Hoppa yfir valmynd

Statements and alignments

Statements delivered by representatives of Iceland and alignments with statements made by other states and groups of states.

Type keywords into the search box or use the filters below.

DateTitillCategoryPermanent mission
May 16, 2024Statement: Informal Consultations of States Parties to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (ICSP-17) New York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by Ms. Anna Pála Sverrisdóttir<br /> Counsellor &amp; Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Informal Consultations of States Parties to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (ICSP-17)<br /> </strong></span><strong><span><strong>Agenda item 15: General debate</strong></span><br /> 15 May 2024</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Honorable Chair.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Firstly, allow me to reiterate full support of the Icelandic government for you as the Chair of this meeting, including for the start of preparations of the next resumed Review Conference.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;As always, the delegation of Iceland is looking forward to engaging with colleagues from around the world, and Iceland would specifically like to congratulate Saudi Arabia for having ratified the Fish Stocks Agreement since we met at the Review Conference and ICSP last year.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The topic of the ICSP this year, “Sustainable fisheries management in the face of climate change”, deserves discussions indeed and we thank the delegation of the United States for suggesting it during last years negotiations on the General Assembly Fisheries Resolution.<br /> <br /> Chair,<br /> <br /> Before touching upon aspects specifically relating to climate change and managing sustainable fisheries, allow me to please very briefly to mention the relevant overarching policies of my government.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Climate change, the science tells us, is taking place and is changing the world as we know it. How drastic the changes will be, depends on how much climate action is being taken. Iceland strongly supports the guidance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the goal of limiting temperature increase to 1,5°C. We support the phasing out of fossil fuels and ending fossil fuels subsidies.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This leads me to the ongoing work to specifically decarbonize all major sectors, the fishing sector included. While some challenges remain, the government and the private sector, in close cooperation and active dialogue, continue work to this end.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This further applies to ongoing work on action to mitigate the environmental effects of fisheries and seafood, notably in the context of the circular economy and by fully utilizing seafood; thereby increasing the value of existing resources and eliminating waste.<br /> <br /> Chair,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As we will hear more about in the coming days, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations increasingly work on the wider environmental aspects of fisheries, such as in relation to biological diversity and vulnerable marine ecosystems as well as climate change.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This work reflects a gradually changing reality, in terms of environmental factors and scientific knowledge of them, including regarding climate change.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;For Iceland, what does the aforementioned mean for management work taking place in the context of commitments under the UN Fish Stocks Agreement?<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Just as the situation gradually changes, so do our approaches. Mainstreaming climate change aspects into fisheries management does not mean changing things overnight, or with the pressing of a button, but rather it means ensuring that fisheries management is flexible enough to be able to adapt to the changes as they take place.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;A key aspect here is that the tools needed for responding to the effects of climate change on fisheries&nbsp; are in essence the same as those needed for&nbsp; sound management of sustainable fisheries.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Scientific research is key as a prerequisite for knowledge of changing realities, including the gradual effects of climate change on fish stocks.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Fisheries control, including in order to ensure full transparency of what exactly is being caught by our fishers at each point in time, helps keep science up to date and is a fundamental feature of fisheries management in Iceland.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Among the major challenges of climate change for fisheries management is the likely effect on stock sizes. Some stocks will decline over time while others will increase in size. We must ensure that our management takes this into account. Good scientific stock assessments are critical in this context.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Another major challenge is changes in stock distribution and migration patterns. In Iceland we have already noted changes where stocks that are usually mainly to the South of our island are now more prominently than before noted in the North. We also have examples where changing distribution and migration patterns are causing international challenges with stocks increasingly present in some EEZs while they are less prominent in other EEZs. This requires renegotiation of sharing arrangements, which is not an easy exercise.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The timeframe for these changes is very different from the timeframe of fisheries management measures. Predictive models for these effects of climate change refer to decades, often 30-50 years. Fisheries management measures are usually for one year and sometimes for up to three or even five years. This difference in timeframe is helpful from the point of view of fisheries managers, as it means less reasons to panic.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;In order for fisheries management to take full account of climate change, we do not need to foresee and predict all these medium to long term changes immediately or with unrealistic precision and act on them without delay. We simply need to acknowledge that they are likely to happen increasingly, and we need to ensure that our fisheries management systems – domestic and international – are flexible and adapt to the changes as they take place over time. By ensuring such flexibility, we are mainstreaming climate change into our management without creating a completely new and unnecessary paradigm.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This can also mean that the most value added in terms of partnering with developing countries wishing to mainstream climate change into their fisheries management is to work with them towards building general fisheries management infrastructure, from its scientific basis through its legal framework and enforcement schemes – and to ensure that they are set up in a manner that is flexible and adaptive.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Helpfully, this could also mean that more States and RFMOs than realize it themselves&nbsp; may already have reasonably climate resilient fisheries management in place.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The bottom line is that we do not need to re-invent sustainable fisheries management because of climate change. We need to monitor climate change and react to its effects over time within our robust fisheries management systems that are based on scientific assessments of fish stocks, effective management and enforcement measures and adaptive procedures for international agreements on the sharing of these resources. <br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;When it comes to more technical work regarding sustainable fisheries management in the face of climate change, it is clear that States and RFMOs still have much work to do – even if that work will not include completely changing the way they work on fisheries management. For issues that require cooperation and coordination at the global level, it is clear that the FAO will have a key role. Iceland therefore notes with appreciation that the issue is on the agenda of the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries that will meet in July this year.&nbsp;</p> <p><span> <br /> Chair,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Zooming out again towards the end of these remarks, I would like to touch upon the important role the Ocean plays as a source of food. Healthy oceans can continue to provide us with nutritious food which is low in carbon intensity and can therefore contribute to combatting climate change. There is untapped potential, but there are also significant challenges.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Lastly, and importantly, in terms of the greater context of sustainable fisheries and the management thereof, climate change can increase challenges faced by fishers, as well as managers, in terms of, for instance, extreme weather events and changes to familiar patterns. These kinds of challenges need to be met, including by urgent climate action such as Early Warning for All, which Iceland contributes to.<br /> <br /> I thank you.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

May 10, 2024Explanation of Vote: Tenth Emergency Special Session (resumed) of the UN General AssemblyNew York - United Nations

<span><strong>Explanation of Vote by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Tenth Emergency Special Session (resumed) of the UN General Assembly&nbsp;<br /> 49th Plenary Meeting, 10 May 2024.&nbsp;<br /> Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Arab Territory</strong><br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Mr. President,<br /> <br /> In 2011, Iceland and Palestine established full diplomatic relations after the Icelandic Parliament passed a resolution in support of recognizing the State of Palestine as a sovereign state. Since then, Iceland’s position on Palestinian statehood has been clear.<br /> <br /> Iceland has consistently called for a two-state solution, where both Israel and Palestine live side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition. Therefore, we support Palestine’s full membership of the United Nations and the call for the Security Council to reconsider the matter favorably. We also call on the Council to do more to live up to its mandate and address the Middle East Peace Process.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is why we voted in favor of today’s resolution.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Just as Iceland has consistently condemned Hamas’ past indiscriminate terrorist attacks, we condemned, in the strongest terms, the horrific attack on Israel on October 7th. We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages taken in this most fatal attack on Jews since the Holocaust.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In 1947, Iceland’s first Permanent Representative to the United Nations was instrumental in passing Resolution 181, envisioning the formation of independent Arab and Jewish states. Subsequently, Iceland supported Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ever since, Iceland has reiterated Israel’s clear right to defend itself, in line with the UN Charter and international law, including international humanitarian law.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We also recognize the legitimate security concerns of Israel. Israel’s right to exist is beyond debate. We can never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, which led to the creation of the state of Israel, especially now as we face extreme increase in antisemitism.<br /> <br /> At the same time, we recognize the injustice of Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza – we once again call on Israel to put an end to this and take action to stop settler violence. Freedom of the media also needs to be respected.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ultimately, international law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred. Iceland expects the two states, Israel and Palestine, to enjoy – and respect – both.<br /> <br /> In the past months, the world has witnessed hindered access for humanitarian aid, water, and power to Gaza. There have been reports of civilian infrastructure and hospitals being used for purposes that can deprive them of their protection under international humanitarian law. And, we have witnessed totally unacceptable losses of the lives of civilians – children, aid and health care workers, journalists and UNRWA staff. All of these constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.<br /> <br /> The figures are shocking: after six months of war, over 35 thousand people have died in Gaza. More than 2 million civilians are desperately in need of life-saving aid. Civilian infrastructure is in ruins. And if Israel’s large-scale military campaign in Rafah materializes, the situation is bound to get even worse. We therefore urge Israel to halt its operations in Rafah.<br /> <br /> Iceland condemns all violations of international law, including international humanitarian law. Again, international law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred.<br /> <br /> We must restore respect for international law, including humanitarian law, which binds all parties to armed conflicts and cannot be derogated from. The civilians in Gaza must be protected, in accordance with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Security Council resolutions 2712 (2023), 2720 (2023) and 2748 (2024) must be implemented.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Mindful of how seemingly insurmountable grievances have been overcome during our lifetimes, there is hope for the two states to live side by side in peace.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The people of Palestine and Israel deserve to live in peace and security, in prosperous and democratic societies. They deserve to live without fear of aggression or terrorist attacks.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We therefore call on Israel and Hamas to urgently agree to and implement a sustained ceasefire and commend all efforts to try to bring an agreement to fruition.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Today’s resolution will not immediately change the situation on the ground, but it recognizes that peace will not be achieved through unilateral means. It calls for more to be done and determines that there is no better path towards peace than the two-state solution.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In this context, Mr. President, Palestine should qualify and be welcomed as the 194th UN Member State.<br /> <br /> I thank you.<br /> </span></p>

May 10, 2024Nordic-Baltic statement on recent developments in Georgia Statements Other

<p>We, the Nordic-Baltic countries have supported the democratic and economic development of Georgia ever since its restoration of independence.</p> <p><span>By granting Georgia EU candidate status in December of last year, the EU showed that it supports the aspirations of the Georgian people. Georgia was given a clear path to start accession negotiations and later on join the European Union. However, recently the Georgian authorities have chosen a concerning trajectory disrupting Georgia’s European future.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence, currently under consideration in Georgia’s parliament, is incompatible with European norms and values. If adopted, the law could be used to silence media and civil society organisations that play a vital role in helping Georgia on its way to EU membership. The claims by Georgian authorities that the proposal resembles EU draft legislation are unfounded and misleading. We urge Georgia’s political leaders to reconsider adoption of the draft law.</span></p> <p><span>The decision to pursue EU membership is the sovereign choice of Georgia and its people. It is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to fulfill the preconditions if it wishes to join the European Union. The anti-Western rhetoric of Georgian authorities seriously risk undermining Georgia’s European choice. The EU candidate status was granted to Georgia on the understanding that 9 steps would be fulfilled. At this point, Georgian authorities have not made overall progress in fulfilling those steps.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We have a strong wish to see Georgia succeed on its European and Euro-Atlantic path as desired by a large majority of the Georgian people. We hope the Georgian government will use this historical window of opportunity created by a reinvigorated EU enlargement process and revert to the course towards EU membership.<br /> <br /> <br /> </span></p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 18pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">ნორდიკული და ბალტიის ქვეყნების განცხადება საქართველოში მიმდინარე პროცესებთან დაკავშირებით</span></strong></p> <p><span>ჩვენ, ნორდიკული და ბალტიის ქვეყნები მხარს ვუჭერთ საქართველოს დემოკრატიულ და ეკონომიკურ განვითარებას მისი დამოუკიდებლობის აღდგენის დღიდან.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>გასული წლის დეკემბერში ევროკავშირის კანდიდატი ქვეყნის სტატუსის მინიჭებით, ევროკავშირმა აჩვენა, რომ ის მხარს უჭერს ქართველი ხალხის მისწრაფებებს. საქართველოს მიენიჭა მკაფიო გზა გაწევრიანების მოლაპარაკებების დასაწყებად და შემდგომ, ევროკავშირში გასაწევრიანებლად. თუმცა, ბოლო პერიოდში საქართველოს ხელისუფლებამ შემაშფოთებელი ტრაექტორია აირჩია, რომელიც ხელს უშლის საქართველოს ევროპულ მომავალს.</span></p> <p><span>„უცხოური გავლენის გამჭვირვალობის შესახებ“ კანონპროექტი, რომელიც ამჟამად განიხილება საქართველოს პარლამენტში, შეუთავსებელია ევროპულ ნორმებთან და ღირებულებებთან. მიღების შემთხვევაში, კანონი შეიძლება გამოყენებულ იქნეს მედიისა და სამოქალაქო საზოგადოების ორგანიზაციების გასაჩუმებლად, რომლებიც უმნიშვნელოვანეს როლს ასრულებენ საქართველოს დასახმარებლად ევროკავშირში გაწევრიანებისკენ მიმავალ გზაზე. საქართველოს ხელისუფლების განცხადებები ევროკავშირის კანონპროექტთან ქართული კანონპროექტის მსგავსებასთან დაკავშირებით უსაფუძვლო და დამაბნეველია. ჩვენ მოვუწოდებთ საქართველოს პოლიტიკურ ხელმძღვანელობას, გადახედონ კანონპროექტის მიღებასთან დაკავშირებულ გადაწყვეტილებას.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>ევროკავშირში გაწევრიანებისკენ სწრაფვა საქართველოსა და მისი ხალხის სუვერენული არჩევანია. ევროკავშირში გაწევრიანების სურვილის შემთხვევაში, წინაპირობების შესრულება საქართველოს ხელისუფლების პასუხისმგებლობაა. საქართველოს ხელისუფლების ანტი-დასავლური რიტორიკა სერიოზული რისკის ქვეშ აყენებს საქართველოს ევროპულ არჩევანს. ევროკავშირის კანდიდატის სტატუსი საქართველოს მიენიჭა იმ შეთანხმების საფუძველზე, რომ 9 ნაბიჯი შესრულდებოდა. ამ ეტაპზე, აღნიშნული ნაბიჯების შესასრულებლად საქართველოს ხელისუფლებამ პროგრესს ვერ მიაღწია.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>ჩვენ გვაქვს ძლიერი სურვილი ვიხილოთ საქართველოს წარმატება მის ევროპულ და ევროატლანტიკურ გზაზე, როგორც ეს ქართველი ხალხის უდიდესი უმრავლესობის სურვილია. ჩვენ იმედს გამოვთქვამთ, რომ საქართველოს ხელისუფლება ამ ისტორიული შესაძლებლობის ფანჯარას გამოიყენებს, რაც გაძლიერებულმა ევროკავშირის გაფართოების პროცესმა წარმოქმნა და დაუბრუნდება ევროკავშირში გაწევრიანების კურსს.&nbsp;</span></p>

Apr 25, 2024Nordic-Baltic Statement in Response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of EuropeVienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span></span> <p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Response to the Address&nbsp;by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe</strong></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As delivered by Helga Hauksdóttir<br /> Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> At the 1470 OSCE Permanent Council Meeting, 25 April 2024</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Thank you, Madame Chair.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Nordic and Baltic countries warmly welcome Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to the Permanent Council and thank you for your address.<br /> Next month marks the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe and next year marks 50 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">These anniversaries remind us of the values and commitments both organizations were founded to protect, and the importance of safeguarding our common vision of a region where democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and a peace based on justice prevails.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In an evolving European and global security landscape, close cooperation between our two key European organisations is essential, from the highest political levels to the field operations, within the four priority areas and beyond. The Nordic and Baltic States will continue to support both organisations’ vital and complementary work. Iceland and Latvia have also had the honour to cooperate closely with you and your Secretariat during our recent Council of Europe Presidencies and Lithuania will assume their Presidency this May.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Russian Federation’s unlawful, unjustified, and unprovoked full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine violates everything that the OSCE and the Council of Europe stand for.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Nordic and Baltic countries continue to stand in solidarity with and remain fully committed to supporting Ukraine and its people. Accountability for all violations of international law must be ensured, including the crime of aggression, and other international crimes committed in and against Ukraine.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Council of Europe Register of Damage, established at the Reykjavík Summit in May last year and already in function, is a crucial first step towards a comprehensive compensation mechanism for damages caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Accountability efforts also include tools such as the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, to document violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Without accountability, there can be no justice or sustainable peace. The Nordic and Baltic States welcome international efforts to hold to account the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation for its war of aggression against Ukraine. We are following with interest the possible use of the Council of Europe expertise for the establishment of a Special International Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Following the Reykjavík Summit and Declaration, our Heads of State and Government reaffirmed commitment to our shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, for a peaceful and secure future for our region.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is far from being the only challenge facing Europe and the world today. Democratic backsliding, the backlash against women’s rights, the climate crisis, the spread of disinformation, and the misuse of new technologies, are but a few examples. In this regard, we appreciate the work done to finalize the Draft Council of Europe Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Nordic and Baltic States will remain steadfast supporters of the relevant work of both the Council of Europe and the OSCE. We are convinced that the only way to address and resolve these cross-border challenges is with multilateral solutions and cooperation, grounded in respect for international law.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Nordic and Baltic countries thank you, Secretary General Burić, for your remarks, and wish you and your team continued success in your efforts.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We also take this opportunity to thank the Presidency of Liechtenstein for their ongoing valuable work, determination, and dedication.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">I thank you, Madame Chair.</p> <div style="text-align: justify;"></div>

Apr 25, 2024Nordic-Baltic Response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of EuropeVienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p style="text-align: justify;"><span><strong>Nordic-Baltic Response to the Address&nbsp;by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>As delivered by Helga Hauksdóttir<br /> Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> At the 1470 OSCE Permanent Council Meeting, 25 April 2024<br /> </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><br /> Thank you, Madame Chair.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span></span>I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Nordic and Baltic countries warmly welcome Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to the Permanent Council and thank you for your address.<br /> Next month marks the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe and next year marks 50 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>These anniversaries remind us of the values and commitments both organizations were founded to protect, and the importance of safeguarding our common vision of a region where democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and a peace based on justice prevails.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>In an evolving European and global security landscape, close cooperation between our two key European organisations is essential, from the highest political levels to the field operations, within the four priority areas and beyond. The Nordic and Baltic States will continue to support both organisations’ vital and complementary work. Iceland and Latvia have also had the honour to cooperate closely with you and your Secretariat during our recent Council of Europe Presidencies and Lithuania will assume their Presidency this May.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Russian Federation’s unlawful, unjustified, and unprovoked full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine violates everything that the OSCE and the Council of Europe stand for.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Nordic and Baltic countries continue to stand in solidarity with and remain fully committed to supporting Ukraine and its people. Accountability for all violations of international law must be ensured, including the crime of aggression, and other international crimes committed in and against Ukraine.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Council of Europe Register of Damage, established at the Reykjavík Summit in May last year and already in function, is a crucial first step towards a comprehensive compensation mechanism for damages caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. A</span>ccountability efforts also include tools such as the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, to document violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Without accountability, there can be no justice or sustainable peace. The Nordic and Baltic States welcome international efforts to hold to account the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation for its war of aggression against Ukraine. We are following with interest the possible use of the Council of Europe expertise for the establishment of a Special International Tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Madame Chair, Madame Secretary General,</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Following the Reykjavík Summit and Declaration, our Heads of State and Government reaffirmed commitment to our shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, for a peaceful and secure future for our region.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is far from being the only challenge facing Europe and the world today. Democratic backsliding, the backlash against women’s rights, the climate crisis, the spread of disinformation, and the misuse of new technologies, are but a few examples. In this regard, we appreciate the work done to finalize the Draft Council of Europe Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Nordic and Baltic States will remain steadfast supporters of the relevant work of both the Council of Europe and the OSCE. We are convinced that the only way to address and resolve these cross-border challenges is with multilateral solutions and cooperation, grounded in respect for international law.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The Nordic and Baltic countries thank you, Secretary General Burić, for your remarks, and wish you and your team continued success in your efforts.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>We also take this opportunity to thank the Presidency of Liechtenstein for their ongoing valuable work, determination, and dedication.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you, Madame Chair.<br /> </span></p> <div style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</div>

