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Udenrigsministerens tale ved FN's Menneskerettighedsråds 28. samling i Genève

03.03.2015  17:49
Delivered by
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Geneva, Tuesday 3 March 2015

Check against delivery

Mr. President,     
High Commissioner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When the meaningless brutality of terrorism strikes, our values are tested. We feel outraged, bewildered, heartbroken and our first inclination is often to seek revenge, to find someone to direct our anger against. A fundamental difference between us and the terrorists, however, is that we do not let ourselves be guided by our most primitive instincts.

For a moment in January, we were all Charlie in solidarity with the victims of a horrific crime in Paris. A month later the world showed solidarity with the victims of a similar attack in Copenhagen.

In the same spirit, the many hours of hectic work that lie before this Council in the coming weeks must be done in solidarity with - and with a constant focus on - the victims of human rights violations all around the world.

Therefore, today, as I have the honour to address the Council as it starts its 28th session, I am not only Charlie. I am every individual being denied his or her human rights. I am the torture victim in a Syrian detention. I am the girl abducted and abused by Boko Haram. I am the Christian woman who has lost her family to the killing frenzy of Daesh in Iraq. I am the child in Gaza internally displaced by conflict. I am the Crimean Tatar persecuted by Russian authorities.

I am the civilian taking shelter from incoming artillery in Debaltseve in Ukraine. I am the arbitrarily detained political activist in a Bahraini prison. I am the migrant worker in Qatar risking my life in hazardous working conditions. I am the LGBTI person waiting to be hung to death in Iran. I am the South Sudanese boy, abducted and forced to fight in a very brutal civil war. I am the Somali girl, who has fled my home in search for peace only to be abused by men of war.

I am the stateless Rohingya being persecuted in Myanmar. I am the slave in the hellish political prison camps in North Korea. I am the civil war victim seeking truth and justice in Sri Lanka. I am the man on the death row in Belarus.
I am the Jewish victim of extremist actions. I am the human rights activist who is beaten up for criticising my government. I am the young girl being denied the right to decide over my own body. I am the child who has no access to education. I am the immigrant who is not treated with human dignity.   

And I look to the Human Rights Council to raise awareness of my case and request that my perpetrators are held accountable.
It is disheartening that I could have continued the list of victims on whom we need to focus our attention. To complete the list, I would have had to deny everyone else their right to speak. I believe many of us these days wake up with the feeling that the world - as eloquently put by the High Commissioner for Human Rights – is cart-wheeling into a future more uncertain and unpredictable than ever before.

The United Nations represents - for good or worse - our best chance to steer the unruly future into a better place for the world's growing population. And the UN Human Rights Council plays an increasingly vital role.


The Council is doing its job in a changing world where our usual understanding of a human rights violator is challenged as non-state actors become more and more dominant. For the victim, violation and abuse feels the same, whether the perpetrator is part of brutal regime or a murderous gang of terrorists.

The special session last year on Iraq in light of the abuses committed by the socalled  Islamic State sent a strong and united message from the international community: No one involved in this conflict are beyond the rule of law and can run away from justice.

Boko Haram is another brutal and unscrupulous non-state actor that without explanation or clear goals murders and kidnaps innocent people. They too should not go unchecked. These gross violations of international humanitarian law, human rights and human dignity must be stopped. And the perpetrators must be held responsible. The government of Nigeria must resume the full responsibility of protecting its citizens and, if needed, ask for international support to combat these terrorists.

Mr. President

The Human Rights Council is often criticised for internal disagreements between members, but in my opinion, that criticism is based on the misunderstanding of the very concept of the Human Rights Council.

The strength of this council is that its composition reflects the global political landscape and, hence, also global disagreements. It is from its composition that the Human Rights Council draws its credibility. It is the scene where the world come together to discuss the issues that are difficult for all of us. And it is the place where we find solutions together.

The 10-year Convention against Torture Initiative – the CTI – which my Government launched last year together with the Governments of Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco is designed precisely in this spirit of finding solutions together. Solutions, to promote universal ratification and a better implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. Solutions, to ensure the respect for the absolute prohibition of torture  – one of the most fundamental rights of persons. Solutions, in fact, to ensure that government authorities do not misuse their power over individuals, in situations where the individual cannot just walk away.

Mr President,
We seek strength and guidance in the values which unite us as human beings across the globe and which lie as a foundation of this Council; Instead of anarchy, intolerance and barbarism we insist - even in our darkest hour - on rule of law, mutual understanding and human compassion. We remind ourselves that the effect of terrorism solely depends on our reaction to it.

Our steadfast insistence on our fundamental values is our strongest weapon against terrorism. If we react with security measures infringing on the rule of law and the fundamental freedom of our citizens. Or with rhetorics generalizing and demonizing a minority among us. Or by curbing our freedom of expression in fear. Then the terrorists will have prevailed.  It is our collective obligation to ensure that his will never happen.

Thank you Mr. President