CIVICUS Statement at the Human Rights Council on South Sudan

34th session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS is deeply alarmed by the report of the Commission on South Sudan about continued mass atrocities, violence, killings and crimes against humanity at a time when the country is plagued by the worst famine. South Sudan is on the verge of an ethnic war that can destabilise the entire region.  In fact, there is a real risk of genocide. 


CIVICUS Statement at Human Rights Council on Burundi

34th session of the Human Rights Council  

CIVICUS expresses serious concerns that the human rights situation has not improved since the last time we presented a statement here in response to the report of the Independent Experts about human rights in Burundi on 27 September 2016.


CIVICUS Statement at Human Rights Council on Eritrea

34th session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS expresses its appreciation to the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea for the work she has done to highlight the worst human rights violations and the overall dire situation in Eritrea.  We also laud the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) for the findings and recommendations presented in the report of the Commission. 


CIVICUS Statement at Human Rights Council on Annual Report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

34th session of the Human Rights Council
8 March, 2017

Thank you Mr. President,

High Commissioner, CIVICUS welcomes your annual report and update. We are consistently awed by the breadth of work undertaken by your offices across the world. In this period where restrictions of civil society groups and HRDs are becoming increasingly normalized, CIVICUS vigorously endorses your call for the allocation of greater resources to strengthen and bolster OHCHR’s mandate and operations. 


Joint Letter to UN Human Rights Council: Renew mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

Re: Support consensus renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

7 March 2017

Your Excellency,

The undersigned 93 civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The work of human rights defenders is vital to promoting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. Despite this critical role, the Special Rapporteur notes that defenders are under ‘unprecedented attack’ with ‘the number killed around the world continuously rising’.


Civicus at Human Rights Council: Statement on right to privacy

34th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy
7 March 2017
Delivered by Tor Hodenfield

Thanks you Mr. President,

CIVICUS welcomes the report of Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy. We applaud the Special Rapporteur and his team for undertaking a frank and much needed assessment of the characteristics of the international legal framework surrounding governmental surveillance. It is clear from these reflections that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is more essential than ever.


CIVICUS at the Human Rights Council: Statement on climate change and the rights of the child

34th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child
2 March 2017
Delivered by Matthew Reading-Smith

CIVICUS welcomes this opportunity to address the Vice President of the Council and the other distinguished panelists. We applaud the Council´s commitment to an integrated approach to the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. These two frameworks beckon the highest degree of international cooperation and reveal common areas of social, economic and environmental interdependence.


CIVICUS at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council

Two thirds of the activities of the United Nations system takes place in Geneva, making it a key centre of international co-operation and multilateral negotiation. CIVICUS’ main focus currently concentrates on the human rights mechanisms, most notably the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Special Procedures, but also on the Treaty bodies. CIVICUS also works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).


Statement on human rights abuses in South Sudan

UN Human Rights Council - 26th Special Session
Special Session on South Sudan

CIVICUS welcomes this Special Session following the findings and recommendations recently put forward by the Expert Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.  We agree with the assessment that South Sudan is on the verge of an unprecedented spate of violence which has strong ethnic connotations.  


Widening space by young human rights defenders

The event will contribute to the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law on “Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making” by strengthening recognition and deepening the understanding  among participants of how young human rights defenders play a key role in widening the role and participation of young people in  public decision-making  as a means to contribute to sustainable peace and development. 


Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi-United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth 

Ms.  Ayesha  Munu -Girls’ Rights  Defender  

Mr.  Carlos  Andres-Environmental  Rights  Defender   

Chaeli Mycroft -Ability activist 

Ms. Madeline Wells-Indigenous Peoples Rights Defender  

Peggy  Hicks-  Director  at the UN's

human rights office


21 November 2016, 13:15 – 14:45, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Room XXIII


Amnesty  International,  CIVICUS,  Defence  for  Children  International,  KidsRights and World Vision


If you do not have a UN badge please register for the Forum here and upload a  letter of accreditation  by Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 6 pm, Geneva time in order to access Palais des Nations, once the accreditation is approved.

