As part of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York (9 July – 18 July 2019) the Permanent Missions of Austria and Malaysia to the United Nations in New York hosted a side event on the topic of “Protecting the Rule of Law & Human Rights and Advancing Access to Justice”. Together with Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) the aim was to speak and debate about actions and strategies to protect the human rights of democracy activists, to ensure that the “Rule of Law” is “human rights’ centered” under SDG Goal 16 and the role of Ombudsman institutions in this context.
The IOI was represented by its Executive Director Ulrike Grieshofer who highlighted the unique role and position of the Ombudsman institutions in the context of Goal 16 as they experience first-hand if and to what extend the SDGs have been implemented because of being confronted with complaints and concerns of different members of society on a day-to-day basis. She furthermore shared her concerns on the shrinking space for human rights and Ombudsmen under threat, illustrated strategies and actions of the IOI to address these issues and finally appealed to the fellow participants to work together to create a safe environment for human rights defenders.
The speakers also included Jan Kickert, Permanent UN Representative of Austria, Syed Mohd Hasrin Tengku Hussin, Permanent UN Representative of Malaysia, Petra Bayr, Member of the Austrian Parliament and Treasurer of PGA, Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program of Human Rights Watch, Margareta Cederfelt, Member of the Swedish Parliament, President of PGA and Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Emilie Béatrice Epaye, Board Member of PGA and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.