Reports of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and of the Special Representation of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Entities
Statement by U.S. Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor
Geneva, Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Thank you, Mr. President. The United States would like to thank Professor Ruggie for his report, which seeks to track emerging issues, ideas, proposals and trends throughout the world on this broad topic.
The United States remains committed to promoting voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives in a variety of sectors throughout the world. We believe that these voluntary initiatives are a positive complement to rule of law and can also help foster human dignity and improved working conditions, environmental safeguards, and good governance.
We are also mindful of the need to rigorously examine the scope of existing obligations under human rights treaties and will be sending the Representative a letter to follow up on these legal matters.
We also thank Ms. Jilani for her report. Men and women worldwide, at great personal risk and against tremendous odds, are daily seeking to lay claim to basic freedoms of association, speech, worship and assembly. Their tenacity is both an inspiration and a necessity—for where human rights are under siege, freedom and democracy suffer.
Unfortunately, concurrent with this growing global demand for liberty is a “pushback” by governments clamping down on those insisting on personal and political freedom. Governments are passing or selectively applying laws and regulations against NGOs, independent media and human rights defenders. In cases such as Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan, human rights and other activists for democracy who criticize the government are subject to harassment, arbitrary arrest, politically motivated prosecution, and physical attack.
The United States recognizes the need to “defend the defenders.” We have committed ourselves to speaking out against restrictions on civil society, we have pledged to support defenders under siege, and late last year Secretary Rice issued a set of NGO Principles to guide ourselves and other governments in our treatment of civil society activists. She also launched a global fund that will support human rights activists facing emergency needs due to pushback on their work for freedom. We urge our partners in the international community to join us in these commitments to stand with courageous defenders of human rights and democracy, while calling to account the governments who seek to undermine them.