Apr 19, 2024Sustainability Week - SDB7 implementation New York - United Nations

<p><span>Remarks by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the UN<br /> Sustainability Week – SDG7 implementation<br /> 19 April 2024<br /> </span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>At the outset, let me thank the President of the General Assembly for convening the first ever Sustainability Week and focus today on sustainable energy and SDG7 – a priority goal for my country, Iceland.<br /> <br /> My three comments relate to gender, financing, and capacity building.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> First, sustainable energy development will not be achieved without gender equality. Moreover, women are a forceful driver for sustainable development, and we need to provide them with a bigger role in the energy transition. There are multiple avenues to pursue this within the multilateral system and we need to fully exploit those.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Second, there is an urgent need to mobilize more public and private finance. Iceland has stepped up its contributions to financial mechanisms that support energy related projects, for example the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, Nordic Development Fund, EEP Africa and Climate Promise.<br /> <br /> And finally, Iceland is ready and willing to share its knowledge and experience in the use of renewable energy and continues to provide capacity building opportunities for experts from developing countries through our geothermal training program – which operates under the auspices of UNESCO. Iceland also maintains a lists of consultants where experts in geothermal utilization and hydropower are listed and international organizations can have access to.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Apr 15, 2024Joint Statements during the 55th session of the Human Rights CouncilGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p class="Heading" style="text-align: center;"><span><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>High Level Side Event: 10 years of Russia’s assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the Marshall Islands on behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 February 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the ‘Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine,’ a cross-regional group consisting of 47 States and the European Union. </p> <p>As we gather today in the comfort of the Palais des Nations our Ukrainian friends are facing another day of untold suffering at the hands of Russia. For those in Crimea and in parts of the Donbas, it’s been ten years. </p> <p>The humanitarian needs of civilians in Ukraine are constantly rising. </p> <p>For more than two years no, since the launch of Russia’s full-scale, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, children have learned to sleep and study on underground subway platforms, as they shelter from continuous attacks. On those days children are not sheltering underground from Russian bombs, parents have lived in fear not knowing whether their children would come home. </p> <p>Chair, for two years now, this has been the grim reality for all Ukrainians. While for ten years Ukrainians in Crimea and parts of the Donbas have been forced to live this way. </p> <p>Report after report from independent mechanisms such as the Commission of Inquiry and the HRMMU, has concluded that the war against Ukraine is marked by war crimes, grave human rights violations, violations of international human rights law, and that certain actions by the Russian Federation may constitute crimes against humanity. </p> <p>Dignity and justice must be restored for the countless victims of this war and those responsible must be held to account. </p> <p>We welcome the initiatives to ensure full accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Ukraine, including the work of Ukraine’s authorities, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,&nbsp; the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine the establishment of the Register of Damage for Ukraine, and the work of the Core Group on options for the establishment of a tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine. We further commend the independent investigations under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism, ODIHR’s Ukraine Monitoring Initiative, the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, for independently presenting the world with evidence of Russia’s violations of international law, including international humanitarian law.</p> <p>Finally, we would like to acknowledge the important and courageous work of the manifold Ukrainian organisations who tirelessly continue to monitor and document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in their country. Their testimonies are crucial contributions to victim-centered accountability efforts.</p> <p>Our nations will remain steadfast in our support of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their tireless fight for freedom and dignity.</p> <p>Minister Kuleba, we&nbsp; stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, as you walk along the path towards justice, accountability, and peace for your country and all victims of this aggression.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Annual High-Level Mainstreaming Panel: Disability Inclusion: Mainstreaming within the UN System</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Mexico on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 February 2024</strong> </p> <p><strong>Mr. President, </strong></p> <p><strong>Mexico is </strong>honored to deliver this joint statement on behalf of a large cross-regional group of countries.</p> <p>We stress the importance of protecting and promoting the human rights of persons with disabilities, recognizing their agency and the imperative of fostering support systems that enable their inclusion and active participation.</p> <p>Persons with disabilities possess unique perspectives and talents. They can be agents for the positive transformation of our societies and institutions.</p> <p>In this sense, mainstreaming disability rights within the UN is not only a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for the advancement of human rights and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.</p> <p>We reaffirm our support for the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS) as a crucial framework guiding our efforts. The effective implementation of the UNDIS, and the socialization of its outcomes, are central to making disability inclusion a reality within the UN and throughout its work.</p> <p>Progress has been made in this regard, as recognized by the UN Secretary-General in his 2022 annual system-wide report, but there is more to be done. It is incumbent upon us to renew our commitment to UNDIS and work collaboratively to overcome challenges, including in the areas of resource mobilization, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building, The inclusion and effective participation and leadership of persons with disabilities in these efforts is essential.</p> <p>To advance programmatic mainstreaming of disability rights across different sectors, UN Member States can also play a pivotal role. At the international level, we need to incorporate a disability-inclusive perspective in all multilateral processes. At the national level, we need to enact and enforce legislation that protects and promotes the human rights of persons with disabilities; adopt inclusive and comprehensive support systems that enable their social inclusion; and adopt the necessary measures to guarantee that persons with disabilities can meaningfully lead and participate in all decisions affecting them.</p> <p>In conclusion, we call for stronger global commitment to implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as global support for the implementation of the UNDIS within the UN, consistent with the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: The death of Alexei Navalny and the situation of the political opposition </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the European Union on behalf of a group of countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the unabated systematic crackdown on civil society and the repressions of political opposition and critical voices throughout the Russian Federation and active outside the country. </p> <p>The events of 16 February are yet another example of the continued systematic crackdown by the Russian authorities, and their disregard for the human rights of their own citizens.</p> <p>We are outraged by the death of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, for which the ultimate responsibility lies with President Putin and the Russian authorities. Russia must allow an independent and transparent international investigation into circumstances of his sudden death. Mr Navalny’s unexpected and shocking death is yet another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression in Russia. </p> <p>We strongly call on Russia to immediately and unconditionally release all other political prisoners, including Yuri Dmitriev, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Ilya Yashin, Alexei Gorinov, Lilia Chanysheva, Ksenia Fadeeva, Alexandra Skochilenko and Ivan Safronov as well as human rights defenders, journalists and anti-war activists arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights and opposing Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We express concern over their detention conditions and recall that the prohibition of torture is absolute under international law.</p> <p>We call on the Russian Federation to end this climate of impunity and create a safe environment for political opposition and critical voices including journalists and<s> other</s> media workers, human rights defenders and civic activists as enshrined in its domestic and international obligations. We call on Russia to abolish its oppressive legislation and end political misuse of the judiciary.</p> <p>Around the world people have gathered to pay tribute to the memory of Alexei Navalny. In Russia, the authorities tried to prevent the same in a number of places and several hundred people have been detained. Russia’s political leadership and authorities must be held to account. Navalny’s courage, sacrifice, and unwavering commitment to the cause of justice, freedom and democracy will never be forgotten.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Item 3: ID with Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing</em> </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Bangladesh on behalf of a group of countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 March 2024</strong></p> <p><em>Mr. President, </em></p> <p><em>Bangladesh has the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of countries. </em></p> <p>The right to adequate housing is yet to be realized for many and millions still live in substandard housing, or are experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation have been accentuating displacements and homelessness. Homelessness is also a process of disassociation ensued from complex interplay of poverty, lack of gainful employment, and access to infrastructure, as well as other socio-economic issues that may constitute a loss of family, community, and a sense of belonging and dignity. </p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>We urge States to integrate affected communities and individuals in designing, evaluating and implementing policies, programmes and strategies for their housing; </p> <p>We call for enhanced international collaboration and partnership for implementation of inclusive, technologically advanced, climate and environmental degradation resilient public housing programmes;</p> <p>We encourage States to continue to enable all persons with disabilities and in vulnerable situations to access adequate housing by constructing, maintaining and managing housing programmes at affordable prices and costs, with subsidies where required; </p> <p>We<em> </em>encourage<em> </em>States to ensure that evictions are compliant with the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights laws and to avoid use of force; and</p> <p>We request the<em> </em>Member States to take concerted action to seek long-term sustainable solutions to homelessness and to address legal, administrative, social, economic, cultural and digital barriers that hinder the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council </strong>– <strong>55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: International Women’s Day</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Afghanistan on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>As the women and girls of Afghanistan continue to display unparalleled courage while standing for their human rights in the face of the gravest adversity, on this International Women’s Day, we express our deep concern about their dire situation which calls for a concerted response by the entire international community. </p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>The Taliban’s promises to respect human rights remain unfulfilled. From their constellation of decrees and edicts to declarations and directives, women and girls remain unable to exercise their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in contravention of international law. </p> <p>Gender-based violence has increased drastically, while access to support services, safe spaces, and shelters continues to diminish. Denied freedom of movement, women and girls describe feeling unsafe leaving their homes. Following a recent pattern of arbitrary detentions, women and girls are being held in overcrowded police stations, subjected to threats, violence and intimidation, with no access to justice. They are also facing public lashings.</p> <p>Girls are prevented from entering secondary schools or universities, leaving them exposed to violence, poverty and exploitation and harming the country’s prospects for progress, durable peace and sustainable development.</p> <p>The ban on women from working for the UN and national and international NGOs, violates the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, interfering with the delivery of essential services to the persons in the most vulnerable situations.</p> <p>As recognised by the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, “progressive and deliberate restrictions on women and girls’ rights,” resulted in their “marginalisation and exclusion” from social, political, public and economic life. It was further concluded by the Committee that due to their widespread and systemic nature, these acts may amount to gender persecution - a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination, with the intention of maintaining that regime, has been described by some, including the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, as “gender apartheid.<sup>”</sup> </p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>This situation demands nothing less than full accountability. </p> <p>First, we urge all relevant special procedures mandate-holders and treaty bodies to closely monitor the situation, ensuring coherent coordination and cooperation. </p> <p>Second, we call upon States Parties to the Rome Statute to ensure full and effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor with respect to its investigation into the situation in Afghanistan. We also welcome the statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, made during the launch of a new policy on gender-based crimes, and recall the policy on the crime of gender persecution.</p> <p>Third, we call upon States to ensure that, during any engagement with the Taliban <em>de facto</em> authorities, they emphasise the State of Afghanistan’s obligations to respect human rights, especially those of women and girls. States should also ensure the active involvement of stakeholders of Afghanistan, including women, in dialogues concerning the future of the country.</p> <p>Fourth, we urge States to support the decision on the commencement of negotiations on a Crimes Against Humanity Convention based on the ILC draft articles this year. We call upon States to work towards an adequate reflection of systematic gender persecution.</p> <p>Finally, we call for immediate accountability for human rights abuses in Afghanistan, commensurate with the gravity of the situation on the ground. </p> <p>As systematic discrimination persists worldwide, SDG 5 remains yet to be achieved. While the road ahead may seem challenging, let us act decisively today, guided by our shared commitment to universal human rights, including women’s and girls’ rights. Together, we can take one step closer to realising a world where women and girls can participate fully, equally, and meaningfully in all spheres of public life and be safe from violence of any kind. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: International Women’s Day</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Finland on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,&nbsp; </p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of Mexico, my country Finland and a group of States. </p> <p>On this International Women’s Day, we look at our world and see conflicts, inequalities, hunger, poverty, a triple planetary crisis. We are far from reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. To overcome these challenges, it is imperative to build safe, stable, inclusive, prosperous and peaceful societies.</p> <p>In times of conflicts and crisis, we often hear that so-called “hard security” must be prioritized and so-called “softer security” issues can wait. Gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights are often placed in the latter category. However, history has shown that this approach is inadequate. Women must be included in all matters related to peace and security. Women’s, young women’s and girls’ rights cannot and should not wait, even less in times of crisis. This concerns especially women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. </p> <p>We need a more comprehensive approach to security. Evidence from decades of research shows that gender equality strengthens the stability of societies. Inclusive peace agreements that adopt a gender perspective are more likely to last. Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights is a powerful tool for building security and vice versa: eroding these rights can have negative security effects. </p> <p>We must ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of all women, young women and girls, without discrimination of any kind, in all areas of society, including in the public and private sector, company boardrooms, political decision-making, peace processes, activism and advocacy. We must also recognise the full diversity of all women and girls in their circumstances and experiences and adopt intersectional approaches to responding to the needs of women and girls with different backgrounds.</p> <p>Let us elevate women and women’s rights organisations and movements that are already making a difference. Let us support women’s and girls’ autonomy, including their right to bodily autonomy and the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Let us strengthen our efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence in all circumstances, to send a clear and coherent message condemning violent attacks against women and girls – whether at home or in public spaces, offline or in digital spaces, nationally or internationally, in conflict or at peace. Addressing the root causes of conflict means investing in the human rights of women and girls everywhere. </p> <p>In times like these, we must not put women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality aside, something to deal with later. On the contrary, now is the time to bring women’s and girls’ rights to the forefront, to the center of solutions towards stability and peace.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Inclusive participation in elections in 2024 in the world</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by Romania on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March </strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of 59 countries, with diverse electoral systems.</p> <p>1. Globally, more voters than ever will be called to the polls this year, in countries representing about 49% of the people in the world. Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures. </p> <p>2. Elections are an important moment to reaffirm our countries’ commitment to human rights and democracy and to ensure the right of everyone to participate in public affairs. Effective participation through elections by all members of society contributes to the attainment of SDG targets.</p> <p>3. We reiterate the importance of holding elections in a secure and peaceful environment in which rule of law is respected and everyone is safe to exercise freely their rights and freedoms without discrimination of any kind and without unlawful or arbitrary restrictions. </p> <p>4. It is important to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, free movement and the right to participate in public affairs are fully respected. </p> <p>5. These elections take place in the era of widely available digital technologies and artificial intelligence and we must address the risks of disinformation. We have to protect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression so they can access information and debate openly and freely, while taking measures to counter hate speech, both online and offline. </p> <p>6. Recognizing the role of youth in electoral processes, the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have consistently highlighted the need for their full, effective and meaningful participation in decision-making. </p> <p>7. We call on all States to encourage youth, women, persons with disabilities and representatives of persons belonging to minorities<strong> </strong>to stand for elections. Inclusive political participation is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies and developing responsive policies. </p> <p>8. We reiterate the fundamental importance of<strong> </strong>human rights education and training in contributing to the promotion, protection and effective realization of all human rights, and raising generations of young people able to participate effectively in public life in their societies. </p> <p>9. We conclude by encouraging OHCHR to continue its work, within its mandate, to ensure that elections meet international human rights standards and that they are held in an environment in which everyone can exercise their rights.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with SRSG for children in armed conflict</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by Uruguay on behalf of a group of states from the Group of Friends on CAAC </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I am honoured to take the floor on behalf of a group of States that have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and committed to implementing the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use. </p> <p>Dear Madam Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, </p> <p>We thank you for your report and note with deep concern that attacks on schools, students and education personnel remain extremely high and that the military use of schools has increased in 2023. We strongly condemn such actions as they undermine the right to education and recall that all human rights must be respected, protected and fulfilled also in times of conflict. Attacks on schools and their military use place children, in particular girls and children with disabilities, at particular risk of harm, making them more vulnerable to other grave violations, with boys, girls and children with disabilities suffering in often different and deeply problematic ways.</p> <p>We welcome your recommendation that States should endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. 2025 will coincide with the 10<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Safe Schools Declaration, already endorsed by 119 states, and the year of the Fifth International Conference on the Declaration. We urge all States to accelerate efforts towards universal endorsement and full implementation of this crucial tool. As the Declaration states, “education is fundamental to development and to the full enjoyment of human rights and freedoms”. We encourage the SRSG to continue with her efforts to promote these principles.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Joint Statement on the Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (HRC res. S-35/1)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Costa Rica on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I am delivering this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 54 countries. </p> <p>We thank the Fact-Finding Mission for carrying out their invaluable work to investigate the alleged human rights violations that took place after the tragic death in custody of Mahsa Jina Amini and subsequent nationwide protests.</p> <p>The FFM has recorded patterns of serious violations of human rights including the use of excessive and lethal force against protesters. The report also finds that violence against women and children was widespread throughout the security forces’ response to the protests. </p> <p>To suppress dissent, authorities resorted to disproportionate use of force, arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual and gender-based violence, torture of detainees, harassment of victim’s families, unfair trials and the execution of protesters. The report concludes that some of these acts may amount to crimes against humanity, including the crime against humanity of gender persecution. Perpetrators of these crimes must be held to account.</p> <p>Mr President, the human rights situation in Iran has worsened. We remain deeply concerned about the rights of women and girls. Women human rights defenders and journalists continue to be persecuted and silenced.&nbsp; If adopted, the "Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab" will restrict women’s rights further; a breach of the mandatory hijab will carry punishment of up to ten years in prison in addition to flogging, crushing fines, travel restrictions and deprivation of online access. </p> <p>We urge the Iranian authorities to take steps to eliminate this and all other forms of gender-based discrimination, end the cycle of violence, cease the suppression of protests, open civic space both online and offline to allow for dissenting voices, and allow journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders to carry out their work freely. </p> <p>Impunity cannot continue, calls for justice cannot remain unanswered, accountability must prevail. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Australia on behalf of a group of countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>On behalf of 53 co-sponsor States of the HRC DPRK resolution, I thank the Special Rapporteur for her sobering update and reiterate our support for her mandate.</p> <p>Ten years ago, the Commission of Inquiry established by this Council concluded that the DPRK committed systematic and widespread human rights violations that amounted to crimes against humanity.</p> <p>Today, tragically, the Special Rapporteur’s report shows there has been little to no progress in the human rights situation, or towards accountability.</p> <p>The Special Rapporteur continues to report systemic and gross human rights violations and abuses, ranging from torture, abductions, arbitrary detention in prison camps and inter-generational punishment, as well as the implementation of new laws restricting freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms.</p> <p>We remain disturbed by the Special Rapporteur’s findings with regard to widespread violations and abuses of the human rights of women and girls, including gender-based violence by the state. </p> <p>We call on the DPRK to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and allow the return of UN agencies, other international organisations and the diplomatic community.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, we welcome your insights from consultations with victims/survivors on what accountability would look like to them to inform a more effective international response. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the Netherlands on behalf of the Group of Friends</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024 </strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine'.</p> <p>Damian Omelianenko, Mykola Maslii, Iryna Horobtsova.</p> <p>These are just three of the thousands of Ukrainian civilians, yes civilians, who according to credible reports, have been unlawfully detained by Russian authorities.</p> <p>As found by the Commission of Inquiry, the unlawful confinement of civilians, is a violation of their rights to liberty and security of person and is a war crime. But their detention is often only the first in a harrowing series of violations and crimes civilian detainees are subjected to at the hands of Russian authorities.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Torture, sexual and gender-based violence, unlawful transfers and deportations, including of children. The list goes on.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>Dignity and justice must be restored for the countless victims of Russia’s aggression and those responsible must be held to account. </p> <p>We, therefore, welcome the detailed reporting of the CoI, as well as the work of the HRMMU, the investigation by the ICC, the operationalization of the ICPCA, the establishment of the Register of Damage for Ukraine, and the work of the Core Group towards a tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine.&nbsp; </p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>What more can the international community do to support Damian Omelianenko, Mykola Maslii, and Iryna Horobtsova, and the identification, release and the reunification of all other Ukrainian civilians who are unlawfully detained by Russia? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: ICJ Syria Provisional Measures</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Canada on behalf of a group of countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries. </p> <p>For thirteen years, the international community has called out Syria for its flagrant breaches of international human rights law. Regrettably, Syria has denied wrongdoing and continues to violate international law with impunity. </p> <p>These circumstances led the Netherlands and Canada to invoke the responsibility of Syria for breaches of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and eventually to institute proceedings against Syria before the ICJ. The ongoing human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Syria cannot remain without consequences and a lasting political solution in Syria is possible only if the perpetrators are held to account and victims obtain justice.</p> <p>We welcome the ICJ’s provisional measures, requiring Syria to prevent acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and ensure no one under its control commits such acts, and to take effective measures to ensure the preservation of evidence&nbsp; The provisional measures are a first step towards much needed accountability and justice for the people of Syria. </p> <p>We strongly condemn reports of sexual and gender-based violence, affecting the lives of millions of women, girls, and boys across the country. We further condemn Syria’s continued obstruction of families’ efforts to ascertain the fate of their detained loved ones and relatives. </p> <p>Distinguished Commissioners, the question remains, how can we better co-operate with partners and Syrian civil society to identify ongoing violations, including torture and detention in Syria?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Humanitarian access in Sudan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the United Kingdom of Great Britain on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>This statement is on behalf of the Troika for Sudan – USA, Norway and the UK– and supported by a group of other countries.</p> <p>We welcome the organisation of a humanitarian conference for Sudan and neighbouring countries next month in Paris, exactly one year since the beginning of a conflict that has had catastrophic humanitarian consequences for the Sudanese people.</p> <p>Nearly 18 million people are suffering crisis levels of food insecurity.&nbsp; Humanitarian workers are blocked from reaching the people in need.&nbsp; The longer this conflict lasts, and the further fighting spreads, the greater that need will become.&nbsp; We call on all parties to accept a Ramadan ceasefire, in line with Security Council Resolution 2274.</p> <p>The Sudanese Armed Forces’ withdrawal of permission for aid deliveries through the major crossing points from Chad into Darfur is indefensible. It has exacerbated the suffering in Darfur, where civilians are already in dire need after suffering relentless atrocities by the Rapid Support Forces. </p> <p>We call on the SAF to uphold fully their commitments to facilitate cross-line and cross-border operations, re-open fully the vital Adre crossing point, and refrain from any measures that prevent life-saving aid reaching those in need.&nbsp; </p> <p>The vital work of local responders, UN agencies, and international partners must be allowed to proceed. The warring parties must ensure the security of humanitarian actors and refrain from diverting life-saving supplies for themselves – and hold their personnel accountable when they go against these principles.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>The death toll in Sudan is likely far greater than the 14,000 verified to date.&nbsp; Every day humanitarian assistance is prevented from reaching those in need, that number will rise, and the Sudanese people move further toward catastrophic levels of food insecurity.</p> <p>We call on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and the Jeddah Declaration, and to allow full, rapid, safe, and unhindered cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access, so that we can, collectively, protect Sudan’s people from even more suffering and death.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 7: General debate</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Chile on behalf of a group of countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>Chile is honored to present this joint statement on behalf a group of countries. </p> <p>We remain profoundly alarmed by the dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The conflict has inflicted immense suffering upon civilians, particularly women and children, who bear the brunt. </p> <p>We call on all parties to adhere to international law, including protecting civilians and ensuring unimpeded humanitarian access. Targeting civilians and healthcare facilities, including denying essential services and forcibly displacing civilians, is unacceptable and unlawful. We urge the full implementation of the Provisional Measures ordered by the ICJ in the case concerning the Genocide Convention. by Israel.</p> <p>Israel must refrain from actions in violation of international law leading to harm to civilians and forced displacement, especially in Rafah. At the same time, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and express our solidarity with them and their families. </p> <p>Urgent action must be taken. An immediate ceasefire is essential to enable the delivery of life-saving aid and restore essential services. </p> <p>In this context, we emphasize the irreplaceable role of UNRWA in terms of delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, and its stabilizing role across the region call for its sustained funding. We support a thorough investigation into the allegations against some staff members allegedly involved in the October 7 terrorist attacks, which must be swiftly completed, and those responsible must be held accountable.&nbsp; UNRWA must be able to continue its vital response, which must be fully funded.</p> <p>We urge all parties to engage in constructive dialogue that leads to a lasting peace by enabling the two-state solution, in line with relevant UN resolutions. The international community must remain vigilant and hold all parties accountable for violations of international law.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 8: “Elections” for president of the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied or controlled territories of Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>This statement is delivered on behalf of 43 states. </p> <p>Article 3 of the Vienna Declaration states: “Effective international measures to guarantee and monitor the implementation of human rights standards should be taken in respect of people under foreign occupation, and effective legal protection against the violation of their human rights should be provided, in accordance with human rights norms and international law, particularly the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 14 August 1949, and other applicable norms of humanitarian law”. </p> <p>In resolution 78/221, the General Assembly condemned the ongoing temporary control or occupation by the Russian Federation of part of the territory of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and certain areas of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and reaffirmed the non-recognition of its annexation.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>We condemn in the strongest terms the holding by the Russian Federation of so-called “elections” on Ukraine’s sovereign territory on 15-17 March in the temporarily occupied or controlled territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, as well as in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. They have no legitimacy nor validity under international law and cannot and do not alter the status of these regions of Ukraine.</p> <p>This is just another futile effort by the Russian Federation to legitimize or formalize its illegal attempted annexation of parts of Ukraine.</p> <p>We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity, unity, and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders as well as for Ukraine’s political independence - which the Russian Federation continues to violate.</p> <p>We fully support a Ukraine-driven peace process and the principles set forth in President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula and look forward to continued cooperation to develop this initiative with a view to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine and security to the whole world.</p> <p>We stand firmly with the people of Ukraine as they bravely face Russia’s aggression and express our solidarity with those in Ukraine’s territories under Russia’s temporary control who continue to speak up at great personal risk against Russia`s full-scale invasion. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 8: Indigenous People’s knowledge and science, climate change, and human rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by Canada on behalf of a group of countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries.</p> <p>The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action recognized the unique contribution of Indigenous Peoples to the development and plurality of societies. It reaffirmed our commitment to ensure their enjoyment of all rights and freedoms, and to respect the value and diversity of their cultures and identities. </p> <p>Importantly, the VDPA urged States to ensure the full and free participation of Indigenous Peoples in <em>all</em> aspects of society, particularly in matters that affect them.</p> <p>As we take stock of the implementation of the VDPA, we note that much work remains for us to fully realize these commitments. </p> <p>And as we look to make further progress, we are mindful that the adverse effects of climate change stand as a main threat to the promotion and protection of Indigenous rights.</p> <p>While the impacts of climate change affect all of us, we recognise that Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately affected. Moreover, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and experiences are critical to developing the solutions to address it. </p> <p>In the fight against climate change, it is imperative that we use the best available knowledge and science humankind can offer. This means being able to incorporate and share information to bridge, braid, and weave all scientific knowledge, including Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and science.</p> <p>For generations, Indigenous Peoples have developed their own knowledge based on observation, hypothesis, and analysis in their territories. In a modern context, this knowledge remains vital to environmental stewardship, wildlife protection, managing species at risk, adaption and mitigation of climate change, and prevention of natural emergencies.</p> <p>Following the leadership of Indigenous Peoples on climate adaptation, innovative clean energy, and resource monitoring will better prepare us to meet global targets, including the SDGs, and to adapt to the impacts we are facing. As rights holders, Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women and girls, have the right to participate alongside States to share their knowledge, and to take a leading role in decision-making at all levels. </p> <p>A more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world cannot be achieved without the full, effective, and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9: Joint Statement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by the European Union on behalf of a group of states</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this joint statement on behalf of the 27 EU Member States, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.</p> <p>We are reacting to the statement on behalf of the Russian Federation delivered by a&nbsp;representative of the so-called administration in the territory of Ukraine temporarily controlled by Russia<em>.</em></p> <p>We recall the relevant UNGA resolutions which recognise the status of this territory as an integral part of Ukraine.</p> <p>We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. We reiterate our strongest condemnation of Russia’s aggression and its attempts to acquire Ukraine’s territory by force in flagrant violation of international law, including the UN Charter. We firmly and unequivocally reject, do not and will never recognize the attempted illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine's regions of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.</p> <p>We therefore urge Russia to refrain from letting any representative of the so-called&nbsp;administration in the territories of Ukraine temporarily controlled by Russia intervene on its behalf within the Human Rights Council, or in any other international fora.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: General debate</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the Maldives on behalf of the HRC Membership Contact Group</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2 April 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>This statement is on behalf of the contact group on Council membership. The list of members will be made public on the extranet. </p> <p>We believe that membership of the Human Rights Council should reflect the diversity of the UN as a whole, and that all countries, irrespective of their size, wealth or power should have an equal opportunity to serve as members of the Council. </p> <p>Since 2017 the number of States that have never held a seat on the Council has fallen from 95 to 69 today.</p> <p>While this is important progress, at the most recent Council election, only one country was elected that had not been a member before. So more work clearly remains to be done to broaden the Council’s membership to other states. </p> <p>Most of the countries that have never been members of the Council are small States, especially Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). </p> <p>We have seen from recent years that Small States often offer new perspectives and strengthen the Council’s universality. Indeed, LDCs and SIDs have made significant contributions to the Council through leading resolutions on important new topics, by serving as members of the Bureau and even by being elected as Council President. We therefore express our firm support for the important work of the LDCs/SIDs voluntary trust fund in supporting greater participation at the HRC. We hope that this will build capacity&nbsp; to allow a greater number of states to stand for membership.&nbsp; </p> <p>As GA resolution 60/251 that established this Council makes clear, membership of the Council comes with responsibility. All States must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, and members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights and fully cooperate with the Council.</p> <p>Our contact group encourages States with a demonstrable commitment to human rights and democracy, especially Small States, to strengthen their participation and engagement with the body and its mechanisms and, eventually, to consider standing for election. We are ready to engage with such states and to support them in this endeavour.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Transitional justice and accountability in Ethiopia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint statement by the European Union on behalf of a group of states </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2 April 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I am making this statement on behalf of a group of 44 countries.</p> <p>During the 54<sup>th</sup> session of the Human Rights Council, the Government of Ethiopia committed to bring forward a solid transitional justice policy framework by November 2023.</p> <p>Meanwhile, we have taken note of Ethiopia’s strong pledge on the occasion of the 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the UDHR in December 2023; the report published by the Ethiopian Transitional Justice Expert Group mid-January; and the recent validation workshops.</p> <p>We welcome the Government’s stated commitment, and urge the Government to swiftly establish a policy framework, based on the recommendations by the expert group, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the OHCHR.</p> <p>Ethiopia’s victims and survivors deserve justice. Credible transitional justice and accountability processes are crucial to ensuring lasting peace and reconciliation. The policy framework should be consistent with regional and international human rights law, include an international component and ensure genuine accountability, truth-seeking, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.</p> <p>Participation of victims and prioritizing their needs and rights is equally essential. This includes providing strong victim and witness protection, psychosocial assistance, health services, and socioeconomic support.</p> <p>Robust independent, impartial and transparent mechanisms are needed to implement the policy, preserve evidence, conduct investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and, as appropriate, prosecute those responsible. Detailed information on how each mechanism will be created and what the next steps are is key for the success of the policy framework. We encourage introducing implementing legislation promptly.</p> <p>If the proposal is to go farther back in time, we recommend prioritizing recent events, including in northern Ethiopia. </p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>We welcome the continued commitment of the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Interim Regional Administration to consolidate the peace process and implement the outstanding provisions of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. At the same time, we remain seriously concerned about on-going violence and reports of human rights violations and abuses in the Amhara and Oromia regions. The extension of the State of Emergency in Amhara is also cause for concern.</p> <p>We call on all parties to pursue peace through dialogue as well as to participate in what must be a credible and inclusive National Dialogue process.</p> <p>Lastly, we invite the High Commissioner to keep the Council updated on the human rights situation in Ethiopia, the assistance his Office is providing and the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Investigative Team and the ICHREE.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>We encourage Ethiopia to continue to engage OHCHR and international experts on its path of transitional justice, lasting peace, and prosperity.</span></p>

