Iranian lawyer, human rights defender and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, with Norwegian UN Ambassador Mona Juul. Photo: Norway's UN Mission/Jeanette Olsen
UN adopts human rights defenders resolution
The General Assembly’s human rights committee, in its recently concluded session, unanimously adopted a Norwegian proposal on the protection of human rights defenders. The main purpose of the text is to protect those – such as Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Aung San Suu Kyi – who often risk their personal safety to speak up for the human rights of others.
In the resolution the General Assembly condemns attacks on human rights defenders and calls upon states to prevent violations of the human rights of defenders and to investigate complaints of such violations. States are also requested to ensure that human rights defenders enjoy freedom of expression and association, which are crucial for their ability to carry out their work. The text goes on to emphasize that women human rights defenders are particularly vulnerable group.
The month-long negotiations reflect misgivings harboured by a number of countries as to the legitimacy of human rights defenders and their particular protection needs. In spite of this, the resolution enjoyed the unanimous support and the co-sponsorship of 82 member states.