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CSW60: Empowering Women Human Rights Defenders

Statement by State Secretary Tone Skogen at the CSW60 side-event; Empowering Women by Empowering Women Human Rights Defenders, 16 March 2016.

| Commission on the Status of Women

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Norway is very pleased to co-sponsor this event on women human rights defenders and Agenda 2030. I am proud to be here together with these strong and brave voices standing up for the rights of ordinary people in different ways. And I look forward very much to learning more from the experiences they will share with us this afternoon.

With Agenda 2030, the international community has agreed on what kind of future we want. As such, Agenda 2030 is both a roadmap and a call to action.

Each and every one of us has a role to play in realising the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We all need to contribute in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

Women human rights defenders play a particularly important role. They have already made, and continue to make, vital contributions to the realisation of Agenda 2030 in many areas, including health, education, and equal rights. Their courageous leadership is also empowering women and girls all over the world.

Key challenges However, speaking up against injustice often puts human rights defenders at great risk.

Today, we see an unprecedented crackdown on civil society, and particularly on human rights defenders. They are harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes even killed. Women human rights defenders also face gender-specific threats and violence.

I would like to draw your attention to one example here – Berta Cáceres, a human rights defender from Honduras.

Berta Cáceres fought relentlessly for the protection of the environment and for the rights of the indigenous Lenca people. For this, she received many threats, and earlier this month she was killed in her home.

This is just one example. Hers is the latest name on a long list of human rights defenders who have been killed worldwide. In 2015, more than 150 human rights defenders were killed.

This is totally unacceptable. We must protect and support those who bravely defend human rights. People like Berta Cáceres.

Norwegian efforts Creating a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders is a main priority in Norway's human rights policy.

Under our leadership, the General Assembly adopted the first ever resolution on protecting women human rights defenders in 2013.

In December last year, the General Assembly adopted a resolution that reaffirms the importance of protecting and promoting the rights of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders.

Norway is currently presenting a new resolution on the protection of human rights defenders who address economic, social and cultural rights – also when these relate to environmental issues, land issues, and development. The aim is to recognise and protect the legitimate role of human rights defenders in these areas.

We also support the UN special rapporteur for human rights defenders.

Moving forward, the protection of human rights defenders will continue to be a main priority in Norway's human rights policy. And we will continue to advocate for the protection of women human rights defenders.

Without the tireless and courageous efforts of women human rights defenders, the ambitions of Agenda 2030 will not be realised. I look forward to hearing the other statements and to participating in the debate on this important issue.

Thank you.