Now is the time for greater transparency and broader participation

Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s Annual Report

Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

We thank the High Commissioner for her report, and for her work during her term.

We fully agree that these are times for greater – not less - transparency and broader space for civic engagement and participation. Too many States are falling short in these respects.

We see this in China, where civic space is closed and space for dissent is all but non-existent. Activists have been detained and indicted for speaking up, and thousands have been detained in legalised form of enforced disappearance.

In Russia, a systematic dismantling of dissent has created an internal environment in which aggression can thrive. It has become all too clear that repression does not engender security, but rather its opposite.

In these situations, it is even more important that the international human rights institutions, including this Council and your office, steps up in support. No country can be above effective scrutiny, regardless of the geopolitical power they wield.

We stress again that civil society restrictions can and should be seen as early warnings for further deterioration in human rights protections. We look particularly at India, where increasing restrictions threaten the ability of civil society to carry out its work and where authorities continue to suppress peaceful protests.

With a focus this session on the rights that protect civic space, we call on States to speak out on country situations where patterns of restrictions are evident, and to use this session to take action on the most egregious of these.

We ask the High Commissioner, as your term draws to a close – what action should be taken by the Council and its members in these cases of systematic repression of civil society?

Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor