"The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties.

The Danish Institute for Human Rights has identified that more than 90% of the 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) are directly linked to human rights instruments This is no less the case for SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. In particular, SDG target 16.10 makes an explicit commitment to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms. Seventeen international and regional human rights treaties and declarations are directly linked to this target, thereby providing a rich source of human rights standards and recommendations to guide implementation of this target and further accountability.

This paper focuses specifically on the potential for leveraging human rights standards and mechanisms for furthering the implementation and monitoring of an enabling environment for human rights defenders, primarily under SDG target 16.10, but also under other targets, as relevant.

The aspirations in target 16.10 related to the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms is no less important now in view of state responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, there have been reports of illegitimate restrictions and violations to these freedoms under the guise of Covid-19 related measures."

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