Tuesday, 25 June 2019

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Human Rights Council opens twenty-first session

human-rights-councilThe Human Rights Council this morning opened its twenty-first regular session, hearing an address by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and an update by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the activities of her Office, followed by a general debate.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, commended the Council for its response to recent crises and situations encountered by countries in a period of challenges and change, adding that the Council must respond to all human rights violations in an even-handed manner, without disproportionately emphasizing any one situation over another. The Secretary-General remained deeply troubled by the deteriorating situation in Syria and urged all to unite behind the diplomatic efforts of the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi. Further, he encouraged the Council to maintain its vigilance on Syria, including on the question of accountability, which was necessary to ensure that anyone who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or other violations of international human rights or humanitarian law was brought to justice.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that numerous human rights challenges continued to persist and preoccupy the Office: poverty, impunity, armed conflicts, refugee flows, discrimination, religious intolerance, arbitrary executions, and the impact of the pervasive economic and financial crisis. The High Commissioner said she was gravely concerned by the on-going conflict in Syria, which continued to have devastating consequences on civilians. She noted other country situations that also deserved the attention of the Council and her Office including Bahrain, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Greece, Kenya, the Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the occupied Palestinian territory, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia.

In the general debate, speakers raised concerns about issues highlighted in the High Commissioner's statement and spoke about challenges facing the High Commissioner and her Office, which included an increasing need for principled, transparent and timely responses to human rights challenges globally, and strengthening the field presence of the Office. Those challenges, and particularly that related to resources, must be responded to and countries welcomed efforts to openly discuss the strategic priorities and funding by the Office of the High Commissioner. Speakers shared concerns about the persistence in racism and racist acts, the situation of migrants in countries of transit and destination, and reiterated deep concern about the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Member States which addressed the Council in the general debate that followed the High Commissioner's statement included Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Cyprus on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iran on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, Italy, Russia, United States, Norway, Chile, Czech Republic, Thailand, Cuba, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Maldives, China, Switzerland, Spain, Uruguay, Peru, Philippines, Belgium and Indonesia.

This afternoon the Council will conclude its general debate on the annual report of the High Commissioner and reports of her Office and the Secretary-General, and then start an interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.

: OHCHR News

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