I am honoured to have been invited to this gathering and given the opportunity to have this exchange with you for the first time in my capacity as President of the Human Rights Council.
Civil society plays a crucial role in the work of Human Rights Council, making the Council unique among United Nations intergovernmental organs. It is thus essential that space for the active participation and contribution of civil society be maintained not only within Room Twenty but in all aspects of the Council’s work.
The Council should always be a safe space for human rights defenders. I am aware of the challenges I may face in ensuring a safe space for the inclusive participation of civil society in the work of the Council, but let me assure you of my commitment to make every effort to do so throughout my tenure as President. In this regard, I count on your support in bringing to my attention any situation of intimidation and reprisals against those who have engaged or seek to engage with the Council.
Moreover, I will always be ready to hear from you of your concerns and of the challenges that you may face in ensuring that the Council has a greater impact on the ground.
I wish take this opportunity to briefly update you now on how I intend to contribute to the strengthening of the Human Rights Council.
Concerning the efficiency of the Human Rights Council, I am continuing the important efforts of my predecessors with regards to enhancing the efficiency of the Council. Moreover, I intend to take all necessary actions to implement the Presidential Statement that was adopted on 3 December 2018, in order to make the work of the Council more manageable, transparent, sustainable and results-oriented.
I also intend to enhance the Council’s cooperation with regional organizations. I will pursue this through building and strengthening partnerships with regional organizations and increasing outreach to the regions. Establishing links and boosting cooperation with relevant organizations in different regions will also take priority in my Presidency.
Increasing the visibility of the Council is also a greatly important issue for me. In this regard, I intend to take steps to build greater awareness of and trust in the Council’s work, especially among the general public, and to make the Council’s work more visible on the ground. This I will do through regular interaction with the media.
Additionally, I will work to carry on my predecessors’ efforts to strengthen cooperation and communication between the Human Rights Council and the UN bodies in NY. In order to contribute to reducing the gap between New York and Geneva, I will continue the practice of making regular visits to UN Headquarters in New York and inviting relevant representatives from UN institutions in New York.
With regards to the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council, we are currently preparing for the Council’s 40th session, which will take place from the 25th of February to the 22nd of March.
I wish to provide you with a brief overview of what is on the programme of this session:
The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General have confirmed their participation in the opening of the session.
Moreover, we are expecting the participation of several dignitaries in the high-level segment, including Heads of State and Government and Foreign ministers.
The High Commissioner will present her annual report and will engage in interactive dialogue with the Council during the second week.
And throughout the session, the Council will hold several interactive dialogues with special procedure mandate holders.
The Council will also hold sixpanels discussions during this session, those being:
The annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming;
The high-level panel discussion on the Death Penalty;
Two discussions during the annual full-day meeting dedicated to the rights of the Child;
The annual interactive debate on the rights of Persons with disabilities; and
The debate on Countering Nationalist populism and
Thank you very much for your presence here this evening.
I very much look forward to your constructive participation in the 40th session and to working with you throughout the year.