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Response to the High Commissioner's report

Thank you Mr. President,
Iceland wishes to congratulate Mrs. Bachelet on taking up the post of High Commissioner, while at the same time using this opportunity to thank her predecessor, High Commissioner Zeid, for his leadership and courage during his tenure.
As a new member on this Council, Iceland welcomes the High Commissioner´s very useful oral update yesterday. We share many of her concerns and she can rely on our full support in her challenging assignment.

Mr. President,
We believe, as the High Commissioner, that Human Rights express the core purpose of the United Nations. Advancing the dignity and equality of all human beings must be our fundamental goal. Only that way can we attain peace, security and sustainable development for all societies. We firmly believe also that upholding human rights is in the interest of every state. 

It is States which have the primary responsibility for upholding the rights of their people. It would seem logical that the States that sit on this Council should be first among equals in their contribution to the promotion and protection of Human Rights. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as we heard yesterday, when the High Commissioner raised some of the most pressing human rights issues facing this body currently. 

I take this opportunity to recall that in his address to this Council in February, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, shared his concerns that countries such as the Philippines, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are members on the Council and yet their human rights record has been far from exemplary. 

We could add others, mentioned by the High Commissioner yesterday, but the question is how we can, together with these countries, truly deliver on the commitment that members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Multilateral institutions such as the Human Rights Council will continue to face criticism, and the call for reform will become ever louder if we cannot deliver on this commitment. Member states, not least those elected to this Council, must implement the human rights commitments they have made and we must hold each other accountable when need be.

I thank you.

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