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

Secretary-Basic 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 position of civil society organizations.

‘A collective accountability’

“There is no such thing as a nation that may say that it doesn’t have a human rights problem,” stated Mr. Villegas, who’s the Ambassador of Argentina to the UN in Geneva.

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

He stated no nation can declare to have “solved all the things” on the subject of points reminiscent of the suitable to freedom of expression or the combat in opposition to discrimination, including “we subsequently have a collective accountability”.

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

Request from Ukraine

Established by the Basic Meeting in 2006, it’s an intergovernmental physique inside the UN system, made up of 47 States answerable 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 12 months 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 can even be held.

COVID-19 focus

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

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

This newest session will probably be held over a file 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 normal view of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in session (file photograph).

Nevertheless, he identified how the pandemic has additionally led to useful technological improvements.  

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

For instance, the President of the Marshall Islands, David Kabua, and the Minister of International Affairs of Mauritius, will ship their remarks by way of 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 be taught from historical past and discover the chance for constructive dialogue,” he stated, emphasizing that the UN physique is one of the simplest ways to stop conflicts and make sure the safety of civilians caught up in struggle.

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 said that as an Argentine, “it is an emotion and a further accountability”. 

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

Mr. Villegas highlighted the twin position 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 return, who can have a significantly better life than these current and previous”.

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