GENEVA (19 March 2012) – In an open letter* to world Governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals, as the Rio+20 first round of informal-informal negotiations began today in New York.
“Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” the rights experts warned, raising the bar for what the conference can and should achieve. “A real risk exists that commitments made in Rio will remain empty promises without effective monitoring and accountability,” they stressed less than a hundred days before the conference starts.
The second Rio Summit, Rio+20, is expected to lay the foundations for a set of global Sustainable Development Goals to complement and strengthen the UN Millennium Development Goals created in 2000.
“Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said
Twenty years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and ten after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the mounting effects of climate change and environmental degradation have raised the stakes further. Both the Goals and the means of reviewing progress must be based on human rights from the start.
“Human rights have guided sixty-plus years of progress by providing a legal baseline for political actions,” they said. “Human rights must now be the glue in Rio: they must bind countries to the commitments they make. States have an opportunity in Rio to create the transformative changes needed or else fare no better than in previous global attempts in this regard.” (suite…)
March 6, 2012 – Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) publishes today the Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, which presents updated information on the situation of defenders in the region and on the applicable standards of international law. Moreover, it provides a follow-up to the first report, published by the IACHR on March 7, 2006.
The report was presented today in Geneva, in the context of the sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco, and the IACHR Executive Secretary, Santiago A. Canton, were in charge of the presentation in a seminar with the participation of the UN Rapporteur on this issue, Margaret Sekaggya. The seminar was organized by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). The report will also be presented in Washington, D.C., on March 28, 2012, in the context of the 144th Period of Sessions of the IACHR.
The report has four chapters: (1) problems faced by human rights defenders in the region; (2) human rights defenders at particular risk; (3) independence and impartiality of justice operators as a guarantee of access to justice; and (4) protection mechanisms for human rights defenders.
The Commission recognizes that some Member States have made significant efforts in order to comply with the recommendations established in the 2006 report. Notwithstanding these efforts, the obstacles pointed-out in the 2006 report persist, and in some cases, they have intensified. There is a continuance of murders, assaults, forced disappearances, threats, illegal searches, as well as in the statements by high-level authorities discrediting and stigmatizing the work of defending human rights. Moreover, the Commission has noted a growing sophistication of the mechanisms designed to hamper, block, or discourage the work of defending and promoting human rights, which is reflected in criminal charges being filed, financing sources for organizations being restricted, and in the absence of adequate and effective mechanisms for their protection.