The present report is the first submitted by the current mandate holder of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor. She outlines herein how she intends to approach and develop the subject of her mandate in the coming years. She presents her priorities and working methods and offers a brief overview of her activities in the first weeks since she took up her role. She describes the change in working methods for herself, and for human rights defenders more generally, in the immediate term brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. She details her priorities, which include focusing on those defenders most exposed to killings and other violent attacks, including a focus on other violations, with attention paid to the most marginalized and vulnerable, among them women defenders, those defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, defenders who are children, defenders with disabilities, defenders working on the rights of migrants and related issues, those working on the climate crisis and defenders working in isolated and remote areas. Her priorities also include defenders serving long terms in prison, reprisals against defenders who cooperate with the United Nations on human rights, the issue of impunity for those who attack defenders, the role of businesses and financial institutions in both harming and protecting the work of defenders and strengthening follow-up to individual cases brought to her attention. She sets out her focus on how the universal periodic review mechanism can be better used for protecting defenders and how she intends to strengthen cooperation with other mandate holders. She seeks to contribute to the development and sharing of good practice among States to better protect defenders and promote their work positively.
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