Follow up on the Human Rights Defenders Resolution in the UN

December 5, 2015

Last week I wrote about how the UN Resolution on HRDs did in the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly [] and how South Africa has turned around []. The date of the vote in the Plenary is not yet confirmed but is likely to be 18 or 21 December. The voting record is available:

Fourteen States voted no on the resolution (China, Russia, Syria, Burundi, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, North Korea, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan). In some of these countries civil society has expressed disappointment. e.g.

In Pakistan the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a statement issued on Tuesday, said: “At the same time, HRCP must express alarm and great disappointment that Pakistan chose to be one of the 14 nations that voted against the resolution.“ “While regretting Pakistan’s decision to oppose the resolution, the civil society is entitled to ask what rights defenders have done to deserve this step-motherly treatment. It is unfortunate that the government wishes to see civil society as an adversary. The civil society cannot, and must not, surrender its role as a watchdog for people’s rights because that constitutes an entitlement, by virtue of citizens’ social contract with the state, and not as a concession” “The HRCP also stresses people’s right to know through an explanation in parliament the reason why the government chose to deny the need for protection for HRDs, who include, besides human rights groups, journalists, lawyers, political and social activists.

In Zimbabwe the Human Rights Commission chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi said he would need to find out what really happened.“We would also want to sit as a commission to evaluate that and come up with a proper position if indeed government voted against the resolution because our duty if to advise the State to ratify rights treaties,”. But others were more direct in their criticism. Human rights defender and lawyer, Alec Muchadehama said the State and all its machinery continued to be at the forefront of violating human rights and human rights defenders when in fact it was duty-bound to protect them. “We are not surprised. It is just a confirmation of what we know and have always said. Zimbabwe is a country that can easily descend into pariah status,” he said. While MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu condemned the move, citing activist, Itai Dzamara, who was abducted by suspected State security agents almost nine months ago and accused the Zanu PF government of not “batting an eyelid”.

In Fiji the Coalition for Human Rights on 5 December regretted that Fiji was one of the 40 countries that abstained from voting on the Resolution. Coalition Chair Shamima Ali in a statement says, “by not supporting the resolution, Fiji seems to be telling the world that we do not support the work of human rights defenders nor do we believe that human rights defenders should be protected.”

Coalition Chair Shamima Ali’s-absence


Amnesty International and ISHR are taking the lead for a second joint NGO letter regarding the resolution on human rights defenders.


2 Responses to “Follow up on the Human Rights Defenders Resolution in the UN”

  1. […] December 18, 2015 For the record, the Resolution on the protection of human rights defenders was adopted by the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday 17 December 2015, with 127 States voting in favour (i.e 10 more than in the Third Committee!). See:…. […]

  2. […] A cynic would conclude that there is at least consistency with Pakistan’s stand in the UN against the UN Resolution on Human Rights Defenders [as reported in:…]! […]

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