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Human Rights Council Hears from 31 Dignitaries as it Continues its High-Level Segment

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22 February 2021

MIDDAY

22 February 2021

The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting continued its high-level segment, hearing addresses from 31 dignitaries.

Some speakers noted that the pandemic was not only a health and economic crisis, but also a crisis for human rights. Vaccines had to be available to all with no discrimination as it was a universal human right that had to be upheld. Multilateralism was the only way to address the myriad of emerging global challenges the world was experiencing in the more than 75 years of the existence of the United Nations. Some speakers elaborated their national efforts to promote and protect human rights, and to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other issues raised included freedom of speech and the media, and violence against women and girls. Some speakers pointed to human rights violations in a number of regions and countries.

The following speakers took the floor: Jeppe Kofod, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, Alexander Schallenberg, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of State and for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Téte António, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, Ivan Korčok, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Riad Al-Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, Anže Logar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Andrés Allamand, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Fayssal Mekdad, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, Tomáš Petříček, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jeyhun Bayramov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil and Damares Alves, Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights of Brazil, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Maria Ubach Font, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, Rodolfo Solano Quirós, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, Sam Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, Bujar Osmani, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, Louise Mushikiwabo, General Secretary of la Francophonie, Martha Delgado Peralta, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, Ann Christin Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Stef Blok, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Ara Alvazian, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Francisco Bustillo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Lolwah Rashid Al-Khater, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, and Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-sixth regular session can be found here.

The Council will next hold its annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming, with a focus on the state of play in the fight against racism and discrimination 20 years after the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action and the exacerbating effects the COVID-19 pandemic had had on these efforts.

High-Level Segment

JEPPE KOFOD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, noted that the global pandemic had highlighted the importance of human rights and the work of this Council, stating that membership must never be a shield against critique. Calls on Belarussian authorities to cease violence against protesters had gone unanswered, while in Russia the human rights situation was worsening as the authorities were not upholding the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Mr. Kofod strongly condemned the military coup in Myanmar, calling on the restoration of the civilian government, and noted that human rights continued to be violated in Hong Kong. Impartial and transparent investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Tigray in Ethiopia were encouraged. Denmark stood firm on girls’ and women’s rights.

DOMINIC RAAB, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said the United Kingdom focused on championing freedom of religion and belief, and defending media freedom and values of liberal democracy. Some Council members did not meet human rights standards and the Council’s agenda did not consistently reflect the most pressing human rights issues. They had to find ways to reduce the practical barriers to the full engagement of small island developing States. The United Kingdom would co-sponsor the resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and support initiatives to keep Belarus on the Council’s agenda. Members of the Council were asked to consider if Russia’s actions were in line with its international obligations. Daily reports were shining new light on China's systematic violations against the Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. The High Commissioner had to be given urgent and unfettered access to Xinjiang.

ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, noted that the pandemic was not only a health and economic crisis, but also a crisis for human rights. Austria welcomed the decision by the United States to re-engage with the Council. Austria was proud of its contribution to human rights advancement within the Council through the presidency of Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger in 2020. The Council was an indispensable platform to openly address urgent and challenging issues – such as the situation in Belarus, racism and police brutality, the situation in Hong Kong or the attack against Alexei Navalny. The COVID-19 pandemic had fast become an infodemic with misinformation spreading faster than the virus. Free media was under attack and in 2020 despite the global lockdown, more than 40 journalists and media staff had been killed.

HISHAMMUDDIN TUN HUSSEIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, said that COVID-19 was pushing all countries to the limits, across all sectors of economy and development. In addressing the impact of the pandemic, it was important to keep in mind that the vulnerable and marginalized were always the hardest hit. While Malaysia was to start its national vaccination rollout by the end of the month, there was a fear that the sweep of nationalism that had occurred last year would impact the vaccine rollout. Vaccines had to be available to all with no discrimination. Vaccination was a universal human right that had to be upheld. The Government had launched five stimulus packages thus far in Malaysia. Awareness raising campaigns had been intensified against domestic violence and counselling services had been provided. All measures were part of the whole of the society approach. Malaysia was a candidate for the Council in its term 2022-2024.

