Statement of Iceland at the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council
Statement by Mr. Thordur Sigtryggsson
Item 4: General Debate
Twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 24 June 2015
‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. This basic tenant of international human rights law applies to everyone regardless of race, color, sex, religion, gender identity or any other status. Yet the fight against discrimination continues to be a daily struggle for millions around the world.
Despite considerable progress, we remain far from the goal of eradicating the blight of discrimination. To reach this goal we must all reinforce our efforts. States are ultimately responsible for combating discrimination and must to do so actively, both internally and by speaking up internationally. No state can claim exceptionalism or cultural relativism as a pretext for undermining universal human rights.
In Saudi Arabia, women and girls continue to face severe discrimination in law and practice. We strongly urge the Government to accelerate reform efforts to ensure their full enjoyment of their human rights, including by abolishing the male guardianship system and other restrictions affecting their freedom of movement such as the prohibition on women driving vehicles.
In Russia, we remain troubled by discriminatory legislation and practices targeting the civil and political rights of minority groups, including the LGBT community. We call on the Russia Government to ensure the protection of all persons and to abolish all anti-gay legislation.
In Myanmar, we are deeply concerned about the ongoing instances of religious and anti-Muslim violence and the worsening human rights situation of the Rohingya community. We strongly urge the Government of Myanmar to address the situation in accordance with its international obligations. But in the absence of any serious measures by the Government we echo the call of the High Commissioner in urging the Human Rights Council to address this issue more deeply, in particular incitement to violence based on national, racial and religious hatred.