22 June 2020

EOV after the vote / General Comments under Agenda Item 3 :

Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights defenders


Thank you, Madam President.

I speak with reference to L.5 on the Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights defenders.

As a democracy with a strong national civil society, the Philippines recognizes the important role of human rights defenders in advancing human rights promotion and protection. We are proud that the country has over 101,000 registered non-profit organizations, around 60,000 of which are non-government organizations actively engaged in advocacy work.

Civil society organizations must be provided a safe and enabling environment where they can conduct all lawful activities and exercise their rights and freedoms. This is necessary for them to be effective as they promote and defend the rights and freedoms of others.

We call on the Council to be vigilant in protecting this space of recognition, respect and value that we hold for the civil society in our work.

There should be a proper consideration that in particular contexts, certain groups have exploited the loose definition of the term human rights defenders and the abundance of good faith in the UN system, to advance agendas inconsistent with our collective understanding of the noble role of human rights defenders in their communities.

My delegation has cited concrete and well-documented cases of the deliberate exploitation of human rights spaces by the longest-running and most violent communist insurgency in Asia, being waged in Philippines by the terrorist organization Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), which has operated for over 50 years. Terrorism is a grave problem with devastating consequences in many parts of the world, and this Council owes it to the tens of thousands of its victims, to support legitimate efforts of duty bearers to hold its perpetrators to account for their crimes.

Madam President, we continue to ask the Human Rights Council and the Special Procedures to exercise due diligence, to ensure that the enabling environment for human rights defenders that we clearly commit to strengthen, does not enable those with criminal ends.

Thank you, Madam President. END.