and the Judith Trust, United Kingdom
    • Victor S Ient, United Kingdom
    • Findhorn Foundation & Park Ecovillage Trust, United Kingdom
    • InnerLinks, United Kingdom
    • Alan Watson Featherstone, United Kingdom
    • Open Circle Consulting Ltd, United Kingdom
    • Poems for Parliament, United Kingdom
    • Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, United Kingdom
    • Ecologia Youth Trust, United Kingdom
    • Soroptimist International, United Kingdom
    • Commonwealth Medical Trust, United Kingdom
    • Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), United Kingdom
    • SecurityWomen, United Kingdom

    Oriente medio y norte de África

    • Gatef, Egypt
    • Junior enterprise, Tunisia

    Oceanía

    • Plowright Studios, Australia
    • Aaron Owen, Australia
    • PIANGO, Fiji
    • Deepti Karan Weiss, Fiji
    • The New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women, New Zealand
    • GENOA, Oceania and Asia

    África subsahariana

    • RESEAU SOS FEMMES EN DETRESSE – SOS FED, BURUNDI
    • YUNIBF (Youth United for a Brighter Future), Cameroon
    • Action pour le Développement (A4D), Cameroun
    • Centre Oecuménique pour la Promotion du Monde Rural, Congo-Kinshasa
    • AGIR POUR LA SÉCURITÉ ET LA SOUVERAINETÉ ALIMENTAIRE ASSA, Congo-Kinshasa( RDCONGO)
    • Save the Climat, Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Locate software, Ethiopia
    • Michael Girimay Gebremedhine, Ethiopia
    • New English private school, Ethiopia
    • Taminnova, Ethiopian
    • Apostolic Ministerial International Network, Ghana
    • Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, Ghana
    • Abundant Grace Female Foundation, Ghana
    • Elizka Relief Foundation, Ghana
    • Parlement des Jeunes Leaders de la Société Civile Guinéenne, Guinée
    • BASO, Kenya
    • The Social Justice Centers Working Group, Kenya
    • New Generation Outreach, Kenya
    • Thomas Kaydor,  Jr., LIBERIA
    • Innovations for change, Malawi
    • Action for Environmental Sustainability, Malawi
    • Peoples Federation for National Peace and Development (PEFENAP), Malawi
    • Association du Développement et de la Promotion de Droits de l’Homme, Mauritanie
    • Dieumax Ventures, Nigeria
    • Leadership Watch, Nigeria
    • Initiative For Peace And Stability ( IPAS), Nigeria
    • HETAVED SKILLS ACADEMY AND NETWORKS INTERNATIONAL, Nigeria
    • Environment and Development Advocates (EDA), Nigeria
    • ASSOCIATION COMMUNAUTAIRE POUR LE BIEN ETRE ET LA PROTECTION ENVIRONNEMENTALE /ACOBEPE ONGD, REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO
    • Nouveaux Droits de l’homme Congo Brazzaville, République du Congo
    • GCAP-SENGAL, Senegal
    • EARTH REGENERATIVE PROJECT SIERRA LEONE-NGO, SIERRA LEONE
    • Volunteers Involving Organisations Network, Sierra Leone
    • Mahawa Foundation, Sierra Leone
    • Waste For Change NPC, South Africa
    • Kadesh International, South Africa
    • African Monitor Trust, South Africa
    • Community Health Organization(CH), Tanzania
    • VEILLE CITOYENNE TOGO, TOGO
    • Espace Vie et Action-Togo (EVA-T), Togo
    • Sugur Development Agency (SDA), Uganda
    • Vision Centre Africa, Uganda
    • Human Nature Projets Uganda, Uganda
    • Step Up Youth Initiative, Uganda
    • Development Education Community Project, Zambia

