Human Rights Goals Can Only be Achieved When All Participants Can Speak Openly and Without Fear

Panel on Cooperation w/UN Human Rights Mechanisms:
Issues of Intimidation or Reprisals

Statement of the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 21st Session
Geneva

September 13, 2012

 

Thank you, Madam Chair.

The United States appreciates the report by the Secretary General on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.  We strongly support the critical work of human rights defenders and members of civil society and condemn all attempts, by state or non-state actors, to intimidate these groups for participating in the UN process.

As we have said before, honest and open dialogue between UN Member States, the UN’s human rights mechanisms, and representatives of civil society improves lives and strengthens democracies.  These important goals can only be met when all participants are truly able to speak openly, without fear of persecution, retribution, or physical harm.

Secretary Clinton often speaks forcefully about the critical role played by civil society. That role is more important than ever, in light of brutal crackdowns and restrictive NGO laws that are being used to intimidate civil society.  We salute those courageous members of civil society who risk their lives for the protection and promotion of human rights in these difficult situations.  The United States condemns government laws and actions that jeopardize the ability of human rights defenders to exercise their rights and carry out their work.  We support the efforts of the Special Rapporteur to address the activities, risks and challenges faced by the different groups that make up the global community of human rights defenders.

We read with interest the Special Rapporteur’s description of the important roles played by journalists and members of the media when, through their activities they publicize, and thus protect, the lives of endangered defenders; and promote the importance of human rights more generally.  The United States also notes with alarm the increase globally in attacks on these groups from 2007 to 2011 and reaffirms its intent to continue to provide assistance to defenders on the ground and report on their work through its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.