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Opening statement by H.E Mr Baudelaire NDONG ELLA, President of the Human Rights Council by Seventh Budapest Human Rights Forum

Budapest, 20-21 November 2014

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed for me a great honour and privilege, to address this seventh Budapest Human Rights Forum, in my capacity as President of the Human Rights Council, this august UN body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of the human rights and addressing situations of human rights violations around the world.

At the outset, let me express my sincere appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Péter SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, for providing us with an excellent occasion and space for open discussions on important human rights issues and new challenges.

During this two-day forum, you will be addressing various issues, which are at the top of the Human Rights Council’s agenda related to the
role and action of the international community to save human lives in case of wars, internal armed conflict terrorist attacks and forced disappearance;
The importance of the protection of and respect for the human rights of minorities, in the current crises taking place in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East; human rights concerns related to the protection of privacy and personal data, social media and cyber security and the mainstreaming of Human rights in the post-2015 development agenda.

All these thematic issues and concerns are the object of a special attention by the Human Rights Council. For instance, this year, the Council organized 22 panels on the important thematic issues such as: the promotion of preventive approaches in the UN system; the safety of journalists; the rights of persons with disabilities; the use of drones in the military or anti-terrorist operation; the right to privacy in the digital age; but also on the situation of human rights in Ukraine and South Sudan.

As you are all aware, the Council remains extremely active and responsive to the evolving need to address all human rights issues, chronic human rights situations and emerging issues.

This year, the Council held three special sessions, on the Central African Republic, on the situation in the Palestinian Occupied Territory and on Iraq in the context of the massive violations committed by ISIL.

The international community is facing today a new form of threat to security, which poses a serious challenge to the human rights situation of many people living in those regions particularly national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities groups. And the Council is ready to prevent this new regional and international security threat caused by armed and terrorist groups or non-state actors, such as Boko Haram and ISIL through its existing mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review, special procedures mandate-holders and more importantly technical assistance and capacity-bulding.  

The existing mechanisms of the Council could serve as early warning mechanisms, to prevent in advance risks of gross violations of human rights that may lead to crises and conflicts, which in most cases affect the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms such as freedoms of opinion and expression.

I believe by exploring and analysing carefully and periodically the tendencies observed during country visits and the reports produced by the special procedures could help to detect and identify at an early stage risks of potential crises or conflicts. In this regard, I invite you all to further explore this approach and other initiatives such as the Secretary-General Initiative’s called “Rights Up Front” during your two days discussions at the forum.

I would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate Hungary for its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights as well as for its engagement in the work of the Human Rights Council, by promoting in the agenda of the Council the advancement of thematic issues related to reconciliation, accountability, freedom of opinion and minority issues, freedom of religion or belief, right to privacy in the digital age, the protection of the human rights defenders and to education of persons with disabilities to pointed out  just a  few of them.

I would like also to outline Hungary’s leadership in preventing the intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups who have cooperated with the United Nations and mechanisms in the field of human rights. In this connection, I would like to reiterate the Council’s and President responsibility to address all cases of intimidation or reprisals and to ensure an unhindered access to all who seek to cooperate with the UN mechanisms.

Furthermore, the Council counts with specific settings during its regular sessions, such as panels and annual discussions, which serve to shed light on concrete aspects that deserves special attention by the international community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of freedom of religion or belief is also at the top of the agenda of the Council. It has adopted several resolutions stressing that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and that States have the primary responsibility for promoting and protecting this fundamental right. In addition, the promotion of religious tolerance, the respect for diversity and the protection of the right of religious minorities’ members are essential in view of creating an environment conducive to the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief.

Last but not least, let me briefly touch on the last issue that will be the object of your discussions: the theme of human rights and freedom of opinion and expression.

As enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the effective exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is essential for the enjoyment of other human rights and freedoms, and constitutes a fundamental pillar for building a democratic society and strengthening democracy. In this regard, it is important to stress the need of better cooperation and coordination at the international level to ensure freedom of speech or all, as it is a real social need.

Regarding the process of the preparation of the Post-2015 Development Goals, I convey the strong commitment of the Council, through a number of resolutions, to see human rights being substantively integrated in those new goals.

To conclude, let me stress the importance of bearing in mind the interrelation of the three core pillars of the UN system: human rights, development and peace and security. This interrelation principle must be a guiding one for the international community.

I wish you very fruitful and enriching discussions and sincerely hope these two-day discussions will bring new ideas and perspectives to be translated into concrete measures at national and international levels.

I thank you for your attention.