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CLOSING STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE 61ST SESSION, COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

GENEVA, 22 APRIL 2005


Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have finally come to the end of our six-week meeting, and from my perspective as Chair, I believe we have had a very good Session of the Commission. Looking back, we have seen substantive exchanges and genuine cooperation among delegations, positive give and take exchanges in negotiations, as well as the voicing of the concerns of delegates on the cost effectiveness of mandated activities.

We have successfully deliberated on all the issues on the agenda, including those that were difficult, and taken action on them. With satisfaction, I can happily say that the spirit to find consensus pervaded amongst us this year, and this has helped ensure the smooth resolution of sensitive or potentially divisive issues.

During my opening statement, I appealed to the various delegations to refrain from condemnatory debates. I am happy to note that the consultations and negotiations this year have generally been less rhetorical. On the whole, statements by the delegations have been enlightening and seem to be less driven by non-substantive considerations. Our common hard work during the Commission has resulted in the adoption of 85 Resolutions, 15 Decisions and four Chairperson’s Statements.

Also, I heartily note that the quality of our interactive dialogue on the special procedures has been strengthened, and I believe they will continue in the direction which many of us expected.

On top of all this, our Session this year has been exceptional in the fact that reform of the United Nations, including its human rights mechanisms forms the backdrop to many of our debates and discussions. This in turn led many delegations to latch on to this spirit of reform and consequently, among other things, drove us to hold an informal meeting during the Session to discuss it.

Excellencies,

Comments have been made on a decrease in professionalism and credibility of this forum in its present form, but I believe many, if not all of you, will concur with the view that the Commission has nevertheless, once again shown its value and the important role it plays in the field of human rights worldwide. Without prejudice to any proposal for change, this year’s Commission has shown that it can take steps to overcome its weaknesses, and at the least, move towards the kind of forum we would like it to be. As such, it has really been an honour to chair this year’s Session.

All the positive things about our Commission this year could only have been realized through the cooperative support of all of you. In this regard, I would like to convey my appreciation to all of you for making it possible and for bringing the Session to its fruitful and enlightened end. Allow me to convey my praise for the dedication shown by all the delegations in the work done for the Commission and our deep appreciation for the cooperation extended to the Bureau by all concerned.

I would like to pay tribute to the High Commission on Human Rights, Madam Louise Arbour – and to her Deputy, Madam Mehr Khan Williams – whose support, cooperation and counsel proved priceless, not only in the discharge of this Commission, but also in the field of promotion and protection of human rights generally.

I would like to thank all the Vice-Chairs and the Rapporteur, all the regional coordinators in the Expanded Bureau for all their cooperation, perseverance and understanding, as well as the coordinators of the other groupings (the OIC, EU and LMG, NAM, the Arab Group and other sub-regional and cross-regional groupings), for their work and dedication. I would also like to thank the Secretariat, and in particular, Maria Fransisca, Eric, Gennady, Ann, Laura, and many others who have shown their professionalism and worked hard in supporting me, the Bureau and the Commission.

I would also like to mention the important role of the civil society and national human rights institutions for furthering the work and goals of the Commission, whose cooperation I have truly come to cherish.

Last but not least, my appreciation also goes to the interpreters, the conference officers, security staff, protocol, translators, précis writers, UN librarians, technicians the team of interns, and all the others without whom this yearly Commission would not have been possible, much less a success.

To all of you, I would like to offer my apologies for any lapse and shortcomings during the six weeks we have been together. As they say: “the buck stops here”.

Before concluding, I would like to say that even with all the positive things I have said about this year’s Commission, in the end, the final judgement will be reflected in the implementation of our resolve and resolutions for the furtherance of human rights promotion and protection world wide.

Thank you.