Apr 05, 2024National and Nordic-Baltic Statements during the 55th session of the Human Rights CouncilGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p class="paragraph" style="text-align: center;"><span><strong><span>Human Rights Council </span></strong></span>–<strong> 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 1: Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Theme: Harnessing multilateral efforts to embed, amplify and realize the rights of persons with disabilities, with a focus on full and effective participation and inclusion in society</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 February 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Lithuania.</p> <p>As we approach the five-year mark since the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy was set in motion, it is crucial to assess the progress and the challenges in its implementation. This Strategy provides a foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion across all UN pillars, it reaffirms that the realization of human rights of all persons with disabilities is an indivisible part of all human rights. </p> <p>We appreciate the Strategy's twin-track approach, which integrates disability-sensitive measures across all policies while also providing specific initiatives for the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities is key to our commitment to equality in the Nordic-Baltic states. We focus on empowering them by improving disability assessment, enhancing their seamless integration into the open labour market, providing specific and targeted support and services. We seek to ensure that public information is easy to read and accessible to all, using sign language, Braille, and other alternative forms.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic States remain committed to further improving disability inclusion within the UN system and beyond, especially in the context of our shared commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.</p> <p>Distinguished Panellists, how can we ensure that the multiple crises we are facing do not hinder the implementation of the Strategy? How can we leverage multilateralism to ensure persons with disabilities enjoy the full spectrum of human rights within the UN framework?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 February 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.&nbsp; </p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for his important reporting. We strongly support the independent work of his Office. </p> <p>The suffering of civilians in Gaza is horrific. There are no safe places. People lack the necessities to survive. This conflict severly traumatizes an entire generation on both sides, especially children. </p> <p>We condemn the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas against civilians. Hamas must release all remaining hostages immediately and without any preconditions and stop the practice of using civilians as human shields. Israel has the right to defend itself in line with international law.</p> <p>For the sake of civilians in Gaza, we strongly echo the calls of the High Commissioner. We reiterate the importance of ensuring the protection of all civilians at all times in line with international humanitarian law and to respect the legally binding order of the International Court of Justice. We ask the Israeli Government not to take military action in Rafah that would worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation. </p> <p>The Nordic and Baltic States support all efforts for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for life-saving aid to reach Gazans, accountability for violations by all parties and a credible and irreversible path towards a negotiated two-state solution. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in safety, dignity and peace. </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on the report of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>29 February 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf on the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Latvia. We thank the Group of Experts for the latest report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua.</p> <p>We remain gravely concerned about the continuous dismantling of the civic space and increasing and systematic human rights violations in Nicaragua, including attacks against human rights defenders, political and indigenous leaders, members of religious and academic institutions, journalists and other media workers for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.</p> <p>We are seriously concerned about the recent legislative reforms in Nicaragua that have led to the arbitrary removal of hundreds of justice system officials, the rise in arbitrary detentions and deprivation of the Nicaraguan nationality of hundreds of political opponents. </p> <p>We strongly urge the Nicaraguan authorities to resume cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms, including OHCHR, and to return to the rule of law and full respect of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. There can be no justice for Nicaraguans without full accountability for gross human rights violations and abuses in the country.</p> <p>Mr Simon, what steps can be taken to foster accountability for human rights violations in Nicaragua?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>29 February 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>The Nordic Baltic countries commend the Special Rapporteur for his resolute efforts for Human Rights in Afghanistan. Not only is documentation a prerequisite for accountability; it also serves as an important foundation for Member States as they raise human rights with the de facto authorities and interact with civil society.</p> <p>We condemn the severe restrictions on women and girls, which may amount to gender persecution. The restrictions serve to exclude them from work, education, healthcare, and to a large degree from public life. We admire the resilience of Afghan women and girls in the face of oppression.</p> <p>Furthermore, we are deeply troubled that the report documents that numerous human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers have been imprisoned in Afghanistan. And we remain concerned about the violation of the human rights of persons belonging to minorities.</p> <p>We urge the de facto authorities to continue their cooperation with the Special Rapporteur, including granting him full and unhindered access to the country.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can the international community help to improve the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan, and make sure their voices are heard, both nationally and internationally?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner oral update on Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1 March 2024</strong></p> <p>High Commissioner,</p> <p>Thank you for this update.</p> <p>We, the Nordic-Baltic States, remain deeply disturbed by the worsening human rights situation in Myanmar.</p> <p>Increased violence and massive new internal displacement and refugee movements affect the civil population, including children, in devastating ways. We receive frequent reports of violations and abuses of human rights and international law. In Rakhine state, the resumed fighting worsens the already dire conditions of the vulnerable Rohingya population, for whom access to humanitarian assistance remains severely limited.</p> <p>We condemn in the strongest terms any indiscriminate use of force by the military.</p> <p>We call for an immediate end to all violence and abuses against civilians. We also call for the provision of full and unhindered humanitarian access, and an inclusive dialogue with the meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including ethnic and religious minorities. </p> <p>The UN must be enabled to coordinate and conduct humanitarian diplomacy, including on access. </p> <p>High Commissioner, in the current environment, what actions should external actors prioritize in the short and medium term to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council </strong><strong>–</strong><strong> 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the Commission of Human Rights on advancing the human rights in South Sudan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honor of speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the Commission for its report and align ourselves with its conclusions. We also thank the Government of South Sudan for its continued co-operation with the Commission. </p> <p>Political violence and insecurity remain fundamental challenges to the human rights situation in South Sudan. Sexual and gender-based violence and abductions of women and children continue with impunity. We urge South Sudan to fulfill all its obligations according to international human rights law. </p> <p>The steps that must be taken to hold peaceful and credible elections in December 2024 are clear. Democratic space must be guaranteed. The Necessary Unified Forces must be fully deployed, and civilians protected. Electoral institutions must be operationalized and operate independently.&nbsp; </p> <p>The transitional government can demonstrate its alignment with values of democracy and human rights through transparent use of public revenue to fund public needs and protect its population from violence.</p> <p>Until the institutions of Chapter 5 of the Revitalized agreement are established, the Commission on Human Rights plays a vital and unique role in ensuring independent monitoring and investigation. Its mandate must be extended. We urge South Sudan’s continued cooperation with the Commission. </p> <p>Few steps have been taken towards developing functional justice processes and institutions in South Sudan. What is needed, in your opinion, to improve this situation?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in the Sudan with assistance of designated Expert</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic Countries. </p> <p>We would like to commend the High Commissioner for the comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Sudan. We fully endorse the conclusions of the report. </p> <p>The conflict in Sudan is now in its 11th month and the human rights situation is of outmost concern. The reports of alleged violations and abuse committed by both parties to the armed conflict are deeply disturbing. </p> <p>We urge all parties to fulfil their obligations according to international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the protection of civilians. We encourage all parties to cooperate with the Expert and the Fact-Finding-Mission to conduct independent monitoring and investigation. </p> <p>The humanitarian situation in Sudan is catastrophic and risks deteriorating even further. The responsibility for the disastrous situation lays with the belligerents of this armed conflict. All parties must adhere to international humanitarian law and secure unhindered humanitarian access to all of Sudan. </p> <p>High Commissioner, the situation for human rights defenders is of great concern. How can they be supported so they can continue their human rights work?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland thanks the High Commissioner for his oral update.</p> <p>On Gaza, Iceland deplores the unacceptable death toll and the immense suffering inflicted on civilians. We call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to deliver life-saving assistance to the people of Gaza. At the same time, Hamas must immediately release all remaining hostages without conditions. Iceland continues to support all efforts towards a long term sustainable two-state solution, based on international law and mutual recognition. </p> <p>On Sudan, we fully condemn gross violations and abuses committed by the warring parties, which demand investigation and accountability. We call on all parties to agree to return to peace without delay. </p> <p>On Ethiopia, we reiterate our serious concern regarding alleged violations and abuses of human rights. Only a peaceful solution will bring a sustainable end to the conflict. Transitional justice and accountability through independent, transparent and impartial investigations must be ensured. </p> <p>On Myanmar, we fully condemn the military regime’s ongoing atrocities and human rights violations, such as sexual and gender-based violence, and the restriction of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We reiterate our call to the military to immediately cease violence against civilians, release all unjustly detained political prisoners and allow full humanitarian access.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on the situation in Afghanistan, oPT, Nicaragua, Myanmar, Sudan and South-Sudan in respective Interactive Dialogues. </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur</strong> <strong>on the sale, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for presenting her latest report and the valuable recommendations for States and other stakeholders on protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation in the entertainment industry.&nbsp; </p> <p>We express great concern about increasing abuse of technologies and online space, thus jeopardizing children’s safety and privacy – a global emergency that requires an urgent efficient and coordinated response at national, regional and international levels. In this context, effective preventive and protective measures and access to justice and accountability are of utmost importance.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries remain strongly committed to a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and recognize that children affected by conflict, violence and forced displacement are particularly vulnerable. We urge States to strengthen legal frameworks, and we call on all stakeholders to foster cooperation to prevent and address the harmful effects of children’s sexual abuse and exploitation and to provide support to child victims and survivors, and their families. </p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, what further steps could be taken to strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms at the international level to address sexual abuse and exploitation of children on social media and online entertainment platforms?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his timely report on resettlement. </p> <p>The number of persons displaced around the world continues to grow due to disasters, conflict, climate change and other drivers. We agree on the need to acknowledge poor resettlement as a global human rights issue.</p> <p>Poorly executed resettlement can have long-lasting negative impacts on multiple generations. It often disproportionately affects women, minorities, Indigenous Peoples as well as persons in vulnerable situations, including persons with disabilities. Violations of the right to adequate housing affect the realization of other rights, including the rights to education, work and health.</p> <p>The Special Rapporteur demonstrates that human-rights based resettlement is a planned and voluntary process. Meaningful consultation with and participation of affected persons, from the outset, is key.</p> <p>We welcome the initiative to develop human-rights based guidelines on resettlement. Inclusive resettlement can facilitate political participation and self-determination and mitigate conflict. </p> <p>Distinguished Special Rapporteur, how can we better ensure that the human rights of Indigenous Peoples are protected in resettlement processes? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for the comprehensive overview of the human rights framework on hatred based on religion or belief.</p> <p>In many parts of the world, including in our own countries people continue to experience hate and discrimination because of their opinion, or religion or belief. It is deeply concerning that religious or belief-based hatred often is facilitated and exacerbated through online platforms, which can rapidly escalate tensions.</p> <p>We must stand united in condemning all acts of hatred, discrimination or violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief and in combatting hate, discrimination and violence while upholding the right to freedom of opinion and expression. More speech, not less, is the key means to address hate speech.</p> <p>Fortunately, as your report shows, we have a robust framework to combat hate speech and standards on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence. We recall our full commitment to these standards and to our collective efforts to promote them in countering hatred.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can we best make use of existing tools to tackle online and offline expressions of religious hatred?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: </strong><strong>Interactive Dialogue&nbsp;with the Independent Expert on Albinism</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank Mme Miti-Drummond for her report on the right to education for persons with albinism. </p> <p>The right to education is a fundamental human right for all. Persons with albinism must have equal access to education without discrimination, and they should be provided with reasonable accommodations in order to uphold their rights at all stages of lifelong learning. </p> <p>We welcome the Independent Expert’s call on States to counter barriers to the right to education without discrimination, including combatting stigma, discrimination and bullying. We acknowledge the importance of awareness raising about albinism, as well as promoting timely and reasonable accommodations for the specific needs of persons with albinism. Moreover, we recognise the important role of non-governmental stakeholders in advocating and developing best practices for learners with albinism. </p> <p>Mme Miti-Drummond, you note in your report that lack of understanding is the leading cause for the failure to ensure reasonable accommodations for learners with albinism. </p> <p>In your view, what concrete staps should States take to fill the gaps in the provision of reasonable accommodations?</p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report titled “Business, planetary boundaries, and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” and a comprehensive list of recommendations for States. The Nordic-Baltic countries welcome your report which reiterates the pressing need for systemic and transformative changes to achieve a just and sustainable future, protect human rights from harm caused by businesses.</p> <p>Every alarm bell is ringing, alerting us on how humanity is exceeding planetary boundaries. Our well-being relies on a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment which is necessary for the full enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. Moreover, we must safeguard our planet for future generations, recognizing that the adverse effects of climate change must be addressed in the context of human rights.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, what measures should we take to enhance responsible business conduct, ensuring that human rights and environmental policies are integrated in business operations and in their supply chains?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Theme: How law enforcement officials can protect human rights in the context of peaceful protests</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his dedicated work and the latest report containing the useful and practical Model Protocol for Law Enforcement Officials to Promote and Protect Human Rights in the Context of Peaceful Protests.&nbsp; </p> <p>We express our deep concern at the shrinking space for freedom of peaceful assembly. The right of peaceful assembly is a human right that states are not only obliged to respect and protect but also promote and facilitate. It is fundamental for enabling the full enjoyment and realization of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Law enforcement should in no circumstances hamper the right to peaceful assembly and association by imposing undue restrictions or interfering in peaceful assemblies. </p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, we share your view and reprimand any use of digital technologies in the context of peaceful protests that does not enable the exercise of this right and is incompatible with international human rights law. Measures must be taken by states to ensure that domestic law enforcement fully follows the international human rights law and standards.</p> <p>The right of peaceful assembly and to peaceful protests, both online and offline, is essential for any society to thrive, and a priority for our states.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, how can Member States and this Council contribute to the implementation of the recommendations in your report? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council 55<sup>th</sup> Session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue on the report of Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>7 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We thank the Rapporteur for an informative report and his work on this important topic.</p> <p>Climate change poses a severe threat to the marine ecosystem which has profound implications for human rights. We appreciate Mr. Fakhri’s focus on overfishing, the responsible management of marine resources and that States fulfil their human rights obligations despite the climate challenges facing the marine ecosystem.</p> <p>Sustainable management of fisheries is not a choice, but a fundamental prerequisite to the right to food. Overfishing and the depletion of fishing stocks needs to be addressed in a collective manner through international agreements, such as the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. We need further targeted measures to realize the full potential of blue foods to help end malnutrition and build equitable and resilient food systems so we can fulfil the right to food for all. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, in your view, what are the most prominent challenges that hinder efforts to minimize overfishing and promote a human-rights based approach in the global sustainable management of fisheries? Which measures are the most crucial for overcoming these barriers?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>7 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mdm Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank you for your tireless efforts in the fight against torture. As we celebrate the 40<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Convention, it is more important than ever to ensure a strong and sustained response to torture around the globe. </p> <p>All prisoners&nbsp; shall&nbsp; be&nbsp; treated&nbsp; with&nbsp; respect&nbsp; due&nbsp; to&nbsp; their&nbsp; inherent dignity as human beings. Unfortunately, around the world we see that prisoners, are particularly exposed to the risk of torture, including political prisoners and human rights defenders. We commend your efforts to shed light on the current issues and good practices relating to prison management worldwide.&nbsp; </p> <p>As you note in your report, internationally agreed standards for the protection of all persons deprived of liberty exist albeit having gaps and implementation issues. To name a few: the Bangkok Rules on women prisoners, the Havana Rules on juveniles, and the Nelson Mandela Rules, which are used in many countries as the “blueprint” for national prison rules and in others, as the only rules directly regulating the treatment of prisoners. </p> <p>Dr Edwards, in light of these standards’ recognition and their undeniable impact on prison management, what opportunities do you see for your recommendations to feed into a possible revision process of these instruments?</p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Panel on countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf on the Nordic-Baltic countries Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.</p> <p>We strongly condemn any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence and reject acts by individuals that only aim to provoke and divide our societies. </p> <p>Much effort has been put into reaching a common understanding on the interpretation of article 20 of ICCPR, and its relation to freedom of expression. The Rabat six-part threshold test provides a useful tool for guidance.</p> <p>We recall resolution 16/18 and the implementation of its eight action points. It provides a road map to address root causes to religious intolerance, through promoting the interrelated and mutually reinforcing rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and non-discrimination. </p> <p>We need to revitalize the Istanbul process and exchange best practices and experiences from the Faith for Rights initiative.&nbsp; </p> <p>We all need to work preventively to adopt and implement action plans and initiatives to counter national, racial, or religious hatred and to provide full protection of the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities in all countries.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Broad coalition building and an open, constructive, and respectful dialogue is indispensable for progress.&nbsp; </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council ­– ­55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States – Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Finland.</p> <p>We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report on the achievements of the mandate over the last decade and her vision for its continuation.&nbsp; The previous mandate holders have promoted the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life, and made them more visible in situations of armed conflict and humanitarian crises. All this has strengthened the rights-based approach to disability.</p> <p>Yet much remains to be done. Limited implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development particularly affects persons with disabilities. The promising start of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy needs to be expanded. Persons with disabilities need to have a say on global challenges, such as climate change and digital transformation. We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s intention to focus on these themes and to consolidate the work already undertaken.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can States best support you in your “push forward” for the full realization of the rights of persons with disabilities?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic states. </p> <p>We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the challenges and achievements of children and youth who defend human rights. </p> <p>Her findings, that young human rights defenders are met with deliberate efforts to hinder and sanction them for carrying out human rights work, are deeply concerning. Not least the gendered threats and reprisals faced by young women and girl human rights defenders, particularly those defending sexual and reproductive health and rights. As well as defenders advocating against discrimination of, and for equal rights for, LGBT+ persons. </p> <p>We echo the call on States in the report to encourage and protect peaceful activism and public participation by children and youth, as it is their right. The report is a reminder of the value of human rights education and the need for strengthening it. </p> <p>Madame Special Rapporteur, states must uphold their commitment to creating a safe and enabling environment for children and youth to stand up for human rights. </p> <p>What measures can the Human Rights Council take to further your recommendations to States and the UN? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Privacy</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for presenting her latest report to the Council.</p> <p>Our countries attach great importance to the full respect and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, including person’s rights to privacy and personal data protection, that should not be diminished by the rapid developments in the digital age. </p> <p>We concur with the Special Rapporteur that States’ direct positive role in and appropriate legal frameworks for the effective protection of the rights to personal data protection and privacy – the essential aspects of human dignity - are of utmost importance. Moreover, in light of growing use of information technologies and their possible adverse effects on the fundamental rights and freedoms, it is essential for States to establish appropriate and accessible administrative and judicial remedies for reparation and restitution for victims of violations of their rights. </p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, what further steps should be taken to foster human rights education in the area of personal data protection and privacy at the state level?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council 55<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children – Najat Maalla M’jid</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We thank the Special Representative for her report and commend her for her unwavering commitment to address this grave issue. </p> <p>Every child has the right to be protected from violence, regardless of their circumstances. Escalating factors such as conflict, climate change and socioeconomic disparities render children increasingly vulnerable to violence and demand a firm response, both on the national and international levels. </p> <p>As violence against children in all its forms and settings continues to increase, the need to prevent and respond effectively to all forms of violence against children is more urgent now than ever. We in particular appreciate Dr. M’jid’s focus on the investment case for ending violence against children and her continued engagement to demonstrate the benefit of integrated approaches to tackle violence against children, highlighting the high returns on investment in proven cost-effective cross-sectoral services.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Special Representative, given the alarming rise in violence against children globally, what specific measures should be prioritized to continue to push for concrete, integrated and sustainable solutions that leave no child behind? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the Special Representative for her report and valuable recommendations.</p> <p>We support her in encouraging the Human Rights Council to maintain the practice of including recommendations on the protection of children affected by armed conflict when considering or adopting resolutions on country-specific situations or thematic issues. The same applies for the Universal Periodic Review. Particular attention should be paid to the implementation of such recommendations. </p> <p>We also support her in encouraging the Council to continue to include references to child rights violations in its resolutions establishing or renewing the mandates of special procedures, commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions, and investigations, and to foresee in those resolutions dedicated expertise on child rights. We encourage Member States on their side, to ensure that child protection resources and capacity are allocated in relevant budgetary provisions.</p> <p>Madam Special Representative, which concrete measures should be prioritized to ensure dedicated expertise on child rights and child protection in special procedures, commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions, and investigations?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual Full-Day meeting on the Rights of the Child</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel discussion 2: Child rights mainstreaming in the United Nations</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic Baltic States</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic states – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>Every year we discuss most pertinent issues that children face around the world. These discussions are even more valuable when we make an effort to include child participants and take their opinions into account. </p> <p>The international community has an obligation to provide a safe and prosperous future for the next generation. The only way forward is for the United Nations system and states to effectively implement policy framework on strengthening a child rights-based approach.</p> <p>We believe that investment in child rights expertise, capacity building programs, and human rights education are crucial elements for child’s development and overall advancement of human rights and freedoms. </p> <p>Children are not just dependent on adults - they are active members of society, often taking a role as human rights defenders, and their voices, ideas and participation in public life and decision-making are just as important as those of adults.</p> <p>However, children often face great personal risk, repressions and legal, administrative and practical barriers to participate in civic activities. It is an alarming trend that all of us should take into account.</p> <p>Dear Panelists, in your view, how can states more efficiently accelerate implementation of child rights-based approach among international organizations?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his valuable report and his longstanding commitment to the people of Iran.</p> <p>Systemic discrimination against women and girls in the Islamic Republic of Iran intensifies. We are profoundly concerned by the pending bill imposing even stricter punishments for defying compulsory veiling laws. Meanwhile, women are continuously persecuted and physically assaulted. Reports of the use of sexual and gender-based violence to suppress dissent are shocking.&nbsp; </p> <p>Like the Special Rapporteur, we are deeply alarmed by the sharp spike in executions and violations of due process. Iran must impose an immediate moratorium on executions and pursue a consistent policy towards the abolition of the death penalty.</p> <p>Crackdown on civic space persists, affecting human rights defenders, persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, civil society organisations, journalists and lawyers, among others. Authorities continue to shut down avenues of freedom of expression, online and offline.&nbsp; We urge Iran to cease harassment of human rights defenders and to release all unjustly or arbitrarily detained, including foreign citizens and dual nationals.</p> <p>Finally, we urge the Iranian authorities to fully cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.</p> <p>Distinguished Special Rapporteur, how can we better support civil society in Iran?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Fact-Finding mission on Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, Madam Chair,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic states.</p> <p>We thank the Fact-Finding mission for the report and express our strong support to the renewal of its mandate.</p> <p>The report indicates widespread repressions following the 2022 protests, which particularly impacted women and girls and members of ethnic and religious minorities. We are deeply concerned about the many serious human rights violations outlined in the report, including murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and enforced disappearance.&nbsp; The report states that many of the serious human rights violations that have been committed against women and girls may amount to the crime against humanity of gender persecution.</p> <p>We are also deeply concerned about the unprecedented spike in executions. We oppose the use of the death penalty under all circumstances, including as a means to spread fear throughout society and chill dissent in the wake of the peaceful protests.</p> <p>It seems clear from the report that use of lethal force and other illegal means by the security forces against protesters, including sexual and gender-based violence, is facilitated by an environment of sustained and systematic impunity for gross violations of human rights and an absence of accountability. </p> <p>We admire, support and stand in solidarity with the people of Iran, particularly survivors and families of victims seeking justice, as well as women and girls, who show immense resilience and speak up against these violations. </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the DPRK</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We commend the efforts of the Special Rapporteur and the OHCHR Seoul Office in monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in the DPRK. We remain deeply concerned about the serious systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the country. </p> <p>The government’s intensifying repressions, restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms, and worsening isolation have led to devastating consequences for the North Korean people. We concur with the Special Rapporteur that collaborative joint efforts involving all regional actors must be taken to ensure accountability for the human rights violations in the DPRK. </p> <p>We urge the DPRK to take meaningful steps to implement fundamental rights and freedoms in the country and to cooperate fully with the UN human rights mechanisms - the next Universal Periodic Review of the country in November provides an opportunity for re-engagement and for confidence-building.</p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, how can we best support the UN human rights mechanisms to advance accountability for human rights violations in the DPRK? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States. </p> <p>We express our firm support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry and commend its efforts to document evidence to ensure that the Russian authorities are held accountable for violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law, as well as associated international crimes, including war crimes, in the context of Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. </p> <p>Your latest report provides, once again, unambiguous evidence of indiscriminate attacks and deliberate killings of Ukrainian civilians, as attacks on Ukrainian homes, hospitals, schools, childcare facilities and critical and civilian infrastructure continue. </p> <p>Russia’s documented and widespread illegal detentions and systematic use of torture against both civilians and prisoners of war are horrific. Furthermore, the Russian authorities’ unlawful deportation and forced transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia, within occupied territories, and to Belarus, may constitute war crimes. We strongly condemn the separation of children from families and legal guardians, and any change of children’s personal status, illegal adoption or placement in foster families, and efforts to indoctrinate them. </p> <p>We must ensure that Russia is held accountable for its violations of international law. The investigations must continue until full accountability and justice are ensured. </p> <p>Mr. Møse, what more can we collectively do to ensure comprehensive accountability for all atrocity crimes?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We express our firm support for the essential work of the Commission of Inquiry. With deep regret, we note the Commission’s assessment that the violence is spiralling and the mounting and devastating effects of the massive human rights violations and abuses committed in Syria over thirteen years are only becoming more dramatic and serious year by year, continuing to wreck the lives of millions of Syrians. </p> <p>We are very concerned about reports of alarming level of poverty and economic decline throughout Syria. </p> <p>Since the ICJ issued its ruling to stop torture, enforced disappearances and deaths in Syria’s detention facilities, there have been new reports on killings of Syrians by torture and arbitrary arrests by the Syrian regime. </p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the continued patterns of alleged war crimes, and violations and abuses of international human rights law as well as violations of humanitarian law in this protracted armed conflict, particularly by the Syrian regime and its allies. Once again, civilians, especially women and girls, are disproportionately affected by the repeated cycles of violence. We stress the vital importance of ensuring accountability for mass atrocities and violations. </p> <p>Mr Commissioner, what more can we do to ensure accountability on the basis of your findings?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>55th session of the Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur, for his update and the attention he draws to the ongoing serious human rights crisis in Myanmar.</p> <p>Three years have passed since the military coup in Myanmar, and the situation continues to deteriorate, with devastating consequences for human rights and humanitarian conditions in the country. The Nordic-Baltic countries strongly condemn the violent actions of the military. We reiterate our call on the regime to end all forms of violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, aerial attacks, mass killings and persecution of civilians. All conflict parties must abide by international law.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the imposition of mandatory military service as it risks exacerbating an already fragile situation and risks further undermining the enjoyment of human rights of the people.</p> <p>The Nordic Baltic countries jointly underline the urgent need to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need while supporting those actors committed to a democratic transition process that affirms human rights, transparency, and accountability.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, what is your view on how the international community could best work with regional and local partners to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in most need? </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue on the report</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Belarus</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>The deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus has never been worse. </p> <p>Since the crackdown on peaceful protests in 2020, we have witnessed a relentless, politically motived campaign against ordinary citizens, with over 1400 political prisoners to date.</p> <p>A brutal crackdown against civil society: teachers, lawyers, journalists, factory workers, writers, human rights defenders, and others. </p> <p>The unprecedented level of repression and intimidation to discourage any participation in democratic processes makes it clear that conditions for free and fair elections were not met on 25 February. </p> <p>We are strongly concerned by the report by the High Commissioner that some of the violations committed in Belarus may amount to crimes against humanity. </p> <p>We condemn the politically motivated sentences and call for the immediate and unconditional release and rehabilitation of&nbsp;all political prisoners. </p> <p>We reiterate the need for accountability, to achieve justice for the victims and&nbsp; prevent further crimes. We urge the Belarusian authorities to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.</p> <p>High Commissioner, how can the international community support&nbsp; political prisoners in Belarus?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>Iceland expresses grave concern over the mounting evidence of war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, including systematic use of torture, rape, and wilful killing. We remain deeply alarmed by the ongoing civilian suffering caused by gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the unprecedented level of human rights violations in Belarus and restrictions to political participation resulting in failure to meet conditions for fair and legitimate elections on 25 February. We condemn ill-treatment of political prisoners and politically motivated sentencing.</p> <p>In Gaza, we are gravely concerned about imminent famine and reiterate our call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. We condemn the terrorist attacks of 7 October, call for the release of all hostages, and reiterate that the two-state solution is the only sustainable way forward.</p> <p>In Afghanistan, we deplore the Taliban’s draconian restrictions on the human rights of women and girls. Systematic and institutionalised gender-based discrimination and violence must end. The situation merits a discussion about the application of gender to the definition of apartheid.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about human rights violations of ethnic and religious minorities in China. We urge China to abide by its international human rights obligations and to immediately implement OHCHR’s recommendations.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on the situation in DPRK, Iran, Myanmar and Syria in respective interactive dialogues. </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 8: Commemoration of International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (GA res. 78/234)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries <br /> 27 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries.</p> <p>We remain resolute in our commitment to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, both at home and abroad.</p> <p>Racial discrimination not only perpetuates systemic inequalities and social divisions where they exist, but also undermines the principle of human dignity. </p> <p>While significant strides have been made to combat racial discrimination and intolerance, both remain a concern, including in our own countries. We must enhance our efforts to dismantle all forms of discrimination and intolerance and ardently pursue equality and justice for all.</p> <p>We must recognize the experiences of those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and develop and implement targeted policy measures that address injustice through an intersectional and participatory approach. </p> <p>There is strength in diversity; it enriches societies, promotes understanding, and facilitates innovation. </p> <p>We must undertake concerted and collective efforts to ensure that future generations have equal opportunities to realize their utmost and fullest potential. </p> <p>Together, we must strive towards a global society in which the human rights of every person are ensured and one in which we recognize that diversity is a cornerstone of progress and prosperity.&nbsp; </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Mali</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the Independent Expert for his important report. </p> <p>We are alarmed by the worsened human rights situation in Mali following the rapidly deteriorating security situation in all regions of the country, exacerbated by the departure of MINUSMA and the intensified conflict in the north of Mali. We are deeply concerned by the systematic targeting of civilians by extremist armed groups, including the use of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as by continued reports of grave violations committed by national forces and foreign security personnel. </p> <p>We urge the Government of Mali to ensure full accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties, including through credible and independent investigations. </p> <p>We note with concern the continued shrinking civic space, including attacks on and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society representatives. </p> <p>Mr Independent Expert, how should the international community help strengthen access to justice and increase accountability in Mali, taking into consideration the growing difficulty facing human rights advocacy in the country and the unwillingness of Malian authorities to cooperate with you during your mission? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner’s oral report on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic Baltic States</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic States. </p> <p>We appreciate and firmly support the decade’s work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine to monitor and report on human rights situation in the country and bring evidence of violations committed by Russia, and thank the High Commissioner for the oral update. </p> <p>We also commend the OHCHR’s consistent technical assistance and capacity building to Ukraine.</p> <p>Once again, we condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and parts of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, as well as the unlawful imposition of Russian citizenship, legal and administrative systems, and the holding of the so-called “elections”.</p> <p>Russian armed forces demonstrate unimaginable cruelty by killing, torturing, and committing acts of sexual violence, thus inflicting serious and enduring harm to people and their culture, especially targeting Crimean Tatars, and suppressing Ukrainian identity among children. We condemn the illegal conscription of residents of Crimea and other temporarily occupied areas of Ukraine into the Russian armed forces. </p> <p>Unfortunately, many violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law go unreported, as Russia continues to hinder access of international monitoring mechanisms to the territories it controls in Ukraine. </p> <p>The Nordic and Baltic States reiterate our unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.</p> <p>High Commissioner, what more can we collectively do to ensure effective investigation and full accountability for all violations that Russia committed in Crimea and other temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: High-level dialogue on the Central African Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 March 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis of protecting human rights and accountability in the Central African Republic fueled by a history of prevalent impunity. </p> <p>We are alarmed by recurrent armed clashes that perpetuate a vicious cycle of human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The perpetrators are diverse, including the Central African armed forces and its Russian allies. All must be held accountable. </p> <p>The challenging human rights, security and humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by the crisis in neighboring Sudan. </p> <p>We deplore the widespread prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, child recruitment, and the use of children in armed conflict and call on all armed actors to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. </p> <p>Acknowledging constraints, we urge the Government to break the cycle of violence and address grievances.</p> <p>The path to durable peace requires a firm commitment to justice and accountability, respect for human rights, inclusive dialogue and good governance.</p> <p>Mr. President, how can we as the international community help strengthen access to justice and increase accountability in CAR?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with International Expert on human rights situation in Colombia </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2 April 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the International Expert for her dedicated efforts.</p> <p>We commend Colombia for its efforts towards peace – and for its openness to recognize the country’s human rights challenges and the obstacles facing the full implementation of the peace agreement. </p> <p>The situation for human rights defenders, as well as for signatories to the Peace Agreement in Colombia, remains deeply worrying. While we recognise recent efforts to improve security in rural areas, we encourage the Colombian government to continue strengthening the National Protection Unit (UNP) and reconvene the National Round Table for Security Guarantees with representatives at the highest level.&nbsp; </p> <p>We also urge Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office to advance towards ensuring accountability for human rights violations and abuses. </p> <p>In line with the report of the Independent Expert, we call for efforts to accelerate the implementation of the 2016-peace agreement, with a specific focus on human rights, transitional justice and steps that address more effectively the root causes of violence and armed conflict.</p> <p>According to your findings, what would be your main recommendation to accelerate the implementation of the Peace Agreement? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 55th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Interactive Dialogue&nbsp;with the High Commissioner on Haiti (with participation of the independent expert)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2 April 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner and the Independent Expert for the latest report and reiterate our support for their work. </p> <p>We remain gravely concerned by the dire human rights and humanitarian crisis in Haiti, which has only deteriorated further amid the unrelenting gang violence causing alarming forced displacement and widespread shortage of basic necessities and medical care. </p> <p>Support to assist Haiti in restoring security and the rule of law is critically needed and we fully back efforts to ensure a multinational security support mission is deployed without further delay. The widespread violence, illicit arms flows, and grave human rights abuses undermine the stability and security of Haiti and the wider region. We are particularly concerned by the violations and abuses committed against children and the widespread use of sexual and gender-based violence, including as a weapon by gangs to spread fear. </p> <p>We welcome the establishment of a transitional presidential council, with the aim of preparing a peaceful transition of power and free and fair elections. An inclusive, Haitian-led political transition is necessary to re-establish democratic structures, promote the rule of law and safeguard the human rights of the population. We support the continuing efforts to ensure this and commend CARICOM’s efforts towards making the political agreement possible. </p> <p>High Commissioner, how can the international community best engage with the political transition process in Haiti and relevant stakeholders to ensure follow up to your work?</p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 55th Session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the report of High Commissioner on the Democratic Republic of Congo</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>2 April 2024</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I make this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Thank you, High Commissioner, and the Team of International Experts for your report. </p> <p>The escalation of armed violence in eastern DRC, and related violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, including attacks against civilians and conflict related sexual violence, is of serious concern. The situation, caused primarily by the armed group M23, as well as other armed groups, severely impacts the human rights of individuals in the DRC. These groups must cease all hostilities, withdraw from the areas they occupy and disarm. All states should stop any support to these armed groups.</p> <p>We are closely following the appeal trial of the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp in Kasaï Central in 2017, as well as the investigation into the disappearance of their four Congolese companions. The legal process remains vital and has our full support. We encourage the continued cooperation between the Congolese authorities and the UN-mandated follow-up mechanism. </p> <p>The lifting of the moratorium regarding death penalty as announced by the Congolese government on 3 March 2024, is very worrying. We strongly oppose the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, without exception.&nbsp; </p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you.</span></p>

Apr 04, 2024Nordic Statement on Crimes Against Humanity, Cluster VNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Helga Hrönn Karlsdóttir, Legal Adviser<br /> Directorate for Legal &amp; Executive Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs <br /> Sixth Committee, Resumed 78th session, 4 April 2024<br /> Plenary meeting<br /> <br /> <br /> Nordic Statement on Crimes Against Humanity, Cluster V<br /> Safeguards, Articles 5, 11 and 12<br /> <br /> Thank you Chair, </p> <p>I am speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>The Nordic Countries stand firm in our dedication to human rights for everyone. Without human rights, there can be no rule of law, and vice versa. Human rights safeguards are needed also when fighting impunity for the most serious international crimes. This is one of the reasons why the Nordic countries think the ILC Draft Articles provide for a sound basis for a future convention.</p> <p>Regarding Article 5 the Nordic countries reiterate the importance of the non-refoulement principle which provides for essential protection under various international legal frameworks, including human rights law and refugee law.</p> <p>Article 5 underscores that the non-refoulement comes into play when there are “substantial grounds” for believing that a person would be in danger of being subjected to A crime against humanity. The Nordic countries lean towards using the criteria of “serious risk” rather than “substantial grounds” as stipulated in Article 19(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and echoed in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. </p> <p>The Nordic countries emphasize the paramount importance of due process rights, especially within the realm of criminal law. We thus appreciate the broad scope of Article 11 which underscores the fair treatment and full protection of individuals throughout all stages of proceedings. Upholding the right to a fair trial serves as a fundamental aspect of fair treatment and acts as a procedural mechanism to safeguard the rule of law. </p> <p>Moving on to Article 12, the Nordic countries welcome the victim-survivor-centred approach in the Draft Article. We firmly believe that victims and survivors are and should be at the heart of international criminal justice. Therefore, we remain open to potential amendments to the Article that would further strengthen its objective, and note that some interesting ideas have been put forward by Member States in that regard during the April session of the Sixth Committee last year as well as in the written comments from December.</p> <p>One such consideration that may be worth exploring is the inclusion of language concerning the right of victims to receive information regarding the progress and outcome of a complaint. Furthermore, the Nordics are amenable to the potential inclusion of another subparagraph to paragraph 1 emphasizing the importance of states employing best practices to avoid re-traumatization during evidence collection.</p> <p>We appreciate the comprehensive approach in Article 12, which reflects the evolution of international human rights law on this matter. We welcome the non-exhaustive list of forms of reparation presented in the Paragraph 3, which include, but is not limited to restitution, compensation, satisfaction, rehabilitation, cessation and guarantees of non-repetition. Survivors of the most serious international crimes have lived through some of the worst imaginable violations of their human rights, and they deserve the right to receive reparation for the harm they have suffered.</p> <p>In the view of the Nordic countries, it is essential to keep in mind that the victims in most vulnerable or marginalized situations may face additional hurdles in seeking justice, such as child victims, individuals with disabilities and victims of gender-based crimes. We therefore believe that the inclusion of a provision tailored to meet the needs of these groups, is worth considering. </p> <p>This concludes our remarks for cluster 5. Thank you Chair. </p>

Apr 04, 2024Joint Nordic Statement - Crimes against humanity (Recommendation of the ILC)New York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Helga Hrönn Karlsdóttir, Legal Adviser<br /> Directorate for Legal &amp; Executive Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs <br /> Sixth Committee, Resumed 78th session, 4 April 2024<br /> Plenary meeting<br /> <br /> <br /> Honourable Chair.<br /> I am speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.<br /> <br /> Chair, <br /> I would like to begin by quoting resolution 77/249 of the General Assembly, in which it mandated our discussions this week: <br /> <br /> Deeply disturbed by the persistence of crimes against humanity, and recognizing the need to prevent and punish such crimes, which are among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.<br /> <br /> By these words, the General Assembly, by consensus, recognized that these serious international crimes need to be prevented and punished, sending a strong signal to the victims and survivors of crimes against humanity that their suffering has not gone unnoticed.<br /> Ultimately, a new UN convention on crimes against humanity should be adopted as a sign of respect for the survivors of these shocking crimes, to prevent new suffering – and to honour the memory of all those who did not survive.</p> <p>The new convention would not only help States to adopt and harmonize national laws relating to crimes against humanity, and promote more effective inter-State cooperation on the prevention, investigation and prosecution of such crimes can also change the possible perception that the victims of some international crimes are more deserving of justice than others. In plain words, it simply makes no sense that there is still a gap in international law in terms of prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, a crime which is prohibited as a peremptory norm under international law. By comparison, treaties on genocide and war crimes have existed for decades.<br /> <br /> Chair, <br /> the Nordic countries thank all delegates for rich and constructive discussions this week, as well as during the resumed session last year and through written comments. Our mandate was to exchange substantive views on all aspects of the draft articles. This certainly has been the case. </p> <p>As the Nordic countries see it, the time is now ripe to move on. The Draft Articles prepared by the International Law Commission, form a solid basis for negotiations and as we have heard again this week, they enjoy a very high level of support among delegations. <br /> <br /> Chair,<br /> The Nordic countries continue to be deeply disturbed by the persistence of crimes against humanity. They are among the most serious international crimes, of concern to the international community as a whole. Fighting impunity for them is a matter of urgency. <br /> <br /> I thank you.</p>

Mar 26, 2024OECD: Media Freedom Coalition Statement on the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s Media and Information PrinciplesStatements Other

<p>The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition welcome the adoption by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) of&nbsp;<a href="chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://one.oecd.org/document/DCD/DAC(2024)15/FINAL/en/pdf" rel="noopener">new Development Co-operation Principles for Relevant and Effective Support to Media and the Information Environment</a>on 22 March.</p> <p>Independent media around the world face unprecedented threats. Rising disinformation and polarisation, attacks on journalists, censorship, challenging and evolving business environments, media capture and declining trust in journalism are combining to pose an existential threat to free and independent media, information integrity and to democracy itself. In this context, additional and more flexible funding and other capacity support to the media are sorely needed.</p> <p>The Media Freedom Coalition, through its Media Development Working Group, has responded to this challenge by helping to develop new principles, which set out how donors can improve both the quality and quantity of their financial and other assistance to the media sector. We are delighted that these principles, substantiated by a global consultation process led by the Global Forum for Media Development and the Consultative Network of media freedom NGOs, have now been further developed and adopted by the OECD DAC. The members of the Media Freedom Coalition are in an excellent position to strongly support the implementation of these principles. Collective implementation of the principles offers the prospect that independent media will be safeguarded and global information integrity preserved.</p> <p>Signed:</p> <p>Argentina<br /> Australia<br /> Austria<br /> Belize<br /> Botswana<br /> Bulgaria<br /> Canada<br /> Chile<br /> Costa Rica<br /> Croatia<br /> Cyprus<br /> Czechia<br /> Denmark<br /> Estonia<br /> Finland<br /> France<br /> Germany<br /> Ghana<br /> Greece<br /> Guyana<br /> Honduras<br /> Iceland<br /> Ireland<br /> Italy<br /> Japan<br /> Kosovo<br /> Latvia<br /> Lebanon<br /> Lithuania<br /> Luxembourg<br /> Maldives<br /> Montenegro<br /> New Zealand<br /> North Macedonia<br /> Norway<br /> Portugal<br /> Republic of Korea<br /> Serbia<br /> Seychelles<br /> Sierra Leone<br /> Slovakia<br /> Slovenia<br /> Spain<br /> Sweden<br /> Switzerland<br /> Ukraine<br /> Uruguay<br /> the Netherlands<br /> the United Kingdom<br /> the United States</p>

