This new ISHR report presents the evolution of China’s public stance on reprisals in dialogues at the UN, and summarizes the way in which it has portrayed civil society’s cooperation with the UN as a ‘criminal act’.
Human rights defenders promote dignity, fairness, peace and justice in their homes, workplaces, communities and countries. They challenge governments that fail to respect and protect their people, corporations that degrade and destroy the environment, and institutions that perpetuate privilege and patriarchy. For many the United Nations (UN) is the last arena in which they can confront abuses.
Guaranteeing everyone a safe and unhindered access to international and regional justice mechanisms is essential for the latter’s effectiveness and relevance. Engaging with these bodies is a fundamental human right.
The participation of human rights defenders in the work of international and regional mechanisms makes for better outcomes. Defenders bring crucial information and perspectives regarding human rights situations on the ground and international and regional mechanisms depend on that knowledge and input to make informed decisions.
Human rights defenders must be able to share crucial information and perspectives with the UN safely and unhindered.
Yet some States try to escape international scrutiny by raising obstacles – such as intimidation and reprisals – aimed at creating fear and systematically hindering defenders’ access to and cooperation with human rights mechanisms.
What do we want?
Everyone has the right to access and safely communicate with the UN.
We want human rights defenders to have a seat at the UN table and be able to effectively and safely engage with UN human rights mechanisms and bodies.
We want States and non-State actors to refrain from intimidating or carrying out reprisals against defenders when they engage or seek to engage with the UN. States must take a clear and public position at the UN against intimidation and reprisals and hold their peers to account.
We therefore also call on States to publicly condemn reprisals and intimidation against those who engage with the UN, and raise specific cases of victims. When intimidation and reprisals do occur, we want the UN to effectively address these cases, support the victims and push for accountability and redress.
How do we achieve this?
We are working hard to:
- Raise awareness of the value of unhindered access to and the impact of reprisals on international and regional multilateral processes among government officials, diplomats, UN experts journalists, and human rights groups.
- Mobilise diplomatic missions, encouraging them to speak out and raise individual cases of reprisals against defenders at the UN and in other spaces.
- Push UN experts to take up individual cases and to establish clear protocols on how to prevent and respond to reprisals connected to their work.
- Encourage governments, activists, and concerned individuals to stand in solidarity with human rights defenders and organisations who are subject to reprisals and intimidation.