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HRC46: Nordic and Baltic countries underline all States’ responsibility to ensure a safe environment for human rights defenders

Item 3 – Interactive Dialogue  
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
5 March 2021
Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries

Thank you, Madame President.
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. 
We thank the Special Rapporteur for her efforts for the protection of those who daily put their lives at risk to promote and protect human rights. It is the sad reality that human rights defenders too often are subject to violent attacks, harassment, death threats and killings.
We express our dismay that many of these threats that are made against women and LGBTI+ defenders are gendered.

Madam President,
As the Rapporteur highlights, these attacks rarely happen in a vacuum. They take place in a context of structural violence and inequality and they are often preceded by threats, including death threats.
States cannot feign ignorance or avoid addressing the structural issues that underpin such threats and attacks. Human rights defenders play a critical role in advancing human rights and States have a responsibility to ensure a safe and enabling environment for them. We need to act before smears and other abuse escalate into physical assaults and killings. 

Madame President, 
We would like to ask the Rapporteur what more the UN and Member States can do to step up efforts of early intervention in response to threats against human rights defenders to prevent attacks and killings?
I thank you.