UN Human Rights Council 52nd session: General debate on agenda Item 10 as delivered by UK Ambassador
to the WTO and UN in Geneva, Simon Manley.

Simon Manley CMG

Thank you, Madame Vice-President,

General Assembly resolution 60/251 mandated this Council to address situations of human rights violations and to respond to human rights emergencies. Regrettably, the number and the scale of these emergencies remain alarmingly high.

This Council was also given a clear mandate to prevent serious violations from occurring and to work through constructive dialogue and cooperation.

We believe that this Council, and indeed the cause of human rights, and fundamental freedoms would be well served by giving greater attention to those situations where cooperation and engagement have led to better enjoyment of human rights on the ground.

Madame Vice-President,

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, we must not lose sight of the many positive examples of cooperation by States, with the many human rights bodies and mechanisms that we have established.

For there is much we can, and must, learn from the way in which states have engaged with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in some cases through decades of in-country engagement. From states’ long-term involvement in the human rights treaty body reporting process; from implementation of far-reaching UPR recommendations; and from cooperation with country specific and thematic Special Procedures.

However, with more and more of our time taken up by Council sessions, it is all the more challenging to find time to take stock of the positive impact to which our work leads. This Council’s agenda Item 10 has the potential to identify – and to celebrate – these successes, and to give countries the recognition they deserve at this Council.

Most of all, we need to do better at learning from each other, about how to use the UN human rights system to address difficulties and shortfalls, and to overcome obstacles whether they are political, financial or technical.

This Council must respond to deteriorating situations around the world. But this has to go alongside recognising and learning from states’ cooperation on human rights and the resulting positive impact on all our freedoms.

Thank you.

Published 4 April 2023