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High Commissioner’s first annual report to the Human Rights Council

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 5 March presented her first annual report to the Human Rights Council. She also engaged in an interactive dialogue with government and civil society representatives during the tenth regular session of the Council.

The Human Rights Council’s 10th regular session, from 2 to 27 March, takes place in the new Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva - UN Photo/Pierre VirotThe annual report, the first submitted by Navi Pillay who took office last September, outlined the efforts made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to implement its mandate over the past year.

The year “2008 has been of particular importance for the Council and the work of OHCHR,” the High Commissioner said, pointing out that the Council, which replaced the Human Rights Commission in 2006, had completed its institution-building process.

In the report, the High Commissioner described her Office’s support to the work of the Council and the effective functioning of its mechanisms, in particular the newly established universal periodic review process designed to examine the human rights records of all UN member states.

“I believe that transparency and cooperation should be the hallmarks of the support provided by OHCHR to the Council,” she said, adding that she intended to continue the practice of holding “regular briefings with all delegations to share information on OHCHR’s work, vision and its strategies.”

The report also emphasized her support for an inclusive and successful Durban Review Conference, an anti-racism conference which begins on 20 April in Geneva.

It further underscored OHCHR leadership in enhancing a rights-based approach on issues such as climate change, the food, energy and financial crises, and migration. The report also highlighted the Office’s contribution to a debate about protecting freedom of expression and preventing incitement to racial and religious hatred, and OHCHR support for human rights treaty bodies and efforts to ensure follow-up to their recommendations.

The High Commissioner in her report outlined efforts in the field and activities related to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The year-long campaign under the theme “Dignity and Justice for All of Us” had been successful, she said, and that “not only did UN partners eagerly answer the call of the Secretary-General to participate in this campaign, but our advocacy resonated with a variety of constituencies all over the world.”

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 Council session, from 2 to 27 March, takes place in the new Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. More information is available on the webpage of the session, which is also webcast live.

March 2009