Human Rights House Foundation statement

HRC54 – Item 5 – Interactive Dialogue with the Assistant Secretary General – Reprisals

29 September 2023

Check against delivery.

Thank you.

We welcome the examples of best practice in the Secretary General’s report in preventing and countering reprisals. We agree that the appointment of dedicated focal points on reprisals does make a difference. We call on all UN entities and bodies to consider the appointment of such focal points.

We also welcome candidate states for Human Rights Council membership that have made pledges to prevent and counter reprisals against civil society actors, and for pledges to strengthen the participation of civil society in the work of the Human Rights Council.

With HRC elections approaching, it should be a bare minimum that states that are repeatedly referenced in the Secretary General’s report, and that show no willingness to take action against those reprisals, should not be considered for Human Rights Council membership, and should not be voted for on 10 October in New York.

We condemn Russia’s application for membership this year. Alongside Russia’s actions in Ukraine, we highlight its widespread reprisals against civil society organisations for engagement at the UN, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial, and Human Rights House Foundation. No state which actively and repeatedly retaliates against civil society for engaging with the UN should be a Member of this Council.  


We ask the Assistant Secretary General if she could clarify how restrictive legislation in the Russian Federation and in other countries such as Belarus, is being used to systematically hinder civil society engagement with the UN?

Thank you.