General Assembly/3C: Statement by Ambassador Wittig at the presentation of the draft resolution on “National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”
I have the honor to introduce Resolution A/C.3/68/L50 on “National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”. This resolution is presented by Germany every other year. Further to the countries listed on the L.document, the following countries have joined the list of co-sponsors: Armenia, Belgium, Georgia, Latvia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Romania, Spain and the UK.
We would like to thank the Secretary General for his most recent report on national Institutions that gives us an overview over developments in the international human rights system, especially with regard to the National Human Rights Institutions since the adoption of the last resolution on the subject.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Australia as the main sponsor of the resolution on National Human Rights Institutions in the Human Rights Council from whom we also took inspiration for the draft resolution before us.
The main goal of this resolution is to underline the crucial role that National human rights Institutions do play in the promotion and protection of human rights at home. But it also stresses the important role of these Institutions in the international human rights protection system, especially in the Human Rights Council, its Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the Special procedures as well as the human rights treaty bodies. This resolution should also serve as a reminder that for National Institutions to play their role accordingly, they need to act independently as laid down in the so-called “Paris principles”, adopted by the General Assembly at its 48th session.
The present draft resolution seeks to keep pace with developments around National Human Rights Institutions that may have an impact on their functioning, and also provide for new challenges but also for new opportunities for positive action.
In recent years we have witnessed a growing phenomenon known as “shrinking human rights space”. First, NGO´s and human rights defenders are confronted with new legislation/administrative regulations that make it difficult, if not impossible for them to continue their human rights activities.
Another phenomenon, known unfortunately already for some time, is the problem of reprisals that human rights defender might suffer in the follow-up of their cooperation with international or regional Human Rights Institutions.
And a third development in this vein is the observation that even members and staff of National Human Rights Institutions might suffer from reprisals or intimidation when working to fulfill the mandate given to their Institution.
The report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council describes this situation in more detail and provides a number of very relevant recommendations. The draft resolution takes up some of these recommendations.
At the beginning we have underlined the important role that National Human Rights Institutions do already play in particular in the Human Rights Council, based on practices and arrangements that have emerged over the years. In the reports of the Secretary General on National Human Rights Institutions, a growing number of successful participation of National Human Rights Institutions in the work of the United Nations also in New York is mentioned. Nevertheless, the participation of these Institutions so far seems to be either accidental and in any case nothing that can be repeated in similar circumstances. We would therefore like to ask the Secretary General in his next report to the General Assembly to take stock of the level and forms of the current participation of the National Institutions in the work of the GAand to explore ways to enable the Institutions to participate independently in relevant United Nations mechanisms and processes in accordance with their mandates.
We would like to thank all delegations that have participated in a constructive and open way in the negotiations so far. We invite all delegations to continue our discussion and we hope that these will lead to a consensus text. We further hope that traditional supporters as well as all other states will consider cosponsoring this initiative again this year.
Thank you, Mr. President."