We are pleased to present the Centre for Civil and Political Rights Annual Report 2021, covering our activities from January to December 2021. While this period will certainly be remembered as one of the most challenging for the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (‘the Centre’), we remain convinced that in light of such obstacles, continuing our work on the promotion and protection of human rights is more important than ever. In an international environment where States looked inwards and borders closed, the Centre directed all of its efforts throughout the year towards creating civic spaces and acting as a link between local, regional, and global advocacy communities. We believe that enabling and reinforcing the connection between these communities is a crucial step toward universal respect for civil and political rights.
However, we encountered a number of logistical challenges in our work throughout 2021. For instance, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions impacted not only our engagement, but that of the broader United Nations Human Rights System, including the Human Rights Committee and other Treaty Bodies. As State party reviews continued to be conducted virtually, the number of sessions undertaken throughout the year and opportunities for engagement were significantly reduced. This also impacted the ability of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to participate safely in the sessions, as well as their engagement with the Committee members. In such circumstances, the role of the Centre in facilitating participation from civil society was more important than ever.
We also experienced challenges in engaging with civil society at the domestic level. To improve our proximity to national actors, the Centre appointed new national and regional coordinators who served as focal points, and developed new e-tools and processes to maintain regular links with human rights defenders based in remote areas. With a view to breaking down silos and reinforcing our networks, the Centre's staff encouraged the sharing of experience and peer-to-peer learning between civil society representatives in different regions who faced similar challenges (i.e. preparation of country's review in front of the Human Rights Committee). The Centre also forged new partnerships with local authorities and reinforced its connection with the international community in order to work towards shared goals, and increase the reach of our activities and publications.
We also witnessed an increased backlash against civil liberties around the globe, with States using the health risk of COVID-19 to limit rights and liberties. We identified severe violations of civil and political rights in a number of countries including Myanmar and Nicaragua, where the Centre has been engaged for several years. In these situations, we worked closely with national human rights defenders to denounce the actions of States and engage the UN frameworks and special procedures.
These developments continue to prove that our role is more essential than ever. The Centre remains committed to ensuring that human rights defenders have access to the UN human rights mechanisms, including the Treaty Bodies, and can share their concerns with these forums safely. This is in line with the long term strategy and engagement of the Centre to ensure that recommendations aimed at improving the civil and political rights are respected and implemented by all applicable national stakeholders.
Of course, all of this work would not have been possible without our faithful donors. We thank them for their continued engagement, for supporting new initiatives and for giving us the confidence to adapt our work modalities to the evolving international environment, and always seeking to find new ways to support civil society in their pursuit of universal respect for civil and political rights.