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Human Rights Council opens its annual main session

The Human Rights Council this week opens its tenth regular session which meets from 2 to 27 March in Geneva. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will present her first annual report to the Council and engage in an interactive dialogue with representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions.

The Human Rights Council’s 10th regular session takes place in the new Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva - UN Photo/Pierre Virot““It cannot be overemphasized that it is the duty of states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and all fundamental freedoms and eradicate inequality and discrimination,” said the High Commissioner in her opening address.

She took the opportunity to underscore the importance for governments and all other players to actively participate in the Durban Review Conference, an anti-racism conference which begins on 20 April in Geneva.

“A persuasive outcome of the review conference and beyond hinges upon the genuine commitment of all states to seek consensus,” Pillay said, adding that “a failure to do so may reverberate negatively on the full spectrum of human rights work and mechanisms for years to come.”

When opening the annual main session of the intergovernmental human rights body, Council President Martin Uhomoibhi noted that the Council had accomplished “tasks of great significance” so far and urged countries to “raise the bar and set high targets”.

“Times have changed, so must our responses to all forms of rights violations. In this new era, we must work together, combining our strengths for the effective realization of human rights”, he said.

The 10th regular session of the Human Rights Council opens with a three-day long “high level segment”, where over 70 vice presidents and ministers from across the globe address the Council on their countries’ efforts to promote and protect human rights.

Representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions will then engage in an interactive dialogue with Navi Pillay after she presents her first annual report as High Commissioner to the Council.

The Council will also consider reports of independent experts on a wide range of human rights subjects. There will be panel discussions and debates on thematic issues such as the right to food, the rights of the child and the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Council session 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