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Human Rights Space for Civil Society

18 Sept 2012

Today at the 21st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council NIHRC Chief Commissioner’ Professor Michael O’Flaherty will chair a partnering event on ‘Consolidating the Space for Civil Society’.
Civil society consists of many actors including NGOs’ academics’ journalists’ bloggers’ students’ trade unions’ labour organisations and charities working with vulnerable groups; however no matter how they define themselves’ civil society actors have a legitimate role as human rights defenders.They are the keystone in a collaborative effort with government and international institutions to ensure human rights protection.This event aims to further the exchange of views and dialogue on the role and space for civil society.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Navi Pillay has repeatedly expressed concern about current or recent moves in a number of countries to curtail the freedom of NGOs and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively’ including in financing operations.As stated by the High Commissioner:
‘A dynamic and autonomous civil society’ able to operate freely’ is one of the fundamental checks and balances necessary for building a healthy society’ and one of the key bridges between governments and their people.’
Today’s key event will focus on the space for civil society and examine such issues as:
- Is the operational and political space for civil society shrinking in places where it is needed most?
- How can civil society organisations be supported to promote good governance and human rights in challenging environments?
- How can the dialogue between civil society and state authorities be improved?
- The extent and effect of measures seeking to impede the work of civil society including restrictions on fundraising and travel.
Further information:
For further information please contact Claire Martin (028) 9024 3987 (office).
Notes to editors
1.The full panel of speakers are:
• Prof.Michael O’Flaherty’ Ireland’ Vice Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee & Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
• Mr Lee Habasonda’ Zambia’ formerly Executive Director at SACCORD (Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes) Mr Habasonda is now a member of the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC)
• Mr Qamar Nasim’ Pakistan’ Program Coordinator of Blue Veins’ a Women’s NGO in Pakistan
• Ms June Ray’ Chief’ Civil Society Section’ Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
• Ms Claire San Filippo’ Executive Officer EU Foreign Policy’ Amnesty International European Institutions Office’ Brussels
3.The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998).It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

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