Before proceeding, I wish to refer to a matter relating to the operation of the Council. As you likely have heard by now, the United States of America announced last night at 11:00 pm Geneva time their decision to withdraw their membership from the Human Rights Council.
Once I receive the necessary formal notification to this effect, I will ask the Secretariat to rearrange the room accordingly.
As I stated yesterday, in a press statement, while I recognize it is the prerogative of any member State to take such a decision, in times when the value and strength of multilateralism and human rights are being challenged on a daily basis, it is essential that we uphold a strong and vibrant Council recognizing it as a central part of the United Nations for the 21st century.
I am proud to lead a Council which, over the past 12 years, has tackled numerous human rights situations and issues keeping them in sharp focus. In many cases, the Council serves as an early warning system by sounding the alarm bells ahead of impending or worsening crises. Its actions lead to meaningful results for the countless human rights victims worldwide, those the Council serves.
We should never lose sight of the fact that the Human Rights Council is the only intergovernmental body responding to human rights issues and situations worldwide, with the active participation of civil society.
Let me say it very clearly, as mentioned in a press statement, if human rights issues are not discussed here, in this very room, they have little chance to be dealt with meaningfully anywhere else. The Council provides a unique setting to hear a wide range of views, including those which other organizations are unable or unwilling to discuss.
Evidence of the significant role that the Council plays is on display at this current session, where dozens of independent human rights experts and investigative bodies, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other participants, will appraise the international community about numerous human rights issues and situations throughout the world.
Concerning our next steps, as soon as the notification of withdrawal is formally received, action will be taken accordingly. As per the filling of the vacant seat, this will be acted upon in accordance with the UN practices bearing in mind the provisions of General Assembly resolution 60/251. A new member will have to be elected as soon as possible to replace the United States for the remainder of its term.
I intend to be in touch with the President of the General Assembly and will inform you accordingly.