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UN Special Procedures Experts appeal for Cooperation

Without cooperation from States, we cannot do our work for human rights – Key UN expert group

GENEVA (10 December 2013) – The largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system today urged world governments to cooperate with them, and allow human rights organisations and individuals to engage with the UN “without fear of intimidation or reprisals.”

The appeal* by the 72 special procedures experts comes on Human Rights Day, which this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that led to the creation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Over the years more than 160 UN member States have been visited by at least one of our human rights experts, and a total of 106 States have extended an open invitation to special procedures,” Mr. Chaloka Beyani said on behalf the group charged by the UN Human Rights Council to report and advise on specific country situations and thematic issues in all parts of the world.

“However, around 30 States have not yet accepted a visit by any of our experts,” he stressed. “Others have given access to only a select few. “Unfortunately, it has become a reality that a standing invitation cannot necessarily guarantee that a visit will actually take place.” (Country visits since 1998)

Mr. Beyani recalled that, since the first special procedures mechanism was established over 40 years ago in 1965, the independent experts have fostered national debate on human rights issues and helped States to revise their legislation and respond to the expectations of victims of human rights violations. “Cooperation is mutually beneficial,” he said.

“The work we do relies heavily on our interaction with civil society, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, other individuals working on the ground and victims of human rights violations,” the expert explained.

“It is of utmost concern that some of these become victims of intimidation and reprisals. The protection of these vital partners is of utmost importance,” he said, calling on world Governments “to respond firmly against any act which threatens them and seeks to obstruct human rights work.”

Mr. Beyani underlined that reprisals are a critical challenge facing the UN system and its human rights mechanisms. “We call for the designation of a focal point on the issue of intimidation and reprisals as soon as possible,” he said on behalf of the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system.

ENDS

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