Bonner Querschnitte 19/2024 Ausgabe 796 (eng)


ISHR President praises human rights defenders

(Bonn, 18.06.2024) In his closing remarks of the annual general assembly of the German section of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), Prof. Dr. mult. Thomas Paul Schirrmacher, President of the International Council of the ISHR, declared, that ISHR mainly exists to protect human rights defenders (HRD) and is proud to have so many of them in their ranks.

•	Photo: Thomas Paul Schirrmacher during his speech © ISHR/SchirrmacherSchirrmacher underlined: “It is one thing to work against human rights violations from a rather safe country, it is another thing to live in the midst of widespread human rights violations, but in­stead to seek pro­tection for oneself, to work for others, leading up to risking one’s own life, so that others may have life and human dignity.” He pointed to the number pub­lished by United Na­tions and the Euro­pean Union, that in 2020, at least 331 HRDs were murdered in 25 countries.

Schirrmacher stated, that the protection of human rights defenders is a prominent concern for the International Society of Human Rights, that it is a large part of what ISHR has been doing and still is doing all over the world. He said verbatim: “I admire human rights defenders. I am proud, that the ISHR has so many in its ranks, working with us closely, often helping us directly to protect other human rights defenders. Standing here and speaking, I look into the face of some of our dear heroes attending our assembly, e.g. from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Kurdish AR, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Moldova, or Iran.”

He insisted, that publicizing the work of human rights defenders often is an effective way to enhance their protection, as those seeking to protect the human rights of persons often face the risk of persecution by those who prefer to keep such criminal acts quiet and out of public view.

Human Rights Defenders (HRD) is an official term used by the United Nations, the European Union, and other international organizations. In 1998, the United Nations issued the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (A/RES/53/144, 1998), commonly known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. 

The EU defines them as “persons, who individually or in association with others, act to promote or protect human rights off others peacefully”. This is the position of the EU: “HRDs stand up for the rights of others, which is why it is so essential to protect them and their families. They often do so at great personal cost. In standing against human rights violations committed by States and non-state actors, HRDs are increasingly exposed to serious threats, including physical attacks, harassment, smear campaigns, arbitrary detention, torture and killings. As laid out in the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the EU is firmly committed to protect HRDs at risk by enhancing their visibility and recognition, and by publicly speaking out against the threats, they face.”


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