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Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders

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International Development
INTD 200
Karen Mc Allister

Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders - NGOs + civil society organizations = most imp element in advancing HR throughout world - Make system work  advocate, promote, monitor, help enforce + implement, assist w/complaints + communications, help draft treaties + other instruments + policies - Very often on frontline + form bridge b/w ppl + govs, ppl of world + internat instits - Often raise issues + crit when govs won’t do it - What do we mean by civil society? - NGOs = only 1 element - Civil society = sum of all non-family instits which are autonomous + independent of the state + capable of influ public opinion - Inclu: NGOs, trade unions, churches, faith organisations, academia, professional organisations (Bar Associations, Associations of Engineers etc), organisations of media, poli parties  S/difference of opinion of whether to inclu business organisations - Don’t always agree on what should be done (even among NGOs) - What is legal basis for role/supp of civil soc organisations in internat law? Legitimacy? - If look at UN Charter: we the ppls of UN (not govs, instits) - In UDHR preamble: e/individ + organ of soc shall strive by teaching in edu to promo respect for these rights + freedoms and by progressive measures to secure their universal recog…  Saying to ordinary ppls, all have responsibility in doing s/thing about these HR - UN Charter Article 71: Econ + Soc Council may make suitable relations for consultation for NGOs which are concerned w/matters w/in its competence, such arrangements may be made with internat organisations after consultation w/member of UN concern  UN can + should make arrangements w/NGOs whose mandate is to deal w/issues that come under issues dealt by UN - Many kstds of NGOs - 1 one have knowl = British + Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (1823)  Goal: abolish slavery in Britain + Empire  Successful, b/c in 1838, Britain passed Slavery Abolition Act  NGO still exists today, name changed to Anti-Slavery International - NGOs deal w/HR, healthcare, environ, children’s rights, women’s issues, freedom of press  S/local, national, international  1961: Amnesty International  1978: Human Rights Watch  1863: International Commission for the Red Cross  Help monitor + implement Geneva Conventions  1985: International Service for Human Rights  Helps other NGOs when they show up in Geneva to lobby  Article 19: have to do w/freedom of expression  PEN-International: deals w/freedom of expression, ideas, combat censorship  1978: Lawyers Committee for HR  Peace Brigades International  World Social Forum: bring together civil soc organisations all over world to counterbalance World Economic Forum  OxFam, CARE, Greenpeace… - 1990: 6,000 internat NGOs, by 2003: 250,000, continue to grow - S/NGOs have ECOSOC status - Set up committee under ECOSOC, receives application fr/NGOs - If have ECOSOC status, gives them entry to UN to attend meetings, sit in, gives them right to distrib info, info translated to official langs of UN, have agendas of UN meetings emailed to them, can get docs of UN, can make oral interventions @many UN bodies - @end of UN meetings, NGOs given s/time to give their views on subject matters in discussion by govs, can distrib remarks to all govs through same channels that UN has  Imp to get this ECOSOC status - Status 1 set up in 1968 (formal sys to receive applications for status)  Amended + improved upon by ECOSOC resolution 1996  Decided to categorize NGOs into 3 categories (general, special, roster)  Ea/time try improve upon participation + role of NGOs, civil soc organisations - Before formal system set up, there were NGOs that had ECOSOC status  1948: 41 NGOs w/ECOSOC status, 2005: 2513 w/ECOSOC status  Small # of total NGOs - When apply to be recog for ECOSOC status, have committee of govs, diplomats, listens to arguments of why NGO should be recog H: always consult w/state in which you come from  S/nats, govs will say don’t like this NGO, don’t recog them  More likely to happen in states which are less democratic  Unfortunately bad side of system  H: very critical NGOs have received ECOSOC status  Committee: ECOSOC Council Committee on NGOs  Made up of 19 members fr/diff states geographically throughout world - General criteria for admission:  Mandate of NGO has to be relevant to UN issues  NGO has to supp philosophy of UN  Must have constit/charter that sets out who your officers are, address w/office - Problems that have arisen w/respect to recog of NGOs = GONGOs (Gov-Organised NGOs) - S/nats set up NGOs + ppl that ran them were appointed by gov  Not
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