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Human rights chief’s annual report to the Human Rights Council

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 4 March presented her annual report to the Human Rights Council. She also engaged in an interactive dialogue with government and civil society representatives during the ongoing 13th regular session of the Council.

Government and civil society representatives engage in an interactive dialogue- UN photo/Pierre VirotPillay highlighted the six thematic priorities of the United Nations Human Rights office and key aspects of the annual report, which covers activities undertaken by her Office in 2009 to implement its mandate.

“Countering discrimination, in particular racism and intolerance, as well as exclusion on the grounds of sex, disability, religion, against indigenous groups and national minorities, and against others who are marginalized, is one such priority.

She said that “embrace diversity, end discrimination”, the theme of Human Rights Day last year, reflected her Office’s emphasis on non-discrimination. And an in-house Task Force is now in place to develop strategies to help effectively implement the outcome and recommendations of the 2009 Durban Review Conference.

Pillay also underlined the importance of a human rights approach to migration, which is one of the six priority areas. Her Office is actively participating in the Global Migration Group.

“This approach places human rights principles and standards at the centre of migration and uses the human rights mechanisms to protect migrant women, men and children from violations at all stages of the migratory process,” she said.

The UN human rights chief described her Office’s support to the “wide and expansive range of activities” of the Human Rights Council, including its special sessions.

“It is now imperative that States devote their utmost effort to implement the Council’s recommendations and involve all relevant stakeholders to help them discharge this vital task,” she said.

Pillay stressed the importance of independent expert mechanisms in promoting and protecting human rights.

“To maximize their contribution, States should ensure that these experts are enabled to work in full independence and latitude. Candid and robust interaction with governments flows directly from mandate holders’ knowledge, independence, and operational space,” she said and urged governments to invite independent experts to visit their countries.

The High Commissioner also updated the human rights situation in different parts of the world, outlining both situations of concerns and positive developments.

Representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions then engaged in an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner after the presentation of the annual report.

The 13th session of the Human Rights Council takes place from 1 to 26 March at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. More information is available on the webpage of the session, which is also webcast live.

4 March 2010