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Item 5

Mr. President,

The right of individuals and organisations to unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies is clearly articulated in international human rights law.

We are deeply concerned by the many incidents of reprisals against individuals and organisations cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms.

Human Rights Council resolution 12/2 invited the Secretary-General to submit an annual report to the Council on alleged reprisals for cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. Since the adoption of that resolution, the Secretary General has reported on the latest developments within the United Nations system in relation to acts of intimidation and reprisal by States and non-State actors vis-à-vis individuals and groups, for their cooperation with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, and alleged cases that cover a wide range of violations, from threats, travel bans and arbitrary detention to torture and, sadly, death.

While the Secretary General and other UN leaders have repeatedly stated that such acts are unacceptable and undermine the functioning of the United Nations as a whole, including that of its human rights mechanisms, reprisals keep occurring, and is anything may even be on the increase.

Cases of reprisals take different forms, and range from smear campaigns, harassment, intimidation, prosecutions to direct threats and physical attacks. There have been killings, and inhumane treatment has led to tragic deaths. Cooperating with the UN, including the human rights mechanisms, can indeed be dangerous.

The current response by the UN and the member States in addressing reprisals is often clear and principal in its condemnatory nature, but unfortunately still inadequate, especially in the follow up of individual cases. While we welcome steps to appoint focal points dealing with reprisals, for example in many treaty bodies, we wish to reiterate the need for the UN to address cases of reprisals through a more effective and coordinated approach. 

Mr President,

Norway is also concerned about the lack of gender balance among special procedure mandate holder. There is no objective reason why only approximately on third of the Special Procedure mandate holders today are women.

We are also questioning the seemingly gender unbalance in working groups. In several of the working groups established by the Council only one of the members is a women. We also have one working group without any gender balance at all, this time without a man.

There are normally enough qualified candidates of both genders to make secure a minimum 40% of both sexes as mandate holder in total, and that at least two out of five WG members are of the least represented sex. We believe that this Council can do better. We call on the Consultative Group to strengthen their focus on securing a gender balance generally, and also when recruiting to working groups under the special procedures system.

I thank you, Mr. President