Letter to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council: Support consensus renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

Open Letter
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Your Excellency,

The undersigned 85 civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The work of human rights defenders is vital to promoting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. Despite this critical role, the Special Rapporteur notes that defenders are under ‘unprecedented attack’ with ‘the number killed around the world continuously rising’.

In turn, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is key to provide visibility of the situation of defenders and highlight the need for their protection. Since the creation of the mandate in 2000, successive mandate holders have made concrete contributions to the protection of those defending human rights, and to the dissemination and implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The mandate has also made significant contributions to acknowledging gender specific attacks targeting women human rights defenders and the need to develop intersectional responses.

During the Human Rights Council’s 34th session, States are considering a resolution extending the mandate for a further three years. The proposed renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate provides a key opportunity for the HRC to strengthen the recognition of the crucial role defenders play in our societies, and towards the creation of a fair, just and equal world.

We call upon all States to show their commitment to human rights, peace and sustainable development through strong and unconditional support for the renewal of the mandate. The establishment of the mandate in 2000, and all its extensions, have always enjoyed consensus in the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.

Such strong support will lay the basis – in this resolution and the future work of the HRC, the General Assembly and the Special Rapporteur – to further strengthen the protection of defenders.

Assuming the extension of the mandate, the Special Rapporteur has foreshadowed a range of much needed and important initiatives, including expert technical assistance, to support States to ensure the full and effective implementation of human rights defender related resolutions and recommendations at the national level.

We therefore urge your delegation to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution, and in time co-sponsor the text.

Civil society and human rights defenders around the world look to the HRC and its Member States for support and protection, and we hope your delegation will stand with us.

Yours sincerely,

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  • Co-signatories

    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Nigeria
    African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS),
    Alkarama Foundation
    Amnesty International, International
    Article 19, International
    Association for Advancement of Legal Right , Hong Kong
    Association for Progressive Communications (APC), International
    Association for promotion sustainable development, India
    Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Global
    Both ENDS, Netherlands
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International
    CAN Pakistan/ Search For Justice, Pakistan
    Canada Tibet Committee, Canada
    Center for Inquiry, United States
    Center for International Environmental Law, United States of America
    Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA), Guatemala
    Christian Development Alternative (CDA), Bangladesh
    Coalition Burkinabè des Défenseurs des Droits Humains, Burkina Faso
    Coalition Togolaise desv Défenseurs des Droits Humains , Togo
    CODDDHD, Niger
    Conectas Direitos Humanos, Brazil
    DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Uganda
    Earth and Human Rights of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Brasil
    East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), USA
    Edmund Rice International, International
    Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility (EMLI), Uganda
    Euipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial, Guatemala
    Evt sain khursh Foundation , Mongolia
    EXCUBITUS - Derechos Humanos en Educacion, Venezuela
    Executive Director, Argentina
    Facilitate Global, England
    FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, France
    Frente de Mujeres Defensoras de la Pachamama - Ecuador, Ecuador
    Front Line Defenders, International
    Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights,
    Global Witness, International
    Heartland Alliance Global Initiatives for Human Rights, Argentina
    Help & Shelter, Guyana
    Human Concern, Inc/HUCON, Liberia
    Human Rights First, United States
    Human Rights House Foundation, Geneva
    Human Rights Mouvement "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan", Kyrgyzstan
    Human Rights Watch, International
    Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), Región Mesoamericana
    Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Politicos (INVESP), Venezuela
    International Accountability Project, International
    International Commission of Jurists, International
    International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium
    International Rivers, International
    Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos, Guatemala
    JASS (Just Associates)
    Justiça Global, Brazil
    Justice Connect, Australia
    Justice for All/Burma Task Force, USA
    Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centree, Nigeria
    Mini Global Hetavad Skills Networks, Nigeria
    MiningWatch Canada, Canada
    Mongolian Women’s Employment Supporting Federation, Mongolia
    Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), Kenya
    Omega Research Foundation, United Kingdom
    One World Platform, Bosnia Herzegovina
    Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
    Partnership For Justice Nigeria, Nigeria
    Peace Brigades International, International
    Plataforma Colombiana De Derechos Humanos Democracia y Desarrollo, Colombia
    Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad, Central America
    Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), Mexico
    RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights, Sweden
    Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition, International
    Rivers without Boundaries Mongolia, Mongolia
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, United States
    Salesian Missions, International
    Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM), Guatemala
    Social Justice Connection, Canada
    Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos - Guatemala, Guatemala
    Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA - International Association of Lawyers), International
    Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres - ULAM, Perú
    Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social-UNITAS, Bolivia
    Urgewald, Germany
    We Women Lanka, Sri Lanka
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, International
    Yemen organization for Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms, Yemen
    Zo Indigenous Forum, India

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