Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries
Delivered by Jörundur Valtýsson, the Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
General Assembly 74th session, 1 November 2019
Dialogue with the President of the Human Rights Council
Mr. / Madame Chair,
I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.
We would like to thank the President of the Human Rights Council for being with us here today, as a concrete way of bridging the human rights agendas in Geneva and New York. The Nordic-Baltic countries believe it is important to ensure cooperation, complementarity, and coherence, between the Human Rights Council in Geneva and what takes place here in New York, particularly in the Third Committee.
We genuinely believe in the interconnection and mutual reinforcement of the three pillars of the UN, and that the enforcement of human rights prevent conflict. We therefore welcome this dialogue.
Mr. / Madame Chair,
The Nordic and Baltic countries are strong supporters of multilateral co-operation and the United Nations in general. The Human Rights Council, in particular, is one of the most important fora, providing the stage for a fundamental conversation on the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, equality, democracy and the rule of law, that affects every one of us and the citizens of the countries we come from.
Two of the eight Nordic and Baltic countries are currently members of the Human Rights Council. Others have already served on the Council or may have aspirations to do so. While there is always a question whether the Human Rights Council could be more efficient and effective, and while a valid argument certainly exists that aspects of its work should be reformed, we have not lent our voices to the chorus of disapproval.
In fact, Mr. Seck, we are of the opinion that the Human Rights Council has, in 2019, during your Presidency, been proving itself to be a crucial forum.
Let us examine some facts.
The Council has in 2019 passed some very important resolutions, including on the human rights situation in Venezuela, in Yemen, in Iran, in Myanmar and in the Philippines. The Human Rights Council also saw various other topics addressed through joint statements, including the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. It has also passed important resolutions on Environmental Human Rights Defenders and Violence against Women. It is of utmost importance that these important resolutions and decisions are mirrored, built upon and respected in the discussions in the Third and Fifth Committee.
In July, we also witnessed the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, with stronger support than when the mandate was initially created, three years ago. We were all supporters of this mandate and were pleased to see it receive such an overwhelming backing by the Council´s member states.
We believe all these examples are evidence to the fact that the Human Rights Council is actually doing what it should be doing - addressing the most important human rights situations currently facing us and calling for accountability and passing strong resolutions. Thereby, the Council demonstrates that it is, indeed, the primary forum for a dialogue on universal human rights.
Of course, there are aspects that could and should be improved. Some of that is up to us – the member states of the United Nations. With reference to the recent elections to the Council here in New York we must, for instance, continue to strive to ensure that all elected members of the Council are fulfilling the duty of “upholding the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”, as set out in the founding resolution of the Human Rights Council.
Mr. President, we would like to ask you, what can we do to continue to improve the work of the Council and ensure its efficiency in the future?