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Marrakech Declaration, a new roadmap for NHRIs to contribute to protecting HRDs and expanding civic space

National Human Rights Institutions from around the globe, gathering in Marrakech at the Global Alliance of NHRIs’ 13th International Conference, adopted on Friday 12 October 2018 the Marrakech Declaration on “Expanding the civic space and promoting and protecting human rights defenders, with a specific focus on women: The role of national human rights institutions”.

“The Declaration translates a strong commitment from NHRIs to better promote and protect human rights defenders (HRD), who have a positive, important, and legitimate role in contributing to the realization of all human rights, at the local, national, regional and international levels” reaffirms Driss El Yazami, President of Morocco’ National Human Rights Council.

“National Human Rights Institutions have committed to protect human rights defenders and establish focal points to provide assistance and support to HRDs swiftly, whenever needed, says Beate Rudolf, Chairwoman of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).

The participants of the 13th International Conference of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions have also stressed in the outcome document the important role that women human rights defenders have in the promotion and the protection of all human rights. Whilst they face similar risks as other human rights defenders, WHRDs may also face additional gender-specific discrimination and violence, not only by state agents but also private actors. This comes in the form of intimidation, threats, and sexual violence. This may also happen not only in their own organizations, in their communities, and in their families. They also face social, political, cultural and religious barriers.

The 13th International Conference voiced concerns about reports on the increasing number of physical attacks against human rights defenders particularly where this includes sexual violence and killings and about reports on shrinking civic space and on threats, risks and reprisals faced by human rights defenders, worldwide.

The Declaration also voiced concerns on “Recent and increasing reports from all regions on reprisals, threats, attacks and other acts of intimidation against NHRIs, their members and staff are extremely worrying”

GANHRI and the participating NHRIs approved a 25-point roadmap to effectively contribute to expanding civic space and promoting and protecting human rights defenders. They agreed on a set of concrete recommendations and suggestions aiming to protect human rights defenders against all forms of intimidation, harassment, violence, discrimination and threats, including through monitoring, early warning, reporting and legal advice.

GANHRI 13th International Conference’s outcome document also highlighted the need of cooperation and the importance of training, awareness raising, advancing positive narratives on the importance of human rights, promotion of gender equality and development of strategies to combat all forms of discrimination against women human rights defenders.

The 13th International Conference of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) took place in Marrakech, Morocco, from 10 to 12 October 2018. It was co-hosted, under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) and the National Human Rights Council of Morocco (CNDH), in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The theme of the Conference was “Expanding the civic space and promoting and protecting Human Rights Defenders, with a specific focus on women: The role of National Human Rights Institutions”.

Download Marrakech Declaration