Google Maps and Crisis Pregnancy Centers Sign On Letter

Dear Mr. Pichai and Mr. Phillips,

We are writing to ask that Google stop accepting advertisements from anti-abortion clinics, including Crisis Pregnancy Centers, due to their intentionally misleading and harmful impacts on people seeking reproductive health services.

As you know, the Supreme Court's ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization opened the door for states across the country to enact restrictions on abortion care, including outright bans and criminalization.

We believe Big Tech companies like Google have the power to protect their users from disinformation, misinformation, privacy intrusions, and harassment when they utilize your search and location services, including Google Maps and Google search.

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President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

Dear Mr. President:

We write because your administration’s consistently yielding response to the Israeli government’s escalating attacks against prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups over the past 10 months has put the safety and well-being of Palestinian human rights defenders at serious risk. We call for immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest escalation so as to curtail any further imminent repressive tactics by Israeli authorities and ensure Palestinian civil society is free to continue its critical work.

Last week, in a significant escalation, Israeli military forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and community organizations in the occupied West Bank on 18 August 2022, sealing shut their doors, ordering them closed, and seizing computers and other confidential materials. In the following days, directors of the organizations were summoned by the Israeli military and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for interrogation. All staff are currently under threat of imminent arrest and prosecution. While many in the international community were swift to condemn the Israeli governments shameful political maneuver in October 2021 designating leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” under Israel’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law, your administration has refused to act or reject this clear attack on Palestinian civil society, and even took affirmative steps including canceling the valid U.S. visa held by the head of one of the targeted organizations. The response so far has only enabled and empowered the Israeli government to sustain and escalate its repression.

The targeted organizations form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, and justice and accountability for international crimes. They include: Defense for Children International - Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. They are trusted partners in our collective work to secure human rights for all.

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Letter to Biden Admin: Take Steps to Implement Exceptions for Funding of Abortion Services Abroad

Dear Secretary Blinken and Administrator Power,

As organizations dedicated to protecting and expanding global reproductive health, rights, and justice, including abortion access, we are heartened to hear that you maintain an unwavering commitment to sexual and reproductive health care. The recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision is a public health emergency that has and will continue to threaten the health and lives of people seeking essential health care services, not just for those in the U.S. but also for people globally. We are glad to see those in USAID and the State Department recognizing and calling out the devastation that this decision will bring worldwide and reaffirming your commitment to protect and care for those you serve.

We look forward to working alongside you in this critical endeavor towards reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and dignity for people worldwide. We encourage you to start meeting this commitment today by authorizing USAID reproductive health funding to the full extent of the law. Under current law, U.S. foreign assistance may not be used for abortion services as a means of family planning. This requirement, however, still allows USAID and the State Department to provide funding for abortion services in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. It also allows for abortion service information and counseling. However, USAID and the State Department do not and have never funded abortion services in these circumstances - even though they can do so without breaching any congressionally imposed limits on abortion funding.

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Options to Advance the ILC Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity

  1. This Memorandum identifies three potential avenues to advance the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity to the next procedural step. It is intended as a practical, not a technical, guide.


  1. The Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity have widespread support from States, yet opposition from a few States has caused them to stagnate in the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee due to the Committee’s tradition of acting by consensus.


  1. Option 1 is for the Sixth Committee to act, by breaking consensus, if necessary. It could establish an Ad Hoc Committee to examine the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity. Alternatively, there is precedent for moving directly to a Codification Conference or working directly on the Draft Articles as a Committee of the Whole.


  1. Option 2 is for the General Committee to shift the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity to the Third Committee or the Plenary of the General Assembly.


  1. Option 3 is to pursue the development of a treaty on crimes against humanity either outside of, or adjacent to, the United Nations.


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Sector statement on queering atrocity prevention

Queer people’s experience of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is not new. From the British Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Holocaust, the ongoing anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and legal shifts which persecute members of the LGBTQI+ community and allies, LGBTQI+ communities have been, and still are, deliberately targeted by systematic violence and discrimination. Some of these campaigns can be described as mass atrocity crimes, while others sound the alarm and significantly increase risk for the incidence of mass atrocity crimes against LGBTQI+ communities across the world. And yet understanding of this experience is not well-developed nor widely-discussed. In fact, queer people’s experiences can often be deliberately silenced in policy and research on identity-based violence and mass atrocities - a problem which is further compounded by threats to safety faced by queer populations that can make it dangerous for them to make their experiences and expertise heard and accounted for.

