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Introduction of draft resolution L.24 «Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders»

Last updated: 28.03.2014 // 25th session of the Human Rights Council. Introduction of draft resolution "Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human right defenders". The statement was held by Ambassador Steffen Kongstand on the 28th of March.

Mr. President,

I have the honor to introduce draft resolution L.24 entitled «Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders». 75 States have co-sponsored this draft resolution.

In 2013, the Human Rights Council adopted its resolution 22/6, expressing grave concern about threats, attacks and acts of intimidation against Human Rights Defenders. The resolution went into detail outlining how human rights defenders are criminalized, and stressed that national laws must be in conformity with international human rights law. Last fall, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on the situation of women human rights defenders.

Reprisals against human rights defenders are another major concern. The above-mentioned resolutions as well as other resolutions, statements and initiatives have clearly stated that reprisals are unacceptable.  

In light of our serious concern over the situation for Human Rights Defenders many places in the world, it is encouraging that 75 countries have already co-sponsored this important mandate renewal resolution.

This level of support also shows the great appreciation towards outgoing Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya’s work. This is evident in the revised resolution before you – we’re pleased that we have reached consensus on welcoming her work.

Ms. Sekaggya has been a tireless advocate for Human Rights Defenders. She has managed to cooperate constructively with Governments and at the same time been a principal voice when issuing statements and communications on the situation of defenders in specific cases. Her reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly give clear guidance and concrete proposals to improve the situation for the benefit of both Human Rights Defenders and States.

In the resolution before you, the main objective has been to renew the mandate. In the preamble part we highlight the difficult situation of Human Rights Defenders, and the serious risks they face – including reprisals, intimidation, threats and attacks.  We follow up in the Operational Paragraphs to strongly urge all states to take concrete steps to create a safe and enabling environment for Human Rights Defenders.

We have had long discussions on the text, including three open consultations. We have gone a long way to accommodate concerns that some delegations have expressed. We believe the current text is clear and concise, and has a good balance.

Allow me at this point to proceed to a few oral revisions to the document L24 before us. We are making these revisions to address the concerns of some states, and these are a further effort on behalf of our delegation and the 75 cosponsors to find ground for consensus. 

I invite all delegations to note the following, as also indicated in the document just circulated in the room to all delegations:

Firstly, a new PP1 shall read: ‘Guided by the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations, the International Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments’

Secondly, four new paragraphs, to become PP 10, 11, 12 and 13 – treating comprehensively aspects of national legislation. These are all direct quotations of agreed PPs of resolution 22/6, the last thematic resolution on Human Rights Defenders from 2013, adopted by consensus and enjoying the support of 77 co-sponsors at the time.

We have made these changes in the spirit of compromise. The text has become longer, but we believe these revisions go a long way in meeting the concerns of some countries, while securing a good balance between different concerns.

We thank all Members of the Council as well as observers for their engagement, and for the constructive spirit in which the negotiations were undertaken.

Finally, I would also like to extend a special thanks to the delegations from all regions that have co-sponsored the resolution.

I would now like to invite the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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