Civil society calls on next Secretary General to put promotion and protection of human rights defenders at heart of UN’s agenda

07.06.2016

With further informal dialogues with candidates to the position of Secretary General happening today, civil society organisations are calling on the next SG to place the promotion and protection of human rights defenders at the heart of their priorities.

(New York) - With further informal dialogues with candidates to the position of Secretary General happening today, civil society organisations are calling on the next Secretary General to place the promotion and protection of human rights defenders at the heart of their priorities.

80 civil society organisations from across the world have signed an open letter to the candidates outlining a range of recommendations  to ensure an safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders  (HRDs) to operate globally and within the UN itself. 

‘Attacks, restrictions and risks human rights defenders face in many parts of the world have been documented widely and condemned loudly including within the UN.  Their role in working to promote the three pillars of the UN is widely acknowledged and yet is under threat,‘ said ISHR’s Madeleine Sinclair.   ‘It is essential that the next Secretary General place the promotion and protection of human rights defenders at the heart of their priorities and of the work of the UN’

The priorities civil society organisations highlight include:

  • Speaking out strongly and consistently against attacks on defenders and restrictions on civil society space and in support of vibrant, independent civil society at the UN and at the national level.
  • Ensuring UN staff are aware of the importance of the work of HRDs and take action to prevent and address attacks against them. 
  • Designating a civil society liaison at the most senior level at the UN.
  • Recognising that the work of human rights defenders is essential to international peace and security. Taking steps to promote prevention of systemic attacks and restrictions against HRDs which may be an early warning sign of more widespread gross and systematic violations.
  • Appointing a UN-wide senior focal point on reprisals.

 ‘We look forward to the opportunity to speak with candidates to Secretary General about these priorities and, of course, with the new Secretary General when he or she takes office’ said Ms Sinclair. 

Nine candidates for Secretary General took part in informal dialogues in April. Two more are due to participate in the dialogues today, with a final possible round in July ahead of the Security Council beginning its consideration of the candidates in July. 

Category:

Topic
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • United Nations
Mechanism
  • UN General Assembly