The  event  will  be livestreamed through  our Facebook  page  and  will  provide the  opportunity for  people who are not in Geneva to engage with the event and send questions. The hashtag  #YoungHRDs  will  also be used on Twitter to gather inputs and solicit questions in the lead up to and during the event.


Negotiations for a Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights

The intergovernmental working group was mandated to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.


Human Rights Situation in Syria - CIVICUS Statement at the 25th Special Session

We remain deeply alarmed by the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation across Syria. The renewed and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian Government and its allies on the besieged areas of Eastern Aleppo have had devastating consequences for its civilian population and the city’s remaining social infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Aleppo, largely deprived of access to potentially life-saving relief.  The attack on a humanitarian convoy last month and the bombing and shelling of hospitals, rescue structures and schools are against the minimal provisions of international humanitarian law and, if done deliberatively, constitute crimes against humanity.


CIVICUS Universal Periodic Review Submissions on Civil Society Space

In advance of the start of the 3rd cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in April 2017, CIVICUS has made joint and stand-alone submissions examining the environment for civil society in 11 countries. The submissions specifically highlight a broad range of unwarranted legal and extra-legal restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression and the work of human rights defenders. To compliment these narrative reports, CIVICUS and its partners provide an analysis of the State under Review’s level of domestic implementation of recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle in May 2012 and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

Countries examined: Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, and Tunisia (see from list below)

Algeria: CIVICUS and the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Research and Maghrebi Studies (IKCRMS) highlight the use of restrictive legislation to unwarrantedly limit the work of independent civil society organisations and impede peaceful protests. CIVICUS and IKCRMS further discuss continued attempts to silence independent media through the undue closure of independent outlets and the persecution of individuals and groups for exercising their right to freedom of expression. 
Bahrain: CIVICUS, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) underscore the severe and continued restrictions on freedom of expression including the routine judicial persecution and harassment of individuals and groups for taking part in legitimate forms of dissent both online and offline. CIVICUS, BCHR and GCHR further examine the targeting of human rights defenders, journalists, religious leaders, peaceful protesters and civil society representatives through reprisals, travel bans, prison sentences, torture and other unjustified limitations. 

Brazil: CIVICUS and Conectas highlight the endemic levels of violence against journalists and human rights defenders, and particularly against land rights, indigenous and environmental activists. The submission further examines the use of legal and extra-legal restrictions on the right to free assembly in Brazil, leading to increasingly violent policing and repression of protests. It provides recommendations to the Government of Brazil to ensure an enabling environment for civil society, in accordance with the rights enshrined in Brazil’s Constitution as well as international best practice.

Ecuador: CIVICUS, FCD (Citizen and Development Foundation), Fundamedios (Andean Foundation for the Observation and Study of the Media) and AEDEP (Ecuadorean Association of Newspapers’ Editors) address concerns regarding the expansion of state controls over Ecuadorean civil society. The submission also discusses the situation of human rights defenders, particularly those working on the rights of indigenous peoples and sexual and reproductive rights. It concludes with recommendations to the Government of Ecuador on how to improve the conditions for civil society to operate free from unwarranted state interference, communicate and cooperate, seek and secure funding, and publically present their demands without fear of retaliation.

India: CIVICUS and Human Rights Defenders Alert, supported by 19 Indian civil society organisations, examine India’s fulfilment of the rights to freedom of association, assembly, and expression and unwarranted restrictions on human rights defenders since its previous UPR examination.  We look at unwarranted restrictions on civil society groups, the use of restrictive legislation to de-register organisations and the suspension of the bank accounts of others to prevent them from carrying out their activities.  We further examine attacks, intimidation and judicial persecution of human rights defenders, the brutal assassination of journalists and often violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations

Indonesia: CIVICUS, LBH PERS, ICJR, ELSAM, YAPPIKA focus on the failure of the government of Indonesia to fully implement all the recommendations it accepted and noted during its previous UPR review. We assess attacks and persecution of human rights defenders, the assassination of an environmental rights activist, harassment and physical attacks on journalists and the use of restrictive legislation, circulars and policies to target freedom of expression and online freedoms. The submission looks at the use of excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations and the use of pre-emptive measures to ban protests especially those held on issues affecting West Papuans.  