Mar 19, 2024UNESCO: National Statement of Iceland at the 219th session of the Executive BoardParis - UNESCO

<span></span> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">National statement of Iceland<br /> 219th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO, March 2024</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"><em><strong>Delivered by the Permanent Delegate of Iceland, Ms Audbjörg Halldórsdóttir</strong></em></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Ms Chairperson of the Executive Board,&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> Ms Director-General,</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">&nbsp;<br /> Ms President of the General Conference,</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">&nbsp;<br /> Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Global divisions continue to rise and it has never been more important to defend multilateralism, freedom and democracy. The world is faced with multiple crises. Climate crisis, growing in-equities and social instability, conflicts, erosion of human rights and democratic values and alarming rates of disinformation and gender-based violence globally. These interconnected crises will only be solved through a system that builds healthy, caring, just and sustainable societies – where both planet and people can prosper.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Dear Colleagues.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">As we tackle the immediate issues at hand, it is important to keep our eyes on the future. The goal of the upcoming Summit of the Future is to create the conditions to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. UNESCO‘s mandate must be well reflected in the outcome of the Summit, as its priorities encompass strong enablers for sustainable development and a prosperous future.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">This should include the results of recent years‘ conferences held under UNESCO’s areas of competence - Mondiacult, affirming culture as a global public good, and the Transforming Education Summit, reinforcing the role of education in the global political agenda. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">The importance of a holistic, interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach is clear – and here UNESCO has a strong advantage. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">The UN Secretary General‘s policy brief on „Beyond GDP“, provides a challenge for Member States and UN organizations, to outline a path to develop complementary metrics where what matters to people, the planet and the future is better recognized. UNESCO is well placed to contribute to this thought- and work process – as its mandate can certainly work to advance quality of life above and beyond monetary measures. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Iceland, as a part of the partnership of Wellbeing Economy Governments, is already working to this end of developing policies of wellbeing within the context of the UN 2030 Agenda.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Dear Colleagues.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">UNESCO’s work on conservation and knowledge production is important to counter the harmful impact of climate change, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss that threaten our physical, mental, and social health and pose significant challenges to our efforts to promote wellbeing and prosperous future for all. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Let us remember that SDG5 on gender equality is an enabler and a multiplier for all other SDGs. Recent years have seen a frightening backsliding on this front. We therefore welcome the focus placed on gender equality during this session of the Board. Empowering women and girls is key to</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">addressing many of our challenges and Iceland will continue to support and help strengthening the work of UNESCO on a transformative approach to gender equality. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">It is important not to become complacent - human rights need to be actively strengthened and protected in all areas of UNESCO‘s work. Iceland is in favour of an increased focus on gender diversity and the rights of LGBTQI+ people.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">UNESCO‘s work to strengthen the inclusion of crisis-affected learners in all regions is more important than ever. We commend UNESCO for its invaluable work and response to education in emergencies.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Dear Colleagues.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine continues to have a devastating effect on Ukrainians, their cultural life and heritage, environment, education and the work of journalists. It is also an attack on the multilateral system and a blatant violation of international law. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">We commend UNESCO’s continuous efforts in supporting Ukraine, which are essential in combatting the long-term effect of Russia’s aggression. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">The catastrophic crisis in Gaza is horrific and has continued to deepen. The humanitarian toll is devastating. We emphasize the importance of full respect for international law and reiterate our call for a humanitarian ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian access and protection of civilians, medical personnel and humanitarian workers.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Iceland supported the establishment of an</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">emergency assistance programme within UNESCO’s fields of competence, as mandated in November. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">The urgency for assistance is vital, seeing the widespread damage to Gaza’s infrastucture - and UNESCO has an important role to play.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Iceland is looking into how we can support UNESCO’s emergency assistance programme.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Colleagues.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">We welcome UNESCO’s</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">presentation of the C/5 implementation report which provides a good overview of the organization’s work. We also appreciate the Organization’s forthrightness on the reported financial management challenges. At the same time, we encourage the Secretariat to identify ways to improve appropriate risk management and financial mechanism controls, in order to avoid similar situations in the future.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">We look forward to having constructive discussions on the implementation report at our upcoming session. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Let me extend our thanks to the IOS and the entire Secretariat team for excellent reports and their tireless efforts in preparing for this board meeting. We understand this was challenging, given the short timeframe.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Dear friends.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"></span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Our discussions at the Executive Board lay the groundwork for the direction of the work of the organization and assess how well we think UNESCO is delivering on its’ mandate. However, perhaps no less valuable, is the platform/opportunity it provides for Member States to engage with one another, to listen to the concerns and priorities of our different countries. To put to practice the values UNESCO was formed around. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">This may seem obvious – but perhaps it is a good idea, to remind ourselves of the value the multilateral system has brought us – especially in this time of turbulence and what seems to be an increasingly polarized world. </span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">I look forward to our deliberations in the coming days.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Thank you.</span><span style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;"> </span><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 08, 2024Media Freedom Coalition statement on International Women’s Day 2024Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p><span>On this International Women’s Day, with the theme Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, the undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition call attention to the continued underrepresentation of, and lack of investment in and safety of women in media – as sources, experts, journalists, editors, photographers and every other role.</span></p> <p><span>Gender pay gaps, women’s limited access to training and pathways to promotion, bias, online harassment and abuse, and disinformation and misinformation, combine to distort the public discourse because the voices, messages, images and issues do not reflect the diversity of our societies.</span></p> <p><span>We recognise the powerful role that a diverse and pluralistic media environment can have in ensuring the right to freedom of expression for all. Media reporting informs, educates, and influences—shaping public perceptions and opinions, official narratives, and decision-making. Fair and inclusive coverage of conflicts, challenges, and lives demands an increase in women’s participation, voices, decision-making and leadership.&nbsp; Respectful representations of women and girls, in all their diversity, can help dismantle gender-based discrimination and inspire action to achieve gender equality in the media.</span></p> <p><span>All journalists should be able to cover different views and experiences – this would assist in ending the dominant depiction of women and girls as victims and instead represent the full, complex lives and roles that women and girls play at every level of society. Women journalists can participate in witnessing, recording and ensuring the different voices, bodies and stories of a variety of people are heard and seen.<br /> <br /> We also call attention to the heightened safety risks to women journalists covering conflicts. Despite protections under international humanitarian law, journalists experience deliberate attacks. Sexism, power imbalances, and gender-based violence, including technology-facilitated violence, are exacerbated during times of conflict. Safety equipment is designed for the male body and media safety protocols often disregard the threats that women face.</span></p> <p><span>Women journalists are subjected to explicit images and are threatened with rape, violence and death. Attempts to discredit, intimidate and silence women journalists endanger their lives and livelihoods.</span></p> <p><span>On International Women’s Day, we call on the international community to invest in women across all media to ensure equal access by and participation of women in the media and ensure the safety of women journalists. Diverse women reporters, sources, and media decision-makers, as well as the multiplicity of issues covered, are needed to support the pursuit of equality, peace, and security.</span></p> <p><strong>Signed:&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Argentina<br /> Australia<br /> Austria<br /> Belize<br /> Botswana<br /> Bulgaria<br /> Canada<br /> Chile<br /> Costa Rica<br /> Croatia<br /> Cyprus<br /> Czechia<br /> Denmark<br /> Estonia<br /> Finland<br /> France<br /> Germany<br /> Ghana<br /> Greece<br /> Guyana<br /> Honduras<br /> Iceland<br /> Ireland<br /> Italy<br /> Japan<br /> Kosovo<br /> Latvia<br /> Lebanon<br /> Lithuania<br /> Luxembourg<br /> Maldives<br /> Montenegro<br /> New Zealand<br /> North Macedonia<br /> Norway<br /> Portugal<br /> Republic of Korea<br /> Serbia<br /> Seychelles<br /> Sierra Leone<br /> Slovakia<br /> Slovenia<br /> Spain<br /> Sweden<br /> Switzerland<br /> Ukraine<br /> Uruguay<br /> the Netherlands<br /> the United Kingdom<br /> the United States</p>

Mar 05, 2024Use of veto and situation in GazaNew York - United Nations

<span><strong>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Seventy-eighth Session of the UN General Assembly&nbsp;<br /> 59th Plenary Meeting, 5 March 2024.<br /> Use of veto – Item 63: Special report of the Security Council<br /> Debate pursuant to resolution 76/262</strong><br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div> <span><br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Iceland aligns itself with the statement delivered earlier by Liechtenstein on behalf of a group of countries.<br /> <br /> We deeply regret the ongoing impasse in the Security Council and call on Council Members to redouble their efforts to address the grave humanitarian situation and the need for concrete action to protect civilians and facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza.<br /> <br /> Iceland’s position has been clear and consistent. We have joined calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access. Humanitarian assistance must reach more than 2 million civilians desperately in need of life-saving aid. It is needed now and must be delivered now.<br /> <br /> We also continue to condemn, in the strongest terms, the brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas and call for immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. We have simultaneously called on Israel to fully comply with international law, including international humanitarian law, protect civilians and provide sufficient humanitarian aid, in accordance with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice.<br /> <br /> We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the fate of over 30 thousand people, including women and children, who have been killed. Tragically, there is no safe place in Gaza and a military action in Rafah would dramatically worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> After more than four months of war, close to two million people have been displaced, schools have either been destroyed or turned into emergency shelters, healthcare services are in tatters and remaining hospitals are barely operational, with little or no electricity, fuel and medical supplies.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Under these dire circumstances, Iceland has greatly increased its humanitarian assistance to Gaza through various means and organizations. We fully recognize the unique role of UNRWA in delivering basic services in Gaza and highly appreciate the shift actions by the Agency and the Secretary General in the wake of the serious allegations of the involvement of a number of its employees in the terrorist attacks on Israel in October. We have the fullest confidence in the OIOS internal investigation, and the external review led by Madame Colonna.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Despite this dire situation, there must be a plan for the day after. Iceland recognized the state of Palestine in 2011 and has consistently advocated for the two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We need a political process paving the way towards that end. Without it, there is no end to the vicious cycle of violence. Without it, there is no long-term, sustainable solution to this conflict.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Feb 13, 2024Joint Nordic statement on agenda item 3: Evaluation: A meta-synthesis on UN-Women’s advocacy and communicationNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Joint Nordic Statement by H.E. Mr. Erik Laursen,<br /> Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations<br /> </strong><strong>First Regular Session of the UN Women Executive Board 2024<br /> Agenda item 3: Evaluation:&nbsp;A meta-synthesis on UN-Women’s advocacy and communication<br /> 13 February 2024</strong><br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span><br /> <br /> <br /> I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.<br /> <br /> The recently published Gender Social Norms Index found evidence of widespread gender biases across time and geographies that impede women’s economic empowerment and political participation and their full enjoyment of human rights. Achieving gender equality requires eliminating biased gender social norms. UN Women’s advocacy and communications work is essential to achieving transformative shifts in gender social norms and attitudes to enable the full achievement of SDG5 as a catalyser for the 2030 Agenda.<br /> <br /> We thank the evaluations office for report. This work is a core part of UN Women’s normative mandate of UN Women, and essential for the entity’s delivery on its triple mandate as a whole. We underscore our appreciation for the strong delivery on this area.<br /> <br /> </span>The evaluation at hand also provides important lessons learned that can inform a strengthened approach. We therefore welcome and commend the managements proposed responses, including developing an updated Communications Strategy in 2024. We also hope that the lessons learned will inform the upcoming Midterm Review of the Strategic Plan and encourage deepened exchange of knowledge between country and regional offices to leverage expertise and lessons learned across the organisation.</p> <p><span>We would like to highlight a few key issues:<br /> <br /> Firstly, we note the importance of close cooperation with local actors, including civil society organisations, to ensure the success of campaigns and awareness-raising raising initiatives. The evaluation pointed to the limited consideration of local contexts as a key impediment to delivering effective results in this area.<br /> <br /> For advocacy campaigns to have meaningful impact on addressing root causes of gender inequality – especially in challenging contexts – they must be tailored to local contexts, including cultural sensitivities and languagebarriers. At the same time, attention should also be paid to accessibility for vulnerable groups.<br /> <br /> We welcome the management’s commitment to strengthening the regional networks of communications specialists and focal points.<br /> <br /> Secondly, we emphasize the importance of engaging men and boys in awareness-raising initiatives. Viewing men and boys as partners in gender equality is necessary to addressing the risk of backlash. The evaluation found that many of UN Women’s campaigns had contributed to changes in attitudes and behaviours, by engaging men and boys to raise awareness of gender equality and social norms change. The Nordic countries encourage UN <br /> Women to continue this practice.<br /> <br /> Thirdly, weak monitoring practices were identified as an impediment for assessing the effectiveness of advocacy and communications activities. This links to the need to ensure well-developed strategies for advocacy and communication initiatives. Measuring transformative impacts, particularly when it comes to shifting gender and social norms, requires thorough planning. We acknowledge the difficulty of setting baselines for measuring these changes, but encourage strengthened efforts in this regard.<br /> <br /> We welcome the management’s response and commitment to addressing the recommendation to promote the development of monitoring and evaluation frameworks. How is UN Women drawing on lessons learned from other UN entities to inform the design of tools and resources for monitoring and evaluation of advocacy activities?<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Feb 09, 2024Joint Nordic statement on agenda item 6: Update on UNICEF humanitarian actionNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Joint Nordic statement by Ms. Christine Björk<br /> Councellor, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations<br /> First Regular Session 2024 of the UNICEF Executive Board<br /> Agenda item 6: Update on UNICEF humanitarian action<br /> 7 February 2024</strong><br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span><br /> <br /> Mr/Madam President, dear colleagues,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I make this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and my own country, Sweden.<br /> <br /> Let me start by thanking UNICEF for the organisation’s work to continuously save lives and alleviate suffering in a globally challenging context with multiple and simultaneous crises. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for UNICEF staff who work under very difficult circumstances to reach out to children, in Ukraine, in Gaza – and worldwide.<br /> <br /> Our condolences to those who have lost their loved ones, including UN staff who have served in areas of conflict and crises.<br /> <br /> We welcome the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations from the Humanitarian review. It is encouraging to see that UNICEF is working in partnership with other agencies and actors to tackle major humanitarian challenges. This underlines the importance of coordination and partnership for effective implementation.<br /> <br /> We especially appreciate the significant progress in recommendations with regards to preparedness and anticipatory action, as well as the work on “data readiness”. We also note and welcome the fact that UNICEF has exceeded Grand Bargain targets within the localization agenda and encourage you to continue and work even more with local structures, not just through funding but also with capacity development through a bottom-up approach, while maintaining a main focus on critical life-saving assistance.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We also encourage UNICEF to maintain equitable and meaningful cooperation with its local partners. More specifically, to ensure visibility of local partners to UNICEF and inclusion into decision-making structures, which will strengthen the humanitarian response in the long run.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We take note of the efforts to integrate supply needs into programme planning and response and the challenges presented by UNICEF, including securing financial and human resources.<br /> <br /> We would like to ask UNICEF how you assess the prospect for implementing all recommendations, including the issue of the financing of this work. Please elaborate on how UNICEF plans to secure a budget for the full estimated cost of the implementation, given that the resource allocation so far is of 7 million USD, which only represents 22 percent of the estimated 32 million USD.<br /> <br /> The Nordics will continue to stress the importance not only of access in hard-to-reach-areas, but also to integrate centrality of protection in all UNICEF-clusters of the humanitarian response. In the light of reduced global humanitarian funding and increased humanitarian needs, the need to prioritize those with most severe humanitarian needs has become even more important.<br /> <br /> We also underline the importance of UNICEF’s work in the area of environment and climate to respond to emergencies due to climate change globally. We encourage UNICEF to continue to influence policy development in the area, to prioritize work on climate adaptation and prevention with the aim of saving lives in a timely and effective way including contributing to increased resilience.<br /> <br /> We look forward to a mid-term assessment of the Review which we expect to receive promptly. We will continue to follow up on UNICEF’s effectiveness, risk management and transparency, even under difficult circumstances. This is something we expect from the organisation, not only because we are substantive donors, but particularly because it maximizes results for children.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Let me end by again emphasizing the support from us, the Nordic countries, to the crucial work that UNICEF is doing every day, for every child.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Jan 30, 2024Joint statement for agenda item 10: Statement by the Executive Director of UNOPSNew York - United Nations

<span><strong>Statement by H.E. Mr. Jorundur Valtysson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board<br /> </strong><strong>30 January 2024</strong><br /> <br /> <br /> Mister President,<br /> <br /> I deliver this statement on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the United States, and my own country, Iceland.<br /> <br /> Mister President,<br /> <br /> Allow me to start by thanking the Executive Director, UNOPS management and UNOPS staff for the results achieved since we last met in this setting. We applaud the progress UNOPS is making to become an improved, value-based, and fit-for-purpose UN entity.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Now more than ever, it is important to keep going. We have often said in this room that the journey to recover, refocus, reform, and restructure is a long one. The midterm review of the Comprehensive Response Plan, the organizational culture review, the Pulse Surveys, the JIU Assessment and the Board of Auditors report, all collectively indicate that UNOPS is heading in the right direction, but the work is not yet complete. We value therefore your active commitment to continue this important endeavour, to be disciplined in seeing the comprehensive response plan – and what comes after it – to its completion, and to do what it takes to ensure everyone at UNOPS, regardless of their position or location, is part of the process.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We do also recognize the need to look ahead. We have heard the Executive Director say before that “we cannot wait for perfection”. Our timeframe to achieve the SDGs is ever decreasing and there is clear demand for the support services that UNOPS can offer. However, transparency and trust must be the foundation for moving forward. In this light, we re-emphasize once again the Board’s decision that the UNOPS portfolio has to remain within its mandate. That does not at all mean the agency has to be at a standstill, but it does mean being clear and transparent about the purpose, expertise and limits of the organization. It means being critical of the portfolio and its development and being mindful of the wider UN Development System that UNOPS is part of. Most importantly, it means deferring to other agencies when demands brought to UNOPS would better fit elsewhere.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mister President,<br /> <br /> There are also two specific points we wish to highlight.<br /> <br /> Firstly, organizational culture. We have had various exchanges to date about the relevance of the KPMG review on the organizational culture, and the response of UNOPS. We commend management for embracing the review and its recommendations and formulating a broad roadmap, as a starting point. Recalling decision 2023/23, we look forward to hearing when we can expect a fully elaborated strategy, including specific actions to be taken and how these will be monitored. We expect staff will be consulted and engaged in its development and implementation, and we look forward to continuing conversations about its operationalization and roll-out. In particular, we are interested in hearing your reflections on the Q4 Pulse Survey results. How, for example, is UNOPS actively engaging local managers and local personnel in the transition to a new, safe, inclusive and empowering culture? In addition, a functioning whistleblowing process is essential. We welcome insights into the delays of this measure and management’s plan to address this issue.<br /> <br /> Secondly, we wish to touch upon an aspect important to reforming organizational culture, and building trust amongst staff, clients, and the Board - namely accountability. No roadmap or plan can ever successfully translate into practice if it is not backed by corresponding actions. In that regard, we stress and reiterate the crucial importance of ensuring that all individuals found guilty of any form of misconduct experience consequences of a fitting nature. This includes those at the highest level, through the appropriate channels. The Board stands ready to support UNOPS in its pursuit of accountability. Our response to misconduct must be firm, and impunity, or even the perception thereof, must be prevented at all times. We value the highest degree of transparency regarding the status of ongoing accountability procedures, including the cooperation with the Office of Legal Affairs. The update provided by the Director of IAIG last November on results from the forensic audit was very insightful, and we also welcome management’s views on this. How do you plan to respond to the audit findings and recommendations?<br /> <br /> Mister President, Mister Executive Director, the Executive Board is committed to its role in supporting UNOPS on this journey. We look forward to continued action, progress, and change in the year ahead.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Dec 22, 2023UNRWA Explanation of Vote in 5th CommitteeNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Guðrún Þorbjörnsdóttir, First Secretary<br /> General Assembly 78th Session, 22 December 2023<br /> Fifth Committee Plenary Meeting</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>Iceland has voted in favour of this resolution despite the procedural issues, namely that the Fifth Committee is not the appropriate forum for this resolution. As a strong supporter of UNRWA's important work, Iceland agrees with the text of the resolution and calls for all parties to the conflict in Gaza to heed the call for respect and protection&nbsp;of all civilian and humanitarian facilities and United Nations facilities, as well as all of the humanitarian and medical personnel, and journalists, media professionals and associated personnel caught in the armed conflict in the region.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Dec 14, 2023Global Refugee Forum, Geneva 13-15 December 2023Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Global Refugee Forum, Geneva 13-15 December 2023</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF ICELAND</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>H.E. Ms. Bryndís Hlöðversdóttir</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. Chair, Mr. High Commissioner, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.</p> <p>We value the opportunity to take stock and look ahead, as conflict, violence and disasters continue to drive displacement around the world.</p> <p>Since 2019, Iceland has strengthened the reception system, to better coordinate support and social integration of a rising number of refugees.&nbsp; </p> <p>We have worked to enhance the self-reliance and social integration of refugees with disabilities, including through Icelandic sign language training for hearing-impaired refugees, who make up 20% of the hard-of-hearing society in Iceland. </p> <p>Iceland has launched a pilot project to better respond to the needs of unaccompanied minors. By assigning individual case managers and providing tailored support plans we hope to ensure appropriate services for all unaccompanied minors seeking protection in Iceland. </p> <p>I am pleased to confirm that we have now successfully received all those accepted for resettlement before COVID-19.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>Since the emergency evacuation of Kabul in 2021, Iceland has promoted complimentary pathways for Afghans through family reunification. </p> <p>Iceland stands by its goal to continue reception of resettlement refugees, focusing on individuals and families in vulnerable situations.</p> <p>Iceland has taken on responsibilities in the EU Solidarity project, receiving groups of refugees from Afghanistan and Syria, and has pledged to assist with the relocation of Ukrainian refugees with special medical needs.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,<strong> </strong></p> <p>Iceland will continue to provide quality funding to UNHCR to ensure much-needed operational flexibility. I am pleased to announce that Iceland will soon enter into its third multi-year framework agreement with UNHCR, committing to predictable core contributions over the next five years.</p> <p>Furthermore, we will continue to support refugee and host communities in Northern Uganda through comprehensive WASH interventions in schools and health facilities, in partnership with UNICEF. </p> <p>The task is enormous, but now is not the time to lose hope. A strong international community committed to burden and responsibility sharing is part of the solution. </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>

Dec 13, 2023Statement on the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to label the so-called “international LGBT movement” as “extremist”Strasbourg - Council of Europe

<p><span>MINISTERS’ DEPUTIES 1484th meeting, 13 December 2023</span></p> <p><span>Statement on the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to label the so-called “international<br /> LGBT movement” as “extremist”</span></p> <p><span>The delegations of Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech<br /> Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,<br /> Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, the<br /> Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic,<br /> Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom strongly condemn the<br /> recent decision by the Russian Supreme Court on 30 November designating the so-called<br /> “international LGBT movement” as “extremist” and banning its activity on the territory of the<br /> Russian Federation. This decision was followed by reports of police raids on a number of<br /> LGBTI-friendly clubs and other establishments in Moscow and in St Petersburg.</span></p> <p><span>Labelling an already stigmatised group of people as “extremist” without proof of any<br /> organisational structure or shared intent, let alone criminal activity, increases the existing<br /> climate of fear and intimidation in Russia.</span></p> <p><span>This decision impacts the human rights of all individuals living in Russia. It has a corrosive<br /> effect on society as a whole and undermines freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of<br /> expression and freedom of association. It places human rights defenders and those advocating<br /> for the rights of LGBTI persons at risk of being unjustly labelled as “extremist”, with serious<br /> social and criminal consequences in Russia.</span></p> <p><span>We are deeply concerned about the safety implications of this decision and its potential threat<br /> to any individuals associated with or supporting LGBTI activities in Russia and those beyond<br /> its territory.</span></p> <p><span>Although Russia is no longer a member of the CoE, the Reykjavík Summit with the Reykjavík<br /> Declaration highlighted the pan-European role of the Council of Europe, pledging to strengthen<br /> engagement with democratic actors in Europe and creating an enabling environment for human<br /> rights defenders. This commitment applies to the Russian human rights defenders, democratic<br /> forces, free media, and independent civil society and aligns with the Committee of Ministers’<br /> Resolution CM/Res(2022)3 on the legal and financial consequences of the cessation of<br /> membership of the Russian Federation in the Council of Europe.</span></p> <p><span>We firmly oppose discrimination, prejudice and hate, and stand in solidarity with all who are<br /> adversely affected by this decision.</span></p> <p><span>Russia must stop unfounded repression and uphold its international obligations to respect,<br /> protect and fulfil all human rights without discrimination of any kind.</span></p> <p><span>Finally, we believe it is the obligation of this Committee of Ministers and other CoE bodies to<br /> play an important role in promoting and showing solidarity with those affected.</span></p>

Dec 13, 2023Human Rights; Exchange of views with Ms Mariana Katzarova, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in RussiaStrasbourg - Council of Europe

<p><span>1484th meeting of the Committee of Ministers</span></p> <p><span></span>Agenda item 4 – Human Rights; Exchange of views with Ms Mariana Katzarova, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Russia</p> <p>Statement by NB8 </p> <p>13 December 2023</p> <p>On behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden we thank special rapporteur Katzarova for her insightful briefing.</p> <p>We strongly reiterate our support for the mandate of the special rapporteur – and its work is of utmost importance not only to the Russian people but to all Europeans. </p> <p>The gloomy and significantly deteriorating human rights situation in Russia remains of deep concern to us. The systematic restriction and deprivation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, like those of expression and peaceful assembly, of the Russian people by their own authorities has continued for years. </p> <p>Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has amplified internal repression in the country. The government brutally silences political opponents, human rights and democracy defenders, lawyers, journalists, independent media and others who dare to have differing opinions or make anti-war statements. The laws on “foreign agents” or undesirable organizations – and their often-violent enforcement – have resulted in a systematic crackdown on civil society organizations. In addition, Russia must unconditionally and immediately release and rehabilitate the increasing number of political prisoners in the country.&nbsp;</p> <p><span>A recent proof of the Russian course of action is the decision of the Russian Supreme Court to outlaw what it calls the “international LGBT movement” as “extremist” and to ban its activity on the territory of the Russian Federation. We strongly condemn this and urge Russia to stop the unfounded repression, to uphold its international obligations and to respect, protect and fulfil human rights without discrimination of any kind.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In addition to adversely affecting its own citizens, Russia has instrumentalized third country citizens as a hybrid influencing tool in its very neighborhood causing human suffering. We also condemn recruitment of detained foreign migrants and young men from the occupied regions by Russia for its war in Ukraine.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The co-operation between the Council of Europe and the UN is valuable for peer learning, especially when it comes to ECtHR findings and the execution of judgments. Your report as well as the UPR review on Russia provide good examples of the deepened co-operation between our organizations, in particular as regards the recommendations on the execution of judgments concerning the Russian Federation. We need to be innovative to hold Russia accountable to its international obligations.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The Reykjavik Summit Declaration set out that we will find ways to strengthen co-operation with Russian (and Belarussian) human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>In your opinion, Mme Special Rapporteur, is it -and in what ways-&nbsp; possible to co-operate with Russian civil society and NGOs in the present situation; how can the Council of Europe be best of support and how can the integrity of counterparts be best ensured?&nbsp; Secondly, since Russia does no longer cooperate with the CoE instruments, how could we better leverage Russian obligations under relevant UN human rights instruments in order to promote the protection of human rights of the Russian citizens?<br /> </span></p>

Dec 12, 2023Statement at the Tenth Emergency Special Session on PalestineStatementsNew York - United Nations

<span><em>Statement/Explanation of vote by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Tenth Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly&nbsp;<br /> 45th Plenary Meeting, 12 December 2023.&nbsp;<br /> Debate on Item 5: Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory</em><br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>In light of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, Iceland has chosen to cosponsor, and consequently vote in favor of the resolution presented by Egypt. Following a much-needed humanitarian pause, the resumption of hostilities has resulted in full-scale escalation of the conflict. Once again, innocent civilians, trapped in unbearable conditions, bear the brunt of this conflict and the civilian death toll is unacceptable.</span></p> <p><span>However, we regret that the two proposed amendments acknowledging the brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attack by Hamas on 7 October and their leading part in the taking of hostages, were not passed. There can be no justification for terrorism.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Recognizing Hamas’s part in the ongoing conflict does not contradict our strong and urgent call for an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire, full compliance with international law by all parties, protection of civilians, immediate release of hostages and the timely and sufficient provision of humanitarian aid.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland supports the Secretary General’s appeal for a decisive action by Security Council, invoking Article 99, and was one of 102 UN Member States that cosponsored the draft resolution last Friday. The ongoing impasse in the Security Council is deeply regrettable. We call on Council Members to redouble their efforts to avert further escalation and a collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We deplore the immense suffering and unacceptable civilian death toll. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza. These need to stop – there is no safe place in Gaza.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>While increased flow of humanitarian aid through a second inspection point, announced by Israel, is a positive step, much more needs to be done. Lifesaving aid to millions of civilians in need must be delivered now and access to food and water, electricity, and fuel ensured. The vast majority of the population is already displaced, sheltering in overcrowded facilities, including schools that no longer provide education, or simply sleeping on the streets. Healthcare services are in tatters and of growing concern is the high risk of epidemic and waterborne diseases, which would further compound the crisis.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has responded to UN emergency appeals with increased contributions to UNRWA - our long-standing humanitarian partner. UNRWA services – the lifeline for over 2.2 million people in Gaza – are now on the verge of collapse, according to Commission-General Lazzarini. If UNRWA fails, the entire humanitarian system in Gaza will follow. We must spare no efforts in preventing this from happening.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>We deplore that more than 130 UNRWA staff members have been killed in this conflict.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has condemned in the strongest possible terms the brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas two months ago. We have repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages – as the resolution we have just adopted rightly does.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>All parties to this conflict must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. Breaches thereof must be carefully investigated, including of sexual violence.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p><span>The Secretary-General has rightfully raised the alarm of further escalation of this conflict. Its consequences are being felt throughout the region and beyond. Across the world, people are calling for the hostilities to end. So did the Icelandic Parliament in a unanimous resolution on 9 November.</span></p> <p><span>Even in the midst of crisis, when peace seems unrealistic and distant, we must focus on the long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict which two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition. The cycle of violence must stop.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Thank you.</span></p>