As members of the atrocity prevention field, we know that widespread or systematic violent targeting of LGBTQI+ people can often look different from the widespread or systematic violent targeting of ethnic, indigenous, national, religious and racial groups that traditionally dominate the atrocity prevention and response agenda. However, crimes against LGBTQI+ individuals and communities may still meet the conceptual and legal thresholds of mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We know, too, that the absence of LGBTQI+ professionals and queer analysis from atrocity prevention work normalises and institutionalises pre-existing heteronormative and patriarchal structures. This perpetuates the exclusion of LGBTQI+ communities in - and from - atrocity prevention work.

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Open Letter Calling for a Complete and Accurate List of Perpetrators

Dear Mr. Secretary-General

We are writing with regard to your forthcoming annual report on children and armed conflict (CAAC). As you finalize your decisions regarding the annexes and inclusion of other situations of concern, we urge you to ensure the publication of a complete list of perpetrators of grave violations that is evidence-based and accurately reflects data collected and verified by the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM). We further encourage you to draw attention to additional contexts where there is credible evidence that grave violations against children have been committed, by designating these contexts as ‘other situations of concern.’

As nongovernmental organizations working to alleviate suffering in humanitarian settings and protect human rights, we strongly support UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions on CAAC, as concrete tools for improving the protection of children in war. The MRM, the annual CAAC report, and its annexed list of perpetrators are a crucial foundation for enhancing the protection of children, ending and preventing violations, and contributing to accountability. These tools are central to drawing the attention of the Security Council to the situation of children, providing an analysis of the variety of violations committed against children, and paving the way for the UN’s engagement with parties to conflict. However, these mechanisms will only remain powerful if they are credible and consistently applied to all perpetrators in all contexts.

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Letter to Human Rights Council on Diverse Appointment for Special Rapporteur on Torture

Dear Ambassador Villegas,

The organizations signing this letter write to you, in your capacity as President of the Human Rights Council (HRC), to request that you adopt measures to ensure that a woman is elected for the first time as the next Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) and to consider geographical representation in your decision.

On July 8th, during the upcoming 50th HRC’s session, you will have the important responsibility of proposing the appointment of several Special Procedure mandate holders, including the next SRT. Created in 1985, the SRT has had a fundamental role in upholding the absolute prohibition of torture, responding to complaints, overseeing conditions of detention throughout the world, and developing fundamental human rights standards and recommendations to promote accountability, reparation and prevention of torture. Yet, none of the 6 experts who have held this role has been a woman, and only one of them has been from the Global South.

As concluded by the HRC’s Advisory Committee in the reporton gender balance in UN human right bodies presented to the HRC on 21 May, 20211, the lack of gender balance in international bodies not only affects women’s right to equality, but it also erodes the effectiveness of the institutions and limits the range of issues and perspectives that should be part of their legal and political agenda2. In the case of the SRT, this same limitation comes as a consequence of the lack of a Global South perspective in such a fundamental mandate.

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Call for Urgent Debate on the women’s rights crisis in Afghanistan at the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council


We, the undersigned civil society organisations, urge you to call for and support an urgent debate at the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the women’s rights crisis in Afghanistan. We further urge you to support a resolution responding to this crisis.

Since August 2021, when the Taliban took control of the country, there has been an enormous deterioration in the recognition and protection of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, including with respect to the rights to non-discrimination, education, work, public participation, health, and sexual and reproductive health. The Taliban has also imposed sweeping restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement for women and girls. Afghanistan is now the only country in the world to expressly prohibit girls’ education.

In the last few weeks, the situation has worsened dramatically, with a Taliban directive that women and girls must fully cover themselves in public, including their faces, and leave home only in cases of necessity. International investigations, witness testimony and video evidence indicate that women human rights defenders and others protesting against the restrictions and violations have been subject to home invasions, threats, abductions, enforced disappearances, and assaults with electric devices and chemical sprays.

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Civil Society Open Letter on New ICC Gender Persecution Policy Paper

Dear Prosecutor Khan:

It is with great enthusiasm that we write to you about the development of the comprehensive policy paper to advance accountability for the crime against humanity of persecution on the grounds of gender.

