Advocacy statements

Statement on reprisals and intimidation against those accessing or communicating with the UN

  • Date / 2022
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 5: Human rights bodies and mechanisms

Oral statement

 International Humanist and Ethical Union

 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council (12 September – 7 October 2022)

Item 5: Interactive dialogue on the Secretary General’s report on alleged reprisals against those who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms


Mr President,

The right to unhindered access to, and communication with, international bodies, including the United Nations, on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms is protected by international law and explicitly recognised in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.[1]

Intimidation and reprisals against those accessing or attempting to access or communicate with the UN not only denies people their basic rights, but often impacts the very people the UN is there to protect most, those already suffering human rights violations, marginalization, discrimination, or abuse of power.

Just in the last few years, we have had members and partners in Algeria, Myanmar, India, and Russia, amongst others, who have felt too threatened or intimidated to speak at the UN on human rights violations they witness or suffer. The threats they face come from state agencies as well as fundamentalist vigilantes acting with impunity.

What compounds the situation is that often we cannot speak out for these individuals either, for to associate them publicly with the advocacy of humanist values, irreligion, or critiques of fundamentalism or religious nationalism might put them in further danger at home.

As the highest human rights body in the world, this Council was created to serve everyone and protect their human rights, including the fundamental right to critique government action and challenge ideology. We remind this Council of its responsibility, acting through its President, to investigate and publicly denounce any acts of intimidation or reprisal, in order to ensure that even the most marginalized can rightfully hold states and those in power to account at the highest level.

Thank you


[1] https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/sr-human-rights-defenders/declaration-human-rights-defenders#:~:text=The%20declaration%3A,fundamental%20freedoms%20through%20peaceful%20means, See also A/HRC/51/47

Suggested academic reference

'Statement on reprisals and intimidation against those accessing or communicating with the UN', Humanists International

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