Osservazioni del Segretario generale dell’ONU al Consiglio per i diritti umani


Geneva, 26 February 2024

Mr President of the General Assembly,

Mr President of the Human Rights Council,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Human rights are the bedrock of peace.

Today, both are under attack.

We meet at a time of turbulence for our world, for people, and for human rights.

First and foremost, conflicts are taking a terrible toll as parties to war trample on
human rights and humanitarian law.

At the local level and online, many communities are riven with violent rhetoric,
discrimination and hate speech.

Add to that an information war. A war on the poor. And a war on nature.

All these battles have one thing in common: they are a war on fundamental human

And in every case, the path to peace begins with full respect for all human rights –
civil, cultural, economic, political and social, and without double standards.

Because building a culture of human rights is building a world at peace.

I commend the critical contributions of the Human Rights Council towards this
goal, through its mandates and mechanisms, and its response to evolving


Our world is becoming less safe by the day.

After decades of stable power relations, we are transitioning into an era of

This creates new opportunities for leadership and justice on the international stage.

But multipolarity without strong multilateral institutions is a recipe for chaos.

As powers compete, tensions rise.

The rule of law, and the rules of war, are being undermined.

From Ukraine to Sudan to Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and
Gaza, parties to conflict are turning a blind eye to international law, the Geneva
Conventions and even the United Nations Charter.

The Security Council is often deadlocked, unable to act on the most significant
peace and security issues of our time.

The Council’s lack of unity on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and on Israel’s
military operations in Gaza following the horrific terror attacks by Hamas on 7
October, has severely – perhaps fatally – undermined its authority.
The Council needs serious reform to its composition and working methods.


Nothing can justify [Hamas’s] deliberate killing, injuring, torturing and kidnapping
of civilians, the use of sexual violence – or the indiscriminate launching of rockets
towards Israel.

But nothing justifies the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

I invoked Article 99 for the first time in my mandate, to put the greatest possible
pressure on the Council to do everything in its power to end the bloodshed in Gaza
and prevent escalation. But it was not enough.

International Humanitarian Law remains under attack.

Tens of thousands of civilians, including women and children, have been killed in

Humanitarian aid is still completely insufficient.

Rafah is the core of the humanitarian aid operation, and UNRWA is the backbone
of that effort.

An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a
million Palestinian civilians sheltering there; it would put the final nail in the coffin
of our aid programmes.

I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional
release of all hostages.


Around the world, violence is increasing, and conflict-related human rights
violations are spreading.

International human rights and humanitarian law are clear:

All parties must distinguish between civilians and combatants at all times.

Attacks on civilians or protected infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, are

Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited.

Attacks where the likelihood of civilian death is disproportionate to the probable
military advantage are prohibited.

Forced displacement is prohibited.

The taking and holding of hostages is prohibited.

The use of civilians as human shields is prohibited.

Collective punishment is prohibited.

The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war is prohibited.

And violations by one party do not absolve the other from compliance.

We cannot – we must not – become numb to appalling and repeated violations of
international humanitarian and human rights law.

All allegations of serious violations and abuses demand urgent investigation and

And we are determined to take such action in relation to allegations against our
own staff.


The Geneva Conventions, which require the protection of civilians and the humane
treatment of people in enemy hands, were not the result of an outbreak of global

These treaties were agreed because they protect everyone.

Around the world, warring parties claim exemptions, asserting that certain people
or situations are uniquely dangerous.

But flouting international law only feeds insecurity and results in more bloodshed.
Human rights conventions and humanitarian law are based on cold, hard reality: They recognize that terrorizing civilians and depriving them of food, water, and
healthcare is a recipe for endless anger, alienation, extremism and conflict.

Today’s warmongers cannot erase the clear lesson of the past.

Protecting human rights protects us all.

We urgently need a new commitment to all human rights – civil, cultural,
economic, political and social – as they apply to peace and security, backed by
serious efforts at implementation and accountability.

States have the primary responsibility to protect and promote human rights.

To support states in meeting their obligations, I am launching a system-wide
United Nations Agenda for Protection, together with the High Commissioner for
Human Rights.

Under this Agenda, the United Nations, across the full spectrum of our work, will
act as one to prevent human rights violations, and to identify and respond to them
when they take place.

That is the Protection Pledge of all United Nations bodies: to do their utmost to
protect people.


Around the world, governments must step up and commit to working for peace and
security rooted in human rights.

The Summit of the Future in September is our opportunity for such a recommitment.

The New Agenda for Peace, to be discussed at the Summit, applies a human rights
lens to preventing and ending violence in all its forms.

Building on our Call to Action for Human Rights, it urges an end to reflexive
responses to violence, underscoring the need for strategic, comprehensive
approaches that address root causes.

Successful peace processes, from Colombia to Northern Ireland, demonstrate that
the full spectrum of human rights is indispensable to building peace.

