C3: Introduction of the draft resolution on human rights defenders

Statement by Ambassador Odd-Inge Kvalheim on the introduction of the draft resolution on human rights defenders in Third Committee, 19 November 2019.

| Third Committee

I have the honour to present the draft resolution “Implementing the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms through providing a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and ensuring their protection” (L.31).

We thank delegations for their engagement, and for the constructive spirit in which the negotiations were undertaken.


Last year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. At which Secretary-General Guterres reminded us that: “human rights defenders are essential partners to Governments and the United Nations in tackling the enormous challenges we face globally in fully implementing the 2030 Agenda”.

However, in stark contrast to the positive role that human rights defenders play- particularly in the creation of inclusive, sustainable and prosperous societies- the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders concluded that the challenges facing those who defend human rights have not diminished in the past two decades.

This conclusion is supported by data from the United Nations showing that at least 1,019 human rights defenders were killed across the world from 2015-2017.

Similarly, the Secretary-General has pointed to alarming trends of reprisals, and intimidation, against human rights defenders cooperating with the United Nations itself.


This is why Norway sees the importance of presenting a draft resolution calling on States, and all other relevant stakeholders, to intensify their efforts to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. With a focus on providing a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders, and ensuring their protection.

We urge the General Assembly to send this clear message of support for human rights defenders.


We thank once again delegations for a constructive and comprehensive discussions during our 16 informal consultations.

These informals have been followed by meetings with concerned delegations, leading to the draft resolution before us today. Presented with the following revisions:

  • The last part of PP3 has been revised. After “commonly referred to as the Declaration on human rights defenders” now reads: “and encouraging States to uphold the purposes, principles and provisions of the Declaration in the context of its implementation”
  • The last part of PP22 has been modified and now reads: “taking into account their diverse situations and the contexts in which they operate”
  • OP4 has been revised and now reads: “Urges States to promote a safe and enabling environment including through implementation of existing national legislation in compliance with international human rights law and, where necessary, through adoption and implementation of more comprehensive legislative and administrative measures, in which human rights defenders can operate free from hindrance, reprisals and insecurity, ensuring among other things, the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs and in cultural life, the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and equal access to justice, including to an effective remedy”
  • OP9 has been modified as follows: the words “genuine, free and full” in line three have been replaced by “meaningful”
  • OP11 has been modified as follows: the word “including” has been inserted between “non-state actors” and “against” in line three.
  • OP 14 has been revised and now reads: “Calls on States to develop and implement appropriate and effective protection initiatives for human rights defenders at risk or in vulnerable situations, including through meaningful consultation with them and based on comprehensive risk analysis, and also to ensure that these measures are holistic, respond to the protection needs of individuals and the communities in which they live, and function as an early warning, to ensure that human rights defenders, when threatened, have immediate access to authorities that are competent and adequately resourced to provide effective protective measures”
  • OP16 has been slightly modified. The word “groups” has been deleted in line four
  • The first part of OP18 has been modified. The word “Urges” has been replaced by “Strongly encourages”
  • Furthermore, the last part of OP18 has been revised. After “inter alia” now reads: “their diverse situations and the contexts in which they operate, and the intersectional dimensions of violations and abuses against women human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, children, persons belonging to minorities and rural communities”
  • OP22 has been slightly modified. The word “those” in line two has been replaced by “human rights defenders”
  • In OP 23, the first part has been revised and reads as follows: “Urges non-State actors, including transnational corporations and other business enterprises, to assume their responsibility to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons”


Before I conclude, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the co-sponsors for their ongoing support and efforts to strengthen the text.

We welcome the broad cross-regional representation of the co-sponsors. Which reflects our joint understanding of the need for further action to implement the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

And would like to invite other countries to consider co-sponsoring this landmark resolution.

We look forward to the Committees’ adoption of the resolution by consensus.

Thank you.