The Council must address deteriorating human rights situations before they become crises

Statement at the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 4 General Debate

Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

Thank you, Mr President.

The Council’s prevention mandate is a responsibility to address situations which face becoming human rights crises. One of the warning signs of this is of a serious and rapid decline in the respect for civic space. The CIVICUS Watchlist, published last week, identified a number of countries to take note of in this regard.

Sri Lanka continues to see arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force by the security forces as part of a crackdown on anti-government protests, as well as attacks on journalists, following its worst economic crisis in decades. We urge the Council to adopt a strong resolution addressing the situation, as well as progressing long-overdue accountability and reconciliation initiatives.

Serious civic space violations have been ongoing in Guatemala as the government moves to undermine the rule of law and reverse anti-corruption efforts of recent years. As Zimbabwe gears up for general elections next year, civic space is under severe attack as the incumbent President, seeks to defend his presidency. In Serbia, the government has attempted to ban LGBTQI+ events and there remain ongoing threats to environmental rights defenders and journalists. In Guinea, the government is becoming increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices, particularly those criticising management of the ongoing political transition.

We call on the Council to use its prevention mandate to address these situations before they deteriorate still further.

In situations where crises are already all too apparent, the Council must respond accordingly. Human rights violations in Russia and those documented by the High Commissioner in China demand the strongest response, and we call on the Council to urgently establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms for these respective human rights situations.

We thank you.