Dec 11, 2023Nordic Statement: Consultations on Chapter 4 of the Pact for the FutureNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Nordic Statement by H.E Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Consultations on Chapter 4 of the Pact for the Future<br /> 11 December 2023<br /> </strong> <br /> Mr. Chair,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.&nbsp;</p> <p>In today’s landscape of multiple crises and challenges, it is more important than ever that our responses not only meet the demands of the present but also safeguard the interests of children, young persons, and generations yet to come.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Nordics thank the co-facilitators for convening these consultations and would like to highlight five main points:</p> <p>First, we would like to emphasize the importance of inclusivity by expanding and strengthening youth participation in decision-making processes. This is key when it comes to identifying the best solutions and driving innovative and transformative change.</p> <p>Furthermore, real inclusivity means creating a space for full, effective, and meaningful participation. All efforts should be made to ensure that a diversity of voices is heard. Decision-making processes should therefore be made accessible to all young persons, including those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.</p> <p>We welcome the newly established UN Youth Office and the appointment of the first Assistant Secretary General for Youth Affairs. This is an important milestone in the advancement of youth issues across the United Nations, building on the work of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.</p> <p>We encourage the UN to continue to strengthen youth engagement in its organs and related mechanisms and processes. The Nordics support the establishment of a standing United Nations Youth Townhall and the development of an integrated programme of work by the United Nations system to facilitate more meaningful youth participation at all levels.</p> <p>Second, young people are important actors in strengthening peace and security. Recognizing this, we support proposals to review the working methods of the Security Council and its relevant subsidiary bodies to significantly strengthen youth engagement in its work. We need to create space where the perspectives, experiences, and innovative solutions of young people are genuinely integrated into the decision-making processes that shape our global security landscape.</p> <p>The Pact for the Future needs to further operationalize the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda. This includes meaningful and effective engagement of young people, particularly young women in all their diversity, in policy discussions and programming, and a strengthened focus on protection of young mediators, peacebuilders and human rights defenders.</p> <p>Third, for young people to thrive and fulfil their potential, we need to uphold their human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ensure inclusive policies that foster gender equality, health, education, employment, and entrepreneurship.</p> <p>Fourth, it is impossible to discuss the future without addressing the urgent issue of climate change. Young people and children all around the world are active agents in climate action and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the well-being of our planet. There should be a strong focus on supporting youth-led initiatives in this regard and we encourage enhanced youth engagement in all efforts to counter environmental threats and address the devastating impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.</p> <p>Which brings us to the fifth and final point, the importance of acting for future generations. This is a strategic investment in sustainable development, gender equality, and human rights. By integrating youth engagement into our policy making and programmes, we build a foundation for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.</p> <p>The Sustainable Development Goals have a strong intergenerational relevance. We would like to see this reflected in chapter 4 and taken forward in the Declaration for Future Generations. This should be paired with a commitment to a long-term approach to safeguard the well-being and rights of future generations.</p> <p>We must also work towards multilateral solutions for the safe development of emerging technologies and digital cooperation, including artificial intelligence. Advances in science, humanities, and technology present opportunities and risks that will affect future generations. Moreover, access to quality education for all is a precondition for future generations to advance just and fair development.</p> <p>The Nordics welcome the Secretary Generals proposal of appointing a Special Envoy for the Future Generations, this will be an important step to ensure concrete follow-up and operationalization of our commitment in a holistic manner.</p> <p>In closure, we must use this process to lay the foundation for effective and meaningful youth engagement and do our utmost to preserve the ability of future generations to enjoy all human rights and freedoms. This is imperative for the Pact for the Future to truly live up to its name.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Dec 08, 2023Advancing Towards a Crimes Against Humanity ConventionNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Advancing Towards a Crimes Against Humanity Convention<br /> New York, December 8, 2023<br /> Closing remarks by&nbsp;H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> </strong></span><strong>Permanent Representative of Iceland</strong></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <span><br /> <br /> Dear colleagues and friends.<br /> <br /> On behalf of the co-organizers, I would like to warmly thank you for joining us today. Iceland is pleased to be part of this cross-regional group of states and, no less, to share the stage with distinguished civil society organizations and academics. You are our compass and your generosity in sharing valuable expertise is sure to increase the quality of the work towards a new international agreement on Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity.<br /> <br /> Crimes against humanity continue to take place - across continents. While this is still the case, the moral imperative is obvious: We have got to close the legal gap which still exists, in the shape of impunity for crimes against humanity. And while at it, we might just be able to do better on gender equality aspects - reflecting developments in jurisprudence and thinking over the past 25 years. This would, in practice, mean that we can move closer to a world where we all are actually equal before the law; equally worthy of protection from the worst human rights violations imaginable - regardless of gender or any other status.<br /> <br /> A new international agreement can complement the Rome Statute, although, at the same time, it is worth noting that, of course, no State will be forced into joining the Rome Statute as a part of this process. It is up to each sovereign state to take decisions on whether to join international agreements, and here we are speaking of two separate ones.<br /> On an optimistic note, though; support for a new international agreement seems to be steadily increasing and Iceland hopes that States, especially the soon to be 124 States Parties to the Rome Statute, will join the push for a new treaty.<br /> <br /> Thank you again for joining us today and for your valuable contributions.&nbsp;<br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Dec 08, 2023ICC Assembly of States Parties 22nd session, general debateNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by Helga Hrönn Karlsdóttir, Legal Adviser<br /> Directorate for Legal &amp; Executive Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs<br /> ICC Assembly of States Parties 22nd session, 7 December 2023<br /> General debate<br /> </strong></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p>Madame President,&nbsp;</p> <p><span><br /> It is a privilege to address this Assembly on behalf of Iceland. Allow me to express Iceland’s sincere appreciation to the Court and its officials, in all organs.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I would like to congratulate and welcome the six newly elected judges to the Court. Iceland believes that the due diligence process is an important step.<br /> <br /> This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rome Statute. Iceland expresses its continued support for, and commitment to the ICC, and emphasizes the need to improve and strengthen the Court in all its functions. In the face of threats and attacks on the Court, its staff and those who work with the Court, support from States Parties is more important than ever.<br /> <br /> Madame President,<br /> <br /> Iceland ratified the Kampala Amendments on the Crime of Aggression in 2016 and this year marks the 5th anniversary of the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The jurisdiction is however limited to when both states concerned have ratified the Amendment or when the Security Council refers a case to the Court. It is undeniable that the international community is facing serious challenges at this moment in time, including Russia´s full scale invasion of Ukraine. These challenges have highlighted the fact we need to remove obstacles limiting the Court’s ability to deliver justice for the crime of aggression.<br /> <br /> Iceland acknowledges the vital role of the Security Council within the Rome Statute system and its ability to refer cases to the Court where the ICC lacks jurisdiction. We regret that the Security Council has not made full use of its mandate to refer cases to the Court when jurisdiction is lacking.<br /> <br /> Madame President.<br /> <br /> The ICC must be empowered to achieve its primary goal of providing justice for victims and survivors. Iceland highly values the role of the Trust Fund for Victims and by now contributes annually. We believe all efforts of the Court should build on a victim-survivor oriented approach, emphasizing the rights and agency of individuals involved.<br /> <br /> Iceland welcomes the Office of the Prosecutor’s commitment to systematically address sexual and gender-based crimes and in taking a more focused approach to investigating and prosecuting for crimes rooted in misogyny and queerphobia. Furthermore, we welcome the new Policy on Gender Based Violence.<br /> <br /> Further, we would like to highlight the importance of civil society organisations to the Courts functioning. Human right defenders and civil societies are often at the forefront of gathering evidence on violations of international law. It is unacceptable that these organizations face threats and harassment.<br /> <br /> Madame President.<br /> <br /> Iceland reaffirms its unwavering support for the ICC as an independent and impartial judicial institution. Political and financial support for the Court is essential. Iceland stresses the need for sustainable resources across situations and cases. Regular allocation from all States Parties is essential, as the Courts workload continues to rise to unforeseen heights. We urge all States Parties to pay the annual contributions on time. Iceland is now in the process of making a third voluntary additional, unearmarked contribution in less than two years time, the latest one to be made following calls for resources in light of developments in the Middle East. However, we want to stress that the Court should not be dependent on voluntary contributions.<br /> <br /> The international community bears a shared responsibility to maintain justice and to prevent impunity. Therefore, we strongly encourage all states to ratify the Rome Statute and join as States Parties.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> To conclude, Iceland reiterates unwavering support and gratitude for the Court, its elected officials and its personnel and our commitment to defend the principles enshrined in the Rome Statute.<br /> <br /> I thank you.<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Dec 08, 2023Report of the 19th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and AgriculturePermanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p><span>Report of the 19th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome, 17-21 July 2023)</span></p> <p><span>Mr Chair,&nbsp;</span></p> <ul> <li><span>I am speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country Norway) and Switzerland. (We fully align ourselves with the EU statement.)</span></li> <li><span>This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. We believe that genetic resources are the very foundation for future sustainable and resilient food systems and forestry.&nbsp;</span></li> <li><span>We fully endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the Report of the 19th Regular Session of the Commission. Particularly, we support the recommendation that the FAO Council requests FAO to take into account Commission decisions when developing budget allocations. Particularly, we stress the need for additional resources supporting countries in their efforts to implement the Global Plans of Actions and the Framework for action on biodiversity for food and agriculture.&nbsp;</span></li> <li><span>A major milestone at the last Session of the Commission was the establishment of Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Microorganism and Invertebrate Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Ad Hoc Expert Team on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. We request FAO to convene these two new inter-sessional groups before the Twentieth Regular Session of the Commission.</span></li> <li><span>A year ago, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted. It provides new opportunities for strengthening FAO’s work on mainstreaming biodiversity. It also underpins the implementation of the Commission’s global plans for action as well as the International Plant Treaty and the IPPC at the national level. We encourage all Members to take advantage of this momentum when updating their national biodiversity strategies and plans.</span></li> <li><span>FAO should take a lead in supporting implementation of the Kunming-Montreal framework - both at global and national levels. In order to fully take advantage of the competence of FAO, we call on FAO to finalise the recruitment of the Secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources and to strengthen FAO’s biodiversity team.&nbsp;</span><span></span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><span></span><span>Thank you, Mr Chair</span></li> </ul>

Dec 08, 2023Update on FAO’s collaboration with other UN System EntitiesPermanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>Nordic statement&nbsp;</p> <p>Update on FAO’s collaboration with other UN System Entities</p> <p>Norway is delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland,&nbsp;Iceland, Sweden, and Norway).&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Thank you for the insightful and detailed update on FAO’s collaboration with other UN system entities.&nbsp;</li> <li>To maximise the impact of actions and programmes, to avoid overlaps and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of available financial and human resources, cooperation among the Rome-based agencies as well as all other relevant UN organizations in-country, on the ground is critical. We also encourage FAO to strengthen its cooperation with the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub.&nbsp;</li> <li>We welcome the focus on the reposition of the UN development system, country-driven partnerships, UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>***</p> <ul> <li>We also welcome the recently signed global tripartite MoU, recognising that RBA collaboration is built on a broad spectrum of work that spans from responding to emergencies and shocks, to humanitarian and long-term development activities. The recently launched joint FAO and WFP strategy on anticipatory action is also important in this regard.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> <li>Formalised agreements should translate into action on the ground. Lessons can be learned from the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment. The programme is jointly implemented by FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP and adopts a holistic approach that builds on each agency’s comparative advantage and strengths.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>The Nordic countries would welcome more details on how FAO collaborates and coordinates its work with multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>***</p> <ul> <li>There is a strong focus on the contribution of collaboration to the four betters. We would welcome a stronger emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals as the overarching and universal call to action.&nbsp;</li> <li>We would also like more detail on how collaboration with UN system entities contributes to all sectors that the FAO works with, including fisheries, aquaculture, and forestry.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>***</p> <ul> <li>The Nordic countries underscore the importance of not just measuring the quantity of collaborations, but also their quality. FAO should create baselines, clear metrics of success, and ensure that they measure impact and the contribution of collaborations in helping us achieve Agenda 2030.&nbsp;</li> <li>The Nordic countries highlight that collaborations should capitalise on FAO’s unique comparative advantage as the utmost provider of technical and normative expertise that contributes to evidence-based guidance and good practice for food systems solutions.&nbsp;</li> <li>The administrative burden, reporting and monitoring responsibility, and financing should also be shared across collaborations and build on each organisations’ comparative advantage.&nbsp;<br /> Finally,</li> <li>The Nordic countries have been longstanding supporters of the UN Development System Reform. It is important to ensure that the reform of the UN Development System keeps moving forward and is fully implemented.</li> <li>The Nordic countries highlight the prerequisite that the UN delivers as One UN at the country level. We would like to see more reporting on how FAO implements UN reform.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Thank you.</p>

Dec 08, 2023Bioeconomy for sustainable agrifood systems transformationPermanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>Bioeconomy for sustainable agrifood systems transformation</p> <p>Mr Chair,</p> <ul> <li>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country Norway). (We fully align ourselves with the EU statement).</li> <li>In the light of the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and unsustainable food systems, there is a need to facilitate the development of the bioeconomy in order to accelerate the green transition and to promote self-sufficiency of regions.&nbsp;</li> <li>The Nordic countries agree that bioeconomy can be a key solution pathway for sustainable agrifood systems transformation. In the Nordic countries, the bioeconomy contributes positively to the national economies and welfare by providing jobs, income and recreational possibilities.</li> <li>There are three aspects to this topic that we would like to highlight:<br /> o First, it is important to develop sustainable bioeconomy throughout the whole value chain as well as within and across different sectors. For example, bioeconomy holds potential for increased synergies between the blue and green sector. Policy actions must cover chain from primary production to product innovations, and account for the use of biological resources from land, sea and waste. This needs to be done without increasing administrative burden for involved actors.&nbsp;<br /> o Second, a sustainable bioeconomy means that the resources are smartly used and not wasted. Upscaling the use of recycled materials and side streams allows the expansion of the bioeconomy without increasing the use of scarce virgin materials. Nutrients recycling is a good example of this.&nbsp;<br /> o Third, a key factor of success is a balanced and fair inclusion of all relevant actors, particularly farmers and other primary producers. Particular attention must be paid to strategies that benefit local communities, promote gender and intergenerational equality and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Also, it is important to secure the development of the bioeconomy in rural areas and their inclusive economic growth.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>In order to enable the sustainable growth of the bioeconomy, a strong investment in research, education, information sharing, and the development of technologies should be encouraged.</li> <li>The Nordic counties welcome the FAO’s key directions for the future of the bioeconomy [as highlighted in PC137/INF/8] as effective and relevant.</li> <li>In particular, we commend the FAO for having an integrated approach that considers social, economic, environmental, and governance aspects of the bioeconomy, whilst recognizing that approaches should be context specific.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Thank you.</p>

Dec 08, 2023The impact of the war in Ukraine on global food security and related matters under the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Permanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>FAO Council 174</p> <p>1. Thank you, Chair</p> <p>2. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Norway. We fully align ourselves with the EU statement.</p> <p>3. The food security situation in the world continues to be alarming. Humanitarian needs are increasing due to conflicts, climate crisis, and economic shocks.&nbsp; Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has worsened global food insecurity. </p> <p>4. Russia’s unilateral decision to leave the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), and its attacks on Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure, has worsened the situation. </p> <p>5. Russian aggression has destroyed key infrastructure and hindered agricultural production in Ukraine. Rebuilding the country will take years. Meanwhile, despite being subjected to the unprovoked aggression – Ukraine – one of the world’s major breadbaskets – has shown impressive efforts to address the challenges of global food insecurity.</p> <p>6. In this dire situation with increasing humanitarian needs and scarce resources, we appreciate that FAO is delivering according to its mandate.</p> <p>7. The FAO Council has clearly condemned Russia’s actions and provided guidance on how to tackle their global impacts, including on food security. We, the Nordic countries, request FAO to continue implementing the 169th Council decisions. </p> <p>8. We strongly support the call to keep food trade open, avoid all export restrictions and resume food export from Ukraine.&nbsp; </p> <p>9. We highlight the importance of AMIS and continued collaboration with all relevant partners to monitor the situation, ensure transparency, and minimize any adverse effects on global markets. </p> <p>10. Russia`s unprovoked, unjustifiable, and illegal full-scale invasion has inflicted incalculable devastation on Ukraine, including potentially irreversible consequences for Ukraine’s environmental landscape. The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam is just one example.</p> <p>We also share the concerns for risks related to animal health and diseases and the need to address these, in accordance with FAOs responsibilities and particularly through a One Health approach. </p> <p>11. It is crucial that we respond to the immediate humanitarian needs, in Ukraine and in other crises around the world. The Nordic countries are major donors to the UN development system, and we will continue our support to humanitarian crises around the world. We will continue to focus on flexible and predictable core support and encourage others to do the same. </p> <p>12. We strongly reiterate the call for Russia to immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression against Ukraine and withdraw its forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.&nbsp; </p> <p>13. Thank you</p>

Dec 08, 2023The situation in Gaza related to food security and related matters under the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Permanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>FAO Council 174 December 2023</p> <p>Mr Chair,</p> <p>1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and my own country, Norway. The EU countries, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, align themselves with the EU statement.</p> <p>2. The Nordic countries are deeply alarmed by the immense civilian suffering of the Palestinian people, as well as what this means for the future for both Palestinians and Israelis. The humanitarian situation in Gaza and its extreme consequences for the population is of grave concern.</p> <p>3. Allow me also to express deep condolences for the staggering loss of civilian life, and the condolences of our governments for the death of more than 100 United Nations humanitarian staff in Gaza.&nbsp;</p> <p>4. We pay tribute to the heroic efforts of humanitarian and health workers, who are saving lives and alleviating suffering under extreme circumstances.</p> <p>5. The conflict in Gaza has led to a humanitarian and food security crisis of a major order. Up to 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.1 million people has been internally displaced, and the majority urgently requires food assistance.&nbsp;</p> <p>6. While the extent of the damage is still unknown, in Gaza, it is likely that most of the agricultural infrastructure, soil, and land will be negatively affected, and the current stock of livestock will be decimated due to the inability to feed and water animals as well as emergency consumption.</p> <p>7. While agricultural land in Gaza is limited, agriculture remains an important part of the Gazan economy and constitutes a significant source of export revenues. Lack of fuel and electricity has had a devastating effect on food security. It has disrupted refrigeration, irrigation, and incubation devices. Wheat flour is no longer available in markets and bakeries are not functioning.</p> <p>8. We appreciate that FAO will participate through the Food Security Cluster and in coordination with the entire Humanitarian System, implementing various assessments, including a Rapid Damage Assessment.&nbsp;</p> <p>9. The Nordic countries fully agree with the Security Council’s call for extended humanitarian pauses in Gaza to save and protect civilian lives, in addition to the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and for full, safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access. For humanitarian assistance at scale, it is necessary to open additional crossing points for aid.</p> <p>10. We have been clear about Israel’s right to defend itself, within the limitations of international law. We reiterate that all military operations must be in line with international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians and humanitarian personnel.</p> <p>11. There is no military solution to this conflict. The Nordic countries continue to call on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to seek peace through political dialogue. Only a negotiated two-state solution can achieve lasting and durable peace between Israel and Palestine, and in the region.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Dec 08, 2023Global food security challenges and driversPermanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>Nordic Statement 174 session of the FAO Council (4-8 December 2023)</p> <p>Mr Chair,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> 1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country Norway). (We fully align ourselves with the EU statement).</p> <p>2. The Nordic countries are very concerned about the lack of progress in combating global food insecurity and recognise that conflicts, climate extremes and economic downturns and slowdowns are the main drivers.</p> <p>3. Hunger affects around 9.2 percent of the world’s population, and nearly 20 percent of the population in Africa which is extremely concerning.&nbsp;</p> <p>4. The humanitarian needs are consuming a large part of international development assistance. The funding gap is increasing. Increased food security and local food production as well as open and predictable global value chains are vital to alleviate humanitarian needs.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>5. There is need for strengthened efforts at local, national, regional, and global levels, and to prioritise the countries and hotspots of highest concern.</p> <p>6. Armed violence, in particular increased targeting of civilians, underpins food insecurity and the ongoing upward trajectory in global displacement.</p> <p>***</p> <p>7. The Nordic countries emphasise that prevention and resilience building are crucial to improve global food security, and that a food systems approach is of utmost importance.&nbsp;</p> <p>8. To do so:&nbsp;</p> <p>9. We must ensure food security within planetary boundaries. The challenges of development and climate change are highly interlinked.</p> <p>10. We have to transform our food systems to reach the goals of the Paris agreement, as well as the Kunming-Montreal Biological Diversity Framework.&nbsp;</p> <p>11. We must cultivate the synergies between the efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals. One good example is the well documented synergy between food security and gender equality: A food secure world requires gender equality and women’s empowerment.</p> <p>12. As referenced in the document, food insecurity disproportionally affects women in every region of the world which underlines that women must have equal access to productive resources, services, markets, and institutions to reach full potential.&nbsp;</p> <p>13. To do it right the gender gap must be analysed and addressed.</p> <p>14. We emphasise the need for a rights-based approach, in particular the right to food. Human rights and the right to food is not just a moral obligation, but also gives concrete guidance to realise our commitment to leaving no one behind.</p> <p>15. It is also important to include fisheries, aquaculture, and forestry interventions in our strategies. This is in line with the CFS policy recommendations on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and on sustainable forestry for food security and nutrition.&nbsp;</p> <p>***</p> <p>16. We encourage FAO to continue monitoring the rising levels of global food insecurity, and to provide regular updates, recommendations, and technical advice to support countries’ efforts towards achieving sustainable food systems transformation.&nbsp;</p> <p>17. We underline that FAO has an important role to play, within humanitarian-development-climate-peace nexus, through collaborative action with the RBAs and the wider UN system.&nbsp;</p> <p>18. Leveraging comparative advantages to ensure complementarity is essential for successfully delivering results and impact on the ground, as One UN.&nbsp;</p> <p>19. In this regard we encourage FAO to continue its work on agriculture in emergencies and we encourage other member states to make financial contributions to the Special Fund for Emergency Activities (SFERA).</p> <p>***</p> <p>20. Thank you, Mr Chair, for giving us the floor on this very important topic and for giving us the opportunity to convey our appreciation for FAO’s vital contribution to combat global food insecurity.</p>

Dec 08, 2023Adjustments to the Program of Work and Budget 2024-25Permanent Mission of Iceland in Rome

<p>Nordic Statement, 174th session of the FAO Council (4-8 December 2023)</p> <p>1. I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country Norway. We align ourselves with the EU statement.</p> <p>2. Chair, ee meet at a very serious moment for global food security, global warming and climate change, conflict affecting food systems and food security, and the preservation of biodiversity. This serious situation must guide our work, and the proceedings of this council.&nbsp;</p> <p>3. We take note of the document adjustments to the Program of Work and Budget 2024-25.&nbsp;</p> <p>4. With a view to the decision by Conference to strengthen the budget by 5.6%, it is important for the Nordic countries to ensure that it is spent in line with priorities and guidance provided by members.</p> <p>5. I noted the Director General’s four E’s and four R’s, in his opening remarks. We would like to underline, in this context, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG2 as fundamental for all activity at FAO.&nbsp;</p> <p>6. It is critical that FAO build on its comparative advantages within the areas of its mandate, and we recall the guidance of the Conference emphasizing the important role of normative and standard setting work, as well as data and statistics to inform decision making.&nbsp; We want FAO to continue to be a global knowledge hub of excellence. We would have liked to see the guidance of the Conference more clearly reflected in the adjusted PWB. We take note of the proposed reduced resources to statistics and data work, and ask for further clarifications on FAOs priorities in this area.&nbsp; We reiterate that oversight functions must be prioritized.</p> <p>7. It is also vital that the PWB supports operational action and contributes to results at country level. FAOs work must be aligned with action by the broader UN system, the UN Common Country Analysis (CCA) and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCF).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>8. Furthermore, we would like to comment on the following specific proposals in the document.</p> <p>9. First, we take note of the proposal to establish an Office of Youth and Women. We appreciate the new information provided. Yet, the rational for establishing the new office remains unclear.&nbsp;</p> <p>10. Empowerment of women and gender mainstreaming including youth are key priorities to the Nordic Countries. We wish to emphasise the importance of applying a programmatic approach for this work.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>11. In this respect, we like to underscore the important work of The Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division (ESP) in ensuring the effective implementation, coordination, and reporting on FAOs cross- cutting work on inclusion, youth, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.&nbsp; The Nordics would support to strengthen this division.</p> <p>12. Second, we underline the importance we attach to the work on One Health in FAO. We expect that the changes to the Joint Centre of WHO and FAO are made in a way that ensures the center’s crosscutting work. The One Health approach needs to influence all parts of FAO: s activities. The result of this needs to be monitored and evaluated.</p> <p>13. Third, The 43rd Session of the Conference requested further information on efficiencies and savings. We are pleased to see a section on efficiency measures in the adjustment of the program of work and budget. We see this as a first step in a more transparent and complete reporting from Management on what you intend to do to improve performance, delivery, and efficiency in key areas. We look forward to annual reporting on results in a format where we can follow and monitor with respect to a concrete plan for the work, with expected outcomes and benefits.&nbsp;</p> <p>14. Fourth, we also welcome the emphasis on the need to manage balance between assessed and voluntary contribution as well as to the influence of new forms of funding. We note the commitment by Management to continue the constructive dialogue with members on this important and challenging issue.</p> <p>15. Fifth, we reiterate that it is essential for FAO to increase its efforts towards attracting more flexible funding. Building trust with resource partners and exploring different funding modalities that meets the reporting needs and visibility of donors are essential. We appreciate the efforts done in this regard with the flexible voluntary contribution mechanism (FVC) and the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA) but further work is still needed. Improved financial flexibility could increase FAO’s effectiveness and should be a priority of the organization.</p> <p>16. We also need to avoid that FAO becomes a service provider for earmarked initiatives and projects that might impact FAO’s delivery of its core functions and the implementation of the agreed Strategic Framework. We would like to see clearly how the budget can support priorities in the Strategic Plan.</p> <p>17. Sixth, we support the ambition and focus of FAO in producing normative products based on science and in cooperation with leading scientific institutions. We look forward to being able to see how these knowledge products can lead to results.</p> <p>18. Finally, the Nordic countries stand ready to engage with Management and with other members on discussions aimed at improving transparency and building trust. We encourage Management to continue – and strengthen - an open dialogue with members during the biennium and leading up to the formulation of the next PWB.</p> <p>19. Thank you!</p>

Dec 06, 2023Central Emergency Response Fund High-Level Pledging EventNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Central Emergency Response Fund High-Level Pledging Event<br /> December 6th, 2023<br /> </strong></span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span><br /> Mr. Chair,&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Let me begin by commending the Emergency Response Coordinator and his team for their steadfast commitment to ensure that life-saving assistance is promptly delivered where and when it is most needed. In face of unprecedented humanitarian needs, the role of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is of paramount importance.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This year, CERF continued to prove its value, including through anticipatory action and complementarity with OCHA’s Country-Based Pooled Funds. We welcome the establishment of a dedicated climate action account announced at COP28. This is an important initiative to support time-critical action for climate emergencies.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> For Iceland, CERF remains a dependable funding mechanism for rapid, co-ordinated, and effective humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable. As a longstanding advocate for women’s rights and equality, Iceland continues to encourage sustained efforts against gender-based violence in all allocations.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I am pleased to announce Iceland’s additional contribution of 100 million Icelandic Krona to the CERF - bringing Iceland’s total contribution this year to 220 million Icelandic Krona. I am also pleased to inform you that Iceland is entering its third multi-year framework agreement with CERF, allowing for continued predictable annual allocations over the course of the next five years.<br /> <br /> Thank you.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Dec 05, 2023General debate on agenda items 75 (a), (b) and (c): Oceans and the law of the seaNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> General Assembly 78th session, 5 December 2023<br /> Agenda Items 75 (a), (b) and (c): Oceans and the law of the sea</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>This year we celebrate the adoption and the opening for signature of a new implementing agreement under UNCLOS. It is remarkable that even in the current geopolitical climate, the global community was not only able to conclude the negotiations, but also came together and adopted, by consensus, the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, commonly referred to as the BBNJ Agreement or the High Seas Treaty.</p> <p>While the adoption of the Agreement was a huge step, we must still be aware that nothing has yet been conserved or protected. We have only begun our journey, and this is but the first step. For all our efforts to become effective, we must first secure the 60 ratifications needed for the Agreement’s entry into force.</p> <p>As often reiterated, the sustainable use of the ocean is a cornerstone of Iceland’s prosperity. A healthy and bountiful ocean, with long-term sustainability at the core of all management decisions, is for the benefit of all. Conservation and sustainable use are not separate or conflicting notions, but two sides of the same coin.</p> <p>Iceland remains committed to the health of our Ocean and we see the new BBNJ Agreement as an important addition to the law of the sea family, under the Convention, our constitution of the Ocean. The BBNJ Agreement provides us with many of the tools we need to achieve our common objectives, some of which were set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity almost a year ago.</p> <p>These are some of the building blocks that we, as an international community, need to have in place to secure the health of our Ocean. Another vital addition will be the future UN plastics treaty - an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. Iceland looks forward to seeing negotiations on the plastics treaty concluded.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Based on a proposal put forward by Iceland and Norway, come June next year, UN Member States will come together for a week under the auspices of the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea, to discuss a topic of critical importance: The Ocean as a Source of Sustainable Food.</p> <p>We believe this topic is of high relevance for two main reasons: Firstly, global hunger and food insecurity is far above pre-covid-pandemic levels. In 2022, 2.4 billion people were moderately or severely food insecure, according to the FAO. </p> <p> Secondly, at a time when humanity desperately tries to find ways to contain global heating below 1,5° C, before it becomes too late – sustainable, nutritious food from the Ocean can help, due to its low carbon intensity. There is both great potential and significant challenges in terms of food from the Ocean, and some exciting new research</p> <p> The Ocean and climate change are intrinsically interlinked. We must recognize that connection and act accordingly. Ocean acidification is a challenge different from climate change, but the root cause of the problem is the same: The use of fossil fuels. Iceland supports the phasing out of fossil fuels, and subsidies of fossil fuels need to end. In the words of our Prime Minister at COP28: “We should not burn public money to cook the planet.” Humanity must switch to renewable energy.</p> <p> Another challenge, emerging as one of the major global challenges of our time, is sea-level rise. With glaciers melting in the Arctic and elsewhere, sea-level rise is already taking place and will change the world as we know it, not least for those that call small island developing states and low-lying coastal areas their homes. Iceland supports the work of the International Law Commission on this topic and emphasizes that States should cooperate on it.</p> <p>Another topic which States must cooperate on is harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks, including due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies adopted last year was a major achievement in this field. Negotiations continue in Geneva on outstanding disciplines on subsidies leading to overcapacity and overfishing, this very week included, under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland. We count on States to conclude these negotiations, for the benefit of our Ocean and our future.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland is proud to be the home country of Judge Tómas Heiðar, who recently got elected as the President of ITLOS, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Devoted to law of the sea for decades, President Tómas Heiðar has brought ample experience to the Court, both practical and academic.</p> <p>The law of the sea, just as well as international law in general, is anchored in effective dispute settlement. It is a foundation of the rules-based international legal order and one of the reasons for the significant contribution UNCLOS has made to peace and security in our world.</p> <p>Mr. President, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf continues its important work, faced with increasing workload. It is the view of Iceland that States Parties have a responsibility to make sure to provide sustainable resources for the CLCS to be able to do its job. Proper, long-term solutions must be found.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The Third UN Ocean Conference is now on the horizon. Iceland looks forward to actively participating and is grateful to Costa Rica and France as co-hosts. The Conference will help us bring increased focus and accelerate action under Sustainable Development Goal 14, on Life under Water.</p> <p>We, for sure, need that action. Let us remember that every other breath we take comes from the Ocean. It provides us with nutrition for billions of people, with livelihoods, and with love for our Blue Planet.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Dec 05, 2023Media Freedom Coalition statement on the safety of journalists and media workers in conflict Other

