34th session of the Human Rights Council
8 March, 2017

Thank you Mr. President,

High Commissioner, CIVICUS welcomes your annual report and update. We are consistently awed by the breadth of work undertaken by your offices across the world. In this period where restrictions of civil society groups and HRDs are becoming increasingly normalized, CIVICUS vigorously endorses your call for the allocation of greater resources to strengthen and bolster OHCHR’s mandate and operations. 

We share your concern about the precipitous decline in respect for well-established human rights norms over the course of the last year. The increasingly frequent and caustic challenges to multilateralism, coupled with the rise of populism and anti-democratic sentiment, presents an existential threat to hard-won human rights freedoms and principles. We greatly lament that these core values, enshrined nearly 70 years ago in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are under threat from mature democracies in both the Global South and North.

In country after country, debilitating and regressive legislation– commonly contravening both international and constitutional obligations – has been introduced to willfully suppress the space for civil society. Data from the CIVICUS Monitor shows that more than 3.2 billion people now live in countries where civic space is repressed or closed,  thus undermining   one of the core pillars of democratic societies.

High Commissioner, while we express grave concern over this global backsliding, we are encouraged by the examples you gave on Gambia, Tunisia and even Uzbekistan for reversing this trend and we invite all members of this Council to join the ranks of those which can be praised.

We applaud your office’s stalwart efforts to address the root causes of the worrying rejection of multilateralism and multiculturalism. We commend your office for its unstinting efforts to engage civil society groups and movements, at all levels, to ensure that No One Is Left Behind. High Commissioner, we have heard your call: Stand up for your rights! CIVICUS remains committed to supporting your work in Geneva and across the Globe.

We thank you.

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