Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg.Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg

Introduction of the draft resolution on women human rights defenders

Last updated: 11/21/2013 // Today Ambassador Geir O Pedersen introduced the draft resolution L.64 - Protecting Women Human Rights Defenders. The statement below is from the presentation. The resolution represents a clear call for the women human rights defender’s need of protection; it does not create new rights or privileges for women human rights defenders. Women human rights defenders throughout the world face grave violations of their fundamental rights. This resolution calls upon Governments to protect these people and to create a safe and enabling environment for them. So far the resolution has been met with great support from the UN member states. The list of co-sponsors consists of over sixty nations keep and it keeps on expanding.

On behalf of a group of 57 cosponsors, (and counting,) across different regions, I have the honor of introducing the draft resolution on protecting women human rights defenders.

This draft resolution was tabled as document L.64 on November 1.

Since then we have had extensive informal consultations. We are pleased with the interest shown by delegations on this topic. The broad participation by member states over the past month has shown that this is not an issue that concerns only a group of countries or certain regions. Clearly, it concerns us all.

We have had frank discussions on a very topical issue. We welcome such discussions.

There is no denying that women human rights defenders face grave violations of their fundamental rights around the world.

Two years ago, the GA expressed deep concern for the difficult situation of defenders as they face threats, attacks and acts of intimidation, with severe, negative impacts on their work and safety.

This is unacceptable under any standard. Intimidation, harassment, threats and violence, including gender-based and sexual violence, against women human rights defenders, can never be condoned or pardoned.

Governments do not always have to agree with human rights defenders, but they must allow them to speak, and allow for an open debate in our societies. This is a basic premise.

Fundamental freedoms of expression and association are essential also for the promotion and protection of the more material rights; the economic, social, and cultural rights, and the right to development.

Creating a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders should therefore be a fundamental objective of any society. 

As Governments we must protect human rights defenders in their legitimate work, based on non-discrimination and fundamental freedoms and human rights, which apply to everyone.

Women human rights defenders have special protection needs. This needs to be clearly recognized and acted upon. The draft resolution should be seen as a call for just that.

The draft resolution seeks to set out in clear terms the challenges at hand; the particular vulnerabilities of women human rights defenders, and it calls on States to take effective and practical steps to address their situation. The resolution does not create new rights or privileges for women human rights defenders, but it does represent a clear call for their need for protection.

The draft resolution is brought forward in the framework of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (of 1998), and we have in the revised version, which was tabled yesterday, on November 20, amended the title to reflect that in clear terms. Importantly, the draft resolution addresses the situation of all women human rights defenders.

We invite all delegations to support this resolution. We welcome further cosponsors from all regions, and we thank the many delegations that have cosponsored so far.

Thank you.

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