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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS FROM 17 DIGNITARIES ON THE THIRD DAY OF ITS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT

27 February 2019

The Human Rights Council this morning continued with its high-level segment, hearing addresses from 17 dignitaries, who stressed the importance of the Council in effectively addressing human rights violations, and pointed to the interconnectedness of the three fundamental pillars of the United Nations, human rights, peace and security, and development.  Speakers also raised numerous concerns over diminished trust in international cooperation, the weakened concept of multilateralism, and challenges the world was facing.

Sakeus Shanghala, Minister of Justice of Namibia, commended the Council, the Office of the High Commissioner, Member States, and other stakeholders for the remarkable efforts undertaken to address issues of concern.  Respect for and the promotion of human rights remained critical and necessary to create and maintain peace and stability in a world plagued by inequality, violence and conflict. 

Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Zimbabwe, said that a general election was held in 2018, and outsiders were invited to observe the democratic process; regrettably there had been post-election violence, leading to the appointment of a commission of enquiry to investigate the violence. 

Joaquim Verissimo, Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs of Mozambique, said that the Council remained the most viable platform where through genuine dialogue and cooperation between States, the international community could advance the shared responsibility of effectively addressing human rights violations. 

Abdulla Faisal Al-Doseri, Assistant Foreign Minister of Bahrain, said Bahrain appreciated its partnership with the international community through the United Nations for promoting and protecting human rights.  The achievements of Bahrain were demonstrated by the country’s democratic process, particularly the recent municipal and parliamentary elections in 2018. 

Francisco Barbosa Delgado, Presidential Counsellor for Human Rights of Colombia, said that Colombia supported three main areas of diplomatic action which underpinned the legal order: first, in the defence of democracy, not just in the application of the electoral process but also in the support of free public and civil space; second, in the full respect of human rights and the recognition of duty in the application of these rights as they were enjoyed only when political freedoms existed fully; and third, in the defence of multilateralism. 

George Chacalli, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not born in a vacuum, and the three fundamental pillars, human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development could not be viewed in isolation.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights encouraged everyone to focus on the rights and dignity of all women and men alike.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stressed that the founding pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights, and development were interlinked in today’s globalized world as never before.  What had the Council done to prevent the tragic events in Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and other hotspots?

Yuri Sterk, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that the Council’s high-level panel had addressed the challenges and opportunities for human rights in light of multilateralism.  Strong leadership came from personal example, and hope was expressed that the Council would demonstrate its leading role by continuing to promote human rights. 

Ahmad Abdulrahman Al-Jarman, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, stated that 2019 had been declared a year of tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, and to this end a number of initiatives and programmes would be launched for the promotion of tolerance. 

Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that the Government of Saudi Arabia valued greatly the role of the Council for promoting and protecting human rights around the world.  Saudi Arabia highlighted the importance of respecting cultural diversity and avoiding imposing cultural values that were contrary to local traditions. 

Asta Skaisgiryte, Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, stressed that human rights represented perhaps the most valuable and progressive part of the heritage of world history and humankind’s social and political thought. The United Nations had elevated human rights to be one of the three pillars of its system, but the issue received only three per cent of the budget.  This was an obvious underfunding and discrepancy.

Elina Kalkku, Deputy Minister for Development Cooperation of Finland, said Finland was a devoted supporter of multilateralism and rules based international cooperation, stating that the respect for human rights was indispensable to reach the 2030 Agenda.  Finland had prepared to increase its overseas development assistance funding, aspiring to reach 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product in coming years.

Josip Brkić, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina gave high priority to the respect of human rights through strengthening of democracy, multicultural dialogue, respect of national, cultural and religious diversities, and suppression of all forms of discrimination. 

Marcelino Medina González, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, expressed great concern at the challenges that the human rights community faced today, related to an unjust international order.  Cuba drew attention to the ongoing impacts of climate change, putting the very survival of the planet in jeopardy.

Jorge Arreaza Montserrat, Minister of Peoples Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said there was an aggression against Venezuela now, stepped up and intensified by the Trump Administration. There was a blockade on trade and on resources, and a theft of assets which belonged to the Venezuelan people.

