Civil Society
Specific Instruments
  General Instruments
  Selected Case Law
  Case Law Websites
  Human Rigths Actors
Role of NGOs, Role of National Human Rights Institutions, Media, Universities, etc.
Specific Instruments
Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Date of adoption: 8/3/1999 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations
Date of adoption: 24/4/1986 Entry into force: 1/1/1991
System of protection: Council of Europe
Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter Providing for a System of Collective Complaints
Date of adoption: 9/11/1995 Entry into force: 1/7/1998
System of protection: Council of Europe
General Instruments
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
Date of adoption: 25/6/1993 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Date of adoption: 10/12/1948 Entry into force: -
System of protection: Universal
Vers un statut de la société civile en droit international
Latest update: 26/02/2003 First published: 2001
Reference: Droits fondamentaux, n°1, juillet-décembre 2001
Toward a status of the civil society in international law
La société civile internationale : un objet introuvable ?
Marcel MERLE
Latest update: 25/02/2003 First published: 2002
Reference: Associations transnationales, 2/2002, 82-87.
International Civil Society - Concept.
Sur l'émergence de la société civile en droit international : le rôle des associations devant la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme
Latest update: 27/11/2002 First published: 1996
Reference: European Journal of International Law, Vol. 7 (1996) No. 3, pp. 372 - 411.
Paper on the emergence of civil society in international law: the role of associations before the European Court of Human Rights.
Les ONG de défense des droits de l'homme en quete de légitimité en droit arabe
Latest update: 27/11/2002 First published: 1998
Reference: Transnational Associations / Associations Transnationales, 50, 1, 1998, Page 12
This study aims at positioning the NGOs defending human rights in the legal system of Arabic countries. Overview of international norms concerning NGOs - Islamic norms - NGOs in Arabic countries.
Languages: English French
Website created by RSF, FIDH and HRW in order to denounce the attacks, be they arbitrary or legal, against human rights, freedom of press and information on the internet.
Languages: English
Extensive documentation centre and online databases on human rights. Many are paid services, but are free for non-governmental human rights organizations. HRI also produces resources including the Human Rights Tribune and other annual publications.
Languages: English French Spanish
An international forum for researchers and practitioners in the field of national human rights institutions. The objective is to facilitate and support the work of national human rights institutions by providing information and documentation.
Languages: English
Search the outputs of this research project involving 22 countries, spanning 6 international regions. Draft country reports mapping civil society - Case studies of state-civil society interactions - Links to other civil society websites.
Languages: English
The aim of this site is to provide a platform for human rights organisations and networks. Here you will find the homepages of NGO's and information on their activities and publications.
Languages: English French Russian Spanish
Database with over 35,000 nonprofit and community organizations in 165 countries - Volunteer opportunities ...
Languages: French
Maghreb and Euro-Maghreb Democratic associations - Reports on violations of human rights in Maghreb countries - Makes efforts towards the rule of law and true citizenship in these countries. Mailing lists, Campaigns, News, Research tools, Links.
Languages: English French Spanish
Website of the NGO "Mandat International" that aims to uphold the participation of non-governmental delegations at international conferences.
Languages: English Greek
News and human rights reports (for example: muslim weddings by proxy in Greece) - Special focus on subjects such as terrorism - The state of the respect of human rights in Greece - Criminal law
Languages: English
The New Tactics in Human Rights project, led by a diverse group of international organizations and practitioners, promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community - Database
Languages: English
Site describes the activities of the OSI, which mainly involve human rights and democratization projects in OSCE countries. Very good links, arranged thematically, which focus on Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS, and include Roma issues.
Languages: English French
Information on: NGOs and Civil Society; Free movement and Citizens' Rights; and Access to Documents and Transparency. European Union context. ECAS is an independent "citizens' watchdog" group.
Selected Case Law
Constitutional Rights Project c. Nigeria (in respect of Wahab Akamu, G. Adega and others)
Date: 1995
Decision-making body: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Legal reference: Communication No. 60/91, in Annex on Communications to the Eighth Annual Activity Report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 1994 - 1995 (ACHPR/RPT/8th), at no. 9.
Violation of Article 7(a), (c) and (d) (Fair trial: avenues of appeal, right to defence, impartial composition of tribunal) - Liberal stance on admissibility - Local remedy (appeal to a governor) did not need exhaustion - Interim measures requested.
