On the need for United Nations bodies such as the OHCHR to show support and provide visibility to UNSR Forst’s latest report on the situation of human rights defenders across 140 countries.
Protection International applauds the recent publication of The World Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, the first global survey of the situation of human rights defenders in 12 years. The nearly 500-page report gives an in-depth analysis of the cases of 140 countries, outlining the challenging landscape for individual and community-wide human rights defenders.
The World Report was presented by the UNSR Michel Forst to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 18th, on the occasion of the High-Level Plenary Meeting on the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups, and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Additionally, the report comes at a time of international celebration and reflection on the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Nevertheless, this report reminds the global community that many human rights defenders are threatened, abducted, and killed for peacefully exercising their right to defend human rights. 20 years since the adoption of the Declaration, at least 3,500 human rights defenders have been killed.
In his report, the UNSR Forst denounces that in locations where measures for the protection of human rights defenders are implemented, a landscape of ‘war’ has emerged. This reality cannot be ignored. As the space for civil society organizations and civil movements is squeezed smaller and smaller, reports like this must be bolstered into the international sphere, where recognition and support are gained. This, we believe, is a role that United Nations bodies must assume. However, to date, the OHCRH has not officially published nor promoted this report retracting the international praise and attention this report deserves.
We call for fellow CSOs to join us in encouraging the OHCRH to give recognition, praise, and visibility to a report that uncovers the challenging reality facing HRDs today while striving for long-term implementation of the right to defend human rights.
“The ability of the international community to meet its obligations set out in the Universal Declaration On Human Rights – and notably in many of its more recent commitments to sustainable development, migration, and climate change – are under threat because of the restrictions imposed on and attacks directed against human rights defenders” (UNSR Forst, 2018)