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Statement by Václav Bálek, President of the Human Rights Council, Opening of the twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee


20 February 2023


Monday, 20 February 2023, 11 a.m.
Palais des Nations, Salle XX

Distinguished Members of the Advisory Committee,
Excellencies, Dear participants,

Welcome everyone. It is with great pleasure that I address you today.

First of all, let me congratulate the new members as well as the re-elected members of the Committee. I trust that you will make valuable contributions to the Advisory Committee’s work.

Distinguished Members, Dear participants,

As is customary, my role is to provide you with an overview of the Council’s work since you last met in August.

Last September, the Human Rights Council met over 4 weeks to consider 96 reports and to hold 5 panel discussions and 41 interactive dialogues. In one of the dialogues, Ms. Patrycja Sasnal, the outgoing Chair of your Committee, presented the Committee’s annual report.

In the discussion with Ms. Sasnal States and NGOs welcomed the Committee’s proposal to study the human rights implications of the use of new and emerging digital technologies developed in the military domain, as well as the proposal to assess the impact of neurotechnology on human rights. This support translated into two Council resolutions and new mandates to your Committee. Your work will impact the Council’s understanding of these two topics and I am curious about the outcomes.

I am also aware of the two other studies that you have been working on, on the advancement of racial justice and equality and on the impact of new technologies for climate protection on the enjoyment of human rights. You are set to present them to the Council in a few months. I would like to point out that during its last session, the Council held an enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement. Other dialogues were held with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development. I would like to encourage you to consider the outcomes of the dialogues in your work.

Distinguished Members, Dear participants,

I will now turn to the upcoming 52nd session of the Council. The programme of work for the session is heavy, going beyond five weeks. There will be 9 panel discussions, including on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and 40 interactive dialogues. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing will present a report on climate crisis. The Council will consider the summary report of the panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change, and the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. These meetings may be also highly relevant to your work.

Distinguished members, Dear participants,

This is the first time that I am addressing you in my capacity as the President of the Human Rights Council. Let me therefore quickly mention the key principles that will guide my Presidency. They can be summarized as three Ps: Prevention, Participation and Progress in Efficiency.

Throughout the year, I will strive to support all actions and initiatives aiming at fulfilling the Council prevention mandate.

With regard to “Participation”, I am committed to promoting the Council’s inclusive nature. This can be done by speaking the language of people outside of the Geneva “bubble” and bringing the Council closer to them.

When it comes to “Progress in efficiency”, the Council’s agenda has been growing substantially over the years. We need to make sure that the Council remains a functioning body with meaningful outcomes.

Distinguished Members, Dear participants,

I look forward to your discussions throughout this session and to meeting you later this week together with members of the HRC Bureau, and the regional and political group coordinators.

The Council benefits from your independent expertise and guidance.

It has been a pleasure to address you today, I wish you a fruitful session and see you soon in person.

Thank you.