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Thank you Mr President,
During the last 20 years, since the unanimous adoption of the declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the international community has adopted several comprehensive and firm resolutions in their support. The resolutions have enjoyed broad cross-regional support, most of them adopted by consensus.
Human rights defenders contribute to making our societies better. They should be seen as an asset in our societies, not as a threat.
As our foreign minister stated when addressing this Council during the High Level Segment, our aim this session has been to present a resolution that recognizes and supports the positive role played by environmental human rights defenders in society. We invite the Human Rights Council to call for increased protection to end violence against this particular group of human rights defenders.
We believe the resolution before you is both clear and balanced. It is a compromise reached through extensive and rich discussions with Member States and other stakeholders, I would therefore like to thank all of you who have participated in the process, including representatives from civil society, for your valuable input and recommendations.
Let me assure you that we have valued and considered all submissions.
Broad support, across regions, will play an important role in promoting the implementation of the resolution. We have therefore done our utmost to take on board specific concerns raised by Member States during the discussions. We have held five informal sessions, as well as numerous bilateral meetings, to make sure we capture the diversity of views.
The aim, from our side, has been to present a strong, but also balanced text. Let me now briefly present the main elements of the resolution.
The resolution recalls and confirms the importance of continued action to implement the 1998 Declaration on human rights defenders, including through creating a safe and enabling environment for their work, and need for strengthened measures to ensure their protection, as well as to combat impunity.
Equally important, it calls on States to refrain from actions that hinder their work, including reprisals, violence and other forms of abuses, as well as undue legal or administrative restrictions.
The resolution also recalls our common commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, and the positive role played by human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights as they relate to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable development.
In this regard, the resolution expresses alarm about the situation for human rights defenders working on environmental matters – environmental human rights defenders, who are particularly vulnerable to violence as well as killings, simply for doing their work. This is a violation of their human rights, and is strongly condemned.
To reverse this trend, and to empower and protect environmental human rights defenders, actions are needed in a number of areas, not least the development of effective protection mechanisms. Other measures include promoting access to information, facilitating their participation in decision making and anti-corruption initiatives.
Indigenous peoples, people living in rural and marginalized communities, as well as women human rights defenders, face particular challenges and threats that needs to be considered and addressed.
The resolution also recognizes the importance of implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and underscores the responsibility of all businesses enterprises to respect human rights, including the rights to life, liberty and security of human rights defenders – including environmental human rights defenders.
Finally, in presenting and recommending this text, I am pleased to inform you that we have 50 original and eight additional co-sponsors, representing all regions. We encourage all states that would wish to co-sponsor the text, and have not yet done so, to approach us to sign and thereby contribute in sending a strong message from the Human Rights Council in support of environmental human rights defenders.
Mr President, I invite the Human Rights Council to adopt this resolution by consensus.