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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Meeting with the Conseil d'Etat de Genève

31 January 2019

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

30 January 2019

Monsieur le Président du Conseil d’d'Etat,
Mesdames et Messieurs les Conseillers d’Etat,
Monsieur le Maire de la Ville de Genève,

C'est un honneur d’être avec vous aujourd’hui. Le Conseil d’Etat de Genève est un partenaire important du Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme et je suis ravie de pouvoir échanger avec vous.

Je vais maintenant continuer en anglais si vous me le permettez.

I want to thank you, to thank the people of Geneva and to thank Switzerland, for your hospitality, and your action in favour of human rights.

Geneva has long been known as the capital of human rights: a city that works for peace, for humanity, for law and for principle.

Your commitment to human dignity and humanitarian principles has a long history. Humanitarian law began here, and indeed, this year we mark the ninetieth anniversary of the 1929 Geneva Convention, as well as the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Conventions.  We greatly appreciated your engagement in the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last year.

Today, the Palais Wilson is home to my Office and Geneva hosts the Human Rights Council – the world's primary inter-governmental institution for human rights.

I thank you for this demonstration of your commitment to the values of multilateralism, and the principles of human rights.

In the course of my mandate, I know I will confront many difficult situations. Yet, I am committed to speaking and acting on behalf of all women, men and children around the world whose rights are violated, and who suffer discrimination, exploitation or tyranny.

I know that in this struggle I can count on you, and I thank you for that support.

In recent years my Office has faced numerous challenges, including budgetary challenges. Our resources are scant and our mandate is vast. But through these challenges, we have become a lean and powerful force for rights.

Allow me to share with you some of our priorities. Our programme of work this year focuses on pushing forward in key areas. Across every region, we will aim to strengthen rule of law and accountability; to protect and expand the civic space for greater participation; to counter discrimination of all kinds; to integrate human rights more strongly in development policies and programmes; to support early warning and prevention, and protect rights in situations of conflict and insecurity; and to increase implementation of recommendations by all the UN human rights mechanisms.

In addition, we will upgrade our efforts on key emerging issues such as inequality; climate change; human rights in the digital landscape; corruption; and migration.

We will also deepen our coordination and focus on women, young people, and people with disabilities, as part of our efforts to assist States to implement the 2030 Agenda and fulfil their commitment to leave no-one behind.

Prevention, expansion of the civic space, and creation of a broader global constituency for human rights will be at the core of all our work, with a particular emphasis on our work in the field.  

Indeed, prevention is the essence of human rights work. Action to uphold human rights and a sound, impartial rule of law prevents grievances, conflicts, inequalities, and suffering and discrimination of all kinds.

By assisting all States in upholding human rights, we help to further solution to challenges that range from climate change to infectious disease; artificial intelligence and the future of industries; urbanism, and the rights of peasants and people in rural areas. 

Your assistance in all these areas will be greatly appreciated. I welcome greater collaboration with the experts of the Conseil d'Etat and the City of Geneva to implement this ambitious programme.
Mesdames et Messieurs

The motto of Geneva is “Post Tenebras Lux”: after darkness, light.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emerged from a time of great darkness.

I look forward to working with you to create greater light, greater respect for human rights, greater peace and more sustainable and inclusive development across the world.

Merci, Monsieur le Président.