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HRC38: Statement by the Nordic-Baltic countries in Annual Debate on Women’s Rights focussing on Violence against Women and digital spaces


38th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women

Panel 1: The impact of violence against women human rights defenders and women’s organizations in digital spaces
June 21st, 2018
Delivered by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries

Mr./Mme. Chair,
 I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and my own country Sweden.
 Gender-based violence against women and girls is a global plague, stemming from systematic discrimination, that occurs in all spaces and spheres of human interaction. It is infecting our societies and reproducing gender stereotypes and behavior. Such violence is, in itself, a grave violation of human rights but is also effectively denying half of the world’s population the enjoyment of all other human rights.

Online gender-based violence is becoming increasingly challenging and a limitation to women’s and girls’ use of the internet for the purposes of political participation, freedom of expression and access to services and information.
 Women human rights defenders and women’s organizations that use the internet for political purposes meet these threats with a worrying regularity.

In the end, this is an issue of democratic governance: it must be seen in the context of the globally shrinking democratic and civic space. The spread of repressive legislation, administrative measures and harassment, limits freedom of expression and women’s and girls’ opportunities to participate in society. It also limits their chances to influence decision-making and, ultimately, undermining the very foundation of democracy.

A multidimensional approach to tackle online gender-based violence is needed. All stakeholders have a role; governments, businesses and civil society including human rights defenders. Together we develop the framework, content and common standards of the internet.

We would be keen to hear the views of the panel on how such multi-stakeholder formats could most effectively be established?
 I thank you.