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Arria: Women human rights defenders and peacebuilders

Nordic statement by Ambassador Mona Juul on reprisals against women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders who engage with the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, 21 February 2020.

On behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Norway, let me thank the hosts for convening this important meeting.

Sadly, it remains a necessary one.

Women peacebuilders and human rights defenders are experiencing more and more incidents of violence and even grave human rights violations.

This represents a serious threat to our collective peace and democracy.

Securing an enabling and safe environment for women peacebuilders and human rights defenders is a priority for the Nordic countries.

We have found their input to be decisive in our peace and reconciliation work.

Four elements are key in addressing this matter:

First, we must stand with those affected.

They run the risks, and do the work, to protect the human rights of us all.

This is exactly what resolution 2493 highlights, and why the campaign of «stand with Women Peacebuilders» is so appropriate.

Second, we must do more to implement existing commitments. Not least the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and numerous GA and HRC resolutions.

Including the consensus GA resolution on human rights defenders and its specific call on States to protect women human rights defenders, online and offline.

The Council also has a role in ensuring a gender-sensitive perspective in all Security Council meetings.

Third, we echo the recent report from the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, calling for scaled up efforts under the women, peace and security agenda. Through Member States’ national action plans, and the Peacebuilding Commission.

Finally, we must build on the efforts of our NGO partners.

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security have developed concrete guidance for preventing and responding to reprisals for cooperating with the Security Council.

We the Member States have the responsibility to prevent, investigate and ensure accountability.

But the UN also has an important role. We will continue our support to OHCHR on reprisals.

We particularly need women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, to brief the Council.

In order to receive honest, and candid, briefings we must ensure their safety both here, and when they return home.

They are defending our rights, and we must defend them.