Krischna Achutan (on behalf of Aleke Banda), Amnesty International on behalf of Orton and Vera Chirwa v. Malawi
Date: 1995
Decision-making body: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Legal reference: Communications Nos. 64/92, 68/92, 78/92 in Annex on Communications to the Eighth Annual Activity Report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, 1994-1995 (ACHPR/RPT/8th), at no. 11.
Political prisoners - Arbitrary detention - Violation of Articles 4, 5, 6, and 7, para. 1, (a), (c) and (d) (Life, torture, liberty and security, due process).
Krishna Achuthan and Amnesty International v. Malawi
Date: 1994
Decision-making body: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Legal reference: Communication Nos. 64/92, 68/92, 78/92 in Annex: Decisions/Recommendations on Communications, in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Seventh Annual Activity Report, 1993-1994, (ACHPR/RPT/7th), at no. 38.
Wrongful detentions and denial of rights. Violation of Articles 4, 5 and 7 (inviolability of the human person, respect for inherent human dignity, due process).
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights v. Zaire
Date: 1994
Decision-making body: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Legal reference: Communication No. 47/90, in Annex: Decisions/Recommendations on Communications, in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Seventh Annual Activity Report, 1993-1994 (ACHPR/RPT/7th), at no. 52.
Arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, etc. - "Series of serious or massive violations of human and peoples' rights" - Attention of the AHSG called to the situation according to Article 58(1) of the African Charter.
Case Law Websites
Council of Europe - Human Rights Web
Languages: English French
Search the case-law of the European Convention on Human Rights control bodies.
Repertorio de Jurisprudencia del Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos
Languages: Spanish
Directory of the case law of the Inter-American Court 1980 - 1997.
Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
HCNUDH / OHCHR Date: 8/9/2001
Reference: HCNUDH / OHCHR
Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Reference material gives researchers and human rights law practitioners access to key human rights instruments and other essential information. The Declaration and the Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance - Report of the Special Rapporteur
Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Rapporteur spécial sur les formes contemporaines de racisme, de discrimination raciale, de xénophobie et de l'intolérance qui y est associée / Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, ...) Date: 6/2/2001
Reference: Distr. GENERAL, E/CN.4/2001/21, 6 February 2001
Source: United Nations Commission on Human Rights
A highlight of this report is the Cuban Government's analysis of the origin and persistence of racism and racial discrimination, as well as of the measures intended to combat these scourges in the context of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The Special Rapporteur has drawn attention to the manifestations of anti-Semitism which have occurred in Australia, Austria, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. He also deals with racist violence and the activities of far-right and neo-Nazi organizations in Austria and Norway. He also discusses racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty in the United States of America, environmental racism and racial discrimination in efforts to curb the drug traffic in that country and presents information on the situation of the Dalits in India. The allegations examined by the Special Rapporteur concern Austria, Canada, Colombia and Israel.
The Neglected Right: Freedom of Association in International Human Rights Law
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Date: 12/1997
Reference: -
Source: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
"The paper examines the right to freedom of association in international human rights law. It analyzes the constituent parts of the right and seeks to determine whether, and if so to what extent, it confers rights on associations themselves. It also seeks to focus attention on the right to freedom of association, to stimulate debate and to encourage the positive development of the right in the future."
Human Rights - A Basic Handbook for UN Staff
HCDH / OHCHR Date: inconnue
Reference: Professional Training Series - Training Package on Human Rights Treaty Reporting (Rev.1)
Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
This handbook has been developed to assist United Nations colleagues understand and appreciate the human rights system within the context of the UN. - An overview of human rights instruments and developments; the role of UN organs...
NGO's and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Curious Grapevine
William KOREY
Reference: New York, St Martin's Press, 1998
A study of the historic and unique role played by NGOs in helping to bring about compliance with the UDHR. Sensitizing mankind's conscience about violations of human rights, creating international mechanisms to bring about implementation of the UDHR.
Monitoring Human Rights in Europe. Comparing International Procedures and Mechanisms
A. Bloed, L. Leicht, M. Nowak, A. Rosas Ed.
Reference: Dordrecht/Boston/London, Martinus Nijhoff, 1993
Languages: English
The studies focus on the effectiveness of the various mechanisms and frameworks, their differing legal and political characteristics and contexts, their interrelationship as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
La société civile et ses droits
Benoît Frydman Ed.
Reference: Brussels, Penser le droit, Bruylant, 2004
Languages: French
The Civil Society and its Rights.
Société civile et indivisibilité des droits de l'homme
Marco Borghi et Patrice Meyer-Bisch Ed.
