This concept — especially its emphasis on self-care and personal wellbeing — has resonated deeply with defenders around the world. View all notes Organisations that conduct security training such as Front Line Defenders, Protection International and Tactical Technology Collective draw attention to the importance of interventions in three interconnected domains — physical security, digital security and self-care. Some defenders and practitioners argue that self-care is both a necessary act of physical and psychological protection as well as a political strategy for sustaining and furthering the work of defenders.
Fourth, it is a multi-level regime — formal protection mechanisms for human rights defenders exist at the national, regional and international levels. In Mexico, for example, defenders are able to seek protection measures from the government through the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists 16 However, there is geographical unevenness in the availability of protection mechanisms.
Many countries have neither enacted laws nor created institutions that recognise and protect the rights of human rights defenders. Fifth, the regime has many stakeholders — civil society groups, donors, national human rights institutions, states, multilateral bodies and individual defenders — who create and use different types of tools, strategies and tactics to identify, support and protect the rights of human rights defenders.
These include the provision of emergency grants, temporary relocation initiatives, security training, advocacy, accompaniment, trial monitoring, networking and capacity building. In the next section of this article we show how there has been growing commitment by some governments to protect human rights defenders around the world. We then contrast these developments with examples of how other governments continue to challenge the legitimacy of defenders and restrict their rights.
Emphasising the need for critical appraisal of the construction, function and evolution of this protection regime as well as its multi-scalar social and political effects, intended and unintended, we identify key areas for further research. Over the past three years, there have been a number of initiatives that strengthen the normative framework for the protection of human rights defenders. At the national level, Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs published guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders in , aimed at making the work of Swiss diplomats and officials in this area of work more coherent, systematic and effective.
View all notes That same year, the United Kingdom issued its first National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which included strengthening support to defenders engaged in business and human rights problems. At the regional level in Europe, both the Council of the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE have strengthened their contribution to this protection regime through recent policy developments. In , the EU marked the 10th anniversary of its European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders by committing better support for vulnerable and marginalised human rights defenders, women human rights defenders and those operating in remote regions; advocating for the creation of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders; and strengthening the implementation of an effective and coherent policy on human rights defenders.
Internationally, in , the Group of Eight G8 adopted a Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict that acknowledged the vital role of women human rights defenders, committing to provide them with better protection. View all notes In , the UN General Assembly passed the first ever resolution on the protection of women human rights defenders.
View all notes The UN Human Rights Council has also passed a number of important resolutions that signify its commitment to the protection of human rights defenders. This resolution emphasised that more must be done to address attacks and reprisals against defenders, unjust laws that criminalise defenders, and impunity for actions against defenders. States have also recognised that some human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable — such as those who work on contested issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, and rights abuses related to extractive industries, land and the environment as well as those who hold particular identities and come from specific communities such as women human rights defenders, LGBTI lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex defenders and indigenous people.
View all notes States have also raised concerns about the security of defenders in a number of ways, including through the Universal Periodic Review UPR process. View all notes The new Special Rapporteur Michel Forst, in his first report, reemphasised the importance of disseminating the declaration and raising the visibility of the situation of human rights defenders.
He committed to addressing national legislative impediments to the work of defenders; challenging impunity for human rights violations against defenders; and tackling reprisals against defenders, in particular those who engage with the UN and other international and regional human rights mechanisms. While there have been positive developments in the evolution of this regime, some states continue to challenge the recognition, legitimacy and integrity of the work of defenders.
Defenders continue to be attacked, even in countries where they have legally enforceable rights to promote and protect human rights. National laws and administrative practices that criminalise defenders have been justified by some states in terms of their measures to protect national sovereignty; counter terrorism and extremism; further economic security and development; and assert particular cultural, traditional and religious norms and practices. In September , for example, the Egyptian government revised Article 78 of its Penal Code introducing severe penalties for those accessing or facilitating access to foreign funding.
This legislation has been used to target those dissenting from the economic model pursued by successive governments that violates the human rights of Adivasi tribal peoples and other communities. For example, following Russia's clamp down on civil society practice through oppressive legislation i.
View all notes Such measures are used not only in repressive regimes but also in nominally or fully democratic states. View all notes In the United Kingdom, for example, the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act restricts civil society organisations CSOs in the period before an election by setting financial limits on regulated campaigning activities above which there is a legal duty to register. Indeed, the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law has documented the introduction or enactment of measures to constrain civil society in more than 50 countries between January and December View all notes Protection-oriented actors who support defenders around the world struggle to respond effectively to this diverse and rapidly changing legal and administrative environment that impacts defenders.
While there have been a number of notable initiatives to address these restrictions, 33 View all notes more research and analysis is needed to understand, prevent and respond to them effectively.
Another troubling development is the extent to which states conduct surveillance and share intelligence on defenders. In some cases, spurious intelligence reports and statements by public officials purportedly based on intelligence data misrepresent defenders and NGOs as impediments to economic growth and threats to national economic security. View all notes States also continue to use anti-terrorism legislation and measures to criminalise defenders and restrict the activities of NGOs. The report notes the government of Uzbekistan's use of the term Wahhabi to describe its radical opposition to such Islamic groups perceived as a threat to national security.
