UN Secretary General Report on 20th Anniversary of the 'Declaration on Human Rights Defenders'

The General Assembly, in its resolution 72/247, paragraph 16, requested the Secretary-General to undertake an assessment and analysis of progress, achievements and challenges related to the ways in which OHCHR, as well as other relevant UN offices, departments and specialized agencies:

  • Give due consideration to the Declaration,
  • Take into account the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in their work, and
  • Assist States in strengthening the role and security of human rights defenders.

In paragraph 17, the General Assembly also requested the Secretary-General to

  • Undertake his assessment and analysis in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and in consultation with States along other stakeholders, and
  • Present the results of this assessment in a report to the General Assembly at its seventy–third session.

For more details, please consult the GA Resolution

About the Secretary-General Report

The Secretary-General report has been issued as document A/73/230.

While the report does not attempt to provide an exhaustive list of UN measures taken to support the implementation of the Declaration, it provides a snapshot of some good practices taken by the UN. Such practices include:

  • Supporting dialogue between Governments and human rights defenders;
  • Recognizing the role of human rights defenders and protecting their security;
  • Strengthening the response to incidents of intimidation and reprisals;
  • Identifying and supporting defenders at particular risk;
  • Supporting networks;
  • Supporting the development and implementation of national laws and policies;
  • Strengthening mechanisms on protection and accountability; and,
  • Strengthening the capacity of defenders.

In the conclusions Section, the Secretary-General reiterated the contribution of human rights defenders to the protection and promotion of human rights, development, peace and security. He stressed that when human rights defenders are engaged and protected, the work of the United Nations is enhanced by the perspectives and experience they bring to the table.

The Secretary-General concluded that the present snapshot report provides better understanding of the tools available at the UN and should serve as the impetus for additional action. As a first step towards the development of a more coherent and comprehensive approach to support the Declaration, he recommended that a further mapping both of positive practices and gaps needs to be completed with a view to developing a UN-wide approach to protecting and expanding civic space.

Inputs to the Secretary-General Report

OHCHR received contributions from 51 stakeholders in total: 8 from States; 18 from United Nations departments, agencies and programmes; 6 from national human rights institutions; and the rest from civil society and regional organizations.  These are available below.

Member States

National human rights institutions

Regional organizations

UN agencies and other international organizations

Civil society actors