AUGUSTO SANTOS SILVA, Minister of State and for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said that the pandemic had highlighted the need for multilateralism. Portugal, as President of the Council of the European Union, would organise a high-level conference to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention. Portugal would also organise a high-level conference on how to improve protection from racial discrimination and related intolerance. The impact of COVID-19 was alarming on the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. Portugal would once again table a resolution on the question of the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights in every country. Portugal supported the Global Platform in Higher Education in Emergencies and its Rapid Response Mechanism - the initiative developed by the former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio - and invited all States to support it.

TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, said that the ambition to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals had been jeopardized, but it was the right time to reflect about collective obligations to strengthen the resilience of societies and leave no one behind. The pandemic required global solidarity and multilateral cooperation, particularly with the new threat of this disease and its variants. Angola reiterated the importance and the need for safe, equitable and universal access to medicines and vaccines against COVID-19. As the COVID-19 pandemic required every attention, many plans had been postponed, but Angola was working on its National Development Plan. Angola took note of the ongoing project of the High Commissioner on Guidelines for Asset Recovery, as a basis for the African Group's initiative on the negative impact of non-repatriation of assets.

IVAN KORČOK, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, quoted former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who had said that “there is no peace without development and there is no development without peace”. Still, the world could not pursue either of them without human rights and the rule of law. Human rights were the backbone of security and development. COVID-19 could not serve as a pretext for grave violations of peoples' dignity and rights, irreversible and undemocratic changes or even conflicts. Slovakia was an active member of the Media Freedom Coalition and was making every effort to protect freedom of speech, especially today, amid the COVID-19 crisis, when access to regular, objective and reliable information was more important than ever before. Slovakia also actively supported religious freedom in the Council, the General Assembly, and as a member of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance.

RIAD AL-MALKi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the repeated calls by United Nations agencies and the Secretary-General to strengthen international cooperation and give primacy to humanitarian principles, Israel was taking advantage of the pandemic to strengthen its occupation. It was not carrying out its responsibilities as an occupying power. Israel was preventing COVID-19 vaccines from reaching the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel was continuing to build illegal settlements, force Palestinians from their land, make Jerusalem more Jewish and desecrate holy places, arbitrarily detain children, and attack Bedouin areas, and there was a lack of access to essential rights like the right to health and education. Despite all of this, countries were calling for item 7 to be removed from the agenda. The seventh item on the Council's agenda was a vital mechanism that provided a form of protection for the Palestinian people. Countries calling for the removal of item 7 were allowing Israel to continue with its crimes and be above the law.

ANZE LOGAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, noted that deepening pre-existing inequalities was one of the greatest tragedies of the COVID-19 crisis. Slovenia was concerned about the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable people, and wanted to look at the opportunities that building back during the recovery might present for them. The link between human rights and the environment should become one of the common goals. Slovenia called for the right to a healthy environment to be included in national legislation by all members. The impact of new technologies on human rights, including the impact of artificial intelligence, was one that Slovenia was engaging with closely. Slovenia also regretted the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Russia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.

ANDRES ALLAMAND, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had increased inequality, unemployment, and violence against women, and stated that measures to tackle the pandemic could in no way compromise measures to safeguard human rights. Chile had acted swiftly to safeguard life and health from the outset of the pandemic, and was currently working on a mass vaccination programme for its people. In October 2019, Chile had faced a social protest with mass demonstrations, resulting in a serious political crisis, but had returned to normality thanks to the proper functioning of the democratic process, which had led to a new constitution and other democratic reforMs. Chile was now ready to move towards a more united society with a more inclusive economy.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic, noted that since its creation, the Council had established a delicate balance to enable the Council to discuss human rights situations in all countries through a dialogue that respected the specificity and cultural and civilizational diversities of the world, through technical assistance. He regretted that 15 years after its establishment, Western Governments continued to use the Council and its mechanisms to deal with human rights issues with double standards and selectivity. Certain States were accused of violating human rights and this pretext was used to interfere in their internal affairs. The clearest example was Syria’s treatment over the past 10 years and how country specific resolutions were exploited to create politicized mechanisMs. Food insecurity was still being used to exploit the suffering of Syrians, aimed at exerting political pressure on the Syrian Government. Syria condemned Turkish, Israeli and American occupation policies which had led to the creation of terrorist groups in Syria, and called for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process to resolve this conflict.

