Burundi, China, Honduras, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Philippines, Sudan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

People power | Defenders remain resilient and ambitious in the face of repression

Despite worsening restrictions and reprisals, human rights defenders are protesting against power, prejudice and privilege and demanding participation, accountability, representation and respect for fundamental rights. In these people and movements there is cause for celebration, ambition and hope, ISHR told the UN Human Rights Council.

ISHR made the following statement to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018. 

Thank you Mr President.

We thank you, High Commissioner, for your update and annual report.

ISHR was struck by three elements, in particular, of the update.

First, we were struck by the increase in attacks, restrictions and reprisals against defenders of economic and social rights in States. The High Commissioner mentioned China, Honduras, Iran and Sudan. Let us be clear. There can be no sustainable development without respect for ESC rights and ESC rights defenders. States that attack or fail to protect ESC rights defenders violate the rights for which they advocate for. They also demonstrate a manifest lack of commitment to the 2030 Agenda. This is not win-win. It is lose-lose for everyone, and particularly for the poor.

Second, we are deeply concerned at the flagrant lack of cooperation – or the highly selective cooperation – with this Council and its mechanisms by certain members, including Burundi, the Philippines and Venezuela. Adherence to membership standards is essential to this Council’s legitimacy, influence and impact on the ground. It is also a legal obligation which should be promoted by the President and the Bureau, and enforced by Member States of the General Assembly.

Finally, like the High Commissioner, we are inspired by the many human rights defenders worldwide who continue to stand up and speak out, often in the face of retaliation and repression. Across the globe, people are protesting against power, prejudice and privilege – whether on the streets in Women’s Marches or on social media in #MeToo. They’re demanding participation, accountability, representation and respect for fundamental rights. In these people and movements, on this International Women’s Day, in this year of the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, there is cause for celebration, ambition and hope.


Watch the statement here: 

Contact: Salma El Hosseiny, Human Rights Council Advocate, ISHR at [email protected]

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