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Statement to the General Assembly on the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders by Jonas G. Allansson, Deputy Permanent Representative

Mr. / Madame President,

 

As we commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by all UN member states, we welcome the opportunity to reflect on our achievements and the challenges that remain.

 

Mr. / Madame President,

 

Iceland continues to support and advocate for the protection of civil society and human rights defenders. Their ability to work safely and without the fear of retaliation is a key element in maintaining open and democratic societies. We have therefore made the protection of human rights defender one of the priorities of our current Membership of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

It remains the responsibility of every state to provide a safe environment for civil society and human rights defenders, including by protecting the rule of law, due process and freedom of speech. Making space for alternative views and criticism, is a source of strength for all states, fuelling political and social development.

 

Unfortunately, the reality on the ground is of great concern, as human rights defenders are increasingly subject to threats, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and other severe human rights violations.

 

I would particularly like to draw attention to those human rights defenders, that promote and protect fundamental freedoms as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

 

Empowering environmental human rights defenders is crucial to the protection of the environment and all other related rights.

 

If the international community is to translate Agenda 2030 into reality, we must address the increasing violence, harassment and demonization by state and non-state actors of environmental human rights defenders.

 

States need to support the right of everyone to promote a healthy and sustainable environment, the very foundation for the enjoyment of a vast range of human rights. The current situation of environmental human rights defenders must be addressed and individuals and groups on the front line of defending sustainable development should be protected.

 

Mr. / Madame President,

 

Let me assure you that Iceland will continue to promote and protect the rights of all human rights defenders as they play a pivotal role in safeguarding international human rights for the benefit of all.

 

I thank you.

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