<p><span>Media Freedom Coalition statement on the safety of journalists and media workers in conflict<br /> The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition express their concern over the repercussions for the safety of journalists and access to information caused by the very serious escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at moment of publication, 63 journalists and media workers are confirmed dead, making it the deadliest period for journalists covering conflict since the Committee to Protect Journalists began documenting fatalities in 1992.</span></p> <p><span>Access to reliable, independent and diverse information sources and access to the internet are essential in times of conflict. Journalists and media workers on the ground play a critical role in keeping the world informed about the realities and impacts of conflict. They are often the first witnesses of what took place and play an important role in gathering and disseminating reliable information. They carry out a crucial mission of public interest. This however, must not come at a price. Journalists in situations of armed conflict and adjacent areas often face extreme danger and put their lives at risk.</span></p> <p><span>The Media Freedom Coalition urgently draws attention to the rules and responsibilities related to the protection of journalists and media workers in conflict, in compliance and consistent with international humanitarian law which includes prohibitions against directly targeting civilians and taking all feasible precautions to protect civilians.</span></p> <p><span>Journalists are afforded protection under international humanitarian law because they are civilians. Deliberate attacks against journalists are forbidden. All parties to a conflict must treat detained journalists in accordance with international humanitarian law. Furthermore, media equipment, and installations dedicated to civilian purposes are civilian objects and must not be the target of attacks or reprisals, unless they qualify as military objectives.</span></p> <p><span>The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition call upon all parties to the conflict to comply with international law and guarantee the protection of journalists and media workers covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas. We call for all attacks against journalists and media workers to be investigated and prosecuted in compliance with national and international law.</span></p> <p>Signed:&nbsp;</p> <p><span> Australia<br /> Austria<br /> Canada<br /> Chile<br /> Denmark<br /> Estonia<br /> Finland<br /> Greece<br /> Iceland<br /> Ireland<br /> Italy<br /> Latvia<br /> Lithuania<br /> Luxembourg<br /> New Zealand<br /> Norway<br /> Portugal<br /> Republic of Korea<br /> Slovenia<br /> Spain<br /> Sweden<br /> Switzerland<br /> the Netherlands<br /> the United Kingdom</span></p>

Nov 16, 2023Informal briefing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk following his visit to the Middle EastGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Informal briefing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk following his visit to the Middle East</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of Norway and Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>16 November 2023</strong></p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of Iceland and my own country Norway.&nbsp;</p> <p>We commend High Commissioner Türk for going to the region and for taking a clear stance in favour of international humanitarian law and protection of civilians, and for giving voice to all those affected by the disastrous impact of this conflict.</p> <p>We also commend UN staff on the ground, working under near impossible circumstances.</p> <p>First, Norway and Iceland have condemned Hamas’ heinous terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms and called for the immediate release of all hostages.&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, we also express our grave concern for the situation of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The lack of food, electricity, water and health care is nothing short of a disaster. Humanitarian access must be dramatically improved. We have called for a humanitarian ceasefire to make such access possible.</p> <p>We find it difficult to draw any other conclusion than that the parties to this conflict are not doing enough to comply with their international humanitarian law obligations. Rules apply, also during war. We appreciate, High Commissioner, that you spoke with clarity on this point.</p> <p>There is no other solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than a political one. Stability in the Middle East cannot be reached without the Palestinian question being addressed.&nbsp;</p> <p>The war between Israel and Hamas is driving polarization and division. I&nbsp;agree with the High Commissioner - this is a trap, and in no-one’s interest. All lives have equal value. We all have to contribute to mutual respect and tolerance, and keep in mind that there will be a day after where we need to focus on the way forward, a two-state solution.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Nov 10, 2023UNESCO: Statement delivered by Iceland at the 42nd General Conference Paris - UNESCO

<span></span> <p><span><strong>Statement by Ms Audbjörg Halldórsdottir<br /> </strong></span><strong>Permanent Delegate of Iceland to UNESCO<br /> 42nd UNESCO General Conference, Paris 10 November 2023<br /> APX Commission, item 4.24</strong></p> <p><span>The catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza is deeply concerning and we strongly deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands that have been killed to date. </span></p> <p><span>Iceland supports the call of UN agencies for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and stresses the need for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, protection of civilians, medical personnel and humanitarian workers.</span></p> <p><span>Preventing further escalation of hostilities is vital.</span></p> <p><span>Iceland has condemned in the strongest terms the brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, including the taking of hostages and calls for their immediate release. </span></p> <p><span style="color: black;">We are gravely concerned about reports of violations of international humanitarian law, including the significant civilian death toll as a result of Israeli strikes on the Jabaliya and Al-Maghazi refugee camps, UN schools and other civilian targets.</span></p> <p><span>Over four thousand children have been killed since October 7. This is unacceptable.</span></p> <p><span>The ongoing conflict affects all of UNESCO’s fields of competence and the consequences &nbsp;call for a strengthened UNESCO programme of emergency assistance in Gaza in the fields of education, culture, science, communication and information.</span></p> <p><span>The Government of Iceland has doubled its financial contribution to the UN emergency appeal for Gaza. We urge other donors to step up their support to critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.</span></p> <p><span>The continuous cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine must stop. Military solutions will not provide sustainable security in the region. The only way forward is through internationally supported political and diplomatic dialogue towards the goal of a two-state solution. </span></p> <p><span>Thank you.</span></p> <br />

Nov 09, 2023UNESCO: Speech delivered by Iceland at the General Policy Debate of the 42nd General ConferenceParis - UNESCO

<p><em>Speech delivered by H.E. Ms. Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Culture and Business Affairs of Iceland, during the General Policy Debate of the 42nd General Conference of UNESCO.</em></p> <p><em><strong>Paris,&nbsp;</strong></em><em><strong>9 November 2023</strong></em></p> <p>Madame President of the General Conference,<br /> Madame Chair of the Executive Board,<br /> Madame Director-General,<br /> Distinguished Delegates,<br /> Excellencies,</p> <p>Peace must be founded upon dialogue and mutual understanding. Peace must be built upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of humanity.</p> <p>This vision of UNESCO provides hope for our future, a future we need to build together.</p> <p>In order to secure lasting peace, we need to guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people and accept their broad diversity. </p> <p>Iceland is a longstanding partner of UNESCO and an active supporter of multilateralism and human rights, which are at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate. </p> <p>UNESCO´s role has become more important than ever as the world continues to face challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters and growing conflicts, increasingly putting the world’s peace and security at stake.</p> <p>It is truly saddening to witness the unimaginable human suffering and destruction caused by conflicts and wars in so many places around the world. Russia continues its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, and, in Israel and Palestine, innocent civilians are the main victims of the hostilities. In these dark times, it is critical that the respect for international law, human rights and humanitarian law is upheld. Humanity must prevail.</p> <p>Dear colleagues, </p> <p>We are halfway through Agenda 2030 and yet only 15% of the SDGs are on track. Recent events, including wars and climate change, continue to slow down sustainable development efforts. The importance of a comprehensive emphasis on the SDGs in all of UNESCO’s work cannot be underestimated. </p> <p>Iceland is a strong supporter of UNESCO’s Global Priorities. We are pleased with the increased focus on a transformative approach to Gender Equality and would like to emphasize the need for all of us to actively make an effort to ensure full and equal participation of people of all genders, in all areas of UNESCO’s mandate.</p> <p>The world becomes a better place when everyone can make the most of their lives. A special concern must be included for LGBTQI people in UNESCO’s mission, their exclusion can hinder their enjoyment of fundamental rights,</p> <p>The shocking and systemic violation of Afghan women’s human rights and their exclusion from almost all spheres of society includes serious restrictions on rights and freedoms under UNESCO’s mandate. Afghan women and girls need our full support. Attention to the ongoing violations of women’s and girls’ human rights must remain high on the organisation’s agenda.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dear colleagues,</p> <p>Inclusive high-quality education is an important priority for Iceland, it is important to embrace the outcomes of the Transformative Education Summit and support the transformative approach to education and gender mainstreaming. Education is the most powerful tool to help change the world for the better. We commend UNESCO’s important work on ocean science, climate change and greening education, and support clear synergies between existing mechanisms. Iceland is pleased to have been among the first twenty Member States to ratify the 2019 Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications.</p> <p>Dear colleagues,</p> <p>Culture may be described as that which makes life worth living.</p> <p>Protecting and safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage and supporting creativity and dynamic cultural sectors play an important role in addressing the challenges of our time.</p> <p>Iceland strongly supports culture as a driver of development and the MONDIACULT 2022 Declaration, which affirms for the first time that culture is a “global public good”, consequently calling for culture to be included as a specific objective in its own right in the next revision of United Nations SDGs.</p> <p>We welcome the intersectoral collaboration in the new UNESCO Framework for Culture and Arts Education and the inclusive and participatory consultation process for the upcoming World Conference on Culture and Arts Education.</p> <p>Dear friends,</p> <p>Respect for fundamental freedoms, pluralistic media and freedom of information is vital to every society. UNESCO´s work is at the core of the international community´s commitment to securing freedom of expression. We must defend the freedom of speech for artists, journalists and scientists, a hallmark of any democratic and free society.</p> <p>Science and transformational technologies are developing fast, not the least in the context of AI. We must take very seriously their potential and predictable impact on our societies, both positive and negative. This calls for active and strengthened multilateral cooperation.</p> <p>We welcome UNESCO’s initiative and work on implementing the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. This is an important step in ensuring that emerging technologies benefit humanity and are developed with respect for human rights.</p> <p>Excellencies,</p> <p>UNESCO’s role as a champion of peace, understanding and tolerance is as ever urgent and vital. Education for all, gender equality and sustainability must be crosscutting themes in all our work. Iceland is firmly committed to continue playing an active role in contributing to UNESCO’s work and thereby working towards the common good.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Nov 03, 2023Third Committee: Explanation of vote on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countriesNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Explanation of vote after the vote on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries<br /> Statement delivered by H.E. Anna-Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden</strong><br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> I deliver this statement on behalf of the eight Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>Let me begin by being very clear:&nbsp;</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries are <span style="text-decoration: underline;">unequivocal </span>in our condemnation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of racial intolerance, including Nazism and neo-Nazism.</p> <p>We are fully committed to the global fight against all forms of these abhorrent ideologies and their manifestations.</p> <p>We want our societies to be open, democratic and diverse.</p> <p>We celebrate our diversity and we defend it. These are core values to our countries.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is precisely because of these core values that we react so strongly to the resolution in front of us today. Because even though there is some important and valid language on the fight against racism in the text, this is a document that, at its core, has a more sinister context.</p> <p>Unfortunately and regrettably, it is part of building a narrative that is also used to justify the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, under the cynical slogan of “de-Nazification”.&nbsp;</p> <p>We <span style="text-decoration: underline;">categorically </span>reject this false narrative and the way in which eliminating neo-Nazism is being used as pretext for a full-scale invasion and attempted annexation of a sovereign neighboring country.&nbsp;</p> <p>We strongly believe that this misuse undermines the genuine fight against these heinous ideologies.</p> <p>This is <strong>why all Nordic and Baltic countries voted in favor of the amendment </strong>today. We did it in order to, at least partially, redress the utter lack of this context in the draft as it was presented.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>Even with the amendment passed, our fundamental problems with the resolution still stand.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The resolution contains highly politicized and problematic language that has been used by Russia to accuse sovereign states that were occupied by the Soviet Union of “glorifying Nazism”.<br /> <br /> A resolution on such an important topic deserves an inclusive approach. Instead, Russia has consistently avoided to engage seriously with us on this resolution and have failed at taking the concerns of other Member States into account. This year, the draft was submitted even before this Committee began its meetings. The only so-called consultation was to present the text as a fait-accompli.<br /> <br /> If there is no interest in having an open and fair process, we call on Russia to give up its role in it. In the future, we must be able to engage in an honest conversation about this very relevant topic, and not have it misappropriated for aggression.<br /> <br /> For all these reasons, t<strong>he Nordic-Baltic countries also voted against the resolution as a whole</strong>.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,</p> <p>I want to end where I started – and with a plea to colleagues to not misunderstand our vote today. The Nordic-Baltic countries stand ready to work side-by-side with all serious partners in the critical fight against racist and xenophobic ideologies.</p> <p>Let us do so in partnership.</p> <p>And let us do so in an open, transparent manner. And in good faith.</p>

Nov 03, 2023Joint Nordic statement in the Fourth Committee's general debate on UNRWANew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Joint Nordic Statement delivered by H.E. Christina Markus Lassen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN</strong></p> <p>Madam Chairperson,</p> <p>I am taking the floor on behalf of the Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.</p> <p>The Nordic countries align with the statement delivered by the European Union, including its assessment of the political situation.</p> <p>Events over the last month have sadly been yet another confirmation of why we need a strong and effective UNRWA. During the last month, UNRWA has been one of the only lifelines for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. UNRWA has been providing shelter to more than 690.000 displaced persons, while also providing vital basic services such as food, medicine and water despite the very difficult situation.</p> <p>The Nordic countries wish to warmly commend the enormous and tireless efforts by UNRWA staff in Gaza and on the West Bank, who have worked day and night under extremely difficult and unsafe conditions. We wish to reaffirm our appreciation of the work of UNRWA during these challenging times. UNRWA’s work has come at a heavy cost, and we offer our sincere condolences for the more than 72 UNRWA staff who have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities on 7 October. Their deaths underline the urgent need for greater protection of humanitarian workers through strict adherence to humanitarian deconfliction.</p> <p>We have heard Secretary-General Guterres as well as Commissioner-General Lazzarini make repeated calls for ensuring the protection of civilians in line with International Humanitarian Law, along with safe and unhindered humanitarian access.</p> <p>We echo these calls.</p> <p>Protection of civilians is not only vital, but one of the core obligations for all parties to a conflict under International Humanitarian Law. The Nordic countries call for rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need throughout Gaza – North and South - and through all necessary measures, including humanitarian corridors and pauses. In this regard, all diplomatic efforts are now of great value including by Secretary-General Guterres, the countries in the region, as well as the EU.</p> <p>Madam Chairperson,</p> <p>Beyond the current crisis, UNRWA has a unique mandate to protect and provide direct services to the millions of Palestine refugees living, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in volatile contexts in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA also plays a very important role in mitigating the risks of migration and radicalization, promoting regional stability, and ensuring that no one is left behind.</p> <p>We acknowledge the difficult financial situation in which UNRWA finds itself, and call on the international community to ensure that the Agency receives adequate funding to fulfil its mandate. We welcome UNRWA’s efforts to diversify funding sources, including from the private sector and individual contributions. We also commend the important steps taken to modernize UNRWA systems to ensure a more efficient delivery of services. We underline the importance of broadening UNRWA’s donor base, and welcome increased support from other and new donors.</p> <p>The Nordic countries have long been reliable partners to UNRWA. In 2022, the Nordic countries provided around 120 million US dollars in core contributions to UNRWA.</p> <p>In addition, and in response to UNRWA’s flash appeal to address the current crisis, we have provided extraordinary humanitarian contributions totalling 11.2 million US dollars in order for UNRWA to respond to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank.</p> <p>Lastly, let me reiterate our continued appeal for a just, political two-state solution. This is the only way to ensure human development, sustainable peace and stability in the region, and a better future for the Palestine refugee population. Until a just, fair and durable solution is found, UNRWA’s invaluable work will remain crucial for stability in the region.</p> <p>Thank you</p>

Nov 02, 2023Statement at the Emergency Special Session of the UN General AssemblyNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Tenth Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly <br /> 44th Meeting, 2 November 2023<br /> Debate on Item 5: Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalen and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory<br /> <br /> Mr. President,</p> <p>This Emergency Special Session is convened as another humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza. We regret the impasse in the Security Council and call on Council Members to redouble their efforts to address the situation.</p> <p>Similarly, we are disappointed by the missed opportunity to build a broader consensus in this forum last Friday. This would have been possible had the draft included an explicit condemnation of the terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7th and the clear call for immediate and unconditional release of the over 200 hostages, including almost 30 children, being held in captivity by Hamas. With this inclusion, Iceland fully supports the resolution’s strong humanitarian call, including a call for an immediate durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands, including thousands of women and children, that have been killed to date. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza. The grave situation, the unacceptable civilian death toll and suffering calls for an immediate humanitarian pause and humanitarian corridors to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza.</p> <p>Calls for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, lifting of restrictions of necessities, including fuel, and the protection of civilians must be heeded. We are gravely concerned about reports of apparent serious violations of international humanitarian law, including the significant civilian death toll as a result of Israeli strikes that hit the Jabaliya refugee camp.</p> <p>We call for an investigation of all possible violations of international humanitarian law and underline the responsibility of all those involved to strictly abide by the rules of war. Civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected and never targeted.</p> <p>Iceland greatly appreciates the UN Secretary-General’s tireless efforts to ensure the urgent delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza. We echo his calls for humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza so desperately in need of food, water, shelter, and medical care. Fuel and electricity are urgently needed. More aid is needed in Gaza, and it is needed now.</p> <p>We commend all humanitarian personnel working night and day to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. We deplore that in the past month, 70 UNRWA staff members in Gaza have been killed because of this conflict.</p> <p>Iceland has responded to UN emergency appeals with contributions to UNRWA, our long-standing humanitarian partner and the lead UN agency mandated with supporting Palestine refugees. Today, we are doubling our contributions to the emergency appeal, bringing the total to 140 million Icelandic Krona. We urge other donors to step up their support to UNRWA’s critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland has condemned in the strongest possible terms the brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks by Hamas. There can be no justification for terrorism. All hostages should be released immediately and unconditionally.</p> <p>We have also stressed that while Israel has an inherent right to defend itself, it must do so within the bounds of international law. International law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred.</p> <p>We must prevent further escalation, for the sake of Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider region. The continuous cycle of violence is fueling the flames of hate and racism. We are seeing too many incidents of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Anti-Arab sentiments across the world.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The decades-long cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine will not stop while Hamas continues to use its position in Gaza to wage terror on innocent civilians and spread radicalism. And it will not stop while Israel’s unlawful settlements continue in the West Bank and Gaza remains under blockade.</p> <p>The international parameters for a long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict are clear: A two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.</p> <p>This is what we in the international community should strive for.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Oct 31, 2023General debate on the Report of the Human Rights CouncilNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> General Assembly 78th session, 31 October 2023<br /> General debate on the Report of the Human Rights Council</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Iceland.<br /> <br /> We thank the President of the Human Rights Council for his presentation of the report from the Council, which invites us to reflect upon its functioning and work.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> This year we mark the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that proclaimed that everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights, no matter their identity, beliefs, or circumstances. This milestone document is still a guiding light for our work today.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Respecting and promoting universal human rights is at the core of the Nordic countries. The Human Rights Council provides an important platform for conversations on respect for human rights, and fundamental freedoms, diversity and difference - discussions that affect everyone, everywhere.<br /> <br /> <br /> Unfortunately, we are seeing challenges to many of the human rights we thought had been secured and accepted. We are witnessing an increase in hatred and intolerance, violent nationalism, racism and homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. We are also seeing pushback on democracy, media freedom as well as the gains made towards gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We must reverse and fight these trends and work together to secure the universal human rights of all people. We must stand up for democracy, and human rights and the rule of law, defend the freedoms of opinion and expression, and assembly and association. In that regard, the Human Rights Council has a crucial role to play.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Nordic countries will continue to actively engage with the Council’s core mandate of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and addressing human rights violations and abuses.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> As strong supporters of the Council’s work, the Nordic countries emphasise the importance of engaging in the Council’s work. Finland has served on the Council since early 2022 and Iceland has decided to seek a seat for the term 2025 to 2027, as a Nordic candidate, at the next elections in the fall of 2024.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Reflecting on the Human Rights Council’s work over the past year, it has passed some important resolutions, including on the human rights situation in Russia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Sudan.&nbsp; Furthermore, important resolutions on violence against women and girls and preventable maternal mortality and morbidity were passed.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> It is important to keep in mind the strengths of the Human Rights Council. Our focus should be on what works well, but at the same time find mutual ground on how we can further improve and strengthen the work of the Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Nordic countries will continue to engage with countries from all regions of the world in an inclusive manner, recognizing the critical importance of respectful and genuine dialogue for a more efficient and effective Council.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is an important point. Member states in the Human Rights Council do not have to be perfect. None of us are. But we can all do better, and we should all aim to do so. In that regard, the Nordic countries will continue supporting the UN human rights system and its work in assisting countries in furthering human rights at home. We should not shy away from dialogue and neither shy away from calling out human rights violations and abuses, regardless of where they take place or by whom.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We believe that human rights express the fundamental purpose of the United Nations. Advancing the dignity and equality of all human beings, and to leave no one behind, must be our goal today and for our future. By those means only, we can attain peace, security, and sustainable development for all societies, and accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2030.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. President, you can continue to count on the support and commitment of the Nordic countries to the work of the Human Rights Council.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.&nbsp;</p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Oct 27, 2023Explanation of Vote at the Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly (Icelandic version)New York - United Nations

<p><span>Herra forseti,</span></p> <p><span>Við komum saman í dag til sérstaks neyðarfundar vegna þess mikla harmleiks sem nú á sér stað fyrir milljónir Ísraela og Palestínumanna, og þeirrar pattstöðu sem er því miður upp&nbsp; komin í öryggisráðinu.</span></p> <p><span>Ísland studdi breytingartillögu Kanada sem hefði bætt nauðsynlegu samhengi og jafnvægi við ályktunina. Ísland harmar að sú tillaga hafi ekki fengið brautargengi.</span></p> <p><span>Án þeirra nauðsynlegu þátta sem tillaga Kanada tók til ákvað Ísland að sitja hjá við ályktunina sem Jórdanía lagði fram, þrátt fyrir að styðja marga meginþætti hennar, einkum hvað mannúðarmál varðar.</span></p> <p><span>Það er miður að ekki skyldi nást samstaða um ályktun um að bregðast við alvarlegri stöðu mannúðarmála og þörf fyrir áþreifanlegar aðgerðir til að vernda óbreytta borgara og auðvelda trygga afhendingu mannúðaraðstoðar.</span></p> <p><span>Herra forseti,</span></p> <p><span>Ísland tekur undir ákall um mannúðarhlé til að auðvelda örugga afhendingu mannúðaraðstoðar um allt Gaza. Tryggja þarf öruggt og óhindrað mannúðaraðgengi. Vernda verður almenna borgara og borgaralega hluti, heilbrigðisstarfsfólk og mannúðarstarfsfólk og eignir.</span></p> <p><span>Við hörmum gríðarlegar þjáningar saklausra borgara og þeirra þúsunda manna, þar á meðal kvenna, barna og starfsfólks Sameinuðu þjóðanna, sem týnt hafa lífi. Við höfum áhyggjur af áhrifum brottflutnings fjölda almennra borgara á Gaza.</span></p> <p><span>Við verðum að koma í veg fyrir frekari stigmögnun, vegna Ísraelsmanna, Palestínumanna og þessa heimshluta. Þetta linnulausa ofbeldi kyndir undir hatur, gyðingahatur, íslamófóbíu og kynþáttafordóma um allan heim.</span></p> <p><span>Herra forseti,</span></p> <p><span>Ísland þakkar aðalframkvæmdastjóra Sameinuðu þjóðanna fyrir þrotlausa viðleitni hans til að tryggja brýna afhendingu lífsbjargandi mannúðaraðstoðar til almennra borgara á Gaza. Við tökum undir ákall hans um mannúðaraðstoð til almennra borgara á Gaza sem þarfnast svo sárlega matar, vatns, skjóls og læknishjálpar.</span></p> <p><span>Við fögnum opnun landamærastöðvarinnar í Rafah og lofum mannúðarstarfsfólk sem vinnur dag og nótt við að auðvelda brýna afhendingu mannúðaraðstoðar. Meiri hjálpargagna er þörf og það nú. Tíminn er á þrotum.</span></p> <p><span>Ísland hefur brugðist við neyðarákalli Sameinuðu þjóðanna með viðbótarframlagi til UNRWA, langvarandi samstarfsstofnunar Íslands í mannúðarmálum og þeirrar stofnunar Sameinuðu þjóðanna sem hefur umboð til að styðja palestínska flóttamenn. Við hvetjum önnur gjafríki til að auka stuðning sinn við mikilvægan framlínustuðning UNRWA við íbúa Gaza.</span></p> <p><span>Herra forseti,</span></p> <p><span>Við verðum að brjótast út úr þessum vítahring ofbeldis og vinna að varanlegri pólitískri lausn. Alþjóðlegu viðmiðin fyrir sjálfbæra langtímalausn deilunnar eru skýr: Tveggja ríkja lausn sem byggir á alþjóðalögum, þar sem Ísrael og Palestína búa hlið við hlið í friði og öryggi og við gagnkvæma viðurkenningu.</span></p> <p><span>Jafnvel í miðju hættuástandi megum við ekki láta undan ofbeldi og hatri. Við megum ekki missa vonina jafnvel þótt friður virðist óraunhæfur og fjarstæður. Við verðum að koma friðarferlinu aftur á sporið. Að öðrum kosti eigum við á hættu að viðhalda hringrás ofbeldis og að mannúðaraðstæður versni enn frekar – öllum til skaða.</span></p> <p><span>Þakka þér fyrir.</span></p>

Oct 27, 2023Explanation of Vote at the Emergency Special Session of the UN General AssemblyNew York - United Nations

Statement (Explanation of Vote) by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> Tenth Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly <br /> 41th Meeting, 27 October 2023<br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We are convening this Emergency Special Session meeting against the backdrop of another great tragedy for millions of Israelis and Palestinians and a disappointing impasse in the Security Council.<br /> <br /> Iceland supported the amendment proposed by Canada, which would have added a much-needed context and balance to the resolution. Iceland regrets that the amendment did not pass.<br /> <br /> Without the inclusion of those essential elements, Iceland decided to abstain on the resolution tabled by Jordan despite supporting many of its key elements, notably on the humanitarian front.<br /> <br /> It is unfortunate that consensus could not be reached on a resolution to address the grave humanitarian situation and the need for concrete action to protect civilians and facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Iceland joins the calls for humanitarian pause to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured. Civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected.<br /> <br /> We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands, including women, children and UN personnel, that have been killed. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza. <br /> We must prevent further escalation, for the sake of Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider region. Across the world, this continuous violence is fuming the flames of hate, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Iceland is grateful to the UN Secretary-General for his tireless efforts to ensure the urgent delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza. We echo his calls for humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza so desperately in need of food, water, shelter, and medical care.<br /> <br /> We welcome the opening of the Rafah crossing and we commend the humanitarian personnel working night and day to facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. More aid is needed, and it is needed now. Time is running out. <br /> <br /> Iceland has responded to UN emergency appeals with an additional contribution to UNRWA, our long-standing humanitarian partner and the lead UN agency mandated with supporting Palestine refugees. We urge other donors to step up their support to UNRWA’s critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We must break out of this vicious cycle of violence and work towards a sustainable political solution. The international parameters for a long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict are clear: A two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.<br /> <br /> Even in the midst of crisis, we must not give in to violence and hate. We must not lose hope even when peace seems unrealistic and distant. We must put the peace process back on track. Otherwise, we run the risk of perpetuating the cycle of violence and humanitarian conditions deteriorating even further – to the detriment of everyone. <br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> <br />

Oct 26, 2023Joint Nordic-Baltic Statement - Third CommitteeNew York - United Nations

<p>Delivered by H.E. Þórður Æ. Óskarsson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> New York,<span> 26 October 2023</span></p> <p>Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity<br /> Statement on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Iceland.</p> <p>At the outset, we reiterate our unwavering support for the critical work of the Independent Expert and this important mandate.</p> <p>It is crucial to continue to promote respect for, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all LGBTI persons. We are fully committed to the fight against all forms of violence and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and support the work of the UN in this regard.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>We welcome the Independent Expert’s report addressing the impact of colonialism and decolonization on the emergence of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.</p> <p>It is of great concern that the continued criminalization of consensual same-sex intimacy between adults and of gender diversity and expression not only violates the obligations of States under international law but also fuels stigma, legitimizes prejudices, and exposes individuals to institutional and domestic violence, giving rise to even further human rights abuses, injustices, and violations.</p> <p>We agree with the Expert that decriminalization of same-sex consensual activity is part of the duty of States to address acts of discriminatory violence and abuse. Deprivation of human rights can never be justified by a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression or sex characteristics.</p> <p>Mr. Independent Expert,</p> <p>There have been legal developments towards the decriminalization of same-sex intimacy which remains a work in progress.</p> <p>As recommended in your report, we will continue to engage in international cooperation and partnerships to exchange best practices, expertise, and resources on addressing all forms of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We will not stop raising our voices until we achieve full decriminalization.</p> <p>In your view, what more can the international community do to speed up progress towards universal decriminalization?</p>

Oct 25, 2023Third Committee Statement with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia New York - United Nations

Interactive dialogue with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia<br /> New York, 25 October 2023 <br /> <br /> Mr. Chair. <br /> <br /> We remain deeply concerned about human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia. Conflict, violence, and instability are now near-national in dimension. <br /> <br /> We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.<br /> <br /> The gravity of crimes committed by all parties to the conflict and their implications for future peace and stability cannot be overstated. The situation bears the risks of future atrocity crimes. <br /> <br /> We firmly belief that ending international and regional inquiries was premature; we would have liked to see the mandate of the Commission renewed.<br /> <br /> We urge the Government of Ethiopia to continue progress towards credible, inclusive, and comprehensive transitional justice. An independent, impartial and transparent accountability mechanism that preserves evidence, conducts investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses, and violations of IHL, and that prosecutes those responsible is vital. <br /> <br /> Commissioner, what should the international community look for to see if Ethiopia’s transitional justice efforts are effective? <br /> <br /> I thank you.<br /> <br />

Oct 24, 2023Security Council Statement on the Situation in the Middle East New York - United Nations

Statement by H.E. Thórdur Aegir Óskarsson, <br /> Deputy Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> <br /> United Nations Security Council <br /> 9452nd Meeting, 24 October 2023 <br /> The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Thank you for convening this important debate. Our thanks to the distinguished briefers for their contribution.<br /> <br /> Iceland is appalled by the recent hostilities in Israel and Palestine and deeply concerned over the risk of further escalation. Yet another great tragedy is unfolding for the millions of Israelis and Palestinians. <br /> <br /> We deplore the immense suffering of innocent civilians and the thousands of civilians, including children, that have been killed. We are alarmed by the impact of mass evacuations of civilians in Gaza. Sadly, the atrocities are fuming the flames of hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism across the World.<br /> Iceland has condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric acts committed by Hamas. Let’s be clear: Terrorism can never be justified. Hostages should be released immediately and unconditionally. <br /> <br /> We have also reiterated that while Israel has a clear right to defend itself, it must do so within the bounds of international law. International law provides states with rights and obligations. Both are sacred.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> International humanitarian law must be respected and upheld at all times. Alleged breaches thereof must be carefully investigated. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured, and civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected.<br /> <br /> Iceland has responded to United Nations emergency appeals with an additional contribution of 70 million ISK to UNRWA, a long-standing humanitarian partner and the lead UN agency mandated with supporting Palestine refugees. <br /> <br /> We urge other donors to step up their support to UNRWA’s critical front-line delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We call on all parties to break out of this ongoing cycle of violence and work towards a sustainable political solution based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters.<br /> <br /> The international parameters for a sustainable solution to the conflict are clear. The end destination is well known, but the road itself is in serious need of reconstruction. We need a credible process towards a two-state solution, based on international law, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security, and mutual recognition.<br /> <br /> This will not be achieved while Israel continues its settlement policies in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. <br /> <br /> This will not be achieved while Hamas continues to use its position in Gaza to fan the flames of radicalism and wage terror on innocent civilians. <br /> This month’s tragic events in Israel and Palestine remind us once again of the urgent need to put the peace process back on track. Otherwise, we run the risk of the violence continuing and conditions deteriorating even further.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>

