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Human Rights Defenders

Introduction


      Need for recognition of role played

Non-governmental organisations that are human rights defenders should be recognised as contributing to the effective implementation of universal and regional human rights standards. See the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Moscow, 3 October 1991 and the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities.

      Right to disseminate information and promote acceptance

Human rights defenders have the right to disseminate information about universal and regional human rights standards, as well as to promote both their acceptance by states and their further development. See Articles 6 and 7 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

      Right to monitor

Human rights defenders also have the right to monitor the implementation of universal and regional human rights standards through techniques such as trial observation, attendance at other public proceedings and research. They can inform the general public and international supervisory bodies as to their findings both in general and with respect to the treatment of individuals and of groups of individuals. See Articles 5, 6, 8 and 9 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Paragraph 11 of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Copenhagen, 29 June 1990 and Paragraph 43 of the Document of the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Moscow, 3 October 1991.

      Right to provide advice and representation

In addition human rights defenders can, either through their own appropriately qualified employees or other such persons, provide legal advice, assistance and representation for victims of violations of universal and regional human rights standards at the national, regional or universal level. See Article 9 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Paragraph 11 of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, Copenhagen, 29 June 1990.

      Right to protest

Furthermore human rights defenders can organise protests against the breach or non-implementation of universal and regional human rights standards, as well as about the failure to accept them. See Articles 5 and 12 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

      Need for opportunity to comment on reports to international bodies

Human rights defenders should be given effective opportunities to comment on reports by governments on the implementation of universal and regional human rights standards before their submission to international supervisory bodies. See Articles 5 and 9 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

      Need for consultation

Human rights defenders should be consulted on measures to be taken to implement universal and regional human rights standards. See Article 8 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

      Duty of protection

Human rights defenders should be protected against attacks and intimidation. Allegations of any such action should be subject to independent and effective investigation leading, where appropriate, to administrative measures and/or criminal proceedings against those responsible. See Budapest Document: Towards a genuine Partnership in a New Era (Summit of Heads of State or Government), Article 12 of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on Council of Europe action to improve the protection of human rights defenders and promote their activities and Ensuring protection – European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.



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