We should ‘study from historical past’, UN Human Rights Council President says

Greater than 130 overseas dignitaries are anticipated on the Palais des Nations, the UN Workplace within the Swiss metropolis.

Secretary-Common António Guteres was scheduled to take part within the high-level phase of the Council’s forty ninth session however will stay in New York “because of the aggravating scenario in Ukraine”, his Spokesperson announced on Saturday.

Forward of the opening, Council President Federico Villegas spoke to UN News about his imaginative and prescient for the proceedings, challenges linked to the polarization of the Council, and the important function of civil society organizations.

‘A collective duty’

“There isn’t any nation that may say that it doesn’t have a human rights problem,” mentioned Mr. Villegas, who’s the Ambassador of Argentina to the UN in Geneva.

Whereas the worldwide neighborhood is at present witnessing a rise in geopolitical tensions, the veteran diplomat recalled that no nation is past reproach.

He mentioned no nation can declare to have “solved every little thing” in terms of points corresponding to the fitting to freedom of expression or the combat towards discrimination, including “we due to this fact have a collective duty”.

The Human Rights Council is the place that duty is upheld.

Request from Ukraine

Established by the Common Meeting in 2006, it’s an intergovernmental physique inside the UN system, made up of 47 States chargeable for strengthening the promotion and safety of human rights across the globe.

Because the disaster in Ukraine escalated final week, the Council reported on its Twitter account that the nation’s UN Ambassador in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, requested that an pressing debate on the human rights scenario there be convened through the coming session.

The agenda this yr covers conditions in nations that embody Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar, in addition to points such because the entry to respectable housing and the rights of minorities.  An annual debate on the rights of individuals with disabilities will even be held.

COVID-19 focus

In complete, the Council will think about over 100 studies offered by greater than 30 human rights consultants and teams, earlier than the forty ninth session concludes on 1 April.  

Reviews will handle some 50 nation conditions and 40 themes, together with COVID-19. Three panel discussions will likely be held to look at public well being insurance policies, entry to vaccines, and the affect of the pandemic on human rights. 

This newest session will likely be held over a report interval of 5 weeks, and in a hybrid format, with conferences happening in-person and on-line.

Delegations have welcomed the return to face-to-face conferences after being disadvantaged of holding casual consultations for 2 years. 

Mr. Villegas described in-person conferences because the “coronary heart of multilateral diplomacy”, saying the easing of well being restrictions in Switzerland will facilitate the discussions.

A general view of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in session (file photo).

UN Photograph/Jean-Marc Ferré

A common view of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in session (file photograph).

Nevertheless, he identified how the pandemic has additionally caused helpful technological improvements.  

Digital conferences imply that members from far corners of the world can nonetheless participate within the debates, when beforehand they had been hampered by distance or price.

For instance, the President of the Marshall Islands, David Kabua, and the Minister of Overseas Affairs of Mauritius, will ship their remarks through videoconference on opening day.

Hope for constructive dialogue

Mr. Villegas additionally spoke of his want to keep away from politicization of the Human Rights Council throughout its forty ninth session. 

“Now we have to study from historical past and discover the chance for constructive dialogue,” he mentioned, emphasizing that the UN physique is the easiest way to forestall conflicts and make sure the safety of civilians caught up in warfare.

The Council President additionally doesn’t ignore the truth that his personal nation has had a historical past of quite a few rights violations.  He acknowledged that as an Argentine, “it is an emotion and a further duty”. 

On this regard, the contributions by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will likely be important to the debates. Representatives from a number of NGOs will even be welcomed on the Palais des Nations, alongside diplomats and human rights consultants.

Mr. Villegas highlighted the twin function of civil society, specifically “to indicate the errors of the States and to collaborate with them to develop extra environment friendly public insurance policies.” 

He concluded by reflecting on the significance of defending human rights to “guarantee the way forward for generations to come back, who can have a a lot better life than these current and previous”.


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