Oct 24, 2023Third Committee Statement on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan New York - United Nations

Statement by Ragnheiður Kolsöe, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Iceland <br /> New York, 24 October 2023<br /> <br /> Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair. <br /> <br /> Grim does not even begin to capture the lived realities of women and girls in Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> In little over two years, the Taliban have undone hard-won gender equality gains through draconian, oppressive and misogynistic directives. <br /> <br /> We welcome the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur and the Working Group on the discrimination against women and girls this summer that large-scale systematic violations of women’s and girls’ fundamental rights constitute gender persecution and that their situation necessitates a legitimate discussion about the application of gender to the definition of the crime against humanity of apartheid. <br /> <br /> Afghanistan will never achieve peace, prosperity and stability without the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls. Addressing their repression is imperative, not only from a human rights perspective, but also for promoting stability, countering extremism and advancing security inside Afghanistan and beyond. <br /> <br /> Special Rapporteur, what tools does the international community have at its disposal to support women and girls in Afghanistan?<br /> <br /> I thank you. <br /> <br />

Oct 24, 2023Third Committee Statement on the Situation of Human Rights in Islamic Republic of Iran New York - United Nations

Statement by Ragnheiður Kolsöe, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Iceland <br /> New York, 24 October 2023 <br /> <br /> Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Islamic Republic of Iran<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair.<br /> We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report and update. <br /> The people of the Islamic Republic of Iran persistently demand respect for their rights, including an end to systemic discrimination against women and girls. Yet, the repression intensifies. <br /> We are alarmed by the recent adoption of the Chastity and Hijab bill by the Iranian Parliament and its referral to the Guardian Council for ratification.<br /> The bill seeks to force non-complying women into an unprecedented social and economic siege by mandating education and health care providers and business owners with enforcement. By implication, non-complying women will be denied access to higher education, health services, banking and other services. <br /> We are also deeply troubled by reports of the use of artificial intelligence and digital facial recognition technology to surveil, arrest and punish women and girls.<br /> These recent developments only aggravate an already dire situation for women and girls, marked by widespread and systematic discrimination in law and in practice, in many aspects of their public and private life. <br /> We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to repeal and abolish all discriminatory laws, regulations and procedures against women and girls and to immediately dismantle any State machinery tasked with monitoring and enforcing coercive measures against women and girls.<br /> I thank you.<br /> <br />

Oct 23, 2023Third Committee, 78th United Nations General Assembly New York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Ragnheiður Kolsöe, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Iceland&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>New York, 23 October 2023</p> <p>Combined briefing on Myanmar with Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar, and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>The evidence of the scale of human rights violations in Myanmar continues to mount. We condemn the junta’s increasingly brutal tactics, including reports of widespread perpetration of sexual and gender-based violence, torture, extrajudicial killings, enlisting of children and burning and destruction of civilian objects, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.</p> <p>We strongly support the mandates of the Special Rapporteur and the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. Their work is crucial for ensuring advocacy and justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar, including the Rohingya and other minorities.</p> <p>We urge the junta to immediately cease violence and facilitate full and unhindered humanitarian access. We call for a peaceful resolution and return to a democratic path and the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Oct 23, 2023Joint Nordic Statement on Sea-Level Rise in Relation to International LawNew York - United Nations

<div> Statement delivered by H.E. Vibeke Pasternak Jørgensen, Ambassador and&nbsp;Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs</div> <p>Check Against Delivery</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>I will now turn to the topic of “Sea-level rise in international law”.</p> <p>The Nordics continue to support the work of the Commission on this highly relevant topic. We thank the Co-chairs, all five of them, as well as all members of the Study Group for their continued work. We especially thank Mr. Bogdan Aurescu and Ms. Nilufer Oral for their additional work this year, on aspects concerning the law of the sea.</p> <p>Mr. Chair,</p> <p>The season during June to August 2023 was the hottest on record. Glaciers in the Arctic and elsewhere are melting. There is no denying the scientific fact that sea level rise is taking place and it will change the world as we know it. Humanity has to mitigate and adapt to this new reality, and that includes finding appropriate solutions in the realm of international law. Finding workable solutions is the joint responsibility of all states, and certainly not only the responsibility of those that will be hardest hit. It is well known that among those facing the most serious consequences of sea-level rise are those who call Small Island Developing States, low-lying atolls and coastal zones their home. Responses such as the Rising Nations Initiative and the Coalition on Addressing Sea-level Rise &amp; Existential Threats speak to the seriousness of an actual existential threat faced by the people and States in question.</p> <p> <br /> The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that sea levels are sure to keep rising well beyond the year 2100. The magnitude and rate of sea-level rise will, however, depend on how fast emissions will be reduced. This is why the world needs ambitious climate action, to keep global heating below 1.5ºC degrees. The Nordics are committed to climate action. Simultaneously we are ready to engage in structured discussions on the legal challenges connected to sea-level rise, and how to meet them. The work of the Commission, set to conclude in 2025, is of value in this endeavour.<br /> <br /> Turning now to specific aspects of this topic in the ILC report, the Nordics agree that sea-level rise is of direct relevance to the question of peace and security. Furthermore, although new realities can call for updated terminology and emergence of new concepts, caution should be practiced when using concepts still undefined in international law, such as “specially affected State”.<br /> <br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> The issue of “legal stability” in relation to sea-level rise, with a focus on baselines and maritime zones - as covered by both the report and the additional issues paper - stands out as a significant subtopic in the work of the Commission. As referred to by the Co-Chair in the paper, the Nordics have already stressed the importance of predictability and stability in a Sixth Committee statement in 2021. This, however, as documented by the Co-Chair, was conveyed in a more general context focusing on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.<br /> <br /> To provide further clarity, the Nordics agree that the fixing of baselines or outer limits can indeed provide legal stability, especially for states affected by sea-level rise. This concept, however, needs to be approached with caution, with full respect for the Convention and considering all possible implications, including for existing rights and obligations under international law.<br /> <br /> As far as the option of fixed baselines or outer limits of maritime zones is concerned - and as has been highlighted by the Pacific Island Forum and the Alliance of Small Island States – there is no explicit provision in the Convention requiring State parties to update their baselines and outer limits. It is, however, also worth noting the view mentioned in the report of this year, that there is an important difference between legally freezing baselines and not updating them.<br /> <br /> The report offers interesting discussion on the point of view that the Commission should not seek to select between permanent and ambulatory approaches as the only legal option with regard to baselines, since the application of either approach may be in conformity with the Convention, and one does not necessarily exclude the other. The Nordics are looking forward to further discussion on this and other aspects regarding baselines and outer limits in the Study Group’s final report in 2025.<br /> <br /> In a wider context, it is also worth noting where the Convention does offer clear signals on permanence and stability of title and rights. A prominent example is Article 76 (9) of the Convention which sets out that coastal states shall deposit with the Secretary General of the United Nations, charts and other relevant information “permanently describing the outer limits of its continental shelf”. The Nordic countries believe that all coastal states with a continental shelf are well advised to act on this and deposit such charts and information, if not yet done.<br /> <br /> In its work, the Commission should be mindful of legal implications of potential changes to the natural environment, other than those caused by sea-level rise. The formation of new islands due to underwater volcanic eruptions, for example, can also change baselines and the outer limits of maritime zones. To be crystal clear, examples like this one could, of course, not apply to human-made changes to the natural environment, as that would be inconsistent with the Convention.<br /> <br /> In terms of practical solutions, the Nordics strongly agree that amending the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is, to cite the report, “difficult”. Indeed, it would not be advisable to engage in such a process which in any case would not be helpful in terms of resolving the challenges at hand and in time. Keeping in mind the internal balance, as well as the universal and unified character of the Convention, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, this option should not be the focus of further work of the Commission. That said, while it is too early to take an affirmative position, the Nordics do not exclude that joint interpretive declarations or other common international legal instruments could be a way of addressing the issue of sea-level rise.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> The Co-Chairs have emphasized the importance of further exploring the issue of submerged territories, which is related to both the law of the sea and to statehood. The Nordics support further exploration of this issue, as well as of the principle of self-determination in the context of sea-level rise, to be addressed by the Study Group in 2024.<br /> <br /> Lastly and importantly, regarding future work of the Study Group, prioritization of issues for the Commission to address in its final report two years from now, would be recommendable. We are looking forward to further engaging with the members of the ILC and other colleagues over the next two years.</p>

Oct 18, 2023Statement at the 26/27th Plenary Meeting of Third CommitteeNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by H.E. Jorundur Valtysson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> General Assembly 78th session, 18 October 2023<br /> 26/27th Plenary Meeting of Third Committee<br /> Promotion and protection of human rights (Item 71)</strong></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> </span>Iceland aligns itself with the statements made by Luxembourg, Ireland and the United Kingdom - made on behalf of three separate groups of countries.<br /> <br /> At the outset, allow me also to say a few words about the horrific hostilities unfolding in Israel and Gaza. Millions of people are gravely affected. The growing number of deaths among civilians is devastating. We are appalled by the strike on Al-Ahli hospital adding further to the suffering we have witnessed in the past days.<br /> <br /> Iceland has condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric acts committed by Hamas. Terrorism can never be justified. It is clear that Israel has a right to defend itself within the bounds of international law that provides states with both rights and obligations. Both are sacred.<br /> <br /> We are deeply concerned about the risk for further escalation. International humanitarian law must be respected and upheld at all times. Breaches thereof must be carefully investigated. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured, and civilians and civilian objects, medical personnel and humanitarian workers and assets must be protected.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> Human rights are a key pillar of Iceland’s foreign and development policy, based on the conviction that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. <br /> <br /> This year we mark the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that proclaimed that everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights, no matter their identity, beliefs, or circumstances. This milestone document is still a guiding light for our work today. <br /> <br /> Unfortunately, we are seeing challenges to many of the basic rights we thought had been secured and accepted. We are witnessing an increase in hatred and intolerance, both in the real world as well as on social media and other online platforms. Religious intolerance, violent nationalism and racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, are on the rise. We see signs of increasing homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. We are also witnessing increased hate speech and a pushback on the gains that have been made towards gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. <br /> <br /> We must reverse and fight these trends and work together to secure the universal human rights of all people, regardless of race, religion, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We must stand up for the values of democracy, freedom, and human rights and defend the freedom of expression and assembly and tolerance for dissent as an integral part of public discourse – where we agree to disagree and fight for each other’s right to do so.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> These are some of the primary motivations behind Iceland’s decision to seek a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025 to 2027, as a Nordic candidature, at the next elections in the fall of 2024. Iceland will actively contribute to the Council’s core mandate of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and addressing human rights violations and abuses. <br /> <br /> Iceland will also continue to engage with countries from all regions of the world in an inclusive manner, recognizing the critical importance of respectful and genuine dialogue for a more efficient and effective Council. This is an important point. Member states in the Human Rights Council do not have to be perfect. None of us are. But we can all do better, and we should all aim to do so. We should not shy away from dialogue and neither shy away from calling out human rights violations, regardless of where they take place or by whom.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> Regardless of the Third committee's important work there are real heroes out there defending human rights, risking their lives and liberties by calling out injustices, standing up for democracy and equality, and speaking out against discrimination and intolerance. These brave people deserve our attention and support, especially as many of them increasingly face derision, threats and attempts to silence their voices. <br /> <br /> Especially, as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, we call on this Committee to reiterate its call for providing safe and enabling environment for them, and strongly condemn reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN system.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Oct 18, 202354th session of the Human Rights Council Geneva, 11 September – 13 October 2023Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong><strong> </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I thank the High Commissioner for his update.</p> <p>The Human Rights Council draws strength from its diversity and respect for different backgrounds. That being said, there is no denying that this Council is increasingly struggling to find consensus.</p> <p>We are reminded of these differences when the rights of women and girls are on the Council’s agenda, and the polarization increases exponentially when the rights of LGBTI persons are discussed. </p> <p>Similarly, when the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to freedom of opinion and expression are up for discussion, this Council finds itself in what some have referred to as a “clash” of civilizations.</p> <p>Let us be cognizant that behind these debates there are individuals. Individuals who face discrimination and persecution. Individuals who fear for their lives. Individuals who are not granted the same recognition and rights as those of us sitting in this very room.</p> <p>No society is perfect, and we all represent our respective governments. However, when emotions are running high, let us be mindful that this Council has a precious mandate. Individuals count on us. Their lives may depend on our work.</p> <p>The advancement of human rights is inherently an ongoing process. We as humans continue to learn from past mistakes. Policies and practices that were seen as acceptable are now recognized as human rights violations.</p> <p>Irrespective of our governments’ national positions, let us not forget that lives are at stake.</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland reiterates its condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine with mounting evidence of war crimes and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law resulting in atrocious human suffering and loss of life.</p> <p>In Russia, the widespread and systematic curtailment of human rights and crackdown on civic space is of serious concern. We continue to condemn the severe limitation on freedom of opinion and expression, crackdown on independent media and all types of opposition.</p> <p>In Belarus, we are gravely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation, including continuous systemic repression and politically motivated sentencing of civil society, including human rights defenders, and political opponents for exercising their right to freedom of expression.</p> <p>In Afghanistan, we condemn the Taliban for their systematic discrimination against women and girls which may amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity.</p> <p>Iceland reiterates its concern about the serious human rights situation in China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Tibet. We urge China to abide by its obligations under international human rights law, especially the right to freedom of expression and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.</p> <p>In Iran, we are deeply concerned about reports of authorities reinforcing actions to quell dissent, including through surveillance technology, and the exacerbating punitive measures against those exercising their fundamental rights. We urge the authorities to repeal the new Chastity and Hijab Bill and to eliminate, in law and in practice, the systemic discrimination against women and girls in public and private life.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements made in the interactive dialogues under item 4, including on Russia, Syria, Belarus and Myanmar.</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: </strong><strong>Interactive dialogue on report of Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar</strong> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We fully support the work of the IIMM. We welcome its increased cooperation with civil society and initiatives regarding the well-being of both witnesses and staff members. Furthermore, we welcome the financial investigations on issues that have had a direct impact on victim communities.</p> <p>The report tells of sexual and gender-based violence, torture, extrajudicial killings, enlisting children, burning and destroying civilian objects and other crimes, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. We fully condemn all human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar and call for an immediate end to brutal attacks on civilians, including the Rohingya. </p> <p>Despite lack of cooperation from the junta, first hand testimonials in the IIMM repository have increased. We will not turn our back on the brave survivors and witnesses, but keep on calling for accountability.</p> <p>We urge the junta to fully cooperate with the IIMM, respect human rights and uphold the rule of law, and fully implement the ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus. </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the report of OHCHR on promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for this update. We welcome Sri Lanka’s efforts to release long-term detainees. Efforts to ensure devolution should include the timely holding of elections at all levels.</p> <p>We welcome the government’s efforts to set up a truth-seeking mechanism but stress the need for such a mechanism to be inclusive and responsive to the needs of victims and their families. Ensuring accountability for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law is important.</p> <p>We urge Sri Lankan authorities to protect freedom of expression and assembly for everyone in Sri Lanka, including persons belonging to minorities, and stress that any replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act should meet international human rights norms. We remain concerned by arrests of peaceful protesters and arrests carried out under the national ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act.</p> <p>We support the recommendations of the High Commissioner’s report and call upon Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the Office in line with resolution 51/1.</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (oral update)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We commend the Special Rapporteur for his steadfast commitment to the Afghan people and his sobering advice to the de facto authorities and the international community.&nbsp; </p> <p>Grim does not even begin to capture the lived realities of Afghan women and girls. </p> <p>In little over two years, the Taliban have undone hard-won gender equality gains through draconian, oppressive and misogynistic directives.&nbsp; </p> <p>Their systematic discrimination against Afghan women and girls may amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity.</p> <p>The exclusion of half of Afghanistan’s population, from most spheres of life, severely limits the country’s economic recovery, with detrimental consequences for the entire Afghan society. </p> <p>We applaud Afghan women and girls, who continue to show immense resilience and defiance. Without them, Afghanistan will never achieve peace, prosperity and stability. </p> <p>What scope does the Special Rapporteur see for promoting opportunities for Afghan women and girls to make their voices heard and influence their own future?</p> <p>I thank you.&nbsp; </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr High Commissioner,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the High Commissioner for his latest report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua. </p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Nicaragua, including arbitrary detentions, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and consistent attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, political opposition, religious and academic institutions, and civil society leaders.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned by the Nicaraguan Government’s decision to confiscate all assets of the Central American University and the detention of three students. We urge the Nicaraguan Government to respect its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.</p> <p>We call on the Nicaraguan Government to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, including civil and political rights, and to immediately and unconditionally free all political prisoners. Impunity for human rights violations must end. </p> <p>Mr High Commissioner,</p> <p>In light of the latest development in Nicaragua, what concrete steps can the international community take to urge Nicaragua to ensure academic freedom and freedom of expression?</p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: </strong><strong>Interactive ialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on the Sudan</strong> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p><strong>We thank the High Commissioner for his update.</strong></p> <p>The human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan has deteriorated even further since his last update to the Human Rights Council in June. Every week there are new allegations of grave human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, by both parties to the conflict. We are alarmed by reports of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. </p> <p>Humanitarian needs are enormous. We once again call on all parties to the conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. 19 aid workers have been killed in Sudan this year alone.</p> <p>The violence has to stop now. All parties to the conflict must agree and adhere to an immediate ceasefire and civilians need to be protected.</p> <p>High Commissioner, given the dire situation and the lack of access to Sudan, what tools do we have at our disposal to best protect the human rights of people in Sudan? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur </strong><a href="https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/sr-truth-justice-reparation-and-non-recurrence" target="_blank"><strong>on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence</strong></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>delivered by </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Martin Eyjólfsson </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his detailed report on international legal standards underpinning the five pillars of transitional justice.</p> <p>We concur that respect for and compliance with international human rights law and humanitarian law are the parameters for implementing and measuring transitional justice processes. Due consideration must be given to principles of non-discrimination with the aim of addressing root causes of serious human rights violations. Full compliance with human rights is vital to generate truth, justice, peace and security. </p> <p>The international human rights obligations of States are applicable to transitional justice processes. States have the obligation to address serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and ensure that perpetrators are held to account. As emphasized in the report, impunity in transitional processes is of great concern. Failure to close the impunity gap emboldens perpetrators and encourages re-occurrence. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can States ensure a comprehensive approach combining the elements of each pillar in a mutually reinforcing manner? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>delivered by</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Martin Eyjólfsson</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report that emphasizes the importance of restoring the good condition of the aquatic ecosystems that supply water to ensure the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. </p> <p>We concur that equal access to drinking water and sanitation goes hand in hand with the importance of climate change adaptation strategies to counter the increasing risks of drought and floods caused by climate change. </p> <p>The overexploitation and pollution of aquatic ecosystems as well as mismanagement of rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers and their impact on the realization of the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is of great concern. These impacts are disproportionate in territories of those who suffer marginalization and discrimination.</p> <p>It is clear that democratic water governance based on a human rights approach, is needed, paving the way to a new environmental regeneration model based on sustainability. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur Indigenous Peoples have effectively protected aquatic ecosystems through their worldviews, practices and knowledge. How can we take this better into account?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council, 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue on OHCHR report on economic, social and cultural rights, and COVID-19 recovery</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for the Office’s important work to advance economic, social and cultural rights, and for this report. The global increase in extreme poverty following the COVID pandemic and ongoing conflicts poses serious human rights concerns. </p> <p>OHCHR’s support to national institutions in implementing their human right obligations is very valuable. Disaggregated data is indeed critical in ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination in the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights. </p> <p>COVID-19 recovery must be rooted in human rights and individual rights holders at its centre. The independence of the work of OHCHR needs to be ensured, without question. </p> <p>Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights all build on each other. They are indivisible and interdependent. Our joint efforts are required to build a safer and more just world that is based on the rule of law and the universality of human rights.</p> <p>Mr. High Commissioner, how are individual rights holders and human rights defenders, including those in vulnerable situations, involved in your office’s work to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>18 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf on the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Latvia.</p> <p>We commend the Working Group’s efforts to prevent and to end the practice of arbitrary detention, and thank the Group for presenting the report on its activities in 2022. We welcome the extension of the mandate of the Working Group for a further period of three years. We support the call of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to end arbitrary detention and to release those who have been arbitrary detained.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries note with grave concern the continuous rise in the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, journalists, political opponents or activists for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.&nbsp; Moreover, we condemn the criminalization of the work of environmental human rights defenders, including women and Indigenous Peoples, in a range of countries. We agree with the Working Group’s recommendations in this regard and call on States to take all necessary measures to protect and empower environmental human rights defenders. </p> <p>Madam Chair-Rapporteur, in this respect, what further steps should be taken in the implementation of the Human Rights Council resolution 40/11 and upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania, on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We thank the Working Group for its tireless work to shed light on enforced disappearances and to respond to calls for help by victims’ families. Thousands of people disappear due to their civil or political activities. They experience torture and executions, while their relatives live in despair. </p> <p>It is deeply regrettable that new digital technologies are used to suppress civil society and facilitate enforced disappearance, for example Internet shutdowns, cyberattacks, and mass surveillance, to name some. We must ensure that digital technologies are developed, regulated and used ethically, responsibly, and in accordance with human rights.</p> <p>We are deeply troubled that some States use enforced disappearances as a tool to intimidate and silence civil society, including human rights defenders, political dissidents, lawyers, journalists and other media workers. As the report states, these human rights violations often increase before, during and after elections, undermining crucial democratic processes. </p> <p>It is a common responsibility of all States to ensure justice for victims, properly investigate enforced disappearances and hold perpetrators accountable. We encourage countries to accept visit requests from the Working Group and to fully cooperate.</p> <p>Dear Panellists,</p> <p>What most effective mechanisms can international community use to hold States accountable for practicing enforced disappearances?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on right to development</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania, on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries</strong><strong> </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>The right to development is rooted in the universality, indivisibility, interrelation, and interdependence of all human rights. </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries firmly believe that without human rights, rule of law and good governance, inclusive and sustainable development cannot be achieved. We welcome your proposed strong focus on gender equality and active, free and meaningful participation of all people in development efforts. </p> <p>We are coming to the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda and yet less than 20 percent of Sustainable Development Goal targets are on track. Each day climate change, multiple crises and conflicts persist, affecting people and countries in vulnerable situations the hardest. As states bear the primary responsibility for the full realisation of human rights for all, we urge all states to ensure that no one is left behind and to abstain from actions that violate human rights.&nbsp; </p> <p>Mr Special Rapporteur, could you please share your views on how we, as states, could enhance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda without losing focus of ensuring that all human rights are equally protected? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Commission for the update and reiterate our strong support for its work.</p> <p>We welcome the steps already taken by the Government of Ethiopia in implementing the Pretoria and Nairobi Agreements of November 2022.&nbsp; </p> <p>However, we are deeply concerned by the worrying report of the Commission, in particular its findings identifying grave and systematic violations of international law and crimes committed in Tigray, Amhara, Afar and Oromia. We are especially concerned by the appalling level of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence&nbsp;and we call for immediate cessation of all violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.</p> <p>We encourage the Government of Ethiopia to continue taking concrete steps to advance accountability and transitional justice, in accordance with international human rights' norms and standards and supported by an international component, such as the OHCHR. An active, constructive and effective cooperation with national and international human rights mechanisms is important going forward.</p> <p>Commissioners, how can we best engage with the Government of Ethiopia and all stakeholders to ensure follow up to your work? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, H.E. Elina Valtonen on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of Nordic and Baltic States: Estonia, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland. We thank the Special Rapporteur for her report. We strongly support the mandate’s continuation.&nbsp; </p> <p>The grim human rights situation in Russia, our neighbouring country, is of deep concern to us. For years, Russian authorities have systematically stripped people of their fundamental freedoms, including free expression and peaceful assembly. </p> <p>Russia’s unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine has amplified internal repression. </p> <p>The government brutally silences political opponents, human rights and democracy defenders, lawyers, journalists, independent media and others who dare to have differing opinions or make anti-war statements. </p> <p>Indigenous Peoples and various minorities are repressed. The so-called anti-gay propaganda law violates the dignity and human rights of LGBTI-persons. </p> <p>Repressive legislation, targeted intimidation and politically motivated, harsh sentences of critics have closed off any democratic space. The avenues for debate or protest are closed, also online. </p> <p>We urge Russia to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and to abide by its international human rights obligations, including by releasing and rehabilitating all political prisoners. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can we support efforts to secure room for civic space? </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Commission of Enquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia. </p> <p>We express our firm support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry, and share its serious concern that grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law continue across the country. </p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the continued patterns of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian regime. We welcome the establishment of the independent institution on missing persons.</p> <p>We reiterate the need to cease all indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians as well as to end torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. </p> <p>We deplore the expiration of the cross-border mechanism, and in particular, the veto cast by a P5 member in July, further exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation in northwest Syria.</p> <p>The Syrian people have suffered enough. There must be a comprehensive ceasefire, and there must be a political solution in line with UNSCR2254.</p> <p>Mr Chairperson: What more can we do to help the Syrian people?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his dedicated efforts.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about continued human rights violations and abuses in Burundi, including impunity for extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture and sexual violence. We worry about human rights defenders, journalists, opposition, and civil society that are punished for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.</p> <p>We urge the Burundian government to thoroughly investigate all incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.</p> <p>The government of Burundi is responsible for protecting the human rights of all citizens of Burundi. We strongly urge the government to fully take on that responsibility. And to that end, cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi by allowing full and unhindered access to the country and by providing all information needed to fulfil its mandate.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, in your report you underline the need for an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue. In the current situation marked by political stalemate, do you see room for such a dialogue?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the interim oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, H.E. Mr. Margus Tsahkna on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Estonia.</p> <p>The human rights situation in Belarus is catastrophic. The Belarusian authorities’ violations against civil society actors, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and media workers, anti-war protesters and opponents of the Belarusian authorities are increasingly massive and systematic and some of these violations may amount to crimes against humanity. The entire Belarusian society lives in fear of intimidation, harassment, prosecution, arbitrary arrests and detention. </p> <p>Moreover, the decision by Belarusian authorities to ban citizens from renewing their passports abroad further intensifies repressions against Belarus people. Those in exile also face sham in absentia trials and can be deprived of their citizenship. We call upon Belarusian authorities for immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained persons, while the international community has a collective responsibility to ensure accountability for the violations of international human rights law and to continue fighting against impunity. </p> <p>We reiterate our call to introduce a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>We will also continue our international efforts to hold Belarusian authorities accountable for the violations of international law committed in relation to Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.</p> <p>Finally, we take note of recent reports that indicate systematic and large-scale actions by Belarusian authorities to deport Ukrainian children to Belarus. These actions include indoctrination and training aimed at erasing the children's Ukrainian identity and may constitute severe violations of the rights of the child and international law.</p> <p>High Commissioner, how can the international community help ensure the safe return of Ukrainian children to Ukraine?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 5: Annual discussion on integration of a gender perspective (HRC res. 6/30)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>25 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>Gender equality is at the heart of human rights. Among other things, equal gender representation in treaty bodies, special procedures and other human rights mechanisms is a fundamental part of combatting gender discrimination in the work of the United Nations system.</p> <p>Gender parity contributes to integration of gender perspectives throughout the United Nations human rights mechanisms. It is important for the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council and its mechanisms. </p> <p>It is also necessary to ensure that gender perspectives are reflected in recommendations and other actions taken.</p> <p>We are still far away from the target of equal representation in the human rights organs and mechanisms. We must nominate more women as member of the treaty bodies, and vote for them. And more women should be appointed as mandate holders.</p> <p>Gender parity is about equal representation.&nbsp; Bodies and mechanisms established to protect the rights of women and girls, tend to be overrepresented by women. We would encourage member states to consider gender parity as well as diversity in their appointments to these bodies and mechanisms. </p> <p>Dear panellists,</p> <p>What measures would you recommend to effectively ensure gender parity in the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations? </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: </strong><strong>Interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by </strong><strong>Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, H. E. Mr. Gabrielius Landsbergis on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>25 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>For nineteen months Russian armed forces continue to indiscriminately and deliberately kill, torture, commit acts of sexual and gender-based violence against Ukrainian civilians and destroy vital infrastructure in clear violation of international humanitarian law. </p> <p>Furthermore, the Russian authorities’ unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia, occupied territories, and Belarus, and their illegal adoption there, may constitute war crimes. We condemn these practices in the strongest possible terms. The ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova is an important step towards accountability. We must ensure the safe return of Ukrainian children and accountability of the perpetrators.</p> <p>There must be no impunity for Russia’s violations of international law. The investigations must continue until full accountability and justice are ensured. Therefore, we strongly support the work of this Commission of Inquiry. </p> <p>We also support the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine established under the auspices of the Council of Europe. Russia must pay for the damages caused by its war. </p> <p>Mr. Erik Møse, after your last visit to Ukraine, how could efforts be strengthened to ensure justice for all victims, including comprehensive reparations programs? </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual half-day panel on the rights of indigenous peoples:</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>The impact of certain development projects on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, in particular the impact on Indigenous women</em></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chairperson, Distinguished Panellists, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Estonia, Denmark together with Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland. </p> <p>We applaud the focus of this panel on the rights of Indigenous women.</p> <p>In the context of development, discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, particularly Indigenous women, hinders equal access to lands, resources and to participation in decision-making. This in turn leads to loss of their scientific and technical knowledge which is urgently needed as we are facing a climate and biodiversity crisis. Such discrimination only intensifies when there is intersection with characteristics such as disability or sexual orientation and gender identity.</p> <p>For development projects to be truly sustainable, governments and other stakeholders need to fully commit to the UNDRIP and respect the right to self-determination. Policies which ensure a seat and a say at the table for Indigenous women in development processes are necessary. </p> <p>Today we have discussed <span style="text-decoration: underline;">participation </span>- ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and their right to be consulted to obtain their free, prior and informed consent when impacted by development projects. </p> <p>Guided by these principles, we should look around us, too. Drawing on the recommendations of the landmark workshop held last November, the Human Rights Council has the opportunity to take concrete measures and lead the way in enabling Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and institutions to participate under their own status at this Council in discussions on issues affecting them. </p> <p>Esteemed panellists, how can we ensure participation of Indigenous women in decision-making on development projects? </p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54th Session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 &amp; 5:</strong> <strong>Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Indigenous Peoples</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark together with Greenland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own Iceland.</p> <p>We welcome the report presented by the Special Rapporteur on green financing, which provides insight to this important topic. </p> <p>Indigenous Peoples globally are the most affected by environmental harms. In the Arctic the temperatures continue to rise at three times the global annual average. Climate change threatens nature, and the livelihood of Indigenous Peoples. </p> <p>When developing green financed projects, two central concepts are human rights-based approach and sustainability. Additionally, it is crucial that politicians and authorities have knowledge of Indigenous Peoples’ culture and traditional ways of living. When projects are planned and developed authorities are obliged to consult with affected Indigenous Peoples. </p> <p>Consultations with the Indigenous Peoples concerned, including Indigenous women, imply that a real effort should be made with the aim to reach agreement on the proposed measures. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur: Why are consultations with Indigenous Peoples particularly important in the context of green financing?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 5: Interactive dialogue on the Secretary-General's report on reprisals</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia om behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Latvia.</p> <p>We thank the Secretary-General for presenting the fourteenth report on intimidation and reprisals and commend the United Nations’ strengthened efforts to prevent and address intimidation and reprisals. </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries remain strongly committed to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and eliminating any act of intimidation and reprisal. </p> <p>We are profoundly concerned about the continuously high number of reprisals, in particular repeated incidents of reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society actors, including women and Indigenous Peoples. The reported increase in online and offline surveillance and restrictive regulations against civil society actors are especially alarming.&nbsp; </p> <p>We reiterate our call on all State and non-State actors to promote and support a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, and show zero tolerance for reprisals.</p> <p>Ms Brands Kehris, what further steps could the Member States take to meaningfully integrate a gender and youth perspective in their work to prevent and address reprisals? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9: Enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for this important report. Participation of persons of African descent in public affairs is key for achieving racial justice. Without tackling racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, we cannot reach equal societies where human rights of all are respected, protected and fulfilled. </p> <p>The report shows that despite many positive examples, we still have a long way to go, to considerably improve participation of persons of African descent and other underrepresented groups.&nbsp; Ending multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination should be our goal for all persons of African descent, including women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTQI persons. Attacks, both online and offline, against academics, human rights defenders and others, who bring injustices to light, must be confronted.</p> <p>High Commissioner and members of the EMLER, how can we better address multiple and intersecting forms of racism, so that participation of all persons of African descent in public life can be improved? </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9: Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on drivers, root causes and human rights impacts of religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for the oral update.</p> <p>The Nordic Baltic countries strongly condemn all acts of discrimination, hostility, or violence on the basis of religion or belief against individuals, including against persons belonging to religious communities and minorities around the world and against their places of worship. We will continue to stand up for the right to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. These are mutually reinforcing and interdependent. We continue combatting all forms of intolerance and discrimination against individuals of any religious or belief affiliation with equal determination.</p> <p>In accordance with Article 20 of the ICCPR, all states must prohibit advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. In this regard, we emphasize existing international framework to draw from, including the Istanbul process framework and the Rabat Plan of Action. </p> <p>High Commissioner,</p> <p>In this context, how can your office make use of existing framework and standards in implementing the HRC resolution 53/1?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54th session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner on the oral update on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>9 October 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>High Comissioner,</p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is a war of destruction: Russia attempts to destroy; not only Ukrainian cities, livelihoods and cultural heritage, but also the Ukrainian population’s resilience and perseverence. And in the most brutal way, in direct violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. Russia weaponises food and thus exacerbates the global food crisis.</p> <p>According to numerous reports, Russia subjects civilians to summary executions, torture, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and filtration. Russia deports Ukrainian children to Russia and Belarus or forcibly transfers them to Russia-controlled territory. Russia systematically destroys Ukrainian cities by deliberately attacking civilian, energy and critical infrastructure. On 5 October, Russia once again demonstrated its ruthlessness by attacking a store full of innocent civilians in Hroza. At least 51 people were killed. Intentional attacks on civilians constitutes a war crime.</p> <p>The victims of these horrendous crimes, perpetrated by Russian authorities, deserve justice. We will continue to advocate for full accountability for the crimes committed as part of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including for the crime of aggression. We welcome the reporting of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and the work of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, the investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and the operationalisation of the International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine. We also encourage states to support the work of the Core Group for the establishment of a tribunal for the crime of aggression in Ukraine. Furthermore, we welcome the establishment of the Council of Europe’s Register of Damage and encourage other states to join the Register. </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council - 54<sup>th</sup> Session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: </strong><strong>Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner and Experts</strong><strong> on the Democratic Republic of Congo</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>9 October 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and my own country Sweden.</p> <p>Thank you, High Commissioner, for your report and to the Team of International Experts for their final report.</p> <p>The increase in armed violence in eastern DRC and related human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks against civilians and conflict related sexual violence, are of serious concern. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation, caused primarily by the armed group M23, as well as other armed groups, severely impacts the rights of the Congolese population. The violence also jeopardises the safe conduct of the coming general elections, and elections may not be held in three territories due to insecurity. We also note that the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri remains.</p> <p>Accountability and the rule of law must be ensured. We are closely following the developments in the appeal trial of the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp in Kasaï Central in 2017. We are also following the continuation of the investigation into the disappearance of their four Congolese companions. The legal process remains vital and has our full support. We encourage the continued cooperation between the Congolese authorities and the UN-mandated follow-up mechanism for the DRC.</p> <p>High Commissioner, we would appreciate if you could elaborate on the impact that the ongoing violence may have on the safe conduct of the coming elections?</p> <p>I thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>10 October 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway. </p> <p>We thank the Independent Expert for his dedicated efforts. </p> <p>We would also like to commend the Government of the Central African Republic for cooperating with the Independent Expert. </p> <p>The Independent Expert’s report shows that the civilian population suffers from persistent and widespread violence, grave human rights violations and abuses, and lack of access to basic services. We are particularly worried about the precarious situation for the country’s nearly 3 million children. </p> <p>The report highlights low school enrolment rate and lack of vocational training. These are aggravating factors in the recruitment of children by armed groups, the trafficking of children as well as child marriages. </p> <p>Education and lifelong learning are key to fostering peacebuilding and sustainable development. We would appreciate if you could elaborate on what measures are undertaken by the government to ensure children and youth quality education, free from fear, violence and threats.</p> <p>I thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 54<sup>th</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner on interim report on Haiti</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>10 October 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic States are deeply troubled by the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Haiti. Due to organized crime and gang violence, close to 200.000 people are currently displaced. </p> <p>Support to help Haiti restore security and the rule of law is much needed and we back efforts to ensure a multinational security support mission is urgently deployed. The increasing violence, illicit arms flows, and human rights abuses undermine the stability and security of Haiti and the region. The widespread use of sexual and gender-based violence is of particular concern.</p> <p>Weak accountability combined with large-scale corruption has resulted in state institutions that are not able to protect human rights. Efficient judicial institutions are needed to strengthen the fight against impunity. We urge the Government to continue to address these aspects of governance.</p> <p>Any comprehensive resolution requires a Haitian led political solution. We call on all political actors to continue to meaningfully engage in restoring Haiti’s democratic institutions and create a safe and secure environment.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The High Commissioner has stated that measures to re-establish security will need to focus on accountability, prevention, and protection. What progress has been made in this regard?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you.</span><span style="color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;"> </span></p>

