The Human Rights Council should listen to the voices of those affected

Statement at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 2 General Debate

Delivered by Lisa Majumdar

Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to the High Commissioner for her update.

There is so much the Council can and should do during this session to address the grave situations you reported. The successes and failures of this Council have a tangible impact for those at the forefront of defending human rights.

Last week the Council acted strongly on the conflict in Ukraine to take a step towards accountability for Russian aggression. This session, we expect the Council to take its opportunity to strengthen human rights and protect civic space elsewhere. To build on accountability efforts in Myanmar. To take robust action on Nicaragua’s worsening human rights crisis, and to address the civic space backsliding in Cambodia. And to strengthen protection for those standing up for human rights in conflict zones.

The success and credibility of the Council relies on the engagement and participation of those on the frontline of human rights – the activists, journalists, environmentalists, colleagues – who risk their lives and freedom to stand up for human rights. The Council is stronger when it has the full participation of civil society, and can hear the voices of those affected. It can protect and support those trying to effect positive change in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It can create a route to justice for victims of violations and accountability for perpetrators.

But it can only do so if its members, as set out in GA Resolution 60/251 ‘uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.’ Their failure to do so weakens the Council, and undermines its outcomes. We call on the Council to seek the reform needed to address this.

We thank you.

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