Reference: Fribourg, Interdisciplinaire, volume 26, Université de Fribourg, 2000
Languages: French
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Indivisibility of human rights.
Actualité et Droit International
Languages: French
E-journal of international news legal analysis. Articles (archive from 1998, quick search), chronicles and cases, discussions, international news, announcements. Useful links.
Droits Fondamentaux
Reference: Paris,
Languages: French
First electronic journal in French on Fundamental Rights.
Transnational Associations / Associations Transnationales
Reference: Bruxelles, Union des associations internationales / UIA
Languages: English French
TA is a unique bilingual journal (articles in English or French) whose aim is to deal with major current problems within the perspective of international nongovernmental organizations profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
Human Rights Actors
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) Type:Network
network of Australian lawyers active in practising and promoting awareness of international human rights standards in Australia. It has a national membership of over 600, with active National, State and Territory committees.
Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
NGO that works to end the impunity of human rights violators in the United States and elsewhere by providing the survivors of torture and other grave human rights violations with legal representation.
Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights (CCHR) Type:Research / Education
A forum providing research, education and consultancy for policy makers, academics and advocacy groups. Members of the Centre are engaged in research principally within the areas of civil society, citizenship and community.
Damocles Network () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
The Damocles Network is the judicial arm of Reporters Without Borders. It was founded in December 2001 in response to the alarming fact that more than 500 journalists had been killed, murdered or were missing as result of trying to do their job.
Danish Institute for Human Rights () Type:National Human Rights Institution
Its objective is to gather and develop knowledge about human rights nationally, regionally, and internationally. Its work includes research, information, education, and documentation on Danish, European, and international human rights conditions.
European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
An international public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse.
European Solidarity Towards Equal Participation of People (EUROSTEP) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Network of European NGO for the lobby to the EU institutions in favour of development and civil society of the developing countries.
Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights (KIOS) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
An independent nonprofit fund for the promotion of human rights as defined in international and regional documents. Provides both funding and other support for local human rights related activities. Democratic institutions - Developing countries.
Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Monitors, publishes and lobbies on human rights issues in Greece and, occasionally, in the Balkans. Monitoring of Greek and Balkan media for stereotypes and hate speech. Reports on ethnonational, ethnolinguistic, religious and immigrant communities.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw (HFHR) Type:Research / Education
Human rights education and public interest actions. Cooperate with the country's top lawyers, who advise members of parliamentary committees as representatives of HFHR. Prepare expert opinions. Main focus: training of NGO activists, judges.
Human Rights Forum 21 (Japan) () Type:Network
Formed by major human rights organizations and academics to provide NGO perspective to the Japanese Advisory Council for Human Rights Protection and Promotion and encourage further commitment of the Government to the promotion and protection of HR.
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Specialises in human rights training, and in the collection and dissemination of human rights information to a large number of constituencies in South Africa and on the African continent. Human rights training and the facilitation of NGO networking.
Human Rights Internet (HRI) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Dedicated to the empowerment of HR activists and organizations, and to the education of governmental and intergovernmental agencies and officials and other actors in the public and private sphere, on human rights issues and the role of civil society.
Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (SAHRIT) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Mainstreaming human rights within public institutions in the region, especially those charged with administering justice, enforcement of legal and human rights instruments, and promoting individual welfare. Special focus on child rights.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Major international NGO that investigates human rights violations worldwide.
Human Strategies for Human Rights (HSHR) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Through education, skills training and creative thinking exercises, HSHR provides grassroots NGO with knowledge building and organizational development through on-line mentoring and short term on-site working partnerships. All services are free.
Humana Global - Training and Education for Human Rights (Humana Global) Type:National Human Rights Institution
Promote de debate about human rights; Promote education and training on human rights; Promote education and training on fundamental rights, civil rights and liberties.
Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
A regional, non-profit NGO that monitors respect for human rights in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. It advocates, investigates and reports on breaches of international humanitarian law, investigates human rights violations, and represents victims.
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIDH/IIHR) Type:Research / Education
"The Inter-American Institute of Human Rights is an international institution devoted to education, promotion and research in the field of human rights in the Americas". Created under an agreement between the IACHR and the Republic of Costa Rica.
Interights () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
"An international human rights law centre promoting the effective use of law to protect human rights and freedoms worldwide".
International Commission of Jurists, and its Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (ICJ) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
International NGO - Goal to support and advance principles of justice constituting the basis of the Rule of Law; assist peoples denied the Rule of Law. Independence of the judiciary and of lawyers - Fair trial - Abolition of the death penalty.
