HRC45 Oral Statement on Item 5: Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights
2 October 2020 2:56 pm
45th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 5: Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights
Oral Statement Delivered by Benny Agus Prima
On behalf of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Madam President, FORUM-ASIA welcomes the Secretary-General’s report.
Meaningful participation of human rights defenders, civil society, victims and survivors in the UN is essential for legitimacy and effectiveness of the entire UN system. However, we share the Secretary-General’s concerns about deteriorating environment for those who engaging with the UN, in particular with its human rights mechanisms. Particularly alarming is the number of Member States of the Council included in the report, often as repeat offenders.
The Philippines, for example, has used its statements at the Council to vilify and label civil society and human rights defenders such as Karapatan and its Secretary-General Cristina Palabay as terrorists for supporting the Council’s action on the Philippines. Similarly, Indian authorities have prohibited prominent human rights defender Khurram Parvez from traveling internationally using trumped up criminal charges in a clear attempt to silence his work to bring the situation in Kashmir to the attention of the Council. The government of Bangladesh continues use the legislative and regulatory measures to restrict the work of NGOs such as Odhikar that cooperate with the UN.
Countries that have long been under scrutiny at the Council have attacked those cooperating with the Council and its mechanisms. Defenders, victims and survivors in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Cambodia have often been forced to exercise self-censorship or to stop engaging with the Council for fear of reprisals from their governments.
We believe that comprehensive system-wide approach that is centered on the UN’s human rights objectives is essential to effectively address and prevent reprisals. In this regard we ask the Assistant Secretary-General:
- How would UN resident coordinators and other field presence contribute to preventing reprisals and protecting human rights defenders on the ground?
- To please list your recommendations to the UN and the Council to meaningfully hold members of the Council that persistently attack HRDs who cooperate with the Council accountable.
For a pdf version of this statement please click here.