GENEVA (19 December 2023) UN experts today emphasised the need for the international community to support civil society groups expressing international solidarity in pursuit of peace and social justice and not to conflate international solidarity with antisemitism or islamophobia. Ahead of International Human Solidarity Day tomorrow, they have issued the following statement:
“In the face of multiple humanitarian crises worldwide, it is crucial to acknowledge unity in our diverse humanity and a shared responsibility in tackling global challenges. International Solidarity Day reminds Governments and Non-State Actors, including business, to respect their commitments to international agreements, including international human rights.
We would like to raise public awareness about the need to support concrete actions by civil society groups that express international solidarity in our pursuit of peace and social justice.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1 establishes universal solidarity as the foundation for human rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood [and sisterhood].”
Around the world, civil society groups have expressed international solidarity in marches and social media campaigns to call for peace and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Moreover, they have also expressed international solidarity in pursuit of non-discrimination and equality (the core elements of positive peace) by advocating access to justice, truth, protection, and humane treatment for: children, women, members of the LGBTAIQ+ community, persons affected by leprosy (Hansen’s disease), persons with disabilities, racialized, indigenous groups, and other minorities subjected to violence, hate speech, and discrimination, families of disappeared persons, refugees and migrants, victims of terrorism/violent extremism and counter-terrorism/violent extremism measures, and the environment.
The recent significant engagement of people of all ages and diverse backgrounds in the expression of international solidarity is a powerful affirmation of the value of human rights as a narrative of emancipation in response to violence, oppression, and marginalisation.
It is imperative that civil society actors not be subject to censorship and reprisals for their expression of international solidarity, including loss of funding, loss of employment, arrest, attack, harassment, persecution, criminalisation, or other forms of penalisation.
Actions and expressions that promote transnational unity, empathy, tolerance, and cooperation are the elements of a strong culture of international solidarity in support of peace and social progress.
The most striking impact of the contemporary expressions of international solidarity is their embrace of the principle of humanity – the demand to protect life and alleviate human suffering. The combination of these two universal principles underscores the priority of exhausting peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms before using force.
We call on the international community to encourage International Solidarity expressions of civil society groups and human rights defenders that acknowledge that everyone should enjoy human rights without discrimination of any type. States should open civic spaces and refrain from criminalising non-violent actions and expressions that promote international solidarity. International Solidarity should not be conflated with antisemitism, islamophobia, or other movements that are examples of exclusionary, segregated unitary orientations which violate non-discrimination and equality principles.
International Solidarity promotes inclusion through bridge-building and invites everyone to stand up for peace as a fundamental premise for the enjoyment of human rights.”
The experts: Cecilia M. Bailliet, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity; Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair), Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Pérez, Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences;Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of freedom of opinion and expression; Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Paula Gaviria Betancur, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; Ben Saul, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Graeme Reid, Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Marcos Orellana, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights ; Alioune Tine, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Mama Fatima Singhateh, The Special Rapporteur on the sale, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children; Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Beatriz Miranda Galarza, Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.; Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Damilola Olawuyi (Chairperson), Robert McCorquodale (Vice-Chairperson), Elżbieta Karska, Fernanda Hopenhaym, and Pichamon Yeophantong, Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; Carlos Salazar Couto (Chair-Rapporteur), Sorcha MacLeod, Jovana Jezdimirovic Ranito, Chris M. A. Kwaja, Ravindran Daniel, Working Group on the use of mercenaries; Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Gehad Madi, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Richard Bennett, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan; Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mumba Malila, Working Group on arbitrary detention; Ms Attiya Waris, Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations and human rights, Ashwini K.P., Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
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