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Support Civil Society’s International Solidarity Efforts For Peace: UN Experts

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.

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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.”

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