Unfortunately the UN voted on the Resolution on human rights defenders!

November 26, 2015

The answer to yesterday’s post [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/will-the-un-today-adopt-the-strongest-possible-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders-ask-over-100-ngos/] is that the UN did vote in favor but UNFORTUNATELY did have to vote at all. The unanimity by which UN resolutions on this topic were adopted since 1999 is now lost. But at least there is clarity: Russia and China were the main opponents.

In New York today, China and Russia broke the unanimity of the international community by requesting a vote on the resolution presented by Norway,” commented Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights House Network. The vote by 117 in favour of the resolution, against 14, and with 40 abstentions, in fact reflects the situation in which human rights defenders work in the countries that voted against the resolution.

Following the adoption of the resolution, Luxembourg in the name of the European Union said that “unfortunately some national legislation [affecting human rights defenders] is in contradiction to international human rights law.” This statement was an answer to those delegations, especially China and Russia, arguing that human rights defenders must work within the framework of national laws. “Russia and its supporters should in fact reflect on what is written in the United Nations resolutions and adapt their legislation. They are trying to adapt international standards to their legislation, which witnesses the insincerity of their engagement on this issue,” further commented Florian Irminger.

The adopted resolution contains many important elements. The General Assembly made it clear that states cannot criminalise, stigmatise, impede, obstruct, or restrict the work of human rights defenders. It affirmed that States cannot adopt legislation discriminating human rights defenders in their right to associate and to get foreign support for their work.

In its resolution, the General Assembly called again on all actors in society to express public support to human rights defenders and to publicly denounce acts of violence against them.Another worrying development witnessed in many countries, such as in Azerbaijan, is the imprisonment of human rights defenders. For the first time ever, at the General Assembly clearly calls for the release of all such detained human rights defenders.

In another unprecedented move, the General Assembly denounced the intimidation of human rights defenders on social media. “We now know clearly which States work against the right to be a human rights defender. They must be challenged by the international system and questioned by States believing in the right of anybody, individually or in association with others, to promote human rights. All States that have voted yes must now stand up and voice even stronger their support to human rights defenders in their national practices,” concluded Florian Irminger.

Source: UN expresses support to human rights defenders, against will of China and Russia – Human Rights House Network

For those interested in the detail son the debate see: http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/gashc4161.doc.htm

3 Responses to “Unfortunately the UN voted on the Resolution on human rights defenders!”

  1. Alex B Says:

    Very exciting news! And at the same time, a saddening side to it, yet not unexpected.

  2. […] I wrote about how the UN Resolution on HRDs did in the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/unfortunately-the-un-voted-on-the-resolution-on-human-right…] and how South Africa has turned around […]

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