UN General Assembly increases support for resolution on defenders on back of NGO call

18.12.2015

Following a major NGO campaign coordinated by ISHR and Amnesty International, the plenary of the UN General Assembly has adopted a significant and substantive Norwegian-led resolution on the protection of human rights defenders by an increased majority.

Following a major NGO campaign coordinated by ISHR and Amnesty International, the plenary of the UN General Assembly has adopted a significant and substantive Norwegian-led resolution on the protection of human rights defenders by an increased majority.

(New York) -  The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution on the protection of human rights defenders by 127 – 14, with 41 abstentions, with more votes in favour than cast at the vote at the Third Committee last month. The increased majority comes on the back of a call by 180 NGOs from across the globe urging States to support human rights defenders and commit to their protection. 

The States that changed their vote to fully support the resolution in the UNGA plenary included Mauritania, Fiji, the Central African Republic and Zambia. In a very welcome move Togo, new Human Rights Council member, shifted its vote from an abstention to support the resolution. South Africa which had voted against the resolution in the Third Committee to great consternation, swiftly issued a statement about its position, and voted in favour of the resolution in the UNGA Plenary. 

‘We strongly welcome the support shown by these countries. The protection of human rights defenders should be an issue at the forefront of States’ concerns and there are still far too many countries putting other interests above the protection of key actors in the promotion of human rights,’ said ISHR’s Eleanor Openshaw

In a disappointing move, current Human Rights Council member Sierra Leone changed its vote from a yes at the Third Committee to an abstention in the UNGA vote. Cote d’Ivoire retained its abstention on the resolution, a worrying position given its HRC membership and leadership on the development of domestic law for the protection of defenders.[1]

Resolutions on NHRIs and on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity both passed by consensus, as they did at the Third Committee stage. The Human Rights Council report was voted on and passed by 121 - 2 with 60 abstentions. Country resolutions on the DPRK and Iran also went to a vote at the UNGA plenary with slight increased majorities on the vote at the Third Committee. The UNGA vote on the DPRK passed by 119-19 with 48 abstentions, and the resolution on Iran by 81-37 with 67 abstentions.  The resolution on Syria, voted on in the Third Committee, was postponed for consideration at the UNGA pending a report on the resource implications of the resolution. 

 

[1] Human rights council members who either voted against (N) or abstained (A) on the UNGA resolution on the protection of human rights defenders are: Algeria (A), Bolivia (A), China (N),Congo (A), Cote d’Ivoire (A) Cuba (N),  Kazakhstan (A), Kenya (A), Namibia (A), Nigeria (A), Pakistan (N), Qatar (A), Russian Federation (N), Saudi Arabia (A), Sierra Leone (A), UAE (A), Venezuela (A), Vietnam (A).

Category:

Topic
  • Human rights defenders
  • United Nations
Mechanism
  • UN General Assembly
  • Third Committee of the UN General Assembly
Country
  • Central African Republic
  • Fiji
  • Mauritania
  • South Africa
  • Togo
  • Zambia