The draft resolution was put forward by the Ministry of foreign affairs of Norway and was developed in close consultation with civil society. The document was adopted unanimously at the meeting of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York on 20 November. Together with Norway, 75 countries are co-authors of the resolution.
The authors consider the appearance of resolution very timely, as 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. With the latest resolution, this is an opportunity to celebrate defenders’ contribution to society and the crucial role they play in protecting rights. According to them, recognition and praise are much needed, because human rights defenders in many parts of the world are facing significant limitations to their freedoms and attacks to their legitimacy.
“The international community has sent a strong signal. Human rights defenders play a key role in the strengthening of respect for human rights throughout the world “, said Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The resolution condemns the criminalization, restriction of activities and the murder of human rights activists. It calls for the release of all those who have been arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms. For the first time UN member states unanimously agreed to send a clear and powerful message about the need to protect human rights defenders.
The participation of Belarus is not mentioned neither among 75 co-authors of the resolution, nor in statement to the media following the meeting of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on November 20, where the document was discussed and adopted. Ignoring the resolution, authorities of the country demonstrate the real attitude to the human rights community, thinks the head of the HRC “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski.
“The fact that Belarus is not among the co-authors of the resolution shows the true position of the Belarusian authorities towards human rights defenders. Recently, they have been flirting with some human rights organizations, but in fact they view each and every of us as a menace — only for the fact that we often say the plain truth.
Instead of increasing the shrinking space for human rights in Belarus, instead of correcting their shortcomings and mistakes, they view us as their antagonists. But we are out of their political games. Our mission is to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of the interests and benefits of the ruling circles,” human rights defender said.
The Belarusian authorities have repeatedly ignored the adoption of international instruments related to human rights defenders. In particular, the Belarusian government disregarded the 2014 ODIHR conference in Bern, which adopted OSCE’s Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.