Morocco: CIVICUS highlights the criminalisation, intimidation and harassment of civil society groups through the imposition of travel bans, banning of meetings and conferences of CSOs and unjustifiable denial of formal registration of vocal groups. CIVICUS underscores the lack of implementation of recommendations in relation to freedom of expression, including a number of legitimate forms of free speech that continue to be criminalised.

The Philippines: CIVICUS and KARAPATAN examine the continued extrajudicial killing, intimidation and harassment of human right defenders, journalists and media workers as well as legal restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, in particular the criminalisation of libel and overbroad provisions of the 2012 Cybercrime Prevention Act. CIVICUS and KARAPATAN asses The Philippines level of implementation of a range of UPR recommendations pertaining to civic space.

Poland: CIVICUS and the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) highlight grave concerns on the sharp decline in respect for civic space that has occurred since late 2015 when the newly-elected government began to implement policies and introduce laws clearly aimed at curbing media freedom, free expression and dissent. As Poland appears for the third time before the UPR, CIVICUS and KOD make a series of recommendations on how Poland can reverse course and strengthen respect for the fundamental freedoms in line with its international commitments.
South Africa: CIVICUS and HURISA discuss the harassment of peaceful protestors and demonstrators by state security agents which impedes the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the extra-judicial killing of human rights defenders, and the failure to sufficiently amend or repeal restrictive legislation limiting freedom of information. CIVICUS and HURISA further provide an analysis of South Africa’s operationalisation of UPR recommendations on freedom of assembly, association, expression and HRDs.

Tunisia: CIVICUS and The Movement for Amazigh of Tunisa discuss the legal and extra-legal restrictions undermining freedom of expression in the country, including legal provisions that criminalise defamation, overbroad definitions in the anti-terrorism legislation and a number of recent attacks against journalists and media workers. CIVICUS and Amazigh of Tunisia further examine restrictive pre-revolution legislation that impedes the freedom of assembly. 


Interactive Dialogue on Somalia - Joint Statement at the Human Rights Council

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project thank the Independent Expert on Somalia for his report. 

As Somalia prepares for its electoral process later this year, we take this opportunity to welcome steps taken by the government to strengthen its human rights framework in preparation for the election.

While recognising this progress, we call on Somali authorities to make a concerted effort to  address undue restrictions on freedom of expression. In particular, we call on Somalia to ensure that government officials’ threats and intimidation of media workers are swiftly and effectively investigated. In June 2016, Puntland Ministry of Information issued a directive restricting journalists from interviewing persons linked to pirates and terrorists, and in an audio recording, the Minister of Information threatened to use force and to kill journalists who violate the order. Although Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the majority of violations committed against media workers, the Government should cease its practice of closing radio stations and arresting journalists deemed critical. 


Joint civil society statement on Swaziland at the Human Rights Council

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

We are concerned that even though the Swaziland government has committed to consider 72 recommendations, there has been no consultation with civil society on the recommendations. We continue to witness violations (e.g. the right to freedom of association, expression and assembly) 


Interactive Dialogue on Burundi - Civicus Statement at the Human Rights Council

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the final report of the Independent Experts and commends them for their clear analysis of the shocking situation of human rights in Burundi. 

We note that the report concedes that violence against human rights defenders, journalists and ordinary citizens continues unabated and those who are behind the violence act with unacceptable impunity. 

Mr. President, we agree with the findings of the report on the enforced disappearances, abductions, killings, torture, arrests and detentions of those perceived to be opponents of the regime.  Human rights defenders, journalists and ordinary citizens have been killed, others been abducted and taken to unknown locations.  Those fortunate enough to be released alive are tortured before they are released.


Fundamental freedoms being violated in Sudan - CIVICUS Statement at the Human Rights Council

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the report of the Independent Expert and recognizes the Council’s continued vigilance in addressing the human rights situation in Sudan.  

The report presented today clearly articulates that the Government has failed to take adequate and swift measures to realize its human rights obligations under international law.