The New Agenda for Peace recognizes that security policies that ignore human
rights can divide communities, exacerbate inequalities, and drive people towards

It calls for all military engagement to respect human rights and humanitarian law,
and to be backed by political and development strategies.

It urges security policies centred on people, with the full and equal participation of
women, and the strong representation of young people.

It calls for human rights to be at the heart of the governance of new weapons
technologies, including artificial intelligence, and seeks the total prohibition of
lethal autonomous weapons with the power to kill without human involvement.

It affirms that human rights and humanitarian law apply in cyberspace.

And it calls for much closer collaboration between the UN’s human rights
frameworks, the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission – to address
violations, and put human rights at the core of peace operations.


The New Agenda for Peace also addresses the links between human rights
violations and violence at the community level.

From the epidemic of violence against women and girls, to the activities of
criminal gangs, to rising antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, the persecution of
minority Christian communities, and discrimination against minorities of all kinds,
many people do not feel safe in their own communities.

Media workers and human rights defenders are frequently targeted—sometimes as
part of a strategy to reduce civic space and silence criticism.

Decades of progress on women’s and girls’ rights are being challenged and rolled
back – including their fundamental right to education and healthcare, and their
sexual and reproductive rights.

The New Agenda for Peace urges governments to create space in national security
policies for civil society, human rights defenders, and those representing
vulnerable and marginalized people. Freedom of the media, freedom of expression
and an open, inclusive civic space are essential to peaceful, democratic societies.

It calls for the dismantling and transformation of power structures that discriminate
against women and girls; and for concrete steps to secure women’s full, equal and
meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making on peace and security.

And it presses for young people to be included as participants in decision-making
on peace and security events.

We are also setting out ways to tackle online abuses of human rights and support
people’s rights to connectivity and privacy online, through our forthcoming code
of conduct for information integrity, and a Global Digital Compact.

Peaceful communities require an open, secure, accessible digital public space that
supports human rights and freedoms.


War is not only waged on the battlefield.

Some of today’s economic policies, at both national and global levels, constitute a
war on the poor – and on human rights.

Many developing economies are still struggling to recover from the double shock
of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Sustainable
Development Goals are very far off-track.

The world’s poorest countries are due to pay over $185 billion in debt services
costs this year – more than their total public spending on health, education and

The absence of a debt lifeline jeopardises the ability of millions of people to realise
their rights to clean drinking water, a nutritious diet, education, healthcare, and

The global financial architecture is at the heart of this human rights emergency.

It is outdated, dysfunctional and unjust, and it must be reformed to provide longterm, low-cost financing and an effective safety net for all countries in need.

We are pushing for an SDG Stimulus of $500 billion annually in affordable longterm finance for developing countries.

We are also calling for a new Bretton Woods moment, to reshape the global
financial architecture in line with today’s reality – not the world of 80 years ago.

The Summit of the Future will consider deep reforms to make global financial
frameworks more inclusive, equitable and just, so they can support governments in
prioritizing social spending, sustainable development and climate action, essential
to human rights.

Next year’s World Social Summit and International Conference on Financing for Development will focus on ways in which economic policies, including budgets,
taxes and subsidies, can reinforce investments in the SDGs and human rights for

Excellencies, dear friends,

Our war on nature is a war on the human rights of some of the most vulnerable
people in the world: Indigenous People; rural communities; the marginalized and

The crises assaulting our planet – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution –
all have a massive injustice at their core:

Those who did least to cause these crises are bearing the brunt of rising hunger and
famine, land degradation, forced displacement, contaminated water sources and
premature deaths.

The recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the
Human Rights Council in 2021 and by the General Assembly in 2022 shows that
times are changing.

Environmental justice and climate justice are rallying cries for ethical, equitable
treatment, accountability and human rights.

Climate justice demands that G20 countries lead the progressive phase-out of fossil

It demands that all Nationally Determined Contributions, or national climate plans,
align with the 1.5-degree upper limit on global heating.
It demands an effective carbon price and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

It demands the developed countries meet their finance commitments to developing
economies – starting with the $100 billion and doubling adaptation funding by

And it demands that the Loss and Damage Fund is up and running as soon as
possible, with significant contributions.

For many countries of the Global South, economic, environmental and climate
justice are the defining human rights challenges of our time.

The United Nations stands with them in calling on all countries to assume theirresponsibilities.


Our world is changing at warp speed.

The multiplication of conflicts is causing unprecedented suffering.

But human rights are a constant.

They bring coherence to our search for solutions.

And they are fundamental to our hopes for a world at peace.

Four years ago, the United Nations marked its 75th anniversary with a global
survey. Overwhelmingly, people everywhere said they want world leaders to
prioritize and deliver human rights.

This call was echoed as we marked the 75th Anniversary of the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights last December.

This year’s Summit of the Future is our opportunity to answer that demand.

To align our global institutions with today’s ever-changing reality.

And to embrace the unchanging values of human rights.

Together, let’s seize this opportunity to advance peace and human rights for all.

Thank you.