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The NGO "International Service for Human Rights" (ISHR) published its annual report for the year 2021 on the condition of human rights defenders worldwide: "Human Rights Defenders - Inspiring Hope, Shaping a Fairer Future".
Between 2020 and 2021 we have experienced challenging months for human rights: the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many difficulties and deepened existing gaps in societies; human rights defenders continue to face deadly threats and suffocating restrictions to their work; and some governments struggle to impede the accessibility and effectiveness of mechanisms that promote human rights.
Despite the difficulties, glimmers have opened up on key issues that must be pursued from now on so that progress on human rights advocacy does not stand still.
A historic Expert Mechanism was established by Resolution 47/21 to promote transformative change for racial justice and equality in the global law enforcement context. On 16 December 2021, the President of the Human Rights Council appointed Judge Yvonne Mokgoro, Dr Tracie Keesee and Professor Juan Méndez as experts to the Expert Mechanism. Judge Mokgoro is the Chairperson of the Expert Mechanism.; at the same time, a commission was appointed to investigate the underlying causes of the conflict and violence against the Palestinian people.
A spark was also lit on the issue of sexual justice, thanks to widespread mobilisation combined with demands for accountability in cases of harassment and sexual assault, as well as the release from arbitrary detention of a number of women human rights defenders.
This was also the year of the historic recognition, in international human rights law, of the right to a healthy and sustainable environment; moreover, the new mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on climate change was conferred.
There has been an increase in the number, as well as the variety, of people willing to speak out, not just with words, against widespread and systemic violations in states such as China, Egypt, Nicaragua, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, while in other states in Africa, Asia and Latin America, progress has been made in legal recognition and protection of defenders.
Finally, the NGO urges the United Nations to suspend Russia's membership rights to the Human Rights Council, and expresses solidarity with all human rights defenders who fight for peace, as well as with journalists who struggle every day to report truthful news independent of government propaganda.