Indicative of the Government’s unwillingness to seriously address persistent human violations is its resistance to launching an independent judicial investigation into the killings, excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests of scores of peaceful protestors in September 2013 in response to oil-subsidies imposed by the State. The codification of impunity for the National Intelligence and Security Services under the 2010 National Security act presents a nearly insurmountable barrier to ensuring accountability for the gross human rights violations committed by security forces in response to the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly.


Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia - Joint Statement at the Human Rights Council

33rd session of the Human Rights Council
Joint Oral Submission
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and CIVICUS

Next month marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements, which set out a framework for peace in Cambodia based on a multi-party democracy guaranteeing human rights; however, the past year has seen the pillars of Cambodian democracy come under attack.

Despite the Council’s call in October 2015 for the government “to promote a pluralistic and democratic process”, political opposition have systematically been targeted: last October two opposition lawmakers were brutally beaten by members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit; opposition leader Sam Rainsy faces charges for defamation and remains in self-imposed exile; and earlier this month acting opposition leader Kem Sokha was sentenced to five months imprisonment following a criminal investigation widely considered to be politically motivated. 


Youth and human rights - Joint Statement at the Human Rights Council

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS has the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of CIVICUS Youth Action Team and three members organisations of the alliance: Amnesty International, Zimbabwe National Association of Youth Organisations and Young Diplomats of Canada. We thank the Council for organising this important discussion and the panellists for their insightful interventions. 

Mr President, in 2016 CIVICUS reported that the enjoyment of at least one of the three core civic freedoms ― freedom of association, assembly and expression ― was threatened in one hundred and nine countries. Youth-led civil society groups and human rights defenders, routinely at the forefront of rights-based movements, remain particularly susceptible to these unlawful restrictions and draconian persecutions.


HUNGARY: UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW - CIVICUS Statement at the Human Rights Council

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes Hungary’s commitment to engage with the Universal Periodic Review process and takes seriously the recommendations made by states and other stakeholders during the 2nd cycle review.

We urge the Government of Hungary to accept all recommendations made, and draw particular attention to those recommendations related to the recent erosion of respect for fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.


Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples - CIVICUS Statement

33rd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report on the rights of indigenous peoples and its contribution towards the development of a stronger guiding framework on the relationship between business and human rights. We especially applaud the Special Rapporteur’s thematic analysis of the impact of international investment agreements on the rights of indigenous peoples within the context of achieving greater coherence between international investment law and international human rights standards to safeguard the fulfilment of states’ duties to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.


Unwarranted limitations on civic space in Cambodia, Egypt and Syria - Statement at Human Rights Council

CIVICUS remains deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Syria and the continued suffering of its people. Yet last week’s cessation of hostilities and the attendant reduction in violence and airstrikes has again engendered hope that humanitarian access will be granted to besieged areas. This cessation of hostilities agreement - the second since February -  is also a rare opportunity to move towards a negotiated political solution to Syria’s devastating conflict. We call on all sides to ensure with utmost political will that this opportunity is not wasted. There is also a pressing need for the voices of Syria citizens and civil society to be heard and fully included in any transitional justice and peace process.


Equal participation in political and public affairs - CIVICUS Statement at Human Rights Council

33nd session of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes this opportunity to address the High Commissioner and the Council on the evolving discussion to develop a more robust guiding framework to protect and promote the right to participate in political and public affairs. We applaud the High Commissioner and Council for facilitating an inclusive process, including the recent expert working group meeting, to enable wide engagement among a diverse range of stakeholders.


CIVICUS response to Human Rights Commissioner´s opening remarks at 33rd Session of Human Rights Council

We fully endorse the High Commissioner´s caution against populist demagogues in Europe and the United States, who fuel hatred and bigotry against minority groups, refugees and entire religious communities. We applaud his continued attention to the precipitous backsliding on basic public freedoms undermining important human rights gains and democratic consolidation in many regions of the world.

We equally deplore the lack of access given to his Office and Special Procedures to many countries in an attempt to block or evade human rights scrutiny.

