Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect (Geneva)
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
As Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Shara DUNCAN VILLALOBOS, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica
March 15, 2023
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of R2P.
We thank the Special Rapporteur for her report and for highlighting the crucial role of Human Rights Defenders documenting war crimes and other violations of international law and provide this information to the UN human rights system.
As highlighted by the UN Secretary General in his annual report on the R2P, Human Rights Defenders are often the first to witness warning signs of atrocity crimes and are equipped with in-depth expertise that states should incorporate into any atrocity prevention response. They are also at the forefront of promoting justice and accountability, reporting on international law violations, and working with governments to build capacity to better protect populations under threat and uphold R2P.
Yet, around the world, Human Rights Defenders are at risk of, or are experiencing, harassment, reprisals, arbitrary criminal proceedings or legal and administrative obstacles used to jeopardize their work. This not only puts at risk their own safety and security but can also have disastrous consequences for vulnerable communities dependent on their support.
We strongly condemn actions taken that limit or endanger the crucial work of Human Rights Defenders and call on all states to uphold their obligations under international law. We also call on all governments systematically to engage with local actors, particularly victim and survivor communities, to develop prevention strategies and responses that are rights-based and community-informed, to better prevent atrocity crimes before they occur.