The Human Rights Council: “human rights are a joint response to a harsher, more uncertain world”

Bern, 27.02.2017 - "In a world which is turning in on itself, we perceive less of a desire for joint action and more of a calling into question of the international framework for human rights," said Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter on Monday in Geneva at the opening of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). "And yet, human rights are precisely the strong response we need to the questions facing us in this harsher, more uncertain world," he said. Switzerland proposed three priorities to guide joint dialogue and action in favour of human rights: conflict prevention, a strengthening of collective capacities and the genuine implementation of the rights of every human being.

Mr Burkhalter, who is the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, emphasised that prevention and mediation must be at the very heart of the international community's action, noting in this regard a “commonality of approach adopted by the new Secretary-General of the United Nations”. Switzerland is strengthening its mediation capacities by establishing a master's programme in peace mediation in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. Prevention through defending human rights also means promoting cooperation between the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Security Council in New York, as set out in the appeal launched on 13 June 2016 by Switzerland, which is supported by some 70 states.

Dialogue and action in favour of human rights must be based on sufficient and effective means. "We must strengthen our collective capacity," said Mr Burkhalter, announcing that this year Switzerland will increase its financial support to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Switzerland will also expand its engagement in the implementation of human rights by supporting the new international mechanism set up in Geneva to facilitate investigations into the most serious violations of international law committed in Syria.

In addition, at the opening of the Human Rights Council session Mr Burkhalter has taken the opportunity to hold formal meetings with representatives of a dozen countries.

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