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United Nations

Promotion and implementation of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms

UNGA Third Committee

Human Rights Defenders

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and my own country New Zealand.

We wish to thank Norway for presenting the resolution on “Implementing 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 through providing a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and ensuring their protection, including in the context of and recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic” this year. We are pleased to be cosponsors of this resolution.

We thank Norway for its transparent, inclusive and constructive engagement with all interested delegations on this text. We further recognise the oral revisions made prior to adoption as a way to bring us all together on this important topic. However, we regret that they weaken the scope of the text significantly. We hope that this can be avoided in the future.

We welcome the focus on ensuring a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders. The resolution serves as a reminder that all countries, regardless of their development status or political systems, must do more to protect human rights defenders.

We further welcome the attention this year given to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the recognition of the important role played by human rights defenders in ensuring that human rights are front and centre in response and recovery. We reiterate that Covid-19 related emergency measures must not be misused to endanger, limit, or hinder the work of human rights defenders.

We welcome the call on states to strengthen protection of women human rights defenders against violence and harassment, including online and offline, and the recognition of the role of indigenous and environmental human rights defenders.

We are also pleased that this resolution recognizes the importance of the rights to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly, as well as freedom of opinion and expression.

Lastly, we wish to emphasise our firm view on the importance of including recognition of the work of human rights defenders across the broad agenda of the Third Committee, not only in this resolution.

For us, the important role of human rights defenders in contributing to the implementation of internationally agreed human rights standards, as well as strengthening the rule of law, is a reflection of the commitment that we have to all our citizens in ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights for all.

We are glad to see that after an almost two year absence, civil society organizations are finally being granted access to UN premises again. We wish to underline the importance that their ground passes are renewed and issued without delay, so their relevant and meaningful exchanges with the United Nations and its Member States can be resumed.

Thank you.

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