View all notes A number of states have also drawn upon Recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force's International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation to regulate and restrict NGOs under the guise of preventing terrorist financing and money laundering. Increasingly, human rights defenders find their recognition by and access to the UN under attack.
The legitimacy and integrity of their work has been called into question during Human Rights Council sessions and in General Assembly resolutions related to human rights defenders and to civil society space. This wording had already been agreed upon in a previous resolution. View all notes This has been the case not only by states such as China and Eritrea that see any form of civic protest or challenge to state authority as anathema to social and political stability, but by democratic states with growing geopolitical influence, such as South Africa and India.
Coming from states that use laws to restrict freedoms of association, assembly and expression to criminalise and prevent dissent, this represents an ominous, thinly veiled message.
View all notes There have also been cases where human rights defenders experience harassment, intimidation and threats during and following their engagement with the Human Rights Council. Such was the experience of journalist Gnanasiri Kottegoda from Sri Lanka in , who was subjected to a state-sanctioned smear campaign. A pro-government TV channel broadcast images of him and called him a traitor.
He was forced into hiding when military intelligence sought him out, and eventually fled the country. Some states have held back from working with the Special Procedures mechanisms, and some states have also demonstrated a lack of engagement with requests made through the UPR process to protect the rights of human rights defenders. This term has been used to refer to a broad range of individuals and collectives promoting or protecting human rights, including lawyers, journalists, activists, trade unionists, members of community-based organisations, people in social movements and staff of human rights organisations involved in different work in very different contexts.
It has been used to refer to those less obviously characterised as rights defenders, including protesters, teachers, students, social workers, health care professionals, community workers, sexual minorities, religious minorities and peace builders, amongst others. There are clear reasons and benefits for using this term, not least that it confers on defenders recognition and status within the international human rights framework through which they can access support, protection and redress for violations.
Furthermore, many funds, programmes and resources are specifically allocated for work related to human rights defenders, and NGOs and individuals who want to access these funds use this term in their proposals and activities. However, being called a human rights defender is not always advantageous — in some cases, the use of the term can inadvertently raise the level of risk that defenders face and be used to politicise their work. Some aggressors have also started to appropriate this term, referring to themselves as human rights defenders, to the consternation of civil society groups who see them as perpetrators of rights abuses.
Robert M. Protection-oriented actors are concerned about ensuring that the definition corresponds to the breadth of actors put at risk for defending human rights. Furthermore, the declaration and associated protection mechanisms do not set out clear decision-making processes to help with status determination. To what extent should a defender be expected to demonstrate knowledge of and respect for the universality of human rights?
What criteria and process should be adopted to determine this? Enrique Eguren and Champa Patel 44 View all notes this issue suggest that the current basis for this definition does not provide enough guidance for those determining if a specific individual, organisation, group or community is a human rights defender. They are concerned that such ambiguity potentially hinders the protection of defenders. This, they assert, provides a clearer framework for decision-making, which increases the effectiveness of protection mechanisms and forestalls misappropriation of the term by states or other aggressors.
A frequent criticism of protection mechanisms — including by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition — is that they often do not take a holistic, gender-sensitive approach to protection. View all notes Defenders and practitioners have also expressed concern about the uneven and inconsistent protection and support provided to defenders, resulting in some defenders from particular groups and those in specific geographic regions being partially or completely excluded.
Edited by Rob Dickinson, Newcastle Law School, Elena Katselli, Newcastle Law School, Colin Murray, Newcastle Law School, Ole W. Pedersen, Newcastle Law School. Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights - Half title page. By Christine Bell, David Bonner, Rob Dickinson. Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights sets out a practical and theoretical overview of the future of human rights within the United Kingdom and .
There is scant research evaluating how different protection mechanisms perform for defenders. Karen Bennett 46 View all notes this issue examines the effectiveness of the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders since the revision of this policy directive in Drawing upon participatory research conducted in Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Thailand, she identifies reasons for gaps in implementation and shortcomings in the integration of the guidelines in the EU's human rights country strategies.
Bennett points to good practice in implementation, but also barriers to and constraints upon the capacity and willingness of diplomats to implement the guidance and defenders from accessing the envisaged support. Bennett argues that the EU's policy on defenders needs coherence with other EU human rights foreign policy commitments and that wider foreign and economic policy directives should adopt a rights-based approach that is inclusive of the guidelines. At times human rights defenders at risk have also gained protection from an older, more established international regime — that created for refugees.
Martin Jones 47 View all notes this issue observes there has been little attention paid to the intersection between these two protection regimes.
tiofronrife.tk Arguing that direct engagement can be productive, he suggests that the provision of asylum to individuals who flee because they champion human rights causes could provide new ideological currency to the refugee regime, which has seen the gradual erosion of popular support since the end of the Cold War. He also notes that defenders face an additional problem to the difficulties commonly experienced by other refugees — how to remain effective in their human rights work while living in another country.
Pedersen is a Lecturer at Newcastle Law School, where his research interests focus on environmental law, human rights and public law. Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights. Examining Critical Perspectives on Human Rights sets out a practical and theoretical overview of the future of human rights within the United Kingdom and beyond. With its combination of theory and practice of international and domestic human rights at this key juncture in the human rights project, it is relevant to all scholars and practitioners with an interest in human rights. Part III International human rights law perspectives.