HRC 42: Statement on the Secretary General’s report on reprisals Statement

42nd session of the Human Rights Council

Item 6: ID with ASG on the Secretary General’s report on reprisals

Statement by Action Canada for Population and Development

Thank you Mr. President

Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative. 

We welcome the Secretary General’s attention to reprisals for cooperating with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms.  As a coalition of regional and national organizations from all parts of the world working on a broad range of sexual rights across all the UN human rights mechanisms, we know first-hand the many ways in which States target us, our allies and colleagues across movements. We also know that reprisals against sexual rights activists are highly gendered in substance and form, from threats of sexual violence to revocation or denial of official organizational status for speaking out on rights related to sexuality.  We appreciate the Secretary General’s observation that those working on rights related to sexuality and gender are particularly targeted and the recommendation to examine, investigate and document reprisals in a gender responsive manner. 

However, reprisals against all human rights activists must be understood as a symptom of a much larger problem that better documentation will not solve.  Across the world, governments are using the immense power of the State to silence, intimidate and discredit those who try to raise the alarm on human rights violations.  In many cases, using bureaucratic means to drain precious time, energy and resources away from organizations so that their ability to even keep their doors open, let alone engage in the UN, is severely compromised.  This must be seen as the threat to multilateralism, human rights and peace that it is, and States and the UN must act with the urgency it demands. 

We urge the Secretary General, States and the UN system more broadly, to use their considerable diplomatic might to develop better protection mechanisms for human rights activists and to hold States to account for reprisals including through effective remedies for victims and their families.

I thank you.