UN Human Rights Council 43rd Session – Item 3: ID with the SR on the situation of human rights defenders – Intervention by ESTONIA – 4 March 2020

Madame President,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

Estonia would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for his report and the presentation today. No matter the commitments and actions of States, the work of human rights defenders in promoting and protecting human rights is invaluable.

With this in mind, it is unacceptable that systematic and often State-led strategies are used to silence defenders. Women human rights defenders in particular are vulnerable and often exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, different forms of repression, hate speech and attacks, both online and offline. To put this pressing issue in the spotlight, Estonia co-sponsored an Arria formula meeting of the Security Council on the crucial issue of reprisals against human rights defenders who engage with the UN.

We need to support human rights defenders in their crucial work and to move on from documenting reprisals to concrete action, by way of preventing and responding to these, if needed publicly, and by ensuring full accountability.

Mr. Forst, what can the HRC do to accelerate the implementation of protection measures for human rights defenders?

Thank you!