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Statement by President-elect of Human Rights Council Amb. Choi Kyong-lim (Republic of Korea) to the Organisational Meeting of the Human Rights Council

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7 December 2015

7 December 2015

Mr. President, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

First of all I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the members of the Human Rights Council for electing me as president for the year 2016.  I would also like to thank the Asia-Pacific Group for endorsing my candidature.  It is indeed a great honor and privilege to assume the presidency of this august body.

Before moving forward, I wish to pay tribute to the current president, Ambassador Joachim Ruecker for his exemplary leadership.  The efforts carried out by him and his predecessors have been instrumental in developing this Council into the true guardian of human rights.

The Presidency of the Human Rights Council is a distinct honor, not only for me but for my country as well.  The Republic of Korea is unique in that it has transformed itself, in living memory, from one of the poorest countries in the world, with little democratic tradition, into a prosperous and full-fledged democracy.  We take pride in our achievement, but remain conscious of the difficulties that we had to overcome.

Extended tension and frequent conflicts between different values define the evolution of Korea’s democracy.  Always at the center stage was human rights.  Human rights victories required consistent, determined and dedicated commitment.  We are bringing that lesson to our Presidency of the Human Rights Council.

Tenth Anniversary of the HRC

Next year marks the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council.  In its first ten years, the Council accomplished a lot.  It has established the framework of standards and mechanisms to promote and protect human rights.  Now is the time to put it into real effect.  The Council should be more implementation-focused in its second decade.

Doing so requires an enhanced level of efficiency in the working methods of the Council.  In order to make real impact on the ground, we also need to raise effectiveness in discharging the mandate of the Council.

In this regard, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for the tireless efforts that Ambassador Ruecker and members of the current Bureau have made this year.  For my part, I stand committed to maintaining the momentum and doing my utmost to build on the achievements so far.

UPR

Next year represents an important milestone for the Council in other aspects as well. The second cycle of the UPR is scheduled to end in 2016.  Ahead of the third cycle, the Council needs to put a new layer of shine on its crown jewel.

The UPR has proven its fundamental value by engaging all UN Members in the human rights review process.  However, there is room for us to render the mechanism more efficient and effective in its work and impact.  Let us make a collective effort to this end.

ICCPR and ICESCR

The year 2016 also marks the Golden Jubilee of the adoption of the two core pillars of the International Human Rights Treaties, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  We should work with a renewed recognition of the historical significance of these two cornerstones of human rights.  Let us build a Council that pursues the realization of all human rights with equal commitment and dedication to those Covenants.

Engagement and Inclusiveness

Needless to say, all these works have to be done with the spirit of engagement and inclusiveness.  Human rights fail when confrontation prevails. What we have achieved was built on a commitment to dialogue and willingness to understand.  We must uphold this honorable tradition.  We should also remain inclusive.  Let us continue to work to ensure space for the stakeholders so that they can give a balance of perspectives that is so critical to our work.   

Challenges Ahead

Challenges ahead of us are many.  We have to make focused efforts to mainstream human rights in the global endeavor to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Issues of immediate concern like terrorism, climate change and migration bring with them a host of new and complex human rights considerations that cannot be overlooked.

Meeting these challenges will require hard work.  I am ready to work hard.  But I will need your support and assistance.  I will also count on the continued support of the High Commissioner Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the Director General of UNOG Mr. Michael Moller and their offices.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

Once again, I am grateful for the confidence and trust that you have placed in me. I look forward to working with you all.

Thank you.

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