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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Protests and unrest around the world

25 October 2019

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 25 October 2019
Subject:  Protests and unrest around the world

Protests and unrest around the world

Current or very recent protests, some of which we will talk about today, include ones taking place in Bolivia, Chile, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Egypt, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq and Lebanon. And of course we have also seen major protests taking place earlier in the year in Algeria, Honduras, Nicaragua, Malawi, Russia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, as well as in a number of EU countries, including France, Spain and the UK. And this list is far from exhaustive.

Of course the reasons behind these protests are complex and varied, and it is important not to come to sweeping conclusions. There are common threads among many of the protests: populations that are fed up and angry, especially with socio-economic conditions, corruption, inequalities and the general widening gap between rich and poor.

These sentiments are exacerbated by growing mistrust of institutions of government, politicians and ruling elites. Some protests have been triggered by one or two specific developments, and have then metamorphosed into expressions of deep public dissatisfaction on a whole range of issues spanning the political, social and economic spectrum.

Some have been fanned by poor government responses or by excessive use of force against the initial protestors, which have brought tens of thousands more people onto the streets in solidarity with those who have been killed, injured or arrested by security forces who in many cases have failed to abide by international standards governing use of force, and tried to obstruct fundamental human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / [email protected] or Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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