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Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Peters' Intervention at UN Business and Human Rights Forum
Panel on Ensuring Access to Justice: The Essential Role of Human Rights Defenders
November 28, 2023

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Peters’ 

Intervention at UN Business and Human Rights Forum  

Panel on Ensuring Access to Justice: The Essential Role of Human Rights Defender

Good afternoon. On behalf of the United States, I am honored to be with all of you today.  It is particularly inspiring to hear about the outstanding work being done globally and in Latin America and the Caribbean addressing the human rights impacts of business. We appreciate your insights on how we can work together to support human rights defenders and promote access to justice for all.

The United States remains resolute in its commitment to supporting human rights defenders and protecting civic space.  When civic space is protected, individuals can exercise their human rights and human rights defenders can mobilize and advocate for transparency and accountability from governments.

Our support for human rights defenders is fundamental to our support of democracy at large.  Beyond the 2021 release of guidelines for diplomatic missions on how to support civil society and human rights defenders, the United States continues to support HRDs through programs like the Lifeline Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund, the revitalization of our annual award honoring HRDs, an informal interagency working group that monitors violence against environmental defenders around the world, and through other multilateral and multistakeholder initiatives.

We are working with the EU through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council to release public guidance soon, which will focus on how online platforms can more effectively mitigate, prevent, and enable access to remedy for digital attacks targeting HRDs, including gender-based online harassment and abuse targeting women and LGBTQI+ HRDs.  The Voluntary Principles Initiative on Security and Human Rights, which we currently chair, will also launch public guidance this week on Respecting the Rights of Human Rights Defenders.

We share your commitment to protecting HRDs and supporting their work.  And we know that multistakeholder cooperation is crucial, as no government, mechanism, company, or organization can do this alone. We are honored to work with you in this effort.  Thank you.