U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 13, 2020
Thank you, Madam Chair. Director Mokhiber, the United States welcomes dialogue and collaboration with you on the promotion and protection of human rights – particularly preventing and responding to reprisals against human rights defenders.
Human rights defenders around the world continue to face harassment, intimidation, and attacks for doing work that is integral to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms – both within and outside the UN System.
Human rights defenders must be able to promote and defend human rights without undue restriction and free from fear of retribution against themselves or their families. We strongly support civil society participation and accreditation to UN bodies to raise concerns about thematic or country-specific challenges relating to human rights.
Human rights defenders face reprisals for participating in their country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva and bans on their travel to official UN meetings. Further, some members of the ECOSOC NGO Committee misuse the NGO accreditation process to stymie the participation of civil society organizations that express views with which a government disagrees. This assault on freedom of expression is unacceptable. The path of COVID-19 from a local outbreak to a global pandemic was hastened by systematic repression of freedom of expression and association. Silencing NGOs stunts civil society’s capacity to respond to crises like infectious diseases.
The United States condemns all acts of intimidation or reprisal by States and non-State actors against civil society actors who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the UN, its representatives, and its mechanisms in the field of human rights.
Question: Given the New York Office’s role as the UN’s focal point on this important issue, what do you see as critical challenges in the area of reprisals that need our immediate attention?