Niue and the EU

EU Statement – United Nations Security Council: Arria-formula meeting on Reprisals against women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders who engage with the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies

New York, 21/02/2020 - 19:16, UNIQUE ID: 200221_17
Statements on behalf of the EU

20 February 2020, New York – European Union Statement delivered by Ambassador Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at Arria-formula meeting on Reprisals against women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders who engage with the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies

Security Council Arria Formula Meeting: Reprisals against women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders who engage with the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, 20 February 2020, CR2

 

  • Discussions in the Council are better informed, mandates are more precise and decisions are more inclusive when women are involved.

 

  • This is a long established fact, which has led to an increase of women civil society participation in the Council. Unfortunately, this positive trend has also been accompanied by a surge of harassment and intimidations cases, in and outside the UN.

 

  • This is unacceptable. The UN Security Council should be a safe place and not a source of additional threats and violence. It is high time we all take our responsibility to put an end to reprisals.

 

  • Support to Human Rights Defenders, including Women Human Rights Defenders, has been a flagship policy of the EU since the adoption in 2004 of the EU Guidelines on Human rights defenders.
  • The EU launched in 2015 the Human Rights Defenders Mechanism to ensure full protection for Human Rights Defenders worldwide. To date, 30,000 Human Rights Defenders have benefited from the Mechanism.
  • The implementation of the mechanism has led to the identification of lessons learnt, which could be followed by members of the Security Council:
  • First: Prevention is the best way to avoid reprisals. An analysis and risk assessment must always be conducted. The inviting state/party should consider security and protection implications before the meeting, and ensure that the WHRD or woman peacebuilder is actively involved in this process.
  • Second: Mitigation is equally important. Practical measures should be taken to reduce risks. One of them should be to keep open contacts with the countries of the briefers. Part of the EU's protection mechanism is based on dialogues with countries where Human Rights Defenders are likely to be persecuted. We have found that communication with these countries is key to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary  suspicion.
  • Third: Special attention should be given to those who suffer from multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, particularly young and LGBTI women, as they are most at risk.
  • Fourth: Any reprisals should be openly condemned by all members of the Council. The Security Council should establish a clear protocol, with short, medium and long term protection measures, to be followed by any inviting state. Measures should range from physical protection to legal and visa/relocation support. A hot line should be established within the Secretariat to facilitate communication.
  • Fifth: funds should be allocated to support these protection measures, as part of standard Women, Peace and Security funding. The EU's HRD mechanism has an operational budget of 20 million EUR for 3 years. Any Human Rights Defender, including those having briefed the Council, can apply for protection under this mechanism.
  • Let me add that the involvement of civil society is essential for these measures to be effective. The EU's Mechanism is fully managed by a consortium of 12 independent international NGOs, including the Urgent Action Fund for Women Human Rights Defenders. NGOs are best placed to create trust, design comprehensive responses and react to the needs of those under attack.
  • Last but not least, an all UN approach must be implemented – from Member States, to the UN secretariat and operations on the ground. Awareness should be raised and cases should be reported, including in the SG's WPS and YPS reports as well as through the important work of ASG Brands Kehris.
  • As we celebrate this year the 20th anniversary of the WPS agenda and the 75th anniversary of the Charter, we must all do more to go back to the origins of the UN project and ensure that this building remains a free and safe space for all the peoples of the UN.   
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