International Federation for Human Rights

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International Federation for Human Rights
Logo
Motto Keep Your Eyes Open
Founded 1922
Type Federation of Human Rights Organisations
Non-profit
NGO
Location
  • Global
    International secretariat in Paris, France.
Services Protect human rights defenders, ensure effective human rights, and justice for all, globalisation with due respect for human rights.
Fields Fact-finding missions, judicial observations, training, exchange programs, research, permanent lobbying of intergovernmental organisations, mobilizing public opinion.
Members 178 human rights organisations in more than 100 countries
Key people Karime Lahidji (President since 2013)
Jean-François Plantin (Tresory)
Ales Bialatski (Vice President)
René Cassin
Joseph Paul-Boncour
Victor Basch
Website www.fidh.org

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is a non-governmental federation for human rights organizations. Founded in 1922, FIDH is the oldest international human rights organisation worldwide and today brings together 178 member organisations in over 100 countries.

FIDH is nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and independent of any government. Its core mandate is to promote respect for all the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

FIDH co-ordinates and supports the actions of its members and is their contact with intergovernmental organisations.

Overview[edit]

FIDH was established in 1922, when it united ten national organizations. It is a federation of 178 human rights organizations in nearly 100 countries. FIDH coordinates and supports the activities of its member organizations, at the local, regional and international levels. Like its members, FIDH is not linked to any party or religion, and is independent. FIDH has a consultative status before the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, and observer status before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the International Labour Organization.

FIDH also has "regular contact" with the European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Organization of American States, United Nations Development Programme, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

FIDH's mandate "is to contribute to the respect of all the rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It aims to make "effective improvements in the protection of victims, the prevention of Human Rights violations and the sanction of their perpetrators."[1] Its priorities are established by its World Congress and International Board (22 members) with the support of its International Secretariat (45 staff members).

Funding[edit]

FIDH's total income in 2012 was €5,362,268[2] (nearly US$7.1m), of which approximately 80% came from "grants and donations". FIDH's finances lack transparency, as funding sources are not itemized on its website or in financial statements, and no response was received to letters requesting this information. Instead, FIDH lists general figures and provides a financial summary: "FIDH relies heavily on donations from the public and from private businesses, contributions from its member organizations and on the commitment of its voluntary workers. It also receives grants from international and national bodies, and from foundations ..."[3]

Priorities[edit]

Protect human rights defenders[edit]

Defending human rights is fraught with risks.[4] To protect defenders, FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) created the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.[5] Its role: establish the facts, alert the international community, hold discussions with national authorities and promote the strengthening of mechanisms to protect human rights defenders at national, regional and international levels.

Promote and protect women's rights[edit]

In most parts of the world, women have fought to secure rights they were previously denied. But discrimination and violence against women is still the norm in many states.[6] FIDH is striving to abolish discrimination, facilitate women's access to justice, and fight impunity for perpetrators of sexual crimes committed during conflict.[7]

Protect migrants' rights[edit]

States imposing stricter controls on people's movements are reducing migrant workers to mere commercial goods, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation. FIDH investigates the violation of migrants' rights from the country of origin to the country of destination, advocates for legislative and political reforms, and litigates to bring perpetrators of violations to justice.[8]

In June 2013, FIDH provided legal assistance to two survivors of the 'left to die' boat: 72 migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa had left Libya in 2011 in a small dinghy, had run out of fuel and drifted 'for two weeks along one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world'.[9] A complaint—with FIDH and 3 other NGOs as civil parties—was lodged against the French and Spanish military for failing to 'assist people in danger'.[10]

Promote effective judicial mechanisms that respect human rights[edit]

FIDH seeks to strengthen independent judicial systems and supports transitional justice processes that respect victims’ rights. When recourse to national remedies is ineffective or impossible, FIDH helps victims to either access courts in other countries through extraterritorial jurisdiction, or to bring their cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or regional human rights courts. FIDH participates in strengthening these regional and international mechanisms. Achieving the universal abolition of capital punishment[11] and securing the right to a fair trial, including in the fight against terrorism,[12] are also important FIDH objectives.

