UN General Assembly on Wednesday, November 25, adopted a resolution which seeks to protect those who face risks and attacks for their work to defend and promote human rights.
The resolution includes a number of new, important and substantive provisions, including as to the vital role of advocacy and the work of human rights defenders in contributing to sustainable
development and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, and as to the responsibilities of business enterprises with respect to engaging, consulting and protecting defenders.
Russia, China, Nigeria, Kenya,Myanmar and South Africa were among countries that voted against the resolution. Nigeria said that they saw ‘no need’ for the resolution, effectively denying the importance of independent civil society and dissent to democracy and development. China explained that it had ‘no choice’ but to vote against it as ‘certain western countries’ use the protection of defenders as an excuse to ‘interfere in the internal affairs of developing countries and disrupt their social stability’.
While congratulating the 144 countries that stood with human rights defenders, International Service for Human Rights, Programme Manager and Legal Counsel. Madeleine Sinclair said they are disappointed with the 14 countries that voted against the resolution and those who declined.
“We are extremely disappointed that 14 countries voted against the text and that a further 40 States took the cowardly position of abstaining. We agree with the Norwegian sponsors of the text who stated that both votes against the resolution and abstentions amount to a failure to recognise the important role of defenders and the need for their protection.”
“It is particularly disappointing to see current and incoming members of the Human Rights Council either abstaining or voting no on the resolution.The votes of South Africa and Myanmar are a complete betrayal of the many brave human rights defenders who have played such a vital role in the transitions in those States” she added.