13 September 2012

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Must Protect Those Advocating Fundamental Rights, Secretary-General


Tells Panel on Intimidation of Cooperating Defenders


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message to the Panel on Intimidation or Reprisal against Individuals and Groups Who Cooperate or Have Cooperated with the United Nations and Its Representatives and Mechanisms in the Field of Human Rights, in Geneva today, 13 September:

I am pleased to greet this important discussion.

Over the past two decades, Secretaries-General have reported regularly on alleged reprisals against those who cooperate with the United Nations in the field of human rights.  I have reported on people who were imprisoned simply because they coordinated a letter to me, and a man who was forced to flee his country because he contributed to a civil society report for the universal periodic review.

Human rights defenders have faced smear campaigns for making statements at the Human Rights Council.  And others have allegedly been murdered after giving testimony to a special rapporteur.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Far too many are understandably scared to report reprisals aimed at silencing them.

States have a responsibility to respect human rights and protect those who advocate for fundamental rights.  When they fail to do so, the United Nations must stand up and speak out.  We must defend those who seek to use the United Nations human rights system.

My report calls for action.  I welcome initiatives taken by various bodies and mechanisms to respond to reprisals.  The President of the Human Rights Council has been very active in that regard.

I hope this panel will provide a catalyst to robust and coordinated action throughout the United Nations system, including by the Human Rights Council, to systematically condemn and respond to persecution and intimidation.

I wish you a productive discussion.

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For information media • not an official record