OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders: Time for a genuine implementation across all the OSCE area and beyond

Paris-Geneva, August 14, 2014. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), welcomes the launch of the Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on June 10, 2014 under the Swiss Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Bern, and calls for a genuine implementation by all OSCE Participating States.

The OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders provide for a solid corpus of recommendations based on existing international and regional law, standards and practices. They call on OSCE Participating States to establish human rights defenders’ protection mechanisms both on their territories and in third countries, through their diplomatic representations.

The fact that the 57 States of the OSCE are required to implement this text in a similar manner constitutes the best response to the fallacious arguments brought so far by a number of Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries on so-called “foreign interference in internal affairs” with regards to the protection of human rights defenders. They are also a major progress for the protection of human rights defenders within the European Union (EU), as they also apply to all EU member-States nationally, while the already existing EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders were only applying to non-EU countries.

The Observatory believes that these Guidelines should pave the way for the development of a human rights defenders’ protection mechanism at the OSCE level, which would be in charge of monitoring the implementation of these commitments.

The Observatory contributed to the elaboration of this document through its participation in an OSCE/ODIHR Advisory Group on the matter, and had released a position paper with a set of recommendations at the very beginning of the process in 2013, which is accessible on FIDH and OMCT websites. A number of FIDH and OMCT member and partner organisations were also consulted throughout the elaboration of the project.

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