    Américas

    • AidWatch Canada, Canada
    • Vision GRAM-International, Canada and  D R Congo
    • Gloria Rodríguez, Colombia
    • Movimiento Nacional Cimarrón, Colombia
    • Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic
    • Christian Acosta, Ecuador
    • CECADE, El Salvador
    • Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Developpement (UNASCAD), Haiti
    • Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council, Jamaica
    • Uso Inteligente ASV AC, México
    • MY World México, México
    • Humberto Soto, México
    • Coordinadora por los Derechos de la Infancia y la Adolescencia de Paraguay, Paraguay
    • Consorcio Agroecológico Peruano, Perú
    • Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc, Saint Lucia
    • UNANIMA International, United States
    • Congregation of the Mission, United States
    • World Union for Progressive Judaism, United States
    • Transdiaspora Network, United States
    • Sustainably Wise, United States
    • Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights, United States
    • The GOOD Group, United States
    • Let There Be Light International, United States
    • ALICIA STAMMER, United States
    • Andrea Ruiz, United States
    • TRIPPINZ CARE INC, United States
    • Pleading for the Widows International Foundation, United States
    • Missionary Oblates of Immaculate, United States
    • Oblate Ecological Initiative, United States
    • United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, United States
    • New Future Foundation, United States
    • World Roma Federation, US
    • Kosmos Journal; Unity Earth, USA
    • NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, USA
    • Volunteer Groups Alliance, USA
    • Findhorn Foundation, USA
    • TAP Network, USA
    • Global Choices, USA/ UK
    • REDHNNA, Venezuela
    • OMEP World Organization for Early Childhood Education, Argentina
    • Fundación para la Democracia Internacional, Argentina
    • Fundacion para Estudio e investigacion de la Mujer, Argentina
    • Reaccion Climatica, Bolivia
    • Viviane Weingärtner, Brazil

     

  • People power is China’s great untapped resource

    By Frances Eve, Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) and Cathal Gilbert, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, CIVICUS

    From 3-5 September, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met at the ninth BRICS summit. The venue was Xiamen - a gleaming port city which symbolises China’s rise as the new economic and political force in the world. It is also a fitting venue to mark the continued emergence of BRICS as a bloc with some serious geopolitical heft.

    But what does BRICS mean for Chinese people and how can they have any say in these annual meetings, which bring together heads of state from 5 of the most prosperous and populous emerging economies?

    These are uncomfortable questions for a group of leaders who, thus far, have not sought any meaningful inputs from their citizens on the future direction of BRICS. They are particularly awkward questions for host, China, where civil society activists, human rights lawyers, and others who seek to have a say in tackling China’s 21st century problems are systematically repressed by a small elite determined to hold on to power.

    Regular monitoring of the space for civil society by the CIVICUS Monitor and the China Human Rights Briefing shows the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression are systematically curtailed in China. These research tools show that civic space is ‘repressed’ in China, indicating that citizens are not able to safely and fully exercise their fundamental rights, namely to associate, peacefully assemble and express themselves. Based on these indicators, the state of civil society rights in China is the lowest amongst BRICS countries and in the bottom quarter for all UN member states.

    Since 2014, a series of restrictive new laws on national security, non-profit organisations and anti-terrorism have been passed, coinciding with a sustained escalation of detentions of dissidents. The latest of these is China’s new National Intelligence Law, which gives authorities “sweeping powers to monitor and investigate foreign and domestic individuals and institutions”. The Law on the Management of Overseas NGO Activities, which allows the police to control CSOs' funding sources, staffing and activities, came into force on the 1st of January this year.

    Aside from laws, China has relentlessly pursued its critics through mass arrests of lawyers and activists in 2015, the shutdown of websites promoting peaceful dialogue and deploying riot police to prevent a demonstration on poor air quality in Chengdu. The list goes on.

    The Chinese authorities’ distaste for free speech and human rights activism was perhaps best displayed following the death in July 2017 of China’s only Nobel Peace Prize Laureate  Liu Xiaobo. Rather than allow Xiaobo’s colleagues and friends to mourn, the authorities tightly controlled his burial at sea to prevent a commemoration, arrested activists after his funeral and orchestrated the subsequent disappearance of his widow, Liu Xia, whom they have held in arbitrary detention since 2010.