George Ciamba, Minister for European Affairs of Romania, looked forward to a new narrative in the field of human rights by encouraging the participation of youth in the decision making process through investments in education, training and jobs to support the fulfilment of their full potential. 

Artemis Dralo, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, acknowledged that while the United Nations human rights system was not perfect, it was possible to choose to make the system better and stronger, and to make the Council more efficient, more effective, and more representative. 

The Council will meet again at 3 p.m. today, to conclude its high-level segment, which will be followed by a general segment. 

High-Level Segment

SAKEUS SHANGHALA, Minister of Justice of Namibia, commended the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Member States, and other stakeholders for the remarkable efforts undertaken to address issues of concern.  Respect for and the promotion of human rights remained critical and necessary to create and maintain peace and stability in a world plagued by inequality, violence and conflict.  Mr. Shanghala concurred with the High Commissioner, who recently stated that the human rights impact of climate change was profound: according to weather forecasts, Namibia would be facing yet another drought this year, which would have devastating impacts on all living creatures.  Namibia thus called on the international community to change its ways and to join efforts to minimize the impact of climate change.  Namibia also affirmed its support for all initiatives that made the right to development a reality for all.  Namibia would continue to call on Member States to re-consider their positions on the imposition of the death penalty and noted the strides made in some countries to reduce the number of executions and to place moratoriums on the imposition and execution of the death penalty.  Mr. Shanghala reiterated Namibia’s unwavering support and solidarity with the people of Palestine, and its support for various United Nations resolutions to resolve the plight of the people of Western Sahara.  Namibia concluded by reiterating its commitment to human rights and human rights law and instruments.

ZIYAMBI ZIYAMBI, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Zimbabwe, said two pieces of legislation had been revamped, namely the public order and arbitrary detention security act and the access to information act; this had led to greater freedom of the press and had opened the democratic space within Zimbabwe.  A general election was held in 2018, when outsiders were invited to observe the democratic process; regrettably there was post-election violence, leading to the appointment of a commission of enquiry to investigate the violence.  The violence was perpetrated by the main opposition party, and this justified the deployment of security forces to safeguard the safety of civil society.  The commission of enquiry recommended a conciliatory framework and called upon the political parties to engage in multi-party dialogues to work toward State building; two dialogues had been held and a national stabilization programme would be fully implemented by 2020, including institutional reforms which would lay down the foundations for strong sustained economic growth.  Zimbabwe aimed to reach upper-middle income status by 2030, however, its economic development was hampered by illegal sanctions imposed by the international community and the Minister called for their immediate removal as they caused suffering for the Zimbabwean people.  In January 2019, Zimbabwe suffered another bout of violent protests which were premeditated and sponsored by outside forces and local non-governmental organizations with outside ties.  The Minister said it was a shame that these groups continued to tarnish the reputation of the Government given that they continued to perpetrate the instability with impunity and continued to ask for the release of the agitators despite the lack of proper legal process. 

JOAQUIM VERISSIMO, Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs of Mozambique, said that Mozambique strongly believed in the principles of the universality and mutual reinforcement of human rights.  The Council remained the most viable platform, where through genuine dialogue and cooperation between States, all could advance shared responsibility of effectively addressing human rights violations.  The President of Mozambique had participated in the Council’s thirty-seventh session and informed about the efforts of Mozambique in promoting human rights.  The rule of law, democracy and human rights were at the heart of Mozambique’s governance.  Municipal elections had been successfully held in October 2018.  This year, general elections would take place and election bodies had already started with preparations.  The international community would be invited to observe the elections.  The promotion of children’s rights, especially children who were threatened by poverty or conflict, was one of Mozambique’s main priorities.  A set of targeted measures had been established to protect the human rights of all children, especially the most vulnerable and children with disabilities.  The National Strategy for the promotion of the rights of children had been adopted and Mozambique was complying with its international obligations, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Universal Periodic Review was the hallmark of international cooperation in the field of human rights and Mozambique was implementing recommendations from the second cycle.  Strengthening of national capacities remained a priority for Mozambique.

