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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel President-Elect of the Human Rights Council Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the UN Office at Geneva

Geneva, December 10, 2012 Madame President, Madame Deputy High Commissioner, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Cesare Pavese, the twentieth century Italian poet, said “The only joy in the world is to begin.” To begin – this is what my intervention today is about. In our case, it means to open another chapter in a wonderful book “The Human Rights Council”. Drafting this book is inspired by a real life, with its ups and downs, in the service of people. In this vein, let me express my gratitude to all members of the Human Rights Council for electing me as its next President. I am particularly grateful to the Group of Eastern European States for nominating and endorsing my candidature. I thank you all for your trust and confidence which I understand, first and foremost, as a source of my responsibility to effectively serve this unique body. I am convinced that I will speak on behalf of all gathered in this room, while expressing our deep appreciation for the outgoing President, Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre from Urugway, for the outstanding way she has presided over the work of the Council for more than one year. Your personal commitment and hard work have significantly strengthened the Council’s credibility as the main UN body responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights. I would also like to pay tribute to all previous Council’s Presidents – Ambassador de Alba from Mexico, Ambassador Costea from Romania, Ambassador Uhomoibhi from Nigeria, Ambassador Van Meeuwen from Belgium and Ambassador Phuangketkeow from Thailand. I will do my best to continue their excellent work by building upon their successes and achievements. And last but not least, let me address words of my most sincere gratitude to Madame High Commissioner and her Office, in particular the Secretariat of the Council, for their continuing and tireless work in supporting Council’s activities. I seize also this opportunity to thank the civil society and national human rights institutions for their contribution to the Council’s efforts. They play a vital role in enriching our work and exposing it to a vigilant reality check. It is needless to say what a great honour it is not only for me personally, but also for my country, Poland, to be elected as the President of the Human Rights Council. Ever since the peaceful democratic transformation in my country in 1989, which was based on the agreement between all political groups, the promotion and protection of human rights have consistently been among the highest priorities of the Polish external and internal policy. That attitude is deeply rooted in our historic experience as the struggle of Polish people for freedom and independence has always been conducted under the banner of respect for human dignity and fundamental rights. My country would also like to see today’s election in the context of its long-term devotion. As the President of the Council, I will spare no efforts to further contribute to the full implementation of the paragraph 12 of the Council’s founding resolution 60/251 which says that “…the methods of work of the Council shall be transparent, fair and impartial and shall enable genuine dialogue”. I deeply believe in a Council that promotes and protects human rights effectively and enables cooperation among States, cultures and religions in a fair and equal manner. Allow me to ensure you that in discharging my duties, I’ll always be guided by these principles, paying heed – in the same way – to the views and concerns of all stakeholders. Today, we are on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of the II World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Its final document – the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action outlined the road map for the international community for many years to come. It still continues to be a key policy document in the area of human rights. I am sure that it makes sense, while commemorating this landmark conference, to reflect on the sources of its strength. Many commentators used to say that both the end of the Cold War and the end of Apartheid generated the “Spirit of Vienna”. It made possible to reach an agreement on controversial issues and to seek cooperation and compromise between actors firmly defending their own positions. I am confident that it is a right time to build on this Spirit. We greatly need it now, while discussing the human rights contribution to the follow-up to Rio+20 and the post-2015 sustainable development goals. Therefore, I would like to express my sincere hope that together we will be able to make 2013 another successful year of the Council’s work narrowing the gap between the human rights promise and the harsh reality still faced by many people all over the world. Once again, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your trust and confidence.