As delivered by First Secretary Paul Bjørndal (Norway).
I am delivering this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.
The right of anyone, individually and jointly, to unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies is clearly articulated in international human rights law. The rights to freedom of expression and of association include such a right.
The Nordic countries remain deeply concerned by all acts of intimidation and reprisal against individuals and organizations as well as their families and legal representatives, cooperating or seeking to cooperate with the UN and its representatives and mechanisms. The Human Rights Council, and its President, need to be vocal and active against such acts, which constitute serious violations of their rights.
We welcome the work done by the Assistant Secretary General on Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, in the role designated by the Secretary General to receive, consider and respond to allegations of intimidation and reprisals against those seeking to cooperate with the UN and its mechanisms.
In the recent report by the Secretary-General (A/HRC/36/31) an alarming number of specific cases are brought to the attention of the international community. The report states “…reprisals also systematically undermine United Nations action on human rights and shake partners’ trust in the organization”. We call on states mentioned in the report to respond to the allegations contained therein
Secretary General Guterres said in this room in March; “Human rights defenders must be able to freely participate in the Council and engage more broadly with the UN without fear of reprisal. This is critical to our work and to the credibility of Member States.” We should not wait another minute turning this call into reality.
Thank you, Mr President.