ABDULLA FAISAL AL-DOSERI, Assistant Foreign Minister of Bahrain, said Bahrain appreciated its partnership with the international community through the United Nations for promoting and protecting human rights.  This was confirmed by its National Action Charter which constituted a new vision on Bahrain’s path for development, and represented a positive milestone in the history of Bahrain.  The achievements of Bahrain were demonstrated by the country’s democratic process, particularly the recent municipal and parliamentary elections in 2018, with a rate of participation of 67 per cent.  During the elections, for the first time in the history of Bahrain, a woman was elected as speaker of the Bahraini Parliament.  Mr. Al-Doseri also highlighted the Government’s Action Plan for 2019-2022, which was aimed at preserving positive social growth, as well as developing social, educational, housing and development programmes in a society where peace and stability prevailed.  The Government’s objective to meet the Sustainable Development Goals was also mentioned, mainly when it came to the eradication of poverty, protecting the rights of migrant workers, and improving education, among others.  Bahrain gave great importance to the issue of education, teaching the value of citizenship, and the promotion of human rights, while rejecting extremism ideas.  Bahrain had also launched the King Hamad Award to empower young people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the capacity of young people to lead the world towards a better future.  In March 2017, Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of King Hamad, had launched the Global Award for Women’s Empowerment, underscoring Bahrain’s belief in the role of women in achieving sustainable and inclusive development.

FRANCISCO BARBOSA DELGADO, Presidential Counsellor for Human Rights of Colombia, said that Colombia supported three main areas of diplomatic action which underpinned the legal order: first, in the defence of democracy, not just in the application of the electoral process but also in the support of free public and civil space; second, in the full respect of human rights and the recognition of duty in the application of these rights as they were enjoyed only when political freedoms existed fully; and third, in the defence of multilateralism.  Colombia condemned the increased threats and homicides against human rights defenders and remained committed to their protection to carry out their work.  These threats were due to the increased power of certain criminal economies including FARC and guerrilla operations as well as other armed groups.  In the face of this, the national Government had put into place policies to strengthen the rule of law and social capacity.  Colombia restated its commitment to the terms signed with FARC by the previous Government.  Internal violence had a direct impact on democracy and Colombia rejected the National Liberation Army, what it stood for and its terrorist acts, stating that its actions would lead to criminal procedures with no political nuances and regretted that other international players supported this group.  In response to the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, Colombia had welcomed more that 1.2 million refugees with open arms, more than any other country in the world, and maintained a generous humanitarian extended arm to the Venezuelan people, while condemning the systematic violation of human rights in that country and calling on the international community to demand free, independent and transparent democratic elections. 

GEORGE CHACALLI, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not born in a vacuum, and the three fundamental pillars, human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development, could not be viewed in isolation.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights encouraged the international community to focus on the rights and dignity of all women and men alike.  Gender inequality was the most wide-ranging human rights violation as it affected more than half of the global population.  Towards this end, Cyprus had decided to mainstream the gender dimension in its foreign policy.  Another key element in the protection of human rights included the rights of children and Cyprus was particularly sensitive to that.  Being a front line Member State, Cyprus had been facing the consequences of the refugee influx in Europe.  According to Eurostat, in 2018, Cyprus recorded the highest per capita rate of registered first-time application for asylum in the European Union.  Cyprus was a strong supporter of the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees.  During this session, the annual report of the Office of the High Commissioner on the question of human rights in Cyprus would be presented under item 2.  The report was prepared following the mandate that the Office was given by the Commission of Human Rights, in support of the efforts to alleviate human suffering on the island, as a result of the 1974 military invasion and subsequent occupation and continuing forcible division of the country.  Forty-five years on, the human rights of hundreds of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in enclaves in the northern occupied part of the island continued to be violated.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stressed that the founding pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights, and development were interlinked in today’s globalized world as never before. Safeguarding peace and security or ensuring sustainable development was hardly possible in isolation from human rights.  What was this Council doing to prevent the tragic events in Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and other hotspots? Was its reaction to human rights violations in situations of foreign aggression, like those against Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, strong and targeted enough to stop them? The answer was no. Instead, they saw the diffusion of attention, academic debates, and repetition year after year of the same decision-making rituals.  As the last straw, they witnessed countries leaving the Council.  Continued impurity for grave breaches of human rights and international law was the price that humanity paid. Ukraine needed a strong and effective Council, a Council that could become a genuine, uncompromising platform for defending human rights of Ukrainians who suffered under Russian occupation in Crimea and Donbas, a Council that could prevent future human tragedies.  Ukraine concluded by underscoring its determination to protect the rights of all its citizens, including those who chose to live, study or work abroad, and would demand a prompt response to violations of their rights.

