Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor: At the heart of the struggle: human rights defenders working against corruption

The UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor analyses the situation of human rights defenders working against corruption and stresses that protection frameworks applicable to human rights defenders should apply to them.

The report includes examples of the types of threats and structural difficulties faced by human rights defenders fighting corruption and suggests ways that relevant stakeholders might act to protect them and to promote their work. The impact of the gender in the threats faced by those fighting corruption is discussed. The report is based on the discussions with hundreds of human rights defenders since the start of Lawlor's mandate in 2020. 

“Corruption is often written off as inevitable or harmless, or as a victimless crime. But it’s none of those things. Every time someone takes a bribe, gives a job to an unqualified relative, or diverts money intended for a hospital or a school to their own pocket, it’s an attack on human rights,” said Lawlor. 

Corruption is a human rights issue and it should be recognized as such. Those who peacefully work for the rights of others against corruption should be recognized, celebrated and protected as human rights defenders. States have an obligation to combat corruption in compliance with their human rights obligations, which includes taking appropriate steps to enable and encourage human rights defenders working against corruption. Corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes.

The report provides concrete recommendations for States, NGOs, Academic experts and Government officials. The report calls not to only end the attacks on the human rights defenders working to end corruption but also celebrate those that risk their lives to help to build societies based on the rule of law.  


Download the full report in English or Russian.


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