In the 1990s, MADRE housed the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, a worldwide coalition of women’s rights activists working to address gender gaps in the draft Rome Statute. In 2018, MADRE and our allies once again led an international coalition that successfully further affirmed the understanding of gender persecution under international law for the draft crimes against humanity treaty.

Today, MADRE is serving as a Secretariat for civil society organizations from across the world to help ensure broad civil society input. To this end, MADRE has compiled and consolidated the priorities and recommendations from organizations across the world for your consideration. As you will see below, 222 feminist organizations and academic institutes from 80 countries and territories have joined this statement of principles and priorities that we now share with you.

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Tigray: Call for Service for CRSV Survivors

To: Pramila Patten

Office of the Under Secretary General Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict ( USG SRSG/SVC)

Re: Service Provision for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Tigray

Your Excellency,

We the undersigned are writing to you at this time in accordance with the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (S/RES/1325) on Women, Security, and Peace, adopted in 2000 that calls on “all parties to the conflict to respect fully international law applicable to the rights and protections of women and girls, in particular the obligations applicable to them under the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the additional protocols” to request for a response to the ongoing siege imposed by the federal government on the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

This siege, characterized by a total blockade of essential services and life-saving humanitarian supplies, has been predictably devastating to the civilian population of Tigray and even more particularly so to the survivors of brutal weaponized rape (Amnesty International, 2021) who have been denied urgent post-rape care as a result (Human Rights Watch, 2021). Even more alarming, domestic ability to provide support for survivors is curtailed completely as a result of the deliberate devastation of the Tigrayan health care system by Ethiopian and allied forces during active conflict and because even the most basic healthcare supplies are no longer available in Tigray (A. Mark Clarfield et al, 2022).

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Abortion and President Biden's State of the Union

Dear President Biden,

People’s access to abortion in this country is in crisis, with attacks coming constantly from all levels ranging from the Supreme Court to state and local governments. That’s why it is imperative that everyone, from the White House to Congress to state and municipal governments to local communities, work hard to protect and expand abortion access.

As you prepare for the State of the Union, we urge you to be clear that protecting abortion access is of paramount importance given both the ongoing crisis in Texas and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will further decimate the constitutional right to abortion later this year. We also urge you to reiterate your support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, critical legislation that would establish a right to abortion throughout the United States and help to guard against the abortion bans and other medically unnecessary abortion restrictions being advanced and enacted by state politicians across the country.

We appreciate your clear call for a “whole-of-government”response to the dire state of abortion access in Texas. Indeed, it is critical that all parts of the administration work tirelessly to protect abortion access in the face of ever increasing threat, building on the work of Vice President Harris, the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra and his staff, and the White House Gender Policy Council, work tirelessly to protect abortion access in the face of ever increasing threats.

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Diaspora, CBOs/CSOs, NGOs Urge President Biden to Implement a Coordinated Response Against the Burmese Military Junta

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned 233 diaspora, CBOs/CSOs and nonprofit organizations from 17 countries, write to urge your Administration to implement a coordinated and comprehensive response to the Burmese military’s shocking and escalating violence since the February 1, 2021, attempted coup. The Burmese military’s systematic violence has resulted in extensive loss of life, daily human rights violations and the forced displacement of tens of thousands, especially in ethnic areas. On the one-year anniversary of the military’s illegal coup, we call upon you to treat the situation with the urgency and decisive action it demands by not only publicly condemning the ongoing brutality across Burma but also implementing a multi-step response plan, which includes coordinating a global arms embargo and sanctioning the military’s oil and gas revenues.

Most crucially, a global arms embargo is necessary to prevent the military from accessing the artillery and air strike equipment that it currently utilizes to indiscriminately attack civilians. This relentless campaign of terror is funded by key oil and gas revenues that allow the military to continue paying their personnel and purchasing deadly weaponry. Thus, cutting off the military’s profits from oil and gas revenues is necessary to strangle a crucial source of funding for the brutal campaigns and militarization currently seen in several ethnic states. Third, supplying cross-border aid is imperative given the countless internationally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been forced to seek refuge in neighboring Thailand, where they shelter in unsanitary, inhumane, and insecure conditions. Lastly, to show true solidarity with efforts to resist the junta’s illegal rule, the National Unity Government must be recognized as Burma’s only governing body to effectively invalidate any power commandeered by the State Administration Council. The primary means to ensure genuine democracy in Burma is to recognize the legitimacy of the political will of the Burmese people and to defund and delegitimize the Burmese military because of what they are: illegitimate usurpers and unconscionable perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Joint statement on Myanmar UN Security Council open briefing

