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Udenrigsministerens indlæg ved åbningen af Menneskerettighedsrådet 2017 i Geneve den 27. februar 2017


Delivered by Minister for Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen


Genève, Monday 27 February 2017

Mr. President, High Commissioner, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the past 70 years we have achieved major progress for human rights across the world. This has been possible only through open, honest and peaceful dialogue.

Still, we see human rights under threat in many parts of the world. We see how failure to ensure respect for human rights generate insecurity, instability and poverty.

This Council is a key actor in addressing violations of human rights and promoting understanding and respect for these rights. Despite political and cultural differences we meet. We engage in dialogue on difficult and sensitive issues. We agree, and we disagree. But we come here in the spirit of finding common ground.

This being said, it is impossible to overlook the fact that in the current international debate we find a growing tendency to question the virtues of multilateral cooperation. 

We cannot ignore this tendency. We must confront it. We must demonstrate the benefits of multilateral cooperation based on the solid foundation of a strong international legal order. We must continue to adapt our institutions and our ways of cooperating to the ever changing circumstances of the world outside these walls. Progress is not achieved without constant adaption and reform.  The Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) is an example of such new approach in our fight against torture, aiming at universal ratification of CAT by 2024.

The Human Rights Council must never lose sight of our overall objective: to ensure progress on human rights. Progress requires mutual understanding. And mutual understanding requires dialogue.

Of course we disagree on specific issues. The UN – and especially the Human Rights Council – is about expressing these differences. It is about learning from each other – from each other’s experiences.

We all have our shortcomings and challenges – Denmark does too.  And sometimes, criticism is necessary to bring about positive change. If is by addressing challenges that we move forward – not backwards.

Mr. President,
Sadly, we still see suffering and violations of human rights in many parts of the world. We must ensure the Council’s continued attention to these situations.

The situation in Libya remains of great concern – not least the conditions for the many vulnerable migrants in the country. There is an urgent need for a political settlement under the framework of the UN to bring back the rule of law and to end impunity. We are also very concerned about the situation in Yemen.

I also call on all parties to the conflict in Syria to commit to an inclusive political settlement in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254. I condemn the Syrian regime’s continuous violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including systematic torture of detainees. I welcome the new UN accountability mechanism for Syria. I am pleased to announce that Denmark will support the Mechanism with more than 1 mio. USD.

We strongly condemn the continued use of executions – mass executions and executions of political prisoners and minors. Key regional actors in the Middle East such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have a special responsibility in this regard.

While strongly supporting the democratic transition in Myanmar, we are deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations allegedly carried out by the security forces.

The continued political unrest and human rights violations in Burundi are of great concern. In South Sudan, we urge all parties to cease hostilities, implement the Peace Agreement fully and work to alleviate the humanitarian situation.

Denmark remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in the eastern Ukraine and in the illegally annexed Crimea. Human rights actors and monitors should be granted free access and humanitarian access ensured.

The extent of terrorist groups committing human rights abuses and meaningless killings is deeply alarming. Freedom, the rule of law and human rights are indispensable in our fight against terrorism.

Da’esh continues to commit atrocities and acts of sadistic violence, including against religious minorities. This cruel terrorist organisation remains a serious global threat. We must continue our united efforts to ensure its demise.

We remain alarmed about continued spread of fear, ruin, and violence by extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, al-Qaeda affiliated groups and al-Shabaab.

Mr President,
Denmark has a long-standing tradition of protecting and promoting human rights. We have been actively engaged in the Council since its creation. But we have never had the privilege to sit at this table as a member of the Council.

We have announced our candidacy for the Council for the period 2019-2021. I hope for support from all of you at the election in 2018. Denmark will pursue our candidacy – and hopefully our future membership of the Council - guided by the core principles of “Dialogue”, “Dignity” and “Development”.

The inherent dignity for all is at the center of our approach. All humans have individual rights and freedoms. We stand firm on non-discrimination and equal rights and opportunities for all. 

Next year Denmark will mark our 40th anniversary for fulfilling the UN goal of allocating 0.7 % of our GNI to development assistance. A central element of our development cooperation has been to promote human rights, rule of law and democracy. We will also focus on youth as drivers of positive change – and as an element of this, we have appointed young persons as youth advisors at our UN missions in Geneva and in New York.

Mr. President,
Denmark stands ready to do our part in strengthening the role and footprint of the Council. To ensure continued progress and promotion of human rights.

Thank you, Mr President!