16th session of the Human Rights Council
Item 2: Annual Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Interactive Dialogue, 3 March 2011
Delivered by Renate Bloem
Thank you Mr. President,
Mme High Commissioner, CIVICUS welcomes your report, your audacity to speak up wherever violations occur throughout the world and your ongoing support for those who are in the frontline of engagement. We thank you for highlighting the leading role of civil society in the current movement in the Arab world and beyond towards a new dawn for freedom and democracy for the people, for a new paradigm where human rights and dignity are spelled in capital letters. Your rapid response in sending a delegation to Tunisia and to dispatch soon a senior staff team to Egypt is heartening.
We were also encouraged by the robust, concerted and coordinated action of the UN -the UN at its best-, to address the urgent and unfortunately still ongoing tragic Libyan crisis. We applauded the Libyan delegation for their courage to represent from now on their people and not their suppressive government; we have not heard this from other delegations.
You said: Civil society was at the forefront of the protest movements. However, we know that in too many parts of the world where human rights defenders engage in this way against dictatorial regimes, they are threatened, often tortured and end up behind bars as e.g. in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, but also in other countries. CIVICUS has just launched its report: “Clampdown is real”, and we ask for your continued support and cooperation in challenging UN member states on their “Responsibility to protect” and on their commitment to enable civil society to exist, express and engage. We share your vivid concern about the situation in Belarus and are pleased to announce a side event on Friday.
Finally, we laud your continued combat against extreme poverty with a human rights perspective. Also, the way in which you anchor human rights in the MDGs and in overall development deserves the utmost attention of this Council, in particular when commemorating this year the 25th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development.
Madam High Commissioner, CIVICUS stands ready to join you in your efforts. We salute you!
Thank you for your attention