Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Antonio Guterres: “Years of progress on gender equality have been wiped out”


It is by videoconference and often through pre-recorded messages that the UN Human Rights Council began its 46th session on Monday. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, did not fail to highlight the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of human rights: “Years of progress in gender equality have been wiped out . ” For the number one of the UN, the pandemic has “not only widened the ditches which separate us, worsened vulnerabilities and reinforced inequalities, but also opened new fault lines”.

Antonio Guterres also warned: “Brandishing the pandemic as a pretext, the authorities of some countries have taken severe security measures and adopted emergency measures to suppress dissonant voices, abolish the most fundamental freedoms, silence the independent media and hamper the work of non-governmental organizations. “

Devastating vaccine nationalism

He also rose up against “vaccine nationalism” which sends humanity back decades. “Ten countries alone have shared more than three-quarters of the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered to date. Equity in vaccines represents a decisive step in the realization of human rights. ” Angolan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Téte Antonio himself illustrated his country’s concerns about the appearance of new variants of the virus and insisted on the need to guarantee equitable, fair and universal access to therapies and vaccines to fight against SARS-CoV-2.

Read also: Return of the United States to the Human Rights Council: a 180-degree turn

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has driven the point home: “The pandemic has torn off the mask hiding the deadly realities of discrimination, deep inequalities and chronic underfunding of services and rights. essential. “

With the return of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France as full members of the HRC and the United States as observers, the beginning of the session in which around ten intervened. heads of state and government as well as a number of foreign ministers, the lines of fracture quickly appeared, pointing to strong clashes in the future. Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez has castigated the “dictatorship” of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. His Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda did not hesitate to severely criticize his Belarusian and Russian neighbors, denouncing the brutality of the repression of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and the poisoning of the Kremlin opponent Alexeï Navalny and his imprisonment. He also mentioned the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, of Georgian territories. “It is not possible to selectively apply human rights,” he said.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has taken the same line of attack against Moscow. In the same vein, Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani severely criticized “the destructive action of the occupying power”, Russia, in the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Not mince words, he mentioned “three waves of ethnic cleansing” caused by Moscow. Russia did not have the opportunity on Monday to retaliate. It will do so on Wednesday through the voice of its head of diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov.

The Council’s credibility

Perhaps the most virulent has been the British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab. He attacked Russia and China as well as Burma and Belarus. He blasted the Chinese authorities which he said systematically violates the human rights of Hong Kongers, but also of Uighurs, the Muslim minority in Xinjiang. “The UN mechanisms must respond” to these violations, he insisted, believing that the HRC must imperatively adopt a resolution condemning Beijing for its repressive policy against the Uighurs. “The CDH must play its role without which its reputation will be severely damaged,” he warned.

Riyad al-Maliki, head of Palestinian diplomacy, has targeted Israel, which he says enjoys “impunity” for war crimes and crimes against humanity. For him, it was out of the question to delete agenda item 7 of the HRC devoted specifically to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “It is a mechanism that guarantees some protection for the Palestinians. To want to remove it would be to rob the Palestinians of their rights. […] We ask to maintain this point until the end of the Israeli occupation. ” Point 7 remains very controversial, the United States and several European states refusing to adopt resolutions in this context. They believe that it introduces a bias since it is the only point dedicated to a particular country.



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