Retaliation against HRDs: GA Third Committee takes a step back – will General Assembly rectify?

December 4, 2013

The Monitor of the ISHR reports that in the Third Committee there was a serious setback in establishing an high-level ‘anti-reprisals focal point’ in the UN. In an unprecedented move, a group of States, led by Gabon and joined by others such as China and Russia, was successful in securing the passage of a resolution in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly to defer the appointment of such a senior UN official despite the Human Rights Council overwhelmingly passing a resolution in September calling on the UN Secretary-General to appoint ‘a United Nations-wide senior focal point’ to combat reprisals and intimidation. ‘Attacks, intimidation and reprisals against people who work to expose and seek accountability for human rights violations at the UN violate international law and undermine the UN itself,’ said Madeleine Sinclair, Legal Counsel with the International Service for Human Rights.‘It is deeply concerning that the international community has not stood united in the fight against reprisals. It is particularly concerning that African States such as South Africa, home to so many courageous and legendary human rights defenders, actively opposed vital measures to improve their protection,’

A number of African States took a more principled stand and abstained or absented themselves from the vote, including Cote d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco and Rwanda .The decision in the Third Committee was taken with a narrow margin of only two votes, with 76 States voting against the Human Rights Council resolution on reprisals and 74 States, including Mexico, the European Union, the USA, Switzerland and Norway, taking a stand to support human rights defenders. ‘Not only has the Third Committee shown its contempt for human rights defenders engaging with the UN, but this resolution also directly challenges the authority of the Human Rights Council to direct the UN’s work on human rights’ said ISHR’s Human Rights Council Advocacy Director, Michael Ineichen. ‘It is disappointing to see many States turn their back on human rights defenders in the Third Committee, including some which actually supported the Human Rights Council resolution only a few months ago,’ It can now only be hoped that the plenary of the General Assembly will overrule the Third Committee decision, which – if it happens at all – should be around 17 December.

via African States must not turn their backs on human rights defenders at the United Nations | ISHR.


One Response to “Retaliation against HRDs: GA Third Committee takes a step back – will General Assembly rectify?”

  1. […] Retaliation against HRDs: GA Third Committee takes a step back – will General Assembly rectify… ( […]

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