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Second seminar pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 38/18, “the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations”

Video Statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

8 October 2019

I cannot be present today for your meeting, but I assure you that I will be following with great interest the outcome of your discussions.

The prevention of human rights violations and abuses is vital. It is a keystone of the work of my Office, as it is for the Human Rights Council.

The mandate given to Ambassador Stevens, Mr. de Greiff and Mr. Muiznieks is a great opportunity to assess the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations. I understand that the first seminar organized in April triggered productive discussions which enabled colleagues to take stock of the preventive work being carried out by the Council and its mechanisms, and to identify future possibilities to strengthen the impact of this work.

To achieve impact for all, we need to ensure that the entire UN system speaks and acts as one–- throughout the Peace and Security Pillar, the Development Pillar, and including the Secretariat bodies, every specialized agency and all the UN Country Teams.

Resolution 38/18 gives Ambassador Stevens, Mr. de Greiff and Mr. Muiznieks a mandate to look at “how the Human Rights Council can work effectively with all pillars of the United Nations system (…) with a view to strengthening system-wide coherence and contributing to sustaining peace and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals."

People often speak of the three "pillars" of the United Nations. It is a good, sturdy image, emphasizing the equal importance of peace and security; development; and human rights.

But this image fails to express the interconnections between each of these so-called pillars. In reality, they build on each other and are closely intertwined.

Support for human rights helps to diminish grievances and, by addressing the root causes of conflict, generates greater security and peace. Upholding human rights, including the right to participate in decisions, also drives more inclusive, more sustainable development. And in turn, sustainable and inclusive development is a fundamental protective shield against the outbreak of conflict, crisis and human rights violations.

We cannot allow our responses to the world's many and interconnected challenges, to harden into silos and become barriers to effective work. It is by harnessing our different skills into a collective and coordinated force that we can generate the greatest action towards shared goals.

To prevent human rights violations – and protect people from enduring their escalation into human rights crises – we need to ensure that human rights goals, and support for economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, as well as the right to development, is at the core of all the UN's work.

For example, the UPR's scrutiny of the human rights record of every State; the inquiries led by Special Procedures and the Council fact-finding missions – like the work of the Treaty Bodies, and my Office – contribute to detecting and uncovering human rights issues that need to be addressed in the short and medium term. These challenges can also undermine long-term peace and development.  UN teams and departments focusing on these issues could also benefit from the recommendations formulated by these entities.

This seminar is also an opportunity to consider how the 2030 Agenda can contribute in a very practical and concrete sense to the prevention of human rights violations – and also, how the Council and its mechanisms can better communicate and connect their prevention work with all other actors in the UN particularly those on the ground.

I am pleased to note that representatives of regional organizations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations will be present today. We need these broader perspectives, as well as grounding in the real experience of work on the ground, to achieve the greatest possible impact.

I wish you a productive session.