YURI STERK, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said that the Council’s high-level panel had addressed the challenges and opportunities for human rights in the light of multilateralism.  Mr. Sterk quoted Andrey Sakharov who, 50 years ago, had suggested that international politics should aim to ensure universal compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Strong leadership came from personal example, and hope was expressed that the Council would demonstrate its leading role by continuing to promote human rights.  Bulgaria was currently a member of the Council for the first time, and hoped to see a stronger and more efficient Council in three years’ time.  It sought more focused and meaningful partnerships throughout its endeavours with United Nation bodies, Special Procedures and other international organizations, as well as in the course of everyday dialogue with governments and civil society.  Bulgaria would seek to foster dialogues, focused on improved and transparent delivery, guaranteeing universal participation.  Making sure that the Council’s decisions had a direct impact on the ground had to be a priority for all.  Principles of equality and non-discrimination had to be underlying all decisions and actions of the Council.  Inclusive education was an essential tool for the social inclusion of children and their empowerment, as well as for the fight against poverty.  The Bulgarian initiative in a cross-regional core group on inclusive education and its impact on children with disabilities, which began in 2017, had led to a Joint Statement during the session of the Council last September.

AHMAD ABDULRAHMAN AL-JARMAN, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and International Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, stated that 2019 had been declared a year of tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, and to this end a number of initiatives and programmes would be launched for the promotion of tolerance.  In February, the United Arab Emirates had hosted the Sustainable Development Summit in Dubai, where 175 States, thousands of leaders and technology specialists had pooled their efforts to achieve a sustainably developed planet.  The Head of State had increased the representation of women in the Government Council to 50 per cent, ensuring that they were fully empowered, and had pursued efforts on the legislative front on children’s rights, enacting a law called wadima which fought child labour and set up measures to be taken when children’s rights were violated at school and in other settings.  The United Arab Emirates reiterated its support for a fully sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.  It called for a political solution to the situation in Yemen, and though it applauded the Stockholm talks, it regretted that the Houthis continued to sabotage peace efforts, and called on the international community to put pressure on the Houthis to reach a political agreement.  The United Arab Emirates had extended an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on disabilities to visit and stated its plan to make a $1.5 million contribution to support the programme of work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The United Arab Emirates was pleased with its two consecutive mandates to the Council, which had bolstered its commitment to the human rights agenda.

ADEL BIN AHMEND AL-JUBEIR, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that the Saudi Arabian Government valued greatly the role of the Council for promoting and protecting human rights around the world.  Saudi Arabia highlighted the importance of respecting cultural diversity and avoiding imposing cultural values that were contrary to local traditions.  Saudi Arabia was witnessing numerous developments in all fields of human rights, under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.  Concerning women’s rights, Saudi Arabia had undertaken efforts to combat violence against women, and had also taken steps to increase women’s participation in the private sector.  Saudi Arabia emphasized its keenness to combat terrorism as an ideology, including to improve detention conditions for those convicted of terrorist acts to ensure their rehabilitation and their reintegration into society.  Regarding the occupation of Palestine, Saudi Arabia rejected anything that would compromise the historical status of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.  As for Myanmar, the Saudi Government condemned the methodical violations of human rights of the Rohingya Muslim minority.  On Syria, the world had seen the results of inaction to put an end to the conflict, and Saudi Arabia stressed the need to find a prompt solution to this crisis.  In Yemen, Saudi Arabia condemned the Houthi rebels for their acts of terrorism, their siege of cities, their refusal to allow access to humanitarian aid, their recruitment of children, and their burying of mines which would lead to thousands of casualties. Saudi Arabia noted its ongoing support for the people of Yemen, including providing assistance worth $13 billion dollars.  Saudi Arabia called on the international community to put an end to human rights violations by Iran, which was stoking sectarian strife by supporting armed militias in the region.