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Type:Other
Confederation of national trade union centres, each of which links together the trade unions of that country. Membership is open to bone fide trade union organisations, that are independent of outside influence, and have a democratic structure.
International Council on Human Rights Policy () Type:Research / Education
Conducts applied policy research on issues that face organisations working in the field of human rights. The approach is international, multidisciplinary and consultative. The aim is to produce work of practical relevance.
International Federation of Human Righs (FIDH) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Bringing together 115 human rights organisations from 90 countries, the FIDH is a non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit organization working to advance the implementation of all the rights defined by the UDHR and other international instruments.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF, IHF-HR) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
The IHF seeks to promote compliance with human rights commitments among states participating in the OSCE. IHF represents 40 local Helsinki Committees in Europe and North America.
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (An Chomhairle um Chearta Daonna) (ICCL) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Primary focus of ICCL work is campaigning: against emergency legislation and special courts; constitutional referenda on numerous issues including divorce, abortion, bail, and cabinet confidentiality; rights of minorities; due process rights.
Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights (LCHR) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Programs that focus on building the legal institutions and structures that will guarantee human rights in the long term - Strengthening independent human rights advocacy at the local level - Impartial - Also seeks to influence the U.S. Government...
Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
An open, independent, democratic and pluralist platform, where cases of human rights violations are denounced. Affiliated with the FIDH
Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (LADDH) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Affiliated with International Federation of Leagues of Human Rights (FIDH).
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) Type:Research / Education
Research activities in the field of human rights on the national and the international level - Human rights teaching and training - Public human rights library - Link between the scientific community and practitioners - Empirical research, projects.
Mandat International () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
NGO based in Geneva that aims to uphold the participation of non-governmental delegations at international conferences.
National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) Type:National Human Rights Institution
Inquires into human rights violations; Intervenes in court proceedings; Visits detention centres; Reviews constitutional and legal safeguards; Studies international treaties; Research; Spreads human rights literacy; Encourages human rights NGOs.
New Tactics in Human Rights Project () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
The New Tactics in Human Rights project, led by a diverse group of international organizations and practitioners, promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community.
Northern Ireland Human Rights commission (NIHRC) Type:National Human Rights Institution
Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, in compliance with the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998. Aims to ensure the protection of the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland in law, policy, and practice.
Norwegian Institute of Human Rights (NIHR) Type:National Human Rights Institution
Became Norway's National Human rights Institution in 2001. Founded by leading scholars in 1978. Publications, study programmes, research programmes.
Ombudsman Institution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina () Type:National Human Rights Institution
Established by the Constitution of the Federation. Mandate: to protect human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms and to reverse the consequences of ethnic cleansing.
Open Society Institute (OSI) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
A private operating and grantmaking foundation that develops and implements a range of programs in civil society, education, media, public health and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform. Active in 50+ countries.
OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR (OSCE)) Type:International or Regional Organization
Carries out projects, policy, publications and monitoring missions in the areas of human rights and democratization, minorities, institution-building, election observation, and more.
Peace Brigades International (PBI) Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
Peace Brigades International (PBI) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) which protects human rights and promotes nonviolent transformation of conflicts.
Research Centre for Turkestan and Azerbaijan (SOTA) Type:Research / Education
Dedicated to research and analysis of the Turkic Peoples of the former Soviet Union and the promotion of human rights, democratic governments and just peace in the Turkic World. Another goal is to provide information for Western public opinion.
Runnymede () Type:Research / Education
Founded in 1968, Runnymede is a leading independent think tank on ethnicity and cultural diversity. Our mandate since inception has been to challenge racial discrimination, to influence related legislation and to promote a successful multi-ethnic Britain.
Scottish Human Rights Centre (Ionad Choirichean Dhaonna na h-Alba ) () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
"The Scottish Human Rights Centre aims to promote human rights in Scotland through: Public Education and Advice; Research; Scrutiny of legislation; Monitoring the application of international human rights treaties within Scotland"
Société () Type:Network
Portal of the DRC's civil society.
Soros Foundations Network () Type:Network
Operate and support an array of initiatives concerned with arts and culture, children and youth, civil society development, economic reform, education, legal reform and public administration, media and communications, publishing, and health care.
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Type:National Human Rights Institution
"The South African Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to entrench constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour."
Syrian Human Rights Committee () Type:NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)
"The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) is an independent and neutral human rights organisation concerned fundamentally with defending general liberties and human rights of the Syrian people through several practices"