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The role of defenders in fostering accountability for atrocity crimes

This event explores the pivotal role of civil society in ensuring accountability for atrocity crimes, emphasising the need for global solidarity and proactive engagement to uphold human rights.

Location: Geneva, Switzerland

At a time of increasing conflicts, the root causes of which include repression and human rights abuses, respect for human rights and accountability for violations is essential to address and resolve these crises.

Amongst other things, this requires that States support and protect the work of human rights defenders, both at the national and international levels. Defenders prevent rights violations, provide essential services, document abuses, promote accountability, and propose solutions that are grounded in community priorities and needs.

Resolving conflicts and crises also requires that States treat human rights as paramount and apply human rights laws and standards in a principled, consistent way. The selective and inconsistent application of international law undermines the integrity of the global human rights system and the responses to urgent situations where gross violations amounting to atrocity crimes may be committed.

UN human rights experts and mechanisms have a crucial role to play in ringing alarm bells and ensuring States take action in a systematic manner - as do human rights defenders.

During this event, we will discuss the powerful role defenders play in mobilising key actors, including the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, to ensure effective measures are taken by multilateral bodies and UN Member States to put an end to impunity and ensure accountability.


  • Tahani Abbas, Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence
  • Ahmed Abofoul, Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer at ‎Al-Haq
  • Zumretay Arkin, Chair of the Women's Committee at the World Uyghur Congress
  • Yasmin Ullah, Founder and Executive Director of Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network
  • Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing
  • Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food (video statement)


Moderated by Nada Awad, International Service for Human Rights

This side event will be available in Arabic and English, with interpretation provided.

This event is co-sponsored by AL-HAQ Defending Human Rights, Amnesty International, Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS, FORUM-ASIA, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, International Federation for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights, Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence, Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network, Sudan Women Rights Action, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, World Organisation Against Torture, and World Uyghur Congress.