Strengthen respect for human rights in the context of globalisation[edit]

Globalisation significantly affects human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.[13] FIDH documents and denounces human rights violations involving corporations and demands that economic actors be held accountable, including through litigation. FIDH aspires to see human rights positioned at the heart of investment and trade negotiations, and strives for the effective implementation of economic, social and cultural rights.[14]

Defend democratic principles and support victims in times of conflict[edit]

FIDH quickly responds to requests from member organisations in times of armed or violent political conflict and in closed countries. It conducts fact-finding missions in the field and mobilises the international community through international and regional organisations, third countries and other levers of influence.

Activities[edit]

Monitoring and promoting human rights, assisting victims[edit]

These activities, including fact-finding and trial observation missions, research, advocacy and litigation, are implemented by independent human rights experts from all regions. Between 2009 and 2012, 575 defenders of human rights were released and the judicial harassment of 116 defenders ended.

Mobilizing the international community[edit]

FIDH provides guidance and support to its member organizations and other local partners in their interactions with international and regional inter-governmental organizations (IGOs). To ensure the effective implementation of these activities, FIDH has established delegations at the UN in Geneva and New York, at the European Union in Brussels and, since 2006, at the League of Arab States in Cairo. From 2004 to 2005, FIDH filed and supported over 500 cases before international IGOs. FIDH participates in standard-setting processes and promotes the establishment of monitoring mechanisms.

Supporting national NGOs and increasing their capacity[edit]

FIDH, together with its members and partners, implements cooperation programs at the national level, aimed at strengthening the capacity of human rights organizations. FIDH provides training and assists in creating opportunities for dialogue with authorities. From 2004 to 2005, FIDH undertook such programs in 32 countries in Africa, 16 in Latin America, 3 in Asia and 10 in the North Africa/Middle Eastern region.

Raising awareness: informing, alerting, bearing witness[edit]

FIDH draws public attention to the outcomes of its missions, its research findings and eyewitness accounts of human rights violations, by means of press releases, press conferences, open letters, mission reports, urgent appeals, petitions and the FIDH website (in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Persian and Turkish). In 2005, internet traffic on www.fidh.org amounted to approximately 2 million pages visited, and 400 references to FIDH per day were calculated on websites based in over 100 countries.

Structure[edit]

FIDH has its headquarters in Paris. It relies primarily on a pool of dedicated volunteers. The organizational structure consists of elected boards and a small body of permanent staff who support the activities of the board members and the mission delegates.

Every three years, the FIDH Congress gathers together member organizations to elect the International Board, fix the priorities of the organization and decide whether to grant membership to new partners or to exclude member organizations which no longer satisfy the requirements laid down in the organization’s statutes.

The FIDH International Board reflects the diversity if its constituent organizations. It is composed of a President, Treasurer, 15 Vice-presidents and 5 Secretaries General, all of whom work on a voluntary basis and represent all regions of the world. Honorary Presidents have consultative status on the International Board. The International Board meets 3 times per year to define FIDH’s political and strategic orientations and to draw up and approve the budget.

The Executive Board is composed of the President, the Treasurer and the 5 Secretaries General, and is responsible for the management of FIDH on a daily basis. It also draws on the particular expertise of mission delegates. The Deputy Secretaries General, elected by the International Board, sit on the Executive Board with consultative status. This body meets once per month to take decisions on current concerns and requests submitted by member organizations.

The two Boards call on the expertise of other collaborators in FIDH’s activities, including the permanent delegates to intergovernmental organizations and the mission delegates. The team of mission delegates gathers together several hundred individuals from all regions.

The International Secretariat is based in Paris, with delegations to the United Nations in Geneva and New York, to the European Union in Brussels, to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to the African Union in Nairobi and to the Asean in Bangkok. It also has regional offices in Abidjan, Bamako, Cairo, Conakry and Tunis. It implements decisions taken by the International and Executive Boards and ensures regular support to member organizations. The Secretariat employs 45 permanent staff, assisted by interns and volunteers.

References[edit]

External links[edit]