Speech by Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis on the occasion of the opening of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council – Only the delivered text is authentic!
Madam President of the Human Rights Council, Mr. President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Madam High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies and gentlemen,
Do you remember? It took place at the Palais des Nations. The room was packed. The opening address, cordial and warm. For a bit, one would think we remembered another era. And yet, it hasn’t been that long. Just one year ago, together we opened the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council. Here in Geneva. All in the same room. Today, things would turn out differently. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down and presented us with new challenges. In all regions of the world, we can observe an increase in inequalities and discrimination. The progress made within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is now under threat. The effort required to rectify the situation and advance these objectives is considerable.
Ensure the flow of knowledge through accessible information and free media
At the same time, the pandemic has shown us how much our individual freedoms matter to us. We were suddenly deprived of possibilities that seemed to us for a long time: meeting people, crossing borders, traveling. The pandemic has brought these fundamental freedoms back to the forefront. We are fighting for our freedom of movement, of course, but also for the right to life, to health and to training. For minorities and vulnerable groups, the toll of a pandemic is heavy, not only in terms of health, but also economically and socially. It is all the more important that the most fragile among us can make our voice heard and that they have access to information. Freedom of access to reliable information is essential if we, as a society, are to meet the challenges of today. Journalists must be able to practice their profession without fear of reprisals or trembling for their lives. Ideas and solutions must be able to flow freely. I would therefore like to salute the tireless commitment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur, who provided useful information to countries in their fight against the pandemic, while mobilizing for the protection of human rights. of man in these difficult times.
Agenda 2030: sustainable development based on human rights
The crisis has brought us together. Today, we are better able to understand that we must stand together. Faced with global challenges, our response must be global. It is no longer just a question of getting out of the crisis, but of looking to the future. The time has come to define the contours of a post-COVID world and the 2030 Agenda gives us the perfect framework. It clearly shows us that without fundamental freedoms, no sustainable development is possible.
UN: openness to reforms and great adaptability
“What concerns us all can only be solved by all.” This quote from the Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, is more relevant than ever. A collective problem can only be solved in the long term if everyone brings an element of response for a common solution. The United Nations plays a key role here. Switzerland welcomes the fact that the UN agencies have always managed to continue their activities, even in a pandemic situation. The Human Rights Council, in particular, has demonstrated its resilience and has been able to react quickly to events, adapting its working methods to the new situation. In today’s volatile and complex environment, this flexibility is essential.
Prospects: Inclusive multilateralism through active civil society
But the search for solutions to global challenges cannot be left to States and international organizations alone. The private sector and civil society are part of inclusive multilateralism. They are part of the solution and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This collaboration and these exchanges have their place in a prestigious forum such as the Human Rights Council. I warmly invite you to actively participate in the creation of the world of tomorrow. Thank you for your attention.
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