TOMAS PETRICEK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, regretted the impact on health of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also drew attention to the number of governments that had unfortunately used the pandemic for their own agendas to curb democratic freedoms across the world. The pandemic had underlined fundamental freedoms, like freedom of information and freedom of the media. However, there had been a surge in arrests of independent journalists, human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists. The Human Rights Council should lead by example, and the Czech Republic supported a strong multilateral human rights system. The human rights violations in Venezuela were regrettable, and the recent presidential elections were illegitimate. The Czech Republic called for the freeing of imprisoned opposition members. The Czech Republic also condemned human rights violations in Belarus, Russia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, and called for a return to democratic norms there.

JEYHUN BAYRAMOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, noted Azerbaijan’s efforts to combat COVID-19 within its borders, and declared that it had donated $5 million to the World Health Organization as part of its international aid programme. Azerbaijan called on the international community to halt the pandemic, and in particular regretted the uneven distribution of access to vaccines across the world, calling for equal and timely access to vaccines by all countries. This year, Azerbaijan had liberated part of its territory after 30 years of Armenian occupation. Azerbaijan deplored the destruction, pillage and looting of historic sites, as well as the illegal exploitation of natural resources by Armenia. The perpetrators of acts of ill treatment by Armenian troops of Azerbaijani prisoners would be brought to justice.

INE ERIKSEN SøREIDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, noted that since the Council last met, the COVID-19 health crisis had become a human rights crisis, as some governments had used the pandemic as an excuse to concentrate their power. Norway regretted that press freedoms had deteriorated, and violence and harmful practices against women and children had increased, with school closures, lockdowns and the increase in domestic abuse impacting them the hardest. COVID-19 measures should be part of a joint global effort of multilateral cooperation. However, it was a concern that by some measures, 54 per cent of the world’s population now lived in autocracies, and Norway was deeply concerned about the backsliding of democracies around the world.

ERNESTO HENRIQUE FRAGA ARAUJO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, regretted the measures taken by some countries to repress human rights and freedoms, under the pretext of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Brazil noted the development of digital technologies, but criticised techno-totalitarianism, which criminalised online activities, and increased algorithmic control and censorship in some countries. Brazil called on members to ensure that technological innovations increased human rights and democracy, rather than be used for coercive control.

DAMARES ALVES, Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights of Brazil, noted the Government’s measures to provide COVID-19 relief, including delivering food to indigenous populations, environmental protection, defending women’s rights, and protecting the elderly, by providing housing for them, as well as addressing criminal behaviour that targeted them specifically.

MEVLÜT ÇAVUŞOĞLU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, called for a renewed commitment to multilateralism and a human rights-based approach in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkey was providing free treatment and vaccination for COVID-19 for all, including migrants and refugees, and last year it had adopted a judicial reform strategy and three legislative amendment packages. Xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and hate speech remained on the rise, fuelled by the pandemic. Turkey provided the only corridor for United Nations cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria, and even this corridor was under attack, as pushbacks by the European Union and Frontex were deeply concerning. Mr. Çavuşoğlu also outlined Turkey’s support for Ukrainian territorial integrity and peace in the South Caucasus, and concern over the situations in Gaza, Libya, Xinjiang, Jammu and Kashmir, and Myanmar.

MARIA UBACH FONT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, stated that the COVID-19 crisis had exacerbated the existing inequalities in all societies. Andorra had been a land of immigrants since the second half of the twentieth century, leaning on its education system with positive results that created strong social cohesion. Access to education was thus a priority for Andorra when designing pandemic response measures, and it actively promoted the education of women and girls in development cooperation with the Council of Europe. Civil society must be engaged in the fight against discrimination. The pandemic had intensified certain discriminations, in particular violence within the family and violence against women. In order to respond to this urgent situation, Andorra had increased aid to victims, and it had diversified social aid and other measures designed to assist victims.

