William Nicholas Gomes

Letter to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council

Re: Support consensus renewal of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

7 March 2017

Your Excellency,

The undersigned 85 civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The work of human rights defenders is vital to promoting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. Despite this critical role, the Special Rapporteur notes that defenders are under ‘unprecedented attack’ with ‘the number killed around the world continuously rising’.

In turn, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is key to provide visibility of the situation of defenders and highlight the need for their protection. Since the creation of the mandate in 2000, successive mandate holders have made concrete contributions to the protection of those defending human rights, and to the dissemination and implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The mandate has also made significant contributions to acknowledging gender specific attacks targeting women human rights defenders and the need to develop intersectional responses.

During the Human Rights Council’s 34th session, States are considering a resolution extending the mandate for a further three years. The proposed renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate provides a key opportunity for the HRC to strengthen the recognition of the crucial role defenders play in our societies, and towards the creation of a fair, just and equal world.

We call upon all States to show their commitment to human rights, peace and sustainable development through strong and unconditional support for the renewal of the mandate. The establishment of the mandate in 2000, and all its extensions, have always enjoyed consensus in the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.

Such strong support will lay the basis – in this resolution and the future work of the HRC, the General Assembly and the Special Rapporteur – to further strengthen the protection of defenders.

Assuming the extension of the mandate, the Special Rapporteur has foreshadowed a range of much needed and important initiatives, including expert technical assistance, to support States to ensure the full and effective implementation of human rights defender related resolutions and recommendations at the national level.

We therefore urge your delegation to support the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution, and in time co-sponsor the text.

Civil society and human rights defenders around the world look to the HRC and its Member States for support and protection, and we hope your delegation will stand with us.

Yours sincerely,
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Nigeria
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS),
Alkarama Foundation
Amnesty International, International
Article 19, International
Association for Advancement of Legal Right , Hong Kong
Association for Progressive Communications (APC), International
Association for promotion sustainable development, India
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Global
Both ENDS, Netherlands
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, International
CAN Pakistan/ Search For Justice, Pakistan
Canada Tibet Committee, Canada
Center for Inquiry, United States
Center for International Environmental Law, United States of America
Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA), Guatemala
Christian Development Alternative (CDA), Bangladesh
Coalition Burkinabè des Défenseurs des Droits Humains, Burkina Faso
Coalition Togolaise desv Défenseurs des Droits Humains , Togo
Conectas Direitos Humanos, Brazil
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project), Uganda
Earth and Human Rights of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Brasil
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), USA
Edmund Rice International, International
Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility (EMLI), Uganda
Euipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial, Guatemala
Evt sain khursh Foundation , Mongolia
EXCUBITUS – Derechos Humanos en Educacion, Venezuela
Executive Director, Argentina
Facilitate Global, England
FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, France
Frente de Mujeres Defensoras de la Pachamama – Ecuador, Ecuador
Front Line Defenders, International
Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights,
Global Witness, International
Heartland Alliance Global Initiatives for Human Rights, Argentina
Help & Shelter, Guyana
Human Concern, Inc/HUCON, Liberia
Human Rights First, United States
Human Rights House Foundation, Geneva
Human Rights Mouvement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”, Kyrgyzstan
Human Rights Watch, International
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), Región Mesoamericana
Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Politicos (INVESP), Venezuela
International Accountability Project, International
International Commission of Jurists, International
International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium
International Rivers, International
Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos, Guatemala
JASS (Just Associates)
Justiça Global, Brazil
Justice Connect, Australia
Justice for All/Burma Task Force, USA
Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centree, Nigeria
Mini Global Hetavad Skills Networks, Nigeria
MiningWatch Canada, Canada
Mongolian Women’s Employment Supporting Federation, Mongolia
Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), Kenya
Omega Research Foundation, United Kingdom
One World Platform, Bosnia Herzegovina
Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
Partnership For Justice Nigeria, Nigeria
Peace Brigades International, International
Plataforma Colombiana De Derechos Humanos Democracia y Desarrollo, Colombia
Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad, Central America
Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), Mexico
RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights, Sweden
Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition, International
Rivers without Boundaries Mongolia, Mongolia
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, United States
Salesian Missions, International
Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM), Guatemala
Social Justice Connection, Canada
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala, Guatemala
Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA – International Association of Lawyers), International
Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres – ULAM, Perú
Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social-UNITAS, Bolivia
Urgewald, Germany
We Women Lanka, Sri Lanka
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, International
Yemen organization for Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms, Yemen
Zo Indigenous Forum, India


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