Working Group on Crisis and Emergency Response

Coordinators: Yuri Dzhibladze, Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights and Svitlana Valko, Truth Hounds

The working group’s goal is to mobilize international resources and response to human rights crises in the OSCE region. Members recognize that time is sensitive and that quick, clear and coordinated action is needed in response to situations of mass human rights abuse, such as police crackdowns on demonstrators, and cases of civil unrest, such as ethnic violence, expulsions, or other conflict leading to large refugee or IDP flows. In addition, the working group will seek to motivate early action on protracted rights problems, such as systemic violations of fundamental freedoms or extensive repression of civil society, as well as action to avoid potential human rights crises, as indicated by sweeping laws that reverse progress made to protect fundamental rights, such as regressive laws on torture or immigration. The working group will provide the international community, including government officials, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, civil society groups and the media with quick, reliable, first-hand information about crisis situations and will deliver strategic policy recommendations to actors at the local, nation and international levels to address and ameliorate the situation on the ground. In particular, it will press international actors to take effective action in response to human rights crisis situations and use new approaches to reach this goal. Recognizing that support for the activities of local groups on the ground is often the most effective way to defuse a crisis, the working group will commit significant time and energy to building solidarity with fellow civil society groups in the OSCE region. When and where possible, the working group will provide material, legal and other forms of direct support to human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers experiencing pressure and persecution and will encourage international actors to provide such support. Where local capacity is hindered or the working group identifies a need for higher profile engagement on an issue, it will dispatch emergency observation missions to crisis locations. The working group will also issue press releases and reports on human rights developments and conduct in-person advocacy meetings with government officials and representatives of international organizations to push for action on urgent issues. In setting its priorities for 2012-2013, the working group has committed itself to coordinating with fellow Civic Solidarity working groups to address the urgent human rights situations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus. The working group is in the process of developing a set of tools and methodologies for rapid response in emergency situations and aims to undertake a mapping of the existing expertise and initiatives in this area.