Assertion by UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’advert Al Hussein on the opening of the Human Rights Council session in Geneva, 2 March 2015.
It’s an honour for me to handle the Excessive-Stage Phase of the Human Rights Council for the primary time.
Once I final addressed this Council, I spoke at size of the cruelty and ethical chapter of violent extremists. Alas, the horrors they perpetrate proceed each day, and we condemn their cruel conduct each day. And but, if we’re not cautious, if we’re not fully principled and crafty in our collective try and defang them, we’ll, unwittingly and inexcusably, be advancing their pursuits. How we outline the opening chapters of this already agitated century relies upon closely on us not turning into like them. For us, worldwide humanitarian legislation and worldwide human rights legislation can’t be trifled with or circumvented, however have to be totally noticed. Subsequently, and with out diminishing our persevering with rejection of terrorism, I’ll focus on this assertion on the broad conduct of Member States concerning their obligations to uphold human rights.
It has been 70 years because the nice Constitution of the United Nations was drawn up, and since then States have additionally written and agreed to a spread of robust worldwide treaties, to ascertain in binding legislation the authorized rules of human rights. They’re a distillation of all human expertise, all of the warnings and screams of our mixed human historical past.
On this room right this moment are the distinguished representatives of many States which have every made particular and valuable contributions to humanity. All, by ratifying the UN Constitution, have made a transparent dedication to, I quote, “reaffirm religion in elementary human rights; within the dignity and value of the human individual; within the equal rights of women and men, and of countries massive and small; and to ascertain situations underneath which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties, and different sources of worldwide legislation, might be maintained; and to advertise social progress, and higher requirements of life in bigger freedom.”
And but, with alarming regularity, human rights are disregarded, and violated, generally to a surprising diploma.
States declare distinctive circumstances. They choose and select between rights. One Authorities will totally help ladies’s human rights and people of the LGBT communities, however will balk at any suggestion that these rights be prolonged to migrants of irregular standing. One other State might observe scrupulously the suitable to schooling, however will brutally stamp out opposing political opinions. A 3rd State comprehensively violates the political, civil, financial, social and cultural rights of its individuals, whereas vigorously defending the beliefs of human rights earlier than its friends.
In latest months I’ve been disturbed deeply by the contempt and disrespect displayed by a number of States in direction of the ladies and men appointed by you as this Council’s impartial consultants – and likewise by the reprisals and smear campaigns which can be all too regularly exercised towards representatives of civil society, together with those that interact with the Council and its our bodies. I attraction to all of you, as soon as once more, to concentrate on the substance of the grievance, somewhat than lash out on the critic – whether or not that individual is remitted by States, is a member of my Workplace, or is a human rights defender.
The overwhelming majority of victims of human rights abuses around the globe share two traits: Deprivation, and discrimination – whether or not it’s based mostly on race or ethnicity, gender, beliefs, sexual orientation, caste or class. From starvation to massacres, sexual violence and slavery, human rights violations are rooted in these hidden, and generally not so hidden, components.
They aren’t spontaneously generated. Most violations of human rights end result from coverage decisions, which restrict freedom and participation, and create obstacles to the honest sharing of assets and alternatives.
Essentially the most highly effective instrument within the arsenal we have now towards poverty and battle is the weapon of huge instruction. Respect for the human rights of all, justice, schooling, equality – these are the strongly interlocking parts that can construct honest, assured and resilient societies; true growth; and a everlasting peace.
Our discussions throughout this session will solely be of some value if each State represented right here will take the suggestions of the Council, its Common Periodic Evaluation, and its knowledgeable mechanisms out of this room, and provides them actual impression the place it issues – in your international locations.
As a former diplomat myself, I’m properly conscious of the preoccupation with protocol which makes the representatives of States jostle for locations on Councils, or for distinguished talking slots in key summits, with the view that these are essential markers of the world’s respect for his or her nation. However this agitation alone is solely meaningless, as a result of all people is aware of when individuals are silenced, after they worry arbitrary arrest or worse.
All people is aware of when police use torture, and when tweets are brutally suppressed. All people is aware of when discrimination means poverty, whereas corrupt elites gorge on public items, supported by a corrupt judiciary. All people is aware of when ladies are handled like property, and kids go hungry, and unschooled, in squalid neighbourhoods.
Among the proof could also be hidden. However the actuality, in far too many international locations, of massacres and sexual violence; crushing poverty; the unique bestowal of health-care and different very important assets to the rich and well-connected; the torture of powerless detainees; the denial of human dignity – these items are identified. And Excellencies, they’re what really make up a State’s fame; along with the true steps – if any – taken by the State to stop abuses and handle social inequalities, and whether or not it honours the dignity of its individuals.
The one actual measure of a Authorities’s value just isn’t its place within the solemn ballet of grand diplomacy. It’s the extent to which it’s delicate to the wants – and protects the rights – of its nationals and different individuals who fall underneath its jurisdiction, or over whom it has bodily management.
Some policy-makers persuade themselves that their circumstances are distinctive, creating an entirely new actuality unexpected by the legislation. This logic is considerable around the globe right this moment: I arrest arbitrarily and torture as a result of a brand new kind of warfare justifies it. I spy on my residents as a result of the struggle towards terrorism requires it. I don’t need new immigrants, or I discriminate towards minorities, as a result of our communal identification is being threatened now as by no means earlier than. I kill with none type of due course of, as a result of if I don’t, others will kill me. And so it goes, on and on, as we spiral into aggregating crises.
I have to remind you of the enduring and common validity of the worldwide human rights treaties that your States wrote and ratified. In actuality, neither terrorism, nor globalisation, nor migration are qualitatively new threats that may justify overturning the authorized foundations of life on Earth. They aren’t new.
I imagine our work collectively on this Human Rights Council is significant. And I urge you, and the States you signify, to align your actions with the suggestions of the Council and its mechanisms – to actually take this work out of this august Chamber, and produce it to the streets and households of your international locations.
I’m extremely aware of the rising calls for and obligations positioned on my Workplace, and the necessity to make sure that we will extra successfully serve the peoples of the world – most notably, the victims of human rights violations.
On Thursday, I’ll introduce a major reorganization of my Workplace, based mostly on the outcomes of an in depth useful evaluate. There shall be some reshuffling at Headquarters, however the important motion shall be to spice up our presence in regional and discipline workplaces, to be able to help you, the Member States, extra straight, and to make our work in your behalf as efficient as attainable.
Lastly, I wish to pay tribute to all OHCHR workers members, notably those that work in conditions of grave and each day hazard. These ladies and men typically danger dying to each uphold our rules and to offer us with very important info. I’m dismayed to study that due to lack of will by Member States, the United Nations just isn’t able to make ample provision for help to workers who’re injured in high-risk missions, or to the households of staff-members who’ve been killed in such circumstances. Frankly, that is appalling and I attraction to all of you to alter it.
At a time of intensifying world anxiousness, I imagine the individuals of the world are crying out for profound and provoking management equal to the challenges we face. We should due to this fact renew, by the strongest motion, our dedication to the truth of inalienable and common human rights, to finish discrimination, deprivation, and the seemingly inexhaustible litany of conflicts and crises that generate such horrible, and pointless, struggling.
What’s going to develop into of us, of our world, if we ignore our treaties and rules? Can we be so silly as to repeat scenes from the 20 th century, punctured because it was by such terrible inhumanity? You need to not make it so. That is principally your burden, and ours. Collectively, if we reach turning the nook, in enhancing our world situation, we will then say the screams of historical past and of the tens of millions upon tens of millions of victims, have been heard, lastly. Allow us to make it so.