Specifically, CIVCUS reiterates the High Commissioner’s deep concern about the grave and escalating violations of human rights in Ethiopia in the context of peaceful protests. We urge the Council to rapidly dispatch an international, independent and transparent investigation into the use of excessive and lethal force against protesters, which has resulted in hundreds of extra-judicial killings and thousands of arrests.


Interactive Dialogue on access to safe drinking water and sanitation and on arbitrary detention

CIVICUS thanks the Special Rapporteur on access to safe drinking water and sanitation for his very innovative report, for looking through the gender lens on the myriad challenges women face in tackling the material and structural determinants of gender inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene which could serve as an entry point to address gender inequality more broadly. We particularly thank him for making the link to participation, not only as a right in itself, but also imperative for fulfilling other rights. We concur that.the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that meet women’s and girls’ needs can be largely attributed to the absence of women’s participation in decision-making and planning.


Joint letter to the UN HRC: Addressing the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia


A group of civil society organizations (CSOs) have written to the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to draw the delegation's attention to grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia, including the recent crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. 

They call on the delegation of the 33rd HRC session to prioritise and address through joint and individual statements the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia. 
Read the letter here


Human Rights Violations in Cambodia: Joint letter to UN HRC calling for resolution


12 international, regional, and Cambodian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), urge the Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution addressing Cambodia's gravely deteriorating human rights situation.


Joint Press Statement by the Civic Space Initiative (CSpI)

States must implement crucial UN Human Rights Council resolution on civil society space, and cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and of association.

The CSI is committed to engaging with governments and other stakeholders to ensure that the international human rights standards adopted at the HRC are implemented nationally, to enhance the enabling environment for civil society, and to defend that space where it is at risk. 

Read the full statement here


CIVICUS Statement on the Interactive Dialogue on the UN High Commissioner’s report on Burundi

Thank you, Mr. President,

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Burundi.

We note with extreme concern the dire deterioration of the situation, including restrictions on fundamental freedoms and arbitrary arrests and detentions, cruel and inhumane treatment, torture and extrajudicial executions, perpetrated by the armed forces and the Imborenakure.  This -as the report mentions- has created a climate of fear and intimidation, fuelled by high levels of impunity.


Over 200 NGOs call on the UN HRC to support resolution on civic society space

Re: Call for your support and solidarity in rejecting amendments to HRC32 draft resolution protecting civil society space (A/HRC/32/L.29)  

Open Letter to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council  29 June 2016  

Your Excellency,  

We, the undersigned 244 civil society organizations, spanning across all regions of the world, call on your delegation to stand in solidarity with civil society by supporting the draft resolution on the protection of civil society space, to be considered for adoption at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council (on 30 June or 1 July).[1] We urge you to cosponsor the draft resolution, reject all amendments, and vote in favour of the resolution if a vote is called.


CIVICUS UN HRC statement on restrictions on civic space in Bahrain and Egypt

CIVICUS remains deeply alarmed by both the increase and severity of restrictive laws, policies and practices being used to undermine and enfeeble civil society across the globe. In a report launched this week, CIVICUS has documented serious threats to civil society space in 109 countries in 2015, representing a roughly 15 percent increase over the past year.



This statement is delivered by CIVICUS together with our national partner organization, the Sierra Leone Campaign for Good Governance. We commend Sierra Leone for its global leadership on promoting and protecting civil society and in particular its sponsorship of Human Rights Council Resolution 27/31 on the protection of civil society space.

We further recognise the challenges Sierra Leone faces in rebuilding its democracy and infrastructure since the end of the brutal civil war and most recently the ebola outbreak. We note however that restrictions on fundamental freedoms continue to impede efforts to advance democratic consolidation.



CIVICUS applauds Somalia’s cooperation and engagement with the UPR process. We also take this opportunity to remember the passing of Ambassador Bari Bari and the important contributions he made to the advancement of human rights both within the Council and at home.

While acknowledging the very real and substantial challenges the Government of Somalia faces in consolidating democratic space and creating accountable State institutions inflicted by 20 years of civil war, we also urge the Government and the international community to take concerted measures to realize the important progressive civic space recommendations accepted by Somalia’s during its UPR.


