Policy paper: Reprisals Against Human Rights Defenders at the UN HRC

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), 2012

Respect and Protect? Exploring the need for the United Nations Human Rights Council to strengthen its response to reprisals. This policy paper [download here] with the International Service for Human Rights, falls among an expanding body of concern about the reprisals that continue to take place against human rights defenders who cooperate with the Council’s key mechanisms, and the Council’s responsibilities in this regard. It was written in late 2011 thanks to input from a wide range of human rights practitioners working with and at the UN Human Rights Council.

By addressing the extent to which the Council mechanisms rely on private actors and intermediaries, the study contends that it cannot effectively fulfill its mandate without better protecting them – and being seen to be doing so.

I first look at the nature of the relationship between Council and cooperator, and the Council’s recognition of its risks, before outlining key limitations of the protective system currently available for cooperators within the HRC division. This includes a short analysis of the treatment of the issue within Council proceedings (during and prior to 2011), and the implications of the impression it has so far given to both member states and cooperators. Finally I present a selection of alternative protective strategies used by human rights-related bodies, and recommended by practitioners and academics, to highlight possibilities for exploration and innovation.

For the full paper, please click here. For a briefing on the issue in the Human Rights Monitor Quarterly, please refer to this extract of the study, courtesy of the ISHR, here.