ASTA SKAISGIRYTE, Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, stressed that human rights represented perhaps the most valuable and progressive part of the heritage of world history and humankind’s social and political thought.  The way the world conceived, respected and implemented human rights today was the result of many situations of tyranny, suffering and injustice.  Respect for human rights was a precondition for peace and security and it was essential for sustainable progress.  The United Nations had elevated human rights to be one of the three pillars of its system, but the issue received only three per cent of the budget.  This was an obvious case of underfunding and discrepancy.  A look at the global human rights landscape triggered alarm, as human rights increasingly fell victim to international and internal conflicts, power struggles and civil unrest, including migration, refugee and humanitarian crises; partisan or corporate interests; and security concerns that posed constant challenges.  Diminished trust and lack of international cooperation, and the battered and weakened concept of multilateralism led to a situation when human rights monitoring mechanisms were routinely denied access to the areas where they were supposed to carry out their mandates.  Hatred still plagued the world today and authoritarian States constantly questioned norms of international law and tested boundaries.  A great number of conflicts remained unresolved and frozen, sometimes appearing to be without a dim light of hope of resolution.  A former member of the Security Council in 2014-2015, Lithuania announced its candidature to the Council for the first time for the term 2022-2024.

ELINA KALKKU, Deputy Minister for Development Cooperation of Finland, said Finland was a devoted supporter of multilateralism and rules based international cooperation, stating that the respect for human rights was indispensable to reach the 2030 agenda.  Finland prepared to increase its official development assistance funding, aspiring to reach 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product in coming years.  Finland would table a resolution on environmental human rights defenders in this fortieth session of the Council in order to find a solution to the different forms of harassment, violence and abuse against environmental human rights defenders.  Finland was a contributor to the mechanism investigating international crimes committed in Syria and advocated for access to the Commission of Inquiry to the country, calling for the extension of its mandate.  The only way to a sustainable political solution in Ukraine was through a sustainable ceasefire, dialogue and the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements as well as full humanitarian access to eastern Ukraine and the Crimea.  The mechanism adopted by the Council to collect evidence on the violations of international law committed since 2011 in Myanmar needed to be put in action quickly and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar must be renewed.  Finland was concerned about the reports of arbitrary detention, torture and killings of people in Chechnya based on their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered identities, and called on these acts to be thoroughly investigated by Russia.  The efforts of the High Commissioner to bring climate change to the forefront of the human rights agenda was welcomed.  Finally, Finland announced its candidature to the Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 term.

JOSIP BRKIĆ, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina gave high priority to the respect of human rights through the strengthening of democracy, multicultural dialogue and respect of national, cultural and religious diversities, and suppression of all forms of discrimination.  Cases of brutal violence and serious human rights violations in parts of the world affected by war conflicts were still witnessed across the world.  Therefore, the importance of the Council’s special sessions and its constructive work in urgent situations was underlined.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was also a country that had faced the most difficult forms of human rights violations during the war that had happened not so long ago.  Speaking from that experience, strong efforts in building equality, respect for diversity, and respect for human rights were all very important foundations for reconciliation and internal stability in post-conflict societies.  This month, the one hundred and seventeenth session of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances took place in Sarajevo, and the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants would visit in the first half of this year.  This visit was important since Bosnia and Herzegovina faced a significant influx of migrants on the Western Balkans route, which represented a burden for institutional capacities in every sense.  To solve the problem on a permanent basis, the root of the problem had to be addressed, and that was only possible in the countries of the refugees’ origin.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was looking forward to take an active role in future dialogue on the questions raised in the inaugural speech of the Council’s President Coly Seck last December.  Within its European path, Bosnia and Herzegovina was actively working with the Council of Europe on the protection of human rights.

MARCELINO MEDINA GONZALEZ, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, expressed great concern at the challenges that the human rights community faced today, related to an unjust international order.  Cuba drew attention to the ongoing impacts of climate change, putting the very survival of the planet in jeopardy.  Mr. Gonzalez pointed to the growth of economies in developed nations, which was directly related to migratory flows, but noted that today, those countries were criminalizing those same migrants.  Cuba noted with great alarm the images of migrant children who were put into prison in the United States and who had been separated from their parents.  The United States did not respect international law, and intervened in the domestic affairs of nations.  One of the most glaring examples was the actions of the United States to promote a military action being masked as humanitarian aid in Venezuela.  Cuba reiterated its appeal to defend peace in Venezuela and the region, and reaffirmed its solidarity with the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, welcoming the willingness expressed by President Maduro to continue international dialogue.  Cuba also condemned the United States for stepping up its practice of hostility against Cuba, strengthened by new sanctions and measures to increase the international blockade on the people of Cuba.  As evidence of Cuba’s commitment to the progress of human rights, Mr. Gonzalez pointed to the recent referendum through which the people of Cuba had ratified the new constitution, with a participation rate of 84.4 per cent of the population.  Under this new constitution, Cuba would continue to move forward in building a strong, independent and just society.

