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Human Rights Council 31, Geneva: UK Statement on Genocide and Human Rights Defenders, 4 March 2016

UK Statement for the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The UK thanks the Special Adviser and Special Raporteur for their important work.

Nearly 70 years on from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and 10 years since the World Summit at which we agreed the Responsibility to Protect, protecting people from genocide and war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, remains vital and sadly necessary.

Collectively, we need to double our efforts and strengthen the impact of mechanisms developed to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and genocide. We hope the Special Adviser will continue to share information and analysis with relevant UN bodies, and to raise awareness of risk situations, in order to help prevent atrocities.

I would like to ask the Special Adviser how can we further embed the Human Rights Upfront initiative?

The UK was pleased to welcome the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to the UK for a series of significant meetings last year. Human Rights Defenders stand up for those who face discrimination, violence or persecution; they hold governments to account, sometimes at great personal risk; they are an essential part of a thriving, democratic, society.

We are increasingly concerned about attempts – in many parts of the world - to restrict the ability of civil society to operate effectively, whether through intimidation or unnecessary and harmful regulation. Attempts to restrict legitimate access to finance, or the legal status of civil society organisations, should be opposed – both on human rights grounds, and because, for the states concerned, this represents serious political and economic self-harm.

We also deplore the frequent impunity from prosecution of those who intimidate or kill Human Rights Defenders. Those most at risk are often those representing the most vulnerable in society.

We encourage all states to work in a constructive manner to enable him to fulfil his mandate.

Thank you, Mr President.

Published 4 March 2016