Statement of Iceland at the 28th session of the Human Rights Counsil

Statement of Iceland's Permanent Representative at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council - General Segment


Twenty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 5 March 2015

Mr. President

The past year has seen a marked deterioration of human rights in many parts of the world. From the blatant violation of sovereignty in Eastern Ukraine to the on-going horrors of Syria and the savagery of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.     

But there are also signs of hope. Hope embodied by brave individuals, civil society and human rights defenders willing to stand up for their rights – often in the face of fear, violence and retribution. Hope embodied by modest progress in States such as Sri Lanka, where we urge the new Government to deliver on its many pledges of reform and justice.

Mr. President  

The High Commissioner was right to focus his opening speech on the obligations of States to uphold human rights. No state can claim a perfect record, just as no state can claim exceptionalism or cultural relativism as a pretext for undermining universal human rights and values.

The Council remains our most viable platform for cooperation on human rights; a forum where we can have constructive and honest dialogue. This sometimes means speaking uncomfortable truths; such as calling the Government of Syria to task for the gross violations of human rights that have taken place under its watch. At the same time, we must recognise our own collective failure to protect the Syrian people from atrocities and misery.

And we can’t shy away from condemning the grave violations of human rights and territorial integrity in Eastern Ukraine. Every effort must be made to reach a peaceful solution. All stakeholders should abide by the provisions of the Minsk Agreement and work towards an inclusive political process based on democratic values, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities.

Mr. President

Iceland will continue to speak against violations of human rights wherever they occur. We will continue to speak for women, children and vulnerable groups who suffer disproportionately in  conflicts. We will continue to condemn State policies of discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. And we will continue to cooperate with all willing partners and States to advance the values enshrined by this Council.   

Mr. President

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Taking stock, we must admit that we have a long way to go towards achieving gender equality.

Iceland, for its part, has emphasised the importance of bringing men and boys into the conversation on gender equality . This January we partnered with Suriname to convene a “Barbershop” conference at UN headquarters in New York, where men were encouraged to discuss gender equality, with a special focus on addressing violence against women. The Conference was a contribution to the commemoration of Beijing+20 and aligned with the #HeforShe solidarity movement for gender equality.

Finally, Mr. President

Iceland wishes the Human Rights Council to be as effective as possible. We value the work of the OHCHR and its independence. And you can count on our continued engagement and support in fulfilling the Mission of this Council.

Statement in pdf

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