Human Rights Council resolution recognizes ESC human rights defenders

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Several ESCR-Net members, together with other organizations around the world, successfully advocated for the adoption of a vital resolution by the UN Human Rights Council on the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) working to advance economic, social and cultural rights, via a letter that aimed to defeat over 30 hostile amendments that would have substantially weakened the resolution’s text.

Adopted on March 24, 2016, the resolution emphasizes the legitimacy of work by individuals and organizations to defend economic, social and cultural rights.  Articulated through a letter distributed to member states of the Human Rights Council, multiple ESCR-Net members joined other organizations in advocating that HRDs play a vital role in promoting transparency, good governance and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights for all.  

The resolution on “protecting human rights defenders, whether individuals, groups, or organs of society” urges States to demonstrate their support of human rights defenders who work to promote the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development for all, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.  The resolution also calls on States to combat impunity, hold accountable perpetrators of attacks and threats against HRDs and to adopt further prevention measures to safeguard those individuals who work to defend the human rights of others.  

The joint letter expressed concern that hostile amendments proposed by China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia would strip the most important elements from the resolution. These amendments included proposals to remove the term “human rights defenders” from several parts of the text, deleting reference to the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders working to promote ESCR and moves to qualify language on State’s obligations to protect.

The defeat of these amendments is an important step in enshrining formal recognition of the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders and for the need to safeguard freedom of expression and access to information and protection measures for them. 

For more information, click here.

To see the joint letter, click here.