We, the undersigned 286 organizations stress the need, at an absolute minimum, to convene an open meeting of the UN Security Council to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation and urgent civilian protection concerns in Myanmar as a matter of extreme urgency. As we approach one year since the attempted coup on 1 February, all UN Security Council member states have a shared responsibility to address the crisis in an open setting and share national positions on actions the UN Security Council should be taking. Closed meetings and press statements are not working. We call on Norway as UN Security Council President, the UK as Myanmar “penholder” and all supportive states to table the open debate before the one-year anniversary and require other member states to declare their support.

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Support the Women's Health Protection Act

Dear Senators:

The more than 225 undersigned organizations dedicated to protecting and advancing civil rights, health, economic security, LGBTQ rights, and gender justice write in support of S. 1975, the “Women’s Health Protection Act” (WHPA). We urge the Senate to swiftly bring the bill to the floor and for all Senators to vote yes on passage.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade nearly fifty years ago, abortion access has continued to be under threat. Anti-abortion politicians and advocates have continued to undermine abortion access both at the federal and state levels. This is part of a nearly fifty-year strategy to make abortion wholly inaccessible for those who need it. In September, and again in December, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to to put an end to Texas’s S.B. 8, a six-week abortion ban, rendering Roe v. Wade’s protections meaningless for the majority of Texas abortion patients, and giving other states hostile to reproductive rights a green light to ban abortion outright in the near future. People with resources are being forced to flee the state to access abortion, while those who are unable to leave the state are being forced to continue their pregnancies against their wishes. Around the same time, the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case in which Mississippi has asked the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court could gut or wholly overturn the right to abortion by this summer.

WHPA would help protect access to abortion against state-level bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that are reducing, and in some cases, eliminating, access to abortion across the country. WHPA establishes a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion free from medically unnecessary restrictions, and limitations, as well as other restrictions, including bans, that single out abortion and impede access to care.

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Hold the Myanmar military and security forces accountable for their grave human rights violations, including violence against women

We, the undersigned women’s rights and human rights organizations, call upon the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military and security forces accountable for their grave human rights violations, including the use of violence against women. We strongly condemn the Myanmar military and security forces for their acts in violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws and norms, which amount to crimes against humanity according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, and the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. Since the Myanmar military’s attempted seizure of power on February 1, 2021, the junta has arbitrarily arrested and detained at least 11,047 people, and murdered over 1345. Nationwide, the Myanmar military junta is intensifying its use of air strikes and other heavy weapons against civilians, forcing thousands of women and children to flee their homes. Given the Myanmar military and security forces’ decades-long use of sexual and gender-based violence against ethnic minority women, including Rohingya, we are extremely distressed that the situation of the women of Myanmar will continue to be severely exacerbated.

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48th Anniversary of Helms Letter

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned organizations, call on you to protect reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy for people across the globe by demonstrating your support for the repeal of the Helms Amendment. Failure to do so is in direct conflict with the priorities stated by this administration to “promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad.” We urge you to proactively protect essential human rights, including abortion, for people in other countries as well as our own. We appreciate the actions you have taken in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including repealing the Global Gag Rule and calling for increased UNFPA funding. However, simply reversing harm inflicted by the previous administration is not enough to make meaningful progress on health and human rights.

We write to you on this day specifically because it is the 48th anniversary of the passage of the Helms Amendment, which prohibits U.S. foreign aid from being used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” This provision is over-implemented as a total ban on abortion under any circumstance, denying millions of mostly Black and brown people in low-to-middle income countries the health care they want and need. Authored by the late Sen. Jesse Helms, this policy has roots in racism and neocolonialism, allowing the U.S. to police other countries through the power of foreign assistance and control their policies even in instances where countries have expanded abortion access. The result is drastic global health inequities, stifled bodily autonomy, and preventable death.

Last year, many of us called on your administration to support the "Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act," which repeals the Helms Amendment. The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act now has over 170 cosponsors and is endorsed by a diverse coalition of over 175 organizations. The Helms Amendment was also successfully removed from the House-passed Fiscal Year 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. Despite growing momentum for repeal of the Helms Amendment, it remained in the FY22 President’s Budget and was not addressed in the recently released National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, both missed opportunities to ensure bodily autonomy for people globally, no matter who they are or where they live.

