Human rights: a new high commissioner at the UN

The former president of Chile presides the Human Rights Commission

The 39th Human Rights Council, which takes place from 10 to 28 September 2018, marked the beginning of the mandate in the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet .

Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, she graduated in medicine, among the various positions she held, that of president of Chile - twice, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018 - of Minister of Health (2000-2002) and of Minister of National Defense (2002-2004). Within the United Nations, he had previously been Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (2010-2013).

In his presentation to the Council, held on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 September 2018 in Room XX of the Palais de Nations in Geneva ( full text of the speech ), Bachelet recalls first of all that " the needs and rights of victims of rights human violations should always be the main priority of our work" . Human rights express the main goal of the United Nations: we can achieve peace, security and sustainable development for all societies only by promoting the dignity and equality of all human beings ".

The new High Commissioner recognizes the challenges and the long work that the Council will have to face; asking for help and collaboration from all states, ensuring that they will always be heard and understanding the difficult balances and positions, he does not hesitate to stress that his priorities will be always promoting civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Any form of violence or discrimination related to sex, religion, language, ethnicity or disability must be fought by the Council and all its participants.

She doesn't forget to list the challenges and injustices in the world, from the critical situation of millions of refugees and migrants, to maternal and child mortality, to poverty, climate change, the lack of fundamental resources.

Bachelet reminds to the members of the Council her full readiness for listening and collaboration; she ask them to continue to guarantee human rights for all, recovering difficult situations in various states of the world and to resolve them through continuous work and mutual respect between the bodies of the Council and the participating countries.

To conclude his speech, the new High Commissioner launches her challenge of "ensuring that together we can increase civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all, alongside the right to development, and therefore ensure peace and sustainable development all over the world".

As APG23, together with the States and the other NGOs taking part in the Council, we had the opportunity to dialogue with her and to respond to Mrs Bachelet's statements ( video of our speech , starting from minute 00:37:24). In our statement , we reminded her that 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights - an important year, in which we can face new challenges and take new positions. We are at a time when "the space for civil society within the UN is shrinking; where human rights defenders face hostility and repression from governments around the world because of their commitment to human rights mechanisms; in which populism, racism and xenophobia are growing ».

We therefore invited the High Commissioner to report the violation of all rights and to continue to defend those who can not do it alone, those who are weak and marginalized. In particular, hoping for an open dialogue and a reciprocal collaboration with Mrs. Bachelet and all her office, we will continue to work so that all rights to development and peace are recognized, always promoting the dignity of all people especially the weakest and marginalized.

Chantal Ferri (APG23 Geneva office)

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