CIVICUS UN HRC statement on Ethiopia's non-compliance with Special Procedures

Thank you, Mr. President, 

CIVICUS welcomes Special Procedures’ comprehensive report on Communications with States that brings to light human rights situations on which the Council has remained largely silent. 

We refer to Communications to Ethiopia in December 2015 on the violent repression of peaceful protests organized by students throughout the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In response to the protests, the Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily arrested thousands of people and several hundred people have been summarily killed by the security services while participating in the protests. 


HRC 32: Interactive Dialogue on South Sudan

Human Rights Council: 32nd Session

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS welcome this enhanced interactive dialogue with national, regional and international stakeholders on the grave situation in South Sudan.

Mr President, the establishment of a Commission on human rights in South Sudan at the 31st Session of the Council and the appointment of Commissioners last week represent a welcome step towards accountability for the victims of grave human rights violations in Africa’s newest nation. The Commission represents an important opportunity for regional and international cooperation in response to one of the most brutal conflicts happening in the world today.


Joint CIVICUS UN HRC statement on the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

Human Rights Council: 32nd Session

CIVICUS and Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea welcome the report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Eritrea. 

We remain deeply concerned by the findings presented in the CoI’s report, including those amounting to crimes against humanity, which indicate that there has been no material improvement in human rights situation on the ground. We note with particular alarm that extensive violations of freedom of expression, assembly and association continue unabated. The absolute and violent repression of all forms of dissent and civil society freedoms in Eritrea is emblematic of the extreme consequences of denying people the right to participate in the development of the state.


Joint UN Human Rights Council statement on protecting and promoting civil society space

CIVICUS on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative  welcomes the High Commissioner’s presentation of its landmark report on protecting and promoting civil society space.

We are seriously concerned by the growing implementation gap between states’ international human rights obligations and commitments, including those set out in HRC Resolution 27/31, and national realities facing civil society. CIVICUS has documented serious human rights violations against civil society in 109 countries in 2015. ICNL has documented 153 restrictive legislative initiatives since 2012. This underscores the urgency of an international response to prevent the closing of civic space.


Joint CIVICUS UN HRC statement on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women

WILPF has the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of 27 CSOs. We applaud the ambitious and complementary thematic priorities proposed by the Special Rapporteur in her first annual report to the Council and we congratulate her in her appointment. 

We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s attention to: 1) closing the implementation gap on violence against women under the aegis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and; 2) the use of data as a tool for prevention through the establishment of “femicide watch”.


Joint CIVICUS & Save the Children UN Human Rights Council Statement on civic space for children

Joint NGO Oral Statement by Save the Children, CIVICUS and 17 NGOs

A strong, diverse and independent civil society is also a space for children. Children, who constitute more than 30% of the world’s population, have the right to be heard and participate in different spheres of society. Children want to participate in public processes. We need them to speak out to better respond to their situation. Despite this, children’s voices are often marginalized.


Addressing human rights violations in Eritrea and the UN Commission of Inquiry’s findings

To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), write to express our grave concern about the Eritrean Government’s continued and egregious violations of human rights. We urge your delegation to co-sponsor a resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea and supporting the establishment of robust accountability mechanisms to facilitate access to justice to the victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Eritrea during the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC).


Bahrain: NGOs call for an end to reprisals against human rights defenders as Nabeel Rajab arrested and Bahraini rights defenders banned from travel to Geneva

As the 32nd Session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opened in Geneva on 13 June, Nabeel Rajab, Bahrain's most high profile human rights defender, was arrested after dozens of police officers raided his home at around 5am and confiscated his electronic devices. The day before, Bahraini human rights defenders and victims of violations were prevented from flying to Geneva.


Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

32nd Session of the Human Rights Council

While religious fundamentalism continues to dominate international headlines and many of the proceedings of the Council, we urge all states to acknowledge how various iterations of fundamentalism undermine the realization of human rights, including the right to assembly and association. While less visceral than religious fundamentalism, market, political, cultural and nationalism forms of fundamentalism, must assume greater prominence within discussions at the Council.


