Together with 300 other civil society organizations from all regions, the Global Justice Clinic at NYU Law drafted a letter to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to draw the Committee’s attention to the deteriorating situation of those people and organizations working to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights. In the letter, the signatories asked the Committee to make a public statement on ESC rights defenders. Such a statement should call on states to protect ESCR defenders and to give them the space to do their work. The letter underlined the crucial role of ESCR defenders as allies in the promotion and protection of ESC rights, and drew attention to the many case in which ESCR defenders are harassed, intimidated, disappeared, jailed or stigmatized, in attempts to silence them and prevent them from doing their work. The signatories made several suggestions for the committee to address this issue, amongst others, by adding voice to the growing consensus in regards to this situation, amongst others by making a public statement:
- Explicitly underlining the inherent legitimacy of peaceful protest and advocacy activities for the promotion and protection of ESC rights;
- Condemning the rising harassment, threats, attacks and intimidation of ESC rights defenders;
- Advising States to take concrete measures to recognise, consult and protect ESC rights
defenders and investigate attacks against them;
- Stating that attacks against, and restrictions upon, ESC rights defenders may amount to a violation not only of the rights of the defenders themselves, but of the ESC rights for which they advocate;
- Highlighting that non-State actors, and business in particular, have a responsibility to contribute to a safe and enabling environment for the promotion and protection of ESC rights; and
- Reiterating the Committee’s commitment to combat intimidation and reprisals against those who provide information, or seek to contribute to, the Committee’s work to promote and protect ESC rights.