Independent UN expert launches guide on rights of human rights defenders

Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. UN photo

27 July 2011 – In an effort to strengthen protection for human rights defenders across the world, a United Nations independent expert today launched guidelines outlining their rights as enshrined in the UN declaration on the rights of those who defend the human rights of others.

“Despite the efforts to implement the declaration, human rights defenders continue to face numerous violations,” said Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, when she launched the 100-page document entitled “Commentary to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”

“I hope that this essential guide will contribute to the development of a safer and more conducive environment for defenders to be able to carry out their work,” she said.

The document maps out the rights provided for in the declaration, based mostly on information received and reports produced by the two Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani (2000-2008) and Ms. Sekaggya (since 2008).

From the rights to protection and freedom of opinion and expression, to the rights to communicate with international bodies and to access funding, the commentary analyses what those rights entail and what is needed to ensure their implementation.

It also addresses the most common restrictions and violations faced by defenders, and provides recommendations to facilitate States’ implementation of each right.

“More than 12 years after its adoption, the declaration on human rights defenders is an instrument that is not sufficiently known and I would like to build on the efforts to raise awareness about it and the crucial role of human rights defenders,” Ms. Sekaggya said.

“This essential guide also offers a comprehensive reference document for journalists covering the situation of human rights defenders in their countries, their regions and the world,” she added.

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