Collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur
The Centre for Applied Human Rights has a long-standing relationship with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst. In recognition of CAHR’s expertise in the emerging protection regime for human rights defenders at risk CAHR provides regular technical support to the mandate in the production of the Special Rapporteur’s annual and thematic reports.
In 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, presented the Report on Women Human Rights Defenders to the Human Rights Council. The report reviewed the situation of women human rights defenders focusing in particular on the additional gendered risks and obstacles they face. Led by Alice Nah, the HRD Hub provided research support to Michel Forst in the preparation of this report.
Referring to the normative framework for the work of women human rights defenders, the report discussed the challenging environments in which women HRDs operate and analysed the impact of patriarchy and heteronormativity, gender ideology, fundamentalisms, militarisation and globalisation and neoliberal policies on the rights of women defenders.
Addressed to all stakeholders, the report outlined eight priority areas for building diverse, inclusive and strong movements of women human rights defenders to ensure that the efforts of women defenders to promote and protect human rights are supported and strengthened.
In December 2018, the World Survey on the situation of human rights defenders was published by the UN special rapporteur Michel Forst. The world survey is the first large scale comprehensive analysis of the sitution of HRDs around the globe to be published since the Global Survey of 2006.
The World Survey identified three key trends and issues regarding the implementation of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. These were the evolution of the use of the term human rights defenders, the development of mechanisms and practices to support them and the relevance of legal and administrative frameworks for their protection.
Spearheaded by senior lecturer Martin Jones, the World Report was the product of a global team of more than 40 researches including CAHR staff members and current and former students. The team was brought together to produce the report at the request of Michel Forst in recognition of CAHR’s expertise in the emerging protection regime for human rights defenders at risk. The report was also made possible through the contributions and support of over 200 civil society organisations and HRDs.
Presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018, this report sought to draw attention to the situation of those who act in solidarity with and strive for the protection of the human rights of people on the move including migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people. This report discussed the constellation of challenges arising from features of global migration policy and the trend towards the closing of civic space to human rights defenders.
Most importantly, the report recognises that many defenders become people on the move in order to avoid threats of violence by the perpetrators of human rights violations that arise from their human rights advocacy. In recognition of the perseverance of defenders of people on the move and in light of their increased stigmatisation, this report recommends that States and other actors urgently take steps to protect and promote their rights.
The report on situation of environmental human rights defenders was presented to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2016. The report aimed to raise awareness about the increasing violence against individuals and groups who endeavour to protect and promote human rights relating to the environment.
It also makes recommendations to various stakeholders in order to reverse this emerging trend, to empower and protect such defenders and to keep the situation of environmental human rights defenders on the agenda of bilateral and international discussions.