The SDGs will not be achieved unless civic space is protected

Statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Watch us deliver our statement below:


The report on intersessional meetings on the 2030 Agenda concluded that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be attained without stronger, inclusive and meaningful public participation in the development and monitoring of policies.

Civil society plays a critical role in ensuring inclusive policy making by shining a spotlight on the needs of the most vulnerable, by propelling innovation, by identifying solutions to complex development challenges, and by taking responsibility for delivery of services on the ground. Civil society, including human rights defenders, also perform an imperative watchdog role. Without information from the frontlines it is all but impossible to hold states accountable to their commitments under the SDGs.

When civic space is restricted, these vital roles are compromised. 

Achieving the SDGs requires an expanded and safeguarded civic space, with the assured protection of human rights defenders. However, commitments made to protect and promote civic space have not been fully realised. Much more needs to be done to ensure that civil society can actively engage in implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

To this end, we urge the Council to support the following measures:

  • Adoption of the more robust and relevant indicators on SDGs 16.7, 16.10 and 17.17. 
  • Issue public pronouncements on the importance of civic space from political leaders, diplomats and representatives of intergovernmental institutions. 
  • Enhance the space for civil society groups in Voluntary National Reviews drawing on experiences from the UPRs.

The SDGs will not be achieved unless civic space is protected and the full participation of civil society is guaranteed, and we call on this Council to hold to account states which do not do so. 

See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council


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