RODOLFO SOLANO QUIRÓS, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, stated that the Council served as a vital space to champion global responses to the COVID-19 crisis, without leaving anyone behind, ensuring full buy-in for the Sustainable Development Goals as well as wide access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. Mr. Quirós highlighted three areas of particular interest for the work of this Council. First, the commitment to the environment and fighting potential existential threats to the climate. Second, the right to the highest possible level of health. Costa Rica actively promoted fair access to healthcare around the world, and acceded to the COVAX mechanism. Thirdly, nobody must be left behind. Mr. Quirós was convinced that global efforts to dismantle structural barriers would require inclusive, honest and self-critical dialogue. Costa Rica reiterated its commitment to the global human rights system.

SAM KUTESA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, highlighted that COVID-19 had negatively impacted not only the work of this Council, but also the lives of many, especially those most vulnerable, and as such Uganda was joining the call for the equitable distribution of the vaccines. Despite the pandemic, Uganda held successful general elections during January and February 2021, while the Government standardised its response to COVID-19. Regrettably, lives were lost during the riots associated with the arrest of a presidential candidate who defied COVID-19 guidelines and organised mass rallies. Law enforcement agencies had been forced to take action due to the pre-meditated and violent nature of these riots. Unfortunately, some political leaders who lost the elections continued to make inflammatory statements in public, forcing the Government to temporarily suspend Internet service.

BUJAR OSMANI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, highlighted the serious health and economic consequences of COVID-19 in the Republic of Macedonia and the measures it had adopted to mitigate them. Despite the pandemic, the July 2020 elections had been assessed as fair and democratic by the international community. Corruption remained a serious challenge which the country was tackling by drafting a national strategy. The Republic of North Macedonia remained an active participant at the international level, cooperating with international organizations and putting forward its candidacy for membership of the Human Rights Council during the 2025-2027 period. Mr. Osmani reaffirmed that multilateralism was a basic driver for the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, General Secretary of la Francophonie, noted that La Francophonie had celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year and remained strongly committed to the promotion of human rights and the Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons. The work of the Human Rights Council was essential in maintaining the progress made in the past decades. The rights of women were of particular importance for la Francophonie, as it aided its States to improve birth registration and systematise civil status certificates to facilitate individuals’ access to their human rights. In the context of the pandemic, Ms. Mushikiwabo called on States to redouble their efforts to protect their citizens’ human rights and liberties, and pay particular attention to the increasing erosion of multilateralism.

MARTHA DELGADO PERALTA, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, noted that the pandemic had thrown up many challenges to all countries, which was why multilateralism was the perfect way of countering shared problems. Access to health must be afforded without any discrimination and there must not be any monopolistic practices and speculative activity in relation to the COVID-19 response. Discrimination was deeply rooted in the patriarchal system, which was why Mexico was the first country in the Global South to adopt a feminist foreign policy approach. Despite the difficulties related to the pandemic, Mexico had submitted three reports to the United Nations treaty bodies and was actively in dialogue with the Special Procedures. Human rights defenders at the frontlines must be protected, and Mexico would continue to promote measures that contributed to the prevention of human rights violations.

WANG YI, State Councillor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, noted that the Coronavirus was the common enemy of all countries, and cooperation was the only option. All aspects of human rights must be advanced systematically, including economic rights to subsistence and development. Human rights were not a monopoly and should not be used for political goals to meddle in internal affairs. The Minister said that no genocide, forced labour or religious oppression took place in Xinjiang. 2021 was an important year for China, as it would celebrate one hundred years of the Chinese Communist Party. The success of poverty eradication in China was not just about achieving higher incomes, but also about ensuring education, health care and housing rights. The global distribution of vaccines must be fair and affordable to developing countries, which was why China was providing free vaccines to countries in need.

ANN CHRISTIN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, focused on democracy, women’s rights and funding for multilateral cooperation. Democratic space was shrinking, journalists and media workers were being harassed around the world, while workers and trade unions were silenced, arbitrarily arrested and even killed. Free and independent media must be strengthened, and democratic backsliding aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic must stop. Gender equality served all - men and women, girls and boys - benefitting society as a whole. Ms. Linde welcomed that more and more countries were adopting Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. The fight against racism must be undertaken by all, not just victims. International cooperation was more important and more needed than ever before, and Sweden urged all States to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Sweden was proud to be the largest donor of voluntary funding for the Office.