    None of these issues were discussed at the summit in Xiamen. The agenda was dominated by concerns of international security, especially as North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb on the first day of the summit, global trade and the rebalancing of the global financial systems.

    But if any of this is to be achieved, and particularly if BRICS is to realise its goal of “strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive economic growth”, its leaders will have to start listening to their people. Fans of China’s spectacular economic growth may say that political reform  is not necessary but history shows us that silencing your citizens is always a strategy with a limited shelf life. Either education and prosperity will rise to levels where citizens demand a proper say, or exclusion and frustration will spill over onto the streets.

    China’s leaders are smart enough to know that even their industrial-scale repression is only partly successful. Indeed, China does allow for tens of thousands of protests to take place across the country every year. By adopting this pressure valve strategy, China allows citizens to let off steam while it simultaneously goes after the organisers or those who share information. This month’s sentencing of a citizen journalist to four years in prison for documenting labour protests is one such example of this tactic.

    Deep down, China’s leaders know that a state can never completely kill the spirit of activism and resistance. Nowadays, the rising influence of the internet, despite being  a tool of repression and rigidly controlled and monitored in China, continues to make the spread of ideas and calls to action easier.

    BRICS may seem a strange place for China to begin the journey towards a more open society. But within the BRICS framework, China can learn from South Africa, where one of the world’s most progressive constitutions is still largely intact, there is a pluralism in the media and protests take place on a daily basis. This dialogue about the merits of democracy could take place through a genuine South-South spirit of partnership, devoid of the often toxic dynamics of North-South dialogue.

    An empowered and engaged civil society doesn’t just mean there will be greater checks on power. It is also a means to create innovation, social cohesion and prosperity within society, share new ideas, challenge the status quo and explore the wealth of generosity and creativity in each individual.

    With almost 1.4 billion people, surely this is China’s greatest untapped resource?

    Frances Eve is a Hong Kong-based researcher with the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a coalition of Chinese and international NGOs dedicated to the promotion of human rights in China.

    Cathal Gilbert is a researcher at The World Alliance for Citizen Participation, CIVICUS

     

  • Putin's war and the future of the rules-based international order

    By Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS

    With thousands dead and millions displaced in Ukraine, Europe is now in the throes of its most acute refugee crisis since the Second World War. Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian civilian population and infrastructure have yet again exposed major weaknesses in the rules-based international order. The ability of the UN to act as the guarantor of international peace and security is being called into serious question.

    Read on Diplomatic Courier

     

  • Reaction to human rights resolution on reprisals

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Response to resolution on reprisals

    CIVICUS welcomes the new resolution on reprisals, passed by the Human Rights Council this afternoon, which detailed trends and patterns in reprisals and identified the increased risk for those most marginalized. 

    The latest report to the Human Rights Council on reprisals – presented to the Council by the Assistant Secretary-General of the UN last week – showed that reprisals against activists continue unabated, without accountability. This undermines the strength of the entire United Nations when its member states persecute and punish those that provide evidence and testimonials of human rights abuses. 

    The UN depends on information from the ground in order to fulfil its mandate of protecting human rights. Every act of reprisal, including those detailed in the latest report as well as the countless others that go unreported, is a direct challenge to this. We were particularly concerned to see 13 Human Rights Council members listed in the report as perpetrators of reprisals, and reiterate calls for a mechanism which imposes real political costs and accountability for states that engage in reprisals.

    Several hostile amendments to the resolution were tabled by Russia, but were defeated by the Human Rights Council. We welcome the strong statements made by a number of states today in support of the resolution, and we call on states, and the UN bodies, to step up their efforts to both prevent and address reprisals.

    Read our statement to the Human Rights Council here.

     

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