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Ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment in Global Health

Your excellencies,

The 16 Days of Activism, 25 November to 10 December, mark the global campaign for the prevention and elimination of Gender Based Violence. During the 16 Days of Activism 2021, we the undersigned organizations, wish to express our deep concern at the sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) of women and girls by WHO staff during the tenth Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We stand with survivors of SEAH and whistleblowers in their pursuit of justice and the truth, and we call on WHO to act now to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

Power imbalances and root causes

As diverse organizations working for the rights of women and girls in global health, we are appalled at the reports of SEAH by United Nations’ employees and international aid workers, including WHO, outlined in the Independent Commission reportof 28 September 2021. The Commission uncovered 83 alleged perpetrators, 21 of whom were WHO employees. The allegations included 9 rapes and countless demands for sex for jobs. Women and girls as young as 13 years old became pregnant, had miscarriages and abortions as a result of rape and sexual exploitation, and a reported 22 children were born. It is shameful and completely unacceptable that male staff of UN and aid agencies have caused such deep harm and blighted the lives of women and girls whose health they were paid to protect. This case in DRC is one in a long series of such cases and almost certainly the tip of the iceberg within the health sector.

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Ethiopia: The UN Human Rights Council should urgently hold special session to address the ongoing human rights crisis

We, the undersigned human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), strongly urge the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to hold a special session on the ongoing human rights crisis in Ethiopia and to establish a robust investigative mechanism in that context. We urge your delegation to support such action without further delay.

On 3 November the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a joint report that found evidence of widespread violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law by all parties to the conflict in Tigray, including the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, the Tigray Defense Forces, and Amhara regional special police and affiliated Fano militias. The report also found that many of these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report concluded that “the seriousness of these allegations calls for independent investigations and appropriate prosecution of those responsible,” and said that an international, independent mechanism can be established to collect evidence of the atrocities in preparation for future criminal prosecution.

The joint report acknowledges it was not a comprehensive investigation into the crisis in northern Ethiopia and calls for further investigations. OHCHR and the EHRC were unable to visit key sites of massacres, like Axum, which was previously documented and reported on by international NGOs. Moreover, the report was only mandated to investigate abuses that took place from 3 November 2020 to 28 June 2021. The conflict remains ongoing and has spread to neighboring regions, threatening millions more civilians and where serious abuses have now also been documented. Abuses linked to the conflict are also taking place outside of the affected zones, as the High Commissioner reported last week, scores of ethnic Tigrayans have been arbitrarily arrested, including in Addis Ababa, in the last weeks alone.

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Civil society assess outcomes of UNGA76 Third Committee session

The 14 undersigned civil society organisations mark the conclusion of the UN General Assembly’s (GA) 76th Third Committee session with the following observations on both thematic and country-specific resolutions. We urge all States to implement the commitments they have made in the resolutions discussed below to their full extent.

We welcome the joint statement on reprisals led by the UK and joined by a cross-regional group of 80 countries (5 more than last year), calling on all States and the UN to prevent, respond to, and ensure accountability for intimidation and reprisals against those who engage or seek to engage with the UN.  We also welcome the resolution adopted at the Human Rights Council in September 2021 on reprisals, inviting the SG to submit the report presented annually to the Council also to the GA from next session.

We welcome the biennial resolution on human rights defenders focussing on the critical role defenders play in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges faced in that regard. We also welcome elements on legal frameworks for their protection and the responsibilities of business. While we are encouraged by enhanced references to surveillance and counter-terrorism measures being used against defenders, we are disappointed that stronger language did not make it into the final text, despite support from civil society and some States. However, we hope that the consensus outcome and 85 co-sponsors, provides a basis for meaningful progress on these issues, and greater protection of defenders.   

We welcome the adoption of the resolution on Policies and Programmes involving Youth by consensus, recognizing the need to fulfill young people’s human rights and as key actors for sustainable development, while acknowledging their important role in decision making processes. The resolution stresses the need to tackle barriers limiting their participation and development, such as unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, HIV/AIDS, SGBV and access to technology. We welcome the strong references to human rights and fundamental freedoms of young people, and the need to note young people’s diverse situations and conditions in national development strategies. Lastly, we welcome calls for a high-level GA plenary meeting to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth with the full and effective participation of young people. 

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