Larry Catá Backer's comments on current issues in transnational law and policy. These essays focus on the constitution of regulatory communities (political, economic, and religious) as they manage their constituencies and the conflicts between them. The context is globalization. This is an academic field-free zone: expect to travel "without documents" through the sometimes strongly guarded boundaries of international relations, constitutional, international, comparative, and corporate law.
was the last meeting of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, with civil society actors that engage with human rights bodies
whose tenure as the highest UN authority on human rights concludes at
the end of August, wanted to exchange one last time with the NGO
community in Geneva on various human rights issues and country
situations, in particular the space reserved for civil society and human
I was appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, I was in no doubt
that civil society would continue to occupy a special place in my work.
As a human rights defender myself, it was obvious to me that the views
and advice of civil society would be indispensable," she said.
highlighted the vital role that NGOs play in raising the attention of
her Office on human rights trends and country situations, as well as
giving an arena to human rights defenders from across the globe to voice
their concerns at the Human Rights Council and other platforms.
High Commissioner also stressed that human rights defenders should be
able to express their views at the UN, free from fear of reprisals.
find it abhorrent - as you do - that defenders coming to Geneva as part
of their human rights work should be exposed to intimidation, threats
and harassment by their Governments, whether here, or on their return
home," she said.
focused much of her tenure on promoting the rights of women, in keeping
with her career as a renowned international jurist and activist for
encouraged her interlocutors to continue to draw attention to
gender-based violence; women's participation in decision making; and
smear campaigns and sexual harassment against women human rights
efforts on their behalf help to break through the isolation that many
women experience, whether because of Governments' attempts to silence
them, or because of their communities' reactions to their efforts to
seek more rights, and more meaningful participation in governance and
policy decisions that affect their lives," she said.
thematic priority on 'Widening the Democratic Space' provides a
framework for our office as a whole - in HQ and in the field - to
provide more support to civil society, and to raise the profile of our
work together over the next four years," she added.
Deputy High Commissioner, Flavia Pansieri, echoing Pillay's remark,
said that going forward with the Widening the Democratic Space strategy,
the UN Human Rights Office will continue to value engagement with human
rights defenders to orient the work of the Office.
of the 80 NGO representatives present at the meeting wanted to pay
tribute to Navi Pillay, and also took the opportunity to raise a number
of country situations, and a wide range of human rights concerns.
Tjahjono, speaking on behalf of the Human Rights Committee of the
Conference of NGOs with Consultative Relationship with the
UN/Franciscans International expressed the organizations' gratitude for
the High Commissioner's dedication to defend the efforts of civil
civil society space and democratic space are not something to be taken
for granted, we have to defend it, and you work along with us to protect
this space," he said.
Bloem, representing the World Alliance for Citizen Participation
(CIVICUS), recalled Navi Pillay's achievements with the Durban Review
Conference; in strengthening of the human rights treaty body system; and
in being "the unwavering advocate for defending the space for civil
society and human rights defenders."
gave human rights a different ranking, a larger importance in the
world. You were the voice of the voiceless, of those who could never
make it to the centres of power or to the Human Rights Council. But you
spoke truth to power without fear and you are now the champion of human
rights, our champion," Bloem said. "You were also our reference point
and benchmark we could trust for veracity. If you had said something, we
could believe it to be true."