Agreement at the UN to recognize the efforts of human rights defenders

A resolution on human rights defenders proposed by Norway has been unanimously adopted in the UN.

'It is important that UN member states recognize the crucial work of human rights defenders around the world. At a time when democratic values, the rule of law and human rights are under severe pressure, is this an important signal of the importance of us all standing up for human rights', says Minister for Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Norway has a leading role in the UN to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders. It started when Norway led the negotiations on the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which was adopted in 1998. The Declaration was the first time UN member states came together to recognize the importance of human rights defenders and their need for protection.

'This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Human rights defenders have a crucial role in promoting human rights, helping to ensure peace, democracy, and sustainable development. At the same time, they often face threats and attacks because of the work they do. I am therefore very pleased that the UN has unanimously adopted this resolution', says Barth Eide.

Women human rights defenders are exposed to threats and violence against themselves and their families. Many are harassed or subjected to smear campaigns. Women working on controversial issues, such as promoting access to sexual and reproductive health services, are often particularly vulnerable. The resolution states that there is a need to implement good and practical measures to protect women human rights defenders.

'In many countries, we see that the work for gender equality is going in the wrong direction. This applies not least to women's right to decide over their own bodies. This year, we succeeded in strengthening the language about the need to protect women human rights defenders and recognize their contribution to strengthening women's rights and gender equality. This is an important signal', says Barth Eide.