The need to protect human rights activists against reprisals

UN Watch Oral Statement
Agenda Item 5: Human rights bodies and mechanisms
Delivered by Mr. Hillel Neuer
19 March 2014

Thank you, Mr. President.

One year ago, when we met under this same agenda item, more than 50 countries joined together to deliver a cross-regional statement opposing the use of intimidation and reprisal against those cooperating with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.
Since that time, the need for strong action — to protect those who stand on the front lines to defend the founding principles of this Council — has been endorsed by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner, and even by a resolution of this Council, which needs to be ratified by the General Assembly with all deliberate speed.
And yet, here we are one year later, and the Bureau of this Council, only two days ago, was obliged to hold a meeting to discuss cases of reprisal against individuals who have cooperated with the Council and its human rights mechanisms.
We commend the President for raising these matters with the relevant and interested parties, underlining the importance of securing the rights of all stakeholders, and requesting clarifications on the matter.
UN Watch stresses that is the primary responsibility of states to prevent intimidations and reprisals, and when faced with such allegations, to investigate them and prosecute and punish the perpetrators. Moreover, acts of intimidation and reprisals should be condemned, firmly and publicly, by politicians and other opinion leaders.
At the international level, more coordination is needed among UN bodies and mechanisms in reacting to reprisals, with firmness, urgency and alacrity.
UN Watch commends the Office of the High Commissioner for its ongoing cooperation in supporting the work of our courageous partners on the ground who advocate for human rights under difficult circumstances around the world, and who come here to engage with the council and its mechanisms.
Thank you, Mr. President.

UN Watch