Amendment to L.26 - Draft resolution on Cooperation with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of Human Rights


1 October 2017

Letter to Member States of the UN Human Rights Council

Re: Support resolution on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights

26 September 2017

Your Excellency,

The undersigned 48 civil society organisations, coming from all regions, urge your delegation to support the adoption of the resolution on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights as tabled. We urge you to resist efforts to undermine and weaken this resolution.

The balanced resolution entitled ‘Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights (A/HRC/36/L.26), developed through open and transparent informal negotiations, is being considered by the 36st session of the Human Rights Council. The core group comprising Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Fiji and Uruguay will present the resolution for adoption on 28 or 29 September.

The Secretary-General's most recent report on cooperation presented at this session of the Human Rights Council reveals a worsening incidence of intimidation and reprisals, including a ‘broader’ range of actions, by increasingly ‘blunt’ means. It reports that people engaging with the United Nations experience threats, intimidation, harassment, derogatory media campaigns, travel bans, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, disbarment, and dismissal from posts.

Beyond the grave impact on the life of persons concerned and their relatives, intimidation and reprisals also constitute an attack on human rights, the rule of law, and the international and regional mechanisms themselves.

The report identifies a number of positive developments, including a strong resolution adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the establishment of a mandate by that body to combat reprisals. It is imperative that the Human Rights Council adopts a similarly strong and substantive resolution at this session.

Despite the importance of the resolution – so tragically illustrated by the number of cases included in the Secretary General's report – a small group of States, led by the Russian Federation, China, Egypt and Cuba are seeking to seriously undermine the text. A number of amendments being promoted by these States, in addition to questioning consensus language and terminology from past resolutions, challenge key elements in the resolution, including:

The right of all people to safe and unhindered access to and communication with international human rights bodies, which is firmly established in international law;

The commitment made by Member States, in particular Council Members, to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms, and the acknowledgment that a failure to take steps to prevent, investigate and ensure accountability for such acts may be inconsistent with that commitment;

The call on States to take measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation and reprisals;

The responsibility of the Human Rights Council President and his Bureau to address and follow up on allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisal;

The recognition of developments on the issue of reprisals in United Nations mechanisms, including the special procedures and the treaty bodies;

The welcoming of the designation of the Assistant Secretary General on human rights, and acknowledgment of his work regarding reprisals associated with the mandate assigned to him by the Secretary General; and

The devotion of ‘sufficient time to discuss the report of the Secretary General’ at the Human Rights Council.

These amendments would seriously undermine the ability of the United Nations system to address the needs on the ground. For the United Nations to effectively promote and protect human rights and achieve sustainable development, the right of all people to communicate with and provide information to the United Nations needs to be protected. The proposals to weaken the resolution should be seen in the context of ongoing, systematic efforts in a number of States to restrict civil society space, the right to communicate with the United Nations and its effectiveness and legitimacy. Indeed, several of the proposing States are the subject of allegations of intimidation or reprisals in both the Secretary-General’s report and the joint communications report of Special Procedures.

We urge you not to associate with such positions. Instead, we respectfully urge your delegation to co-sponsor resolution L.26 as tabled, vote against the amendments presented, and vote in favour of the resolution as drafted.

Civil society and human rights defenders around the world look to the Human Rights Council and its Member States for support and protection, and we hope your delegation will stand with us.

Yours sincerely,

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

Akahata A.C. 

Alkarama Foundation

Article 19

Asian Legal Resource Centre

Association for Advancement of Legal Rights

Association for Progressive Communications

Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan


Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Canada Tibet Committee

Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres

Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales

Christian Development Alternative


Collectif des Organisations de Défense des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Conectas Direitos Humanos

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders

EuroMed Rights Paris

FORUM-ASIA (Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development)

Global Human Rights Clinic

Help & Shelter

Human Rights Watch

International Commission of Jurists

Insan Haklari Dernegi/Human Rights Association

Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Politicos

International Centre for Ethnic Studies

International Service for Human Rights

Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre

Ligue pour la Défense de la Justice et de la Liberté / Burkina Faso Coalition of Human Rights Defenders

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture

Partnership for Justice


Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC)

Réseau International des Droits Humains RIDH

Réseau Ouest Africain des défenseurs des Droits Humains

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network

Union Internationale des Avocats

Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social

Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights

Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights

Yemen Organization for Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms

Zo Indigenous Forum