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Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the high-level plenary meeting on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - December 18, 2018

18.12.2018 - Rede

Madame President,

Human Rights Defenders are among the most courageous in our societies. They stand up against injustice; they ask for change; they help people in need.

Worldwide, Human Rights Defenders face serious threats. Space for Human Rights Defenders has been shrinking in the past decade. They are increasingly confronted by violence or threats of violence and intimidation as well as repressive laws that aim at undermining their work.

We are appalled by the suppression of and violence against journalists, online activists, indigenous or Ethnic minorities, like the Uighurs, LGBTI-activists, those standing up for the freedom of belief, those fighting for the rights of women.

In Syria, the White Helmets are risking their lives and saving others by evacuating civilians from dangerous areas, by rescuing women and children after severe bombings.

In Myanmar, Reuters’ journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo remain imprisoned for their work on investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces.

In many countries around the globe, LGBTI activists are fighting for equal rights and against the daily discriminations they are facing. We recently had the chance to meet some of them at the German Mission during LGBTI advocacy week.

Worldwide, women human rights defenders face gender-specific risks. Not only are they threatened for their work as human rights defenders, they also face sexual and gender-based violence and are often marginalized. We need to therefore especially focus on protecting and empowering women human rights defenders and on ending impunity for crimes against women and all human rights defenders.

Madame President,

Germany is also disturbed by the growing trend of limiting the access of civil society organizations to the United Nations. The participation of civil society organizations in the United Nations is vital for the functioning of the UN system. Limiting the access of civil society organizations to the UN deprives us all from the important contributions of human rights defenders and civil society.

Germany, also as elected member of the UN Security Council 2019/20, remains fully committed to the work with human rights defenders and civil society organisations. We will continue to support efforts to create and maintain a safe and enabling space for civil society and human rights defenders in the United Nations, including the UN Security Council. The partnership with civil society is crucial in order to protect human rights.

I thank you Madame President.

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