Skip to main content

India dissociates itself from UN Human Rights Council resolution favouring pluralistic civil society

By Our Representative
The day Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched New York, September 26, an important development which missed everyone’s attention took place. While the UN Human Rights Council urged all member-states to adopt a resolution for ushering in a pluralistic civil society, India decided to dissociate itself from any such move. The resolution got more than 66 co-sponsors, and it asks the UN High Commissioner to prepare “a compilation of practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.”
Seeking to uphold Article 13 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the resolution said “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize resources.” ARTICLE 19, a UK-based international charitable company has advocated for the resolution, said, “We are deeply concern that some states, including India and South Africa, made strong statements in opposition to the resolution. While they did not call a vote on the resolution, they officially disassociated themselves from consensus.”
Founded by American businessman and philanthropist J. Roderick MacArthur, ARTICLE 19 was set up in 1980s to defend the right to freedom of expression and is known to and promote laws and policies that protect free expression, holding abusers and governments to account, and advocate for legal reforms. It defends victims by monitoring and analysing abuses, publicising the plight of individuals under attack, providing security training and security measures for journalists and human rights defenders, and litigating on their behalf.
ARTICLE 19 executive director Thomas Hughes noted, “This resolution sends an important signal to States that it is their responsibility to bring their laws and practices into compliance with international human rights standards, including on freedom of expression, to protect civil society space.” He added, however, “We are perplexed that supposedly democratic States, like India and South Africa, have taken issue with this basic principle.”
The resolution was tabled by Ireland, with a core group of Chile, Japan, Sierra Leone, and Tunisia. Hughes said, “This resolution is a vital and timely response to the shrinking of civil society space that we see globally. We welcome that the Council rejected attempts to weaken this text, thus reaffirming that a pluralistic civil society is critical to strengthen democracy and development, provide essential services, and promoting and protecting human rights.”
According to an ARTICLE 19 report, “During discussions, the delegation from Brazil emphasized that civil society space online is crucial. The Sierra Leone delegation gave a personal account of how ‘instrumental’ civil society has been to building peace in the country. Similarly, the delegation from Chile stressed that its transition from a military dictatorship to a vibrant democracy.”
The practical recommendations, which will be presented at the 32nd Session of the Council, will assist States in identifying how to address the implementation gap on the protection and promotion of rights essential to the maintenance of civil society space, principally freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and public participation.
Crucial points of principle based on states’ existing obligations under international human rights law which became part of the resolution included:
  • The ability of people to collectively solicit, receive and utilise resources is a key component of the right to freedom of association;
  • National-security and counter-terrorism legislation, and provisions on funding should not be abused to hinder the work or safety of civil society;
  • Civil society space is particularly important for persons belonging to minority and marginalised or otherwise disadvantaged groups, as well as for persons espousing minority or dissenting views and beliefs;
  • The real and effective participation of people in decision-making processes should be secured, including at the domestic level in the development, implementation or review of legislation, but also at the regional and international levels.
Several countries came with what are called “hostile amendments”, including Bahrain, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Russia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. At the same time, more than 40 organisations wrote to UN states to reject the amendments, since they would seriously weaken the resolution. While India did not become part of the group which supported “hostile amendments”, ARTICLE 19 said, “We urge all states to act on this resolution to reverse the concerning global trend where civil society space is shrinking.”

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.