STEF BLOK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, noted that 10 years had passed since the Syrian war broke out and since this Council’s adoption of resolution 1618. The fearlessness and courage of those who had witnessed atrocities and were willing to calmly share their experiences with the Council despite intimidation and death threats was humbling. Specific actions must be taken by Member States and the international community to respect human rights, reach out to these brave individuals, and respond to human rights violations by fighting impunity. In order to end impunity, the Netherlands was holding Syria to account and pushing hard for a European Union human rights sanction regime. Freedom of religion must be upheld and promoted, which was why the Netherlands had contributed $ 2.2 million to the Office of the High Commissioner to support the work of the Special Rapporteur.

ARA ALVAZIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said it was encouraging that the Council’s biennial resolution on the prevention of genocide, which Armenia had had the honour to initiate, enjoyed wide cross-regional support and was adopted by consensus. Armenia was also among the first States to unconditionally support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan not only neglected the call, but exploited and weaponized the global pandemic to launch a full-scale military aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The United Nations’ absence from Nagorno Karabakh had been one of the aggravating factors of the lack of international protection. Mr. Alvazian called for the immediate return of the prisoners of war and civilians, including women. He also called on the Council to hear the plea for justice and peace for the people of Artsakh.

ABDULLA SHAHID, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, welcomed the united global effort in the rollout of the vaccines to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted that the values of basic rights and freedoms in the United Nations Charter must remain at the heart of building back efforts. Maldives had witnessed a revival in its respect for human rights since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had assumed office in 2018. Numerous milestones had been accomplished, such as the ratifications of the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the third optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as completing the third cycle review at the Universal Periodic Review, over the last two years. The climate emergency remained an acute threat to small island developing States such as Maldives, infringing on a wide range of human rights.

EVA-MARIA LIIMETS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, welcomed the decision of the United States to re-engage with the Human Rights Council. Violence committed by States against human rights defenders was unacceptable, and there was mounting evidence that systematic and State-led strategies were used to silence defenders, especially those who cooperated with the Council. Estonia, which had been vocal in advocating for a free and secure Internet, would host a global conference on media freedom in Tallinn this year, and continued to fight all forms of sexual and gender based violence offline and online. Ms. Liimets expressed deep concern over recent events in Belarus and Russia, with violence carried out on a mass scale by the State in the former, and harsh tactics used against peaceful protesters and journalists in many cities of the latter during the demonstrations in the aftermath of the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

FRANCISCO BUSTILLO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, expressed grave concern over the increasing threats to the health and life of the global population by the COVID-19 pandemic. Science, properly functioning multilateral institutions and international cooperation must work together to successfully face this emergency. Uruguay had fulfilled its voluntary promises and commitments made when presenting its candidacy to the Council and reaffirmed its will to collaborate further. Uruguay had carried out three cycles of the Universal Periodic Review and accepted all recommendations, perfecting its national mechanisms in the process. Respect of human rights was part of Uruguayan identity, and it would continue walking the path of multilateralism. Uruguay had been the first country to ratify the International Labour Organization Violence and Harassment Convention last year.

LOLWAH AL-KHATER, Assistant Foreign Minister State of Qatar, said Qatar was pursuing its efforts to promote human rights through the progressive implementation of the national vision Qatar 2030 and all relevant strategies. She noted the country’s first ranking in the Middle East and North African region in the global index for 2020. Qatar also had the highest participation of women in the labour force. Ms. Al-Khater welcomed the recent agreement of the forty-first Gulf Summit in Saudi Arabia, which had resolved the Gulf crisis which had persisted for three years, and praised the peaceful outcome which that constructive dialogue had brought. Conflicts persisted throughout the Arab region and Qatar called for an end to the blockade of the Palestinian people and for the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to them. Qatar called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria on the basis of Security Council resolution 2254, and called for an end to the conflicts in Libya and Yemen.

ALVIN BOTES, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, reiterated that multilateralism was the only way to address the myriad of emerging global challenges that the world was experiencing in the more than 75 years of the existence of the United Nations. The world needed a strong and efficient Council that could contribute with solutions and guarantees promoting and protecting all rights for all people. Ms. Pandor looked forward to marking the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 2023 and welcomed the convening of the High-level Meeting to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. It was disheartening to observe that racism and racial discrimination were on the rise in some regions of the world, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/02/midday-human-rights-council-hears-31-dignitaries-it-continues

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