Human Rights Council: Response to opening remarks from the High Commissioner for Human Rights

CIVICUS welcomes the High Commissioner’s comprehensive update this morning. We share his myriad concerns and laud his continued support for the creation of an enabling environment for civil society at both the Council and nationally.

Mr. President, six out of seven people live in countries where civil society groups and HRDs face substantial challenges in exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression. Under the guise of safeguarding state sovereignty, combating terrorism and the preservation of morals, governments in both the Global North and South are adopting regressive legislation and engaging in illicit surveillance, deadly forms of harassment and threats to silence voices of dissent.


High-Level Panel on the 10th Anniversary of the Human Rights Council

CIVICUS welcomes this extraordinary panel on the 10th anniversary of the Council and salutes all its Presidents.

Since its establishment, the Council has emerged as a principled leader in supporting and expanding space for civil society both within its corridors and at the national level. In the last year alone it has adopted several landmark resolutions and reports articulating specific protections for human rights defenders, freedom of assembly and civil society space, while vigilantly protecting NGOs’ right to contribute to each of these initiatives. 


Ethiopia: EU must raise treatment of Human Rights Defenders with Prime Minister

Ethiopia statement banner

Dear President, High Representative, Dear Commissioners,

The Prime Minister of  Ethiopia will be visiting Brussels for the 2016 European Development Days. We urge you to express serious concerns about the Ethiopian Government’s violent repression of the Oromo protests, and its escalating crackdown on human rights defenders, independent media, peaceful protesters, and members of the political opposition under the 2009 Ethiopian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Since December 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive, unnecessary and lethal force to disperse and suppress peaceful protests in the Oromia region. The protesters, who have been advocating against the dispossession of land without adequate compensation under the government’s Integrated Development Master Plan, have been subjected to widespread rights violations. According to international and national human rights groups, at least 200 demonstrators, including children and university students, have been killed during the protests. It is also widely reported that hundreds of people have suffered bullet wounds and beatings by the police and military.


Appeal to swiss government to make human rights the focal point of Bahrain state visit

letter to swiss gov

Attention MFA Didier Burkhalter


We, the undersigned, write to you concerning Switzerland’s hosting of the King of Bahrain and his state delegation on Thursday 12 May. Bahrain continues to severely restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly; torture remains systematic; use of the death penalty has increase; and the state is arbitrarily rendering activists and juveniles stateless.


Strengthening the Human Rights Council at 10

Strenghtening-HRC-at-10-joint-civil-society-paper-1This joint civil society paper has been prepared by 20 leading international, national and regional non governmental organisations, on the occasion of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 10th Anniversary.

As the HRC enters its 10th anniversary year, this civil society paper details a number of short- and medium-term steps that would enhance its ability to better fulfil its role. Any healthy and functional body should be open to exploring opportunities for self-improvement on a continuing basis.

The 10th anniversary should be not only an occasion for celebrating the achievements of the HRC, but primarily to critically reflect on its shortcomings, and to enhance its impact and effectiveness. It is imperative that civil society is able to participate and contribute fully and substantively to both formal and informal discussions in this regard.


CIVICUS Interventions during the 31st UN Human Rights Council Session

During the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 29 February – 24 March 2016, CIVICUS and its partners raised a number of pressing country specific and thematic civic space concerns. CIVICUS’ joint and oral statements and advocacy letters provided an important opportunity to urge Members and Observer States of the Council to address persistent and acute restrictions on human rights defenders and civil society. CIVICUS further held a series of joint panel discussions to examine the environment for civil society in several countries and assess emerging global civic space trends.



In advance of the 26th Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), CIVICUS has issued six joint and stand-alone UPR submissions on the space for civil society in South Sudan, Syria, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The submissions, developed in coordination with our members and partners, analyse the legal and policy environment of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and restrictions on the activities of human rights defenders since November 2011. The submissions further provide a number of substantive and targeted recommendations to develop and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society in line with their international human rights obligations.


Joint Letter to Human Rights Council on resolution related to peaceful protests

Civil society organisations urge States to reject amendments to Human Rights Council resolution on “the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests” (HRC/31/L.21)




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