Press Release: International community joins Norway in supporting human rights defenders

UN Member States unanimously endorsed the free and independent role of human rights defenders at the UN today. ‘The international community has sent a strong signal. Human rights defenders have a key role to play in strengthening respect for human rights all around the world,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The draft resolution was put   forward by Norway, which chaired the negotiations. The resolution was adopted   by consensus in the Third Committee of the UN   General Assembly in New York. In addition to Norway 75 countries   co-sponsored the resolution. The draft resolution   was developed in close consultation with civil society.

 

The resolution condemns the   criminalization, curtailing and killing of human rights defenders. It and   calls for the release of all those who have been imprisoned for exercising   their right to freedom of speech and other fundamental freedoms. This is the first   time that UN Member States have unanimously agreed to send such a clear and   powerful message on the need to protect human rights defenders.

 

In order to build on this   important development, the UN will convene a high-level meeting on the   situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Secretary-General has been   requested to strengthen the UN’s role in protecting human rights defenders.

 

‘I’m pleased that we have   achieved consensus on a strong UN resolution on protection of human rights   defenders. They are our champions in the fight against those who are seeking   to undermine universal human rights,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

 

She also thanked all   partners and civil society organisations all over the world for their support   in making this resolution possible.

 

Many of those who stand up   to defend rights face grave risks. Studies show that a human rights defender   working on environmental issues is killed every other day. The international   community cannot stand by and let this happen. Without strong advocates for   human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals, it will not be possible   for the world’s marginalised groups, including indigenous peoples, to benefit   from the 2030 Agenda.

 

‘This resolution has been   the subject of tough negotiations and has been voted on for several years.   The fact that all the UN member states have reached consensus on a   significant and substantive resolution is a great victory. This gives an   important signal to all human rights defenders that states should see them as   a resource rather than a threat. It is time to recognise the positive role   played by human rights defenders in building sustainable, open and democratic   societies,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

 

The protection of human rights   defenders is an important priority for Norway, and our policy is based on the white paper on   human rights. Our overall objective is for human rights defenders to be able to   carry out the work of promoting and defending human rights in all parts of   the world without restrictions or threats to themselves or their families.