JORGE ARREAZA MONTSERRAT, Minister of Peoples Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, reminded the Council of the aggression against Venezuela 30 years ago, which had claimed 3,000-4,000 lives in less than 24 hours.  There was an aggression against Venezuela now, and the Trump Administration was stepping it up and intensifying it.  There was a blockade on trade and on resources, and this was the theft of assets which belonged to Venezuelan people.  Since November 2017, $30 billion had been confiscated.  There was $1.5 billion blocked by the Bank of England and $1.5 billion blocked by Belgium.  The Council had to raise its voice against blockades and any other coercive measures, which violated the United Nations Charter.  Enough was enough with aggression.  In recent days, there had been a covert operation organized by the United States, with the assistance of Colombia.  The humanitarian crisis was being used as a pretext for foreign intervention.  Trump and Pence had not excluded foreign intervention, so the Council had to raise their voice against this.  The world must not forget what happened in Nicaragua or in the Dominican Republic.  Food and medicine were supplied, but they came along with military forces which overthrew the government.  President Maduro stood ready for dialogue, but the opposition had received instructions not to speak.  The United States wanted casualties.  Pence was calling for the military to rebel.  Mark Rubio had been tweeting against the Maduro Government and then he had published photos of a murdered Gadhafi.  This was a threat against President Maduro.  The report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order had said clearly that Venezuela could take the United States to the International Court of Justice because of the harmful effect that the sanctions had had on the population. 

GEORGE CIAMBA, Minister for European Affairs of Romania, looked forward to a new narrative in the field of human rights by encouraging the participation of youth in decision making processes through investments in education, training and jobs to support the fulfilment of their full potential.  Violence and conflict were rooted in discrimination and should have no place in societies as a commitment to tolerance and equal treatment was the foundation to a just society.  Romania continued to protect democratic values and the rule of law by combatting anti-discrimination and anti-Semitism.  The 2030 Agenda and human rights had a mutually reinforcing character as most of the Sustainable Development Goals were anchored in human rights instruments; this being the case, paying special attention to them would build a stronger prevention capacity of the Council.  Romania believed that the intra-Syrian political negotiations should remain under the United Nations umbrella and encouraged Special Envoy Geir Pedersen in his endeavours to actively support the United Nations mediated Geneva process.  Romania reiterated its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea, and welcomed the continued discussions on the human rights situation in Ukraine.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-Parliamentary Union had contributed to the second session of the forum on human rights, democracy and the rule of law that took place last year and focussed on the role of Parliaments.  In support of this, Romania had initiated a draft resolution on the matter, to be tabled at this session.  Finally, Mr. Ciamba put forward Romania’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021.

ARTEMIS DRALO, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, acknowledged that while the United Nations human rights system was not perfect, it was possible to choose to make the system better and stronger, and to make the Council more efficient, more effective, and more representative.  Albania noted that it would undergo its third Universal Periodic Review in May 2019, and stated that preparing for the process had been a valuable exercise in taking stock of where the country stood on the implementation of its commitments.  Albania noted that its Government today consisted of a majority of women, reflecting a platform that considered the empowerment of women as a potent drive for overall economic development and national prosperity.  Albania also placed great value on coexistence and religious harmony in the country, and strongly believed that freedom of religion must be protected everywhere.  Building peaceful and sustainable societies required the participation of all individuals, groups and communities, regardless of their origin, religious beliefs, political views or sexual orientation.  Albania noted its opposition to the use of the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, and would continue to voice its concern over the continued use of capital punishment.  Ms. Dralo also noted Albania’s support for human rights defenders, particularly those from the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.  



For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC/19/09E