HRC52: Support consensus renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

February 27, 2023. At the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council on 27 February, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders for three years. 169 organisations, including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, urge the all States to support the resolution renewing the mandate.

Human rights defenders are people who act with humanity, serve humanity and who contribute to and bring out the best in humanity. They are key to our daily lives - they work so our governments are more transparent and accountable, our environment cleaner and safer, our schools and workplaces fairer, and our futures more sustainable. As human rights defenders confront power, privilege and prejudice, they frequently face a wide range of risks and threats, including against their organisations and their families, friends and loved ones. Despite their vital contribution, both some governments and non-State actors are still seeking to silence defenders as they expose injustices and demand accountability for all.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is integral to their protection and recognition, globally. It gathers and responds to information on the situation of defenders around the world, engages constructively with governments and non-State actors and provides expert recommendations to promote the effective implementation 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’ (The Declaration on human rights defenders).

2023 marks 25 years since the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on human rights defenders. The adoption of the Declaration was a critical point in human rights history where it articulated how existing human rights law applies to the situation of human rights defenders, recognised the importance and legitimacy of human rights activity, and the need to protect it along with those who carry it out. It is apposite that this major anniversary coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, reflecting the integral role that human rights defenders play in the realisation of universal human rights.

In 2022, the Human Rights Council reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and its full and effective implementation, and that promoting respect, support and protection for the activities of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights, including in conflict and post-conflict situations. In 2021, the General Assembly passed by consensus with 85 State co-sponsors a resolution acknowledging the important and legitimate role that human rights defenders played in the COVID-19 response, as well as the challenges faced as a result.

At the 52 nd session of the Council, States will consider a resolution extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years. This is a key opportunity for States and the Council to
demonstrate their support and recognition for the indispensable role human rights defenders play to ensure that all people enjoy freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Our organisations therefore urge all States to support the resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by:

● participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution;
● presenting early co-sponsorship of the text;
● resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations; and
● supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.


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  • Co-signatories

    1. ACAT Belgium
    2. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
    3. ACAT Italia
    4. ACAT RDC
    5. ACAT Spain-Catalonia
    6. ACAT, GHANA
    7. ACAT-France
    8. ACAT-Liberia
    9. ACAT-Switzerland
    10. ACAT-UK (Action by Christians Against Torture - UK)
    11. Accion Solidaria on HIV/Aids
    12. Action by Christians against Torture in Togo (ACAT TOGO)
    13. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture - Canada
    14. action by Christians for the abolition of torture - Congo
    15. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) - Cameroon
    16. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture of Côte d’Ivoire
    17. Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture in Burundi (Acat-Burundi)
    18. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
    19. African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum
    20. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains
    21. AlertaVenezuela
    22. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
    23. ALKARAMA
    24. Alliance for Democracy in Laos
    25. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
    26. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    27. Amnesty International
    28. Amnesty International Mongolia
    29. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    30. Asian Legal Resource Center
    31. Association for Progressive Communications - APC
    32. Association For Promotion Sustainable Development
    33. association for the respect of indigenous rights, sustainable development and human right
    34. Association for women and Children at Risk
    35. Association of balal
    36. Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
    37. Aula Abierta
    38. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
    39. Brot für die Welt
    40. Burkina Faso Coaltion of Human Right Defenders (CBDDH)
    41. Bytes For All, Pakistan
    42. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    43. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
    44. Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
    45. Center to Alternatives to Development
    46. Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa (CHRDA)
    47. Centro de Alternativas al Desarrollo (CEALDES) - Colombia
    48. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
    49. Child Rights Connect
    50. CIVICUS
    51. CIVILIS Human Rights
    52. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
    53. Committee for Free Expression (Comité por la Libre Expresión C-Libre)
    54. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
    55. Community Resource Centre (CRC)
    56. Coordiantion of Associations and Individuals for Freedom of Conscience
    57. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    58. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
    59. Emonyo Yefwe International
    60. End Impunity Organization
    61. Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial - ECAP
    62. Euro-mediterranean federation against enforced disappearances
    63. European Network Against Racism
    64. Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
    65. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    66. Forum Menschenrechte
    67. Franciscans International
    68. Freedom House
    69. GALE, The Global Alliance for LGBT Education
    70. Geneva for Human Rights - Global Training (GHR)
    71. Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities
    72. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    73. Global Human Rights Group
    74. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    75. Global Observatory of Communication and Democracy (OGCD)
    76. Gulf Centre for Human Rights
    77. Habitat International Coalition
    78. Hallmark Media
    79. Human Rights Association (Insan Haklari Dernegi)
    80. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
    81. Human Rights Council of Australia
    82. Human Rights Defenders Fund
    83. Human Rights House Foundation
    84. Humanists International
    85. Idheas. Strategic Human Rights Litigation
    86. IFEX
    87. ILEX Acción Jurídica
    88. In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)
    89. Inclusive Bangladesh
    90. Indigenous Peoples Rights International
    91. Initiative for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Inc.
    92. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)
    93. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    94. International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka
    95. International Commission of Jurists
    96. International Commission of Jurists Australia
    97. International Dalit Solidarity Network
    98. International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT)
    99. International Planned Parenthood Federation
    100. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    101. International volunteer organization for women education development
    102. Intersex Society of Zambia
    103. Ivorian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CIDDH)
    104. Journalists and Writers Foundation (
    105. Judicial Reform Foundation Taiwan
    106. Karapatan Alliance Philippines
    107. KIOS Foundation
    108. Law Society of England and Wales
    109. Lawyers without Borders Canada
    110. Maldivian Democracy Network
    111. Mauritanian association for socio-educational development
    112. MENA Rights Group
    113. Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras)
    114. Mongolian Women’s Employment Supporting Federation
    115. Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA)
    116. Network of the independent Commission for Human rights in North Africa CIDH AFRICA
    118. Organization Solidarity Development
    120. Peace Brigades International
    121. People Forum for Human Rights(People Forum)
    122. PICUM (Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants)
    123. Plateforme Droits de l’Homme
    124. POS Foundation
    125. Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER)
    127. Protection International Mesoamérica
    128. Public Verdict Foundation
    129. Rainbow Pride Foundation
    130. Red Dot Foundation
    131. Refugee Council of Australia
    132. Renewable Freedom Foundation
    133. Riposte Internationale
    134. Rivers without Boundaries
    135. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    136. Safety and Rights Society (SRS)
    137. SAHR
    138. Scholars at Risk
    139. SHOAA for Human Rights
    140. Society for Threatened Peoples
    141. SOS-Esclaves
    142. Speak Up
    143. Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE )
    144. Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
    145. Swedwatch
    146. Syrians for Truth and Justice - STJ
    147. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
    148. The Community Action Center at Al-Quds University
    149. The Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE)
    150. The Kvinna till Kvinna foundation
    151. The Norwegian Human Rights Fund
    152. The Regional Coalition for WHRDs in MENA (WHRDMENA Coalition)
    153. The William Gomes Podcast
    154. Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders
    155. Tournons La Page
    156. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
    157. Viet Tan
    158. West African Human Rights Defenders Network
    159. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    160. Women’s World Summit Foundation
    161. World Justice Project
    162. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    163. World Uyghur Congress (WUC)
    164. WWF International
    165. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs
    166. Youth Care Motivators
    167. Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia
    168. Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN)
    169. Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF)

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