Oct 16, 2023Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)New York - United Nations

<p><strong>Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)<br /> Statement by H.E. Jorundur Valtysson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> 16 October 2023<br /> <br /> </strong></p> <p>Mme/Mr. Chair,</p> <p> <br /> I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Iceland on the report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).<br /> <br /> The Nordic countries wish to reiterate our support for the vital role that the Commission has to play in furthering rules-based cooperation in an economically interdependent world. We also highly appreciate the close relationship between the Commission and other key international organizations active in the field of international commercial and trade law. In today’s demanding and rapidly changing global environment, it is fundamentally important to coordinate efforts, avoid duplication of work, and focus efficiently on prioritized topics.<br /> <br /> As always, the Commission and its Secretariat has carried out work flexibly and in constructive spirit.&nbsp; We continue to welcome this approach and believe it guarantees the most efficient use of limited resources both within the organisation and in Member States.<br /> During this year’s session, the Commission finalised and adopted a number of texts in relation to investor-state dispute settlement. It also finalised and adopted recommendations on access to credit for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises. Further, the Commission finalized and adopted the guidance text on early dismissal and preliminary determination for inclusion in the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings. These text are sound proof of the Organisations ability to deliver.<br /> <br /> As to the work currently ongoing in the working groups, the Nordic countries firstly welcome the work carried out in Working Group I (Warehouse Receipts). The working group recently started its work on a new item and is now focusing its work on a model law on warehouse receipts. Taking into account the importance of warehouse receipts to agriculture and food security as well as their use in supply and value chains, we welcome the aim to develop a modern and predictable legal regime. The background work conducted under the auspices of UNIDROIT provides a sound basis for further deliberations in the working group.<br /> <br /> Working Group II (Arbitration and Conciliation / Dispute Settlement) was mandated to consider the topics of technology-related dispute resolution and adjudication jointly and also consider ways to further accelerate dispute resolution building on the Expedited Arbitration Rules. The working group has had very constructive and fruitful discussions on both of these topics and made good progress in its work.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Working Group III (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, ISDS) has made concrete and commendable progress in its work and remains fully committed to continue to reform the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system. Work so far concluded includes the UNCITRAL Model Provisions on Mediation for International Investment Disputes, the UNCITRAL Guidelines on Mediation for International Investment Disputes, the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Arbitrators in International Investment Dispute Resolution and the UNCITRAL Code of Conduct for Judges in International Investment Dispute Resolution. The Nordic countries take this opportunity to commend the Working Group for its progress and look forward to actively contributing to its important work also in the future.<br /> <br /> Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) has commenced its work related to the digital economy. We look forward to constructive and fruitful negotiations in this very important and current field of practice and law.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Working Group V (Insolvency) continues working on two important topics: first, applicable law in insolvency proceedings and second, civil asset tracing and recovery. While we have more interest in the applicable law topic, we fully support the approach to discuss both of the topics simultaneously. We also welcome the progress made especially in the topic of applicable law and look forward to the discussions on remaining, crucial but rather complex issues.<br /> <br /> Working Group VI Working Group VI was assigned last year a new topic on negotiable multimodal transport documents. We are pleased to see reintroduction of transport law into the agenda of the Commission and participate in ongoing constructive negotiations. It is admittedly challenging to negotiate new rules in this area already covered by numerous conventions, other instruments, and practices of different modes of transport, trade and finance. On the one hand, it is most important that the legal framework for international transport enables the flow of electronic transport documents in a multimodal context. On the other hand, it is essential to meticulously consider the possible risks involved.<br /> In addition to negotiations being carried out in working groups, I wish to note the consultations underway in relation to areas in which international trade law can effectively support the achievement of climate action goals set by the international community as well as the scope and value of legal harmonization in those areas. We value these efforts and look forward to further discussions on this important topic.<br /> <br /> To conclude, Mme/Mr. Chair, we extend our thanks to the members of the Commission and its Secretariat for the excellent work and we look forward to continuing collaboration for the further development of international trade law.<br /> <br /> Thank you Mme/Mr. Chair.&nbsp;</p>

Oct 09, 2023Statement at the First Committee General DebateNew York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by H.E. Jorundur Valtysson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> General Assembly 78th Session, 9 October 2023<br /> First Committee - General Debate</strong><br /> <br /> </span></p> <p><span>Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> At the outset, let me congratulate you and the members of the Bureau on your election and wish you well in leading the work of the First Committee. You have the full confidence and support of the Icelandic delegation. Iceland aligns itself with the statement already delivered by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic countries. Allow me to add a few remarks in my national capacity.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> Again, we meet under the dark shadow of war in Europe and intensifying and spreading conflicts in other parts of the world – as we witness now in the Middle East and, here, let me reiterate my country´s strong condemnation for the attacks of Hamas on Israel. The deterioration of the global security situation continues incessantly and with that the international arms control architecture - the very architecture that should and could have provided stability, predictability and protection for civilians in areas of conflict.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This gathering needs to be reminded that if peace is to prevail in this world, we must preserve and strengthen the rule-based international order and that will only be done through effective multilateralism. That a permanent member of the Security Council, a custodian of peace and security, is waging a relentless war of aggression against Ukraine, is incomprehensible. This act of pure brutality must be subject to appropriate punity.&nbsp; How can 188 member states without veto power have trust in behavior such as exercised by the Russian Federation, in blatant violation of the principles of the UN Charter and international law?<br /> <br /> Sadly, this fuels other states and groups temptation and determination to resort to the same illegal measures of violence to solve their purported grievances - and it is always the civil population, especially women and girls, that suffer most in these situations. Iceland welcomes the significant role some arms control instruments play in protecting civilians and preventing gender-based violence in conflict situations. But we must do better. Doing better would also require more participation of women in reviving, developing and implementing the global arms control architecture.<br /> <br /> The subject matter of this remarkable committee, arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, has been an integral part of global conflict resolution since the establishment of the United Nations. It has brought us success in the forms of treaties and established norms, but regrettably also failure in negotiations and implementation of these agreements. Unfortunately, this failure is presently becoming the norm, not the exception due to non-compliance and grave security challenges.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> The blatant effort to undermine arms control and disarmament is on-going and this is particularly relevant in the field of nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and nuclear safety. The nuclear rhetoric continues with the implicit threat of use of nuclear weapons. We have all witnessed how the Russian authorities, in the most irresponsible way, use their hold on the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia as a threat in their illegal war on Ukraine. Iceland commends the IAEA for its critical role in sustaining nuclear safety in Ukraine.<br /> <br /> Russia’s continuous attempts to derail the important work on the implementation of the NPT Treaty, by blocking consensus at the 10th Review Conference of the treaty last year and undermining the work of the Preparatory Committee for the next NPT Review Conference in 2026, is deplorable. This destructive approach is manifested in its announcement on deployment of nuclear weapons to Belarus - a State that had previously given up its nuclear arsenal. This is a travesty.<br /> <br /> Now we are witnessing the same signs of undermining the successful Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty where the Russian authorities are raising the possibility of withdrawing its ratification. In addition, the illegal and dangerous nuclear program of the DPRK is sheltered by two of the P5 states - paralyzing all efforts by the Security Council to act on this rogue behavior, contravening various Security Council resolutions and international law. The DPRK must return to compliance with its international obligations, in particular the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Arrangements and the CTBT.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty must continue to fulfil its crucial role in nuclear disarmament and in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons while at the same time safeguarding the benefits of nuclear technology for civilian use. Any attempts to undermine the Treaty must cease.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Considering the many negative developments in the nuclear field, the urgency of commencing negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty becomes more urgent to tackle the growing risks of nuclear proliferation. There is also an urgent need to see revival of nuclear arms control efforts among the nuclear powers where the participation of China - with the fastest growing number of nuclear weapons - is an absolute necessity.<br /> <br /> Iceland stands firm behind the Chemical Weapons Convention and strongly supports the role of the OPCW and its ongoing investigative efforts, which are guided by strong integrity, impartiality, and outstanding expertise. Perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Iceland supports stronger efforts to counter the increased vulnerability of the international community to biological threats - a vulnerability brought to fore with the recent pandemic. Last year, the 9th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention made some progress with the establishment of a working group for the purpose of strengthening the implementation of the treaty. This step forward must be sustained and reinforced.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> As in past years, weapons of mass destruction remain at the center of our attention. The risk of their use has grown with military action and political rhetoric of some States present in this room. However, it is critical not to lose sight of the importance to preserve, universalize, and develop treaties and initiatives in the sphere of conventional weapons as the number of conflicts in every corner of the world continues to grow.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons continues to undermine peace, development, and human rights and create immense human suffering. We call on all UN member states to join the Arms Trade Treaty. The effective implementation of the Treaty and the Programme of Action on small arms is another key to reversing this negative trend.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Mr Chair,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The immense leap forward in technological advancement is raising many new challenges for global security.&nbsp; States, non-state actors and even individuals now have access to technologies and informational aids that we only used to read about in science fiction literature. How stakeholders confront the military application and armament proliferation in the era of artificial intelligence will have long term consequences for global security. The use of artificial intelligence begs some serious questions that will demand close multilateral cooperation to avoid the very real risk of this technology becoming the tool of destruction rather than creation.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This risk is valid in all the new avenues that we have opened in the field of arms control, non-proliferation or disarmament. Whether it is open, free, secure and safe cyberspace in the form of a Programme of Action for advancing Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace; whether it is lethal autonomous weapons systems or preventing arms race in outer space, it is critical that this work contributes to strengthen international peace and security - and is solidly grounded in the UN Charter and international law.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Mr Chair,<br /> <br /> Despite continuous efforts to undermine the international arms control and disarmament regime, Iceland hopes for concrete results from the work of the Committee. As we embark upon substantial preparation for the Pact for the Future, to be adopted next year, it is important to have strong input from the First Committee. Arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament will be an important pillar of such a Future Pact as a primary tool for prevention in service of international peace and security.<br /> <br /> Thank you.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Oct 09, 2023UNESCO: National Statement of Iceland at the 217th session of the Executive BoardParis - UNESCO

<p>National statement of Iceland<br /> 217th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO, October 2023</p> <p><em><strong>Delivered by the Permanent Delegate of Iceland, Ms Auðbjörg Halldórsdóttir</strong></em></p> <p>Ms Chairperson of the Executive Board, Ms Director-General,&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Mr President of the General Conference,&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,&nbsp;</p> <p>Let me start by thanking you, Madame Chairperson, for your excellent stewardship of the Executive Board. </p> <p>I would like to second your opening words on the horrific events that took place over the weekend. </p> <p>We deeply deplore the loss of lives and are gravely concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation and the impact on the affected populations.&nbsp; </p> <p>Seventy-seven years have passed since the first session of the Executive Board took place in November 1946. It was a different world. Around 65% of the planet was considered wilderness. Today, a mere 23% of the planet's&nbsp;land surface can be classified as wilderness. If the current rate of decline continues, we might soon be left with less than 20% of wilderness and irreversible loss of biodiversity.</p> <p>That cannot be the future we want.</p> <p>Climate change and environmental degradation are undeniably some of our most urgent global challenges and UNESCO has an imperative role in addressing them through education, research and heritage protection. The world has a vested interest in the health of the oceans and ocean science. A greater focus on climate impact and climate actions at UNESCO is welcome - and sufficient support to the work of IOC is paramount.</p> <p>Dear colleagues.</p> <p>We are now halfway through the 2030 Agenda and yet only 12% of the SDGs are on track. A sharp and comprehensive emphasis on the SDGs, in all of UNESCO’s work is urgent, notably in the area of gender equality, which as we know, is imperative to the success of all the SDGs.</p> <p>Last month, UN Women and UN DESA issued the<em> Gender Snapshot 2023</em> report on the status of gender equality across all 17 SDGs. It states that the SDG5 on gender equality is “way off track” and that no SDG5 indicator is at the level of “target met” or “almost met”. </p> <p>A lack of commitment to gender equality, deeply rooted biases and underinvestment are listed as key reasons. We are failing women and girls. There is real urgency to systematically prioritize gender equality with a concrete transformative approach, stronger collaboration and policy actions. UNESCO has a lot to contribute, especially through its cross-sectoral approach. While we welcome the increased budget devoted to UNESCO’s Global Priority Gender Equality, the reality is that funding for gender equality remains insufficient.</p> <p>Dear colleagues.</p> <p>Human rights are a key pillar of Iceland’s foreign policy. Iceland has presented its candidature to the Human Rights Council for the term 2025-2027. If elected, we will actively contribute to the Council’s core mandate of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe as we have done in the CR committee of the Executive Board.</p> <p>The forced transfers of civilians and children, and the bombing of schools and cultural institutions – these are crimes and should not be ignored by those fortunate to enjoy the privilege of peace.</p> <p>As Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine continues, we welcome UNESCO’s efforts of providing emergency assistance and to monitoring, assessing and developing measures across UNESCO’s fields of competence. We must support human rights defenders, civil society, independent media and journalists. </p> <p>Media freedom and the freedom of expression are the cornerstone of an informed society, fostering democratic engagement and upholding fundamental human rights. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The right to education is an indispensable human right, for which UNESCO has the lead role and responsibility. The systemic violation of Afghan women’s human rights and their exclusion from almost all spheres of society in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime is one of the gravest human rights violations in the world today. In the acute humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, access to education remains women’s highest priority. Iceland will present amendments, prepared in cooperation with the Group of Friends of Afghanistan and the Afghan Permanent Delegation, on the draft decision on item 4.I.G. <em>UNESCO’s actions in support of Afghans.</em></p> <p>We count on all your support.</p> <p>Excellencies.</p> <p>Our forthcoming discussions at the Executive Board are important and will lay the groundwork for the upcoming General Conference. I extend my thanks to the IOS and the entire Secretariat team for excellent reports and tireless efforts in preparing for this board meeting.</p> <p>The return of the United States of America to the UNESCO family is great news for the organization and will help deliver the Organization’s important mandate. </p> <p>We can endorse the programme and budget as presented. We must ensure to use it wisely and to direct funds towards high-impact programmes and projects, that will help deliver the results needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Together, let’s ensure that UNESCO is both prepared and well suited to fulfill its mandate. We look forward to fruitful and constructive conclusions of our discussions in the weeks ahead. </p> <p>Dear friends.</p> <p>UNESCO was born of a clear vision of bringing people together and building a culture of peace through solidarity, mutual understanding and dialogue between cultures. Supporting the vision of UNESCO and the principles of the Multilateral system, on which UNESCO is built, is our best chance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a prosperous future for generations to come.</p>

Oct 06, 2023Promotion and protection of the rights of children (item 67)New York - United Nations

<p><span><strong>Statement by H.E. Jorundur Valtysson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> General Assembly 78th session, 6 October 2023<br /> 14th Plenary Meeting of Third Committee</strong></span></p> <p><span><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p><span>Mr. Chair,<span style="white-space:pre;"> </span><br /> <br /> In the past ten years, since the Convention on the Rights of the Child was incorporated directly into Icelandic legislation, the Government of Iceland has made significant progress regarding children’s rights. Within our Government, the ministerial responsibilities fall under a specific Ministry of Education and Children and, two years ago, the Government introduced a wholistic policy and action plan, the so-called “Child Friendly Iceland”. This approach is now also being implemented at the municipal level. The work on this continues and we have been forthcoming in sharing experiences and learning from others, including other Member States and the UN.<br /> <br /> While we have moved forward on many fronts, plenty of challenges remain. These include access to mental health services and treatment, and combating violence against children, as pointed out in the periodic review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child last year. On the positive side, Iceland has been lauded by the CRC for allowing children to challenge custody cases and request the custody of another parent.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> Iceland is firmly committed to end all violence against children, both domestically and globally. Iceland will continue to support UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA programmes to accelerate global actions to end child, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation. We must also work together to empower girls all over the world, and support and enable them to prosper. This includes ensuring sexual and reproductive health rights and services for youth, comprehensive sexuality education and to protect the right to bodily autonomy, privacy and self-determination.<br /> <br /> The protection of children in armed conflict is an uncontested obligation under international law. It is therefore alarming to see this obligation blatantly disregarded - especially by a Permanent Member of the Security Council. We deplore and condemn the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children from areas occupied by Russian armed forces. The evidence is there and, earlier this year, the International Criminal Court issued warrants of arrest against the President of the Russian Federation and the Commissioner for Children’s Rights for these heinous crimes.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> New technologies are creating great advances and opportunities for our children and adolescents. These should be exploited to the benefit of our youth. However, these exciting developments also come with their own risks, which can pose threats to children and many other vulnerable groups. We must remain alert to these challenges.<br /> <br /> Regrettably, we see old patterns of misogyny, racism, intimidation, and gender-based violence spreading on new platforms, intimidating and posing real threats to their victims. Children and adolescents, who are using these new technologies more frequently and at an earlier age, are among the most vulnerable. In addition, cyberbullying is reaching younger and younger children. The smartphones and tablets that enable learning and personal development can be misused to destroy their wellbeing, even lives.<br /> <br /> Awareness and education are key factors in preventing these negative aspects of new technology. We must take preemptive actions by targeting the root causes of negative social norms, gender stereotypes and gender-based violence. This includes engaging and educating young men and boys, to empower them to become agents of change for gender equality, both online and offline.<br /> <br /> Finally, Mr. Chair – and on a personal note.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Last year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my young son on a paternity leave - on the basis of a progressive legislation in Iceland. I quickly learnt that caring for a toddler can be more exhausting than lengthy UN negotiations. However, this time and the bond we formed was invaluable and endures. I also believe in leading by example and it is important that we, as supervisors and senior staff, pave the way for others to follow. But, ultimately, it is not only about me and us, but the child´s right to enjoy this precious time with both parents.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Thank you.&nbsp;<br /> </span></p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Oct 05, 2023Summit of the Future 2024 Statement by H.E. Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of IcelandNew York - United Nations

<p>President, excellencies,</p> <p>We are now - more than ever in the history of mankind - in a mutual state of dependence. The common theme in some of the most pressing problems societies across the globe face is that they are for the most part they are problems that do not respect national borders.</p> <p>The slow progress of implementing the SDGs over the past years is troubling. Our attention and our resources have been strained by the accelerating climate crisis, the COVID pandemic, and Russian aggression in Ukraine with its worldwide consequences.</p> <p>Of course, we are reminded that the founding impetus of the UN, to spare the people of the world from the horrors of territorial warfare between states, is under dire threat by a permanent member of the security council. Let's be mindful that if there is a risk of a breakdown in this most sacred duty of the international system; all other worthy goals and ambitions are likely to break down as well.</p> <p>***</p> <p>President, Iceland supports the global governance reforms proposed by the Secretary-General in “Our Common Agenda” and the subsequent policy briefs. This process offers us an opportunity to adapt the United Nations to the existing and emerging challenges.</p> <p>This is not an easy task, and there is a real risk of failure.</p> <p>Maintaining the relevance and importance of an organization throughout many decades is difficult. It falls to both the organization itself, but more crucially to its member states, to avoid the pitfalls that put in jeopardy all organizations as they age; that they take on a life of their own, increasingly independent from their original aims.</p> <p>The United Nations must not only be capable of reform but be open to transformative change and reinvention if the times require it. We will need to be creative, innovative, and willing to look critically at how things are done.</p> <p>***</p> <p>The global community needs a robust “New Agenda for Peace” and it needs to be urgently implemented.&nbsp;</p> <p>President, a realistic, but ambitious, Pact for the Future would be a major step forward for the global community and could be instrumental in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.</p> <p>Iceland will support and engage constructively in this unique endeavour to make the United Nations not only fit for purpose - but fit for the future.</p> <p>Failure is not an option.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Oct 05, 202378th General Assembly Third Committee, Advancement of Women (Item 25)New York - United Nations

<span></span> <p style="background: white; text-align: left;"><span style="color: #0c0c0c;"><strong>78<sup>th</sup> General Assembly Third Committee, Advancement of Women (Item 25)<br /> </strong><strong>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> </strong></span><strong><span style="color: #0c0c0c;">New York, 4 October 2023</span><br /> <br /> </strong><span>Thank you, Mr. / Madam Chair,<br /> <br /> As this is the first time Iceland takes the floor this session, allow me to begin by congratulating you and other members of the Bureau on your election. We look forward to working under your steadfast stewardship.<br /> <br /> Iceland aligns itself with the joint statement read by the United Arab Emirates on the deplorable situation of women in Afghanistan. Member States represented here today may disagree on many agenda items, but no-one can deny that the setback of Afghan women’s rights under Taliban control requires our urgent action.<br /> <br /> Mr. / Madam Chair,<br /> <br /> Shifting the attention much closer, namely to the UNGA General Debate two weeks ago, the representation of only twenty-one women speaking on behalf of their governments was a disheartening example of how far we are from achieving full, equal and meaningful political participation of women.<br /> <br /> Astonishingly, there are only 28 women serving as Heads of State and Government in the world. Today, women represent only one in four members of parliaments worldwide and the numbers of female cabinet ministers are even lower.<br /> <br /> According to UN Women, gender parity in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years if we continue at this current rate. Should this turn out to be the case, we might reach gender parity at the 208th session of the General Assembly.<br /> <br /> Mr. / Madame Chair,<br /> <br /> Social, cultural and economic impediments to women and girls’ participation in political and public life are all too familiar. They do not only challenge women’s rights but also the functioning of democracy. These impediments are often perpetuated by social norms and gender roles, but also local laws and customs, as well as media, including social media. Algorithms and artificial intelligence that are designed mostly by men, and by implication for men, are bound to exacerbate the inequality in the world.<br /> <br /> Rapid advances and new technologies have also opened new fronts in the battle against gender-based violence. Old patterns of misogyny, intimidation, and gender-based violence are increasingly finding new platforms to spread, intimidate and pose real threats to the security of women and girls.<br /> <br /> Recent numbers show that roughly two-in-five women have experienced technologically facilitated gender-based violence. Younger women are more likely to have been the victim of such violence and adolescent girls are a particularly vulnerable group in this regard. If we do not act to reverse this trend, more women and girls will opt to self-censorship and withdraw from public spaces. In other words, the exact opposite of what we wish for the future generations to come.<br /> <br /> Whenever new technologies are on our agenda, we must address the immense gendered impacts they are having, especially on young women and girls. We must also engage men and boys, so they become agents of change in promoting gender equality and eliminating gender-based violence.<br /> <br /> Mr. / Madam Chair,<br /> <br /> We are witnessing increased polarization and deepening divisions with global backlash on gender equality and human rights - even the ones collectively agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.<br /> <br /> Women’s rights and equality continue to be at the heart of Iceland’s foreign and international development policy. This includes access for all women and girls to the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights services. To do that, they must be aware of, and understand, their ability to realize these rights – hence the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. Women must also be able to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality and bodily autonomy.<br /> <br /> Mr. / Madam Chair,<br /> <br /> Fighting for equality is not a fight for lofty principles. The belief that everyone should enjoy their fundamental freedoms and dignity is as practical as it is principled. Discrimination comes at a cost to society; both human and economic.<br /> <br /> If we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and truly “Leave No One Behind”, we must guarantee non-discrimination and equality of all. That includes men, women and anyone identifying as neither. Human rights, equality and diversity are strengths and enablers of the sustainable progression of societies – not a luxury or an afterthought.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</span></p>

Sep 28, 2023Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p class="Default" style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Human Rights Council - 54th Session</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3:</strong> <strong>Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Indigenous Peoples</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark together with Greenland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own Iceland.</p> <p>We welcome the report presented by the Special Rapporteur on green financing, which provides insight to this important topic. </p> <p>Indigenous Peoples globally are the most affected by environmental harms. In the Arctic the temperatures continue to rise at three times the global annual average. Climate change threatens nature, and the livelihood of Indigenous Peoples. </p> <p>When developing green financed projects, two central concepts are human rights-based approach and sustainability. Additionally, it is crucial that politicians and authorities have knowledge of Indigenous Peoples’ culture and traditional ways of living. When projects are planned and developed authorities are obliged to consult with affected Indigenous Peoples. </p> <p>Consultations with the Indigenous Peoples concerned, including Indigenous women, imply that a real effort should be made with the aim to reach agreement on the proposed measures. </p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Special Rapporteur: Why are consultations with Indigenous Peoples particularly important in the context of green financing?</span></p>

Sep 27, 202378th United Nations General Assembly General Debate statement by H.E. Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of IcelandNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>78th United Nations General Assembly&nbsp;<br /> General Debate 23 September 2023<br /> Statement by H.E. Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir<br /> Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland</strong><br /> <br /> <br /> Mr President, excellencies</p> <p>First, I would like to thank all those whose daily work is dedicated to the United Nations and its ideals.</p> <p>All across the globe people work in the name of the United Nations, wearing the colours and emblems of this organization, giving their effort in the pursuit of making our world a better place. Thank you.</p> <p>Thank you also to those who are responsible for keeping the buildings and offices clean and ready for business. Thank you to those who make sure that technology runs smoothly, to the translators and security staff, to the diplomats of the member states, and those who are entrusted with making decisions and bