(WASHINGTON)—PEN America has joined more than 80 civil society organizations, networks, think tanks, and institutions worldwide united by their commitment to human rights and democracy to endorse a statement calling on the United Nations to appoint a special rapporteur on democracy. The appeal comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10.

The statement, led by Democracy without Borders, warned on Monday that “democracy is threatened and authoritarianism is on the rise.” It stresses the urgency for the UN to actively strengthen human rights and democracy amid a concerning global trend of backsliding. The new position would be created by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, and mandated to “investigate the state of democracy around the world” while examining “challenges and opportunities related to the realization of democracy.”

Special rapporteurs in the UN Human Rights Council play a crucial role in ensuring accountability for human rights obligations and respect for human rights fundamental to democracy, including free expression. Special rapporteurs do not represent any specific country, region, or partisan group. Their responsibilities include conducting fact-finding missions and addressing individual and collective complaints of human rights violations. If installed, the special rapporteur on democracy will have a substantial mandate to complement, reinforce, and enhance the mandates of existing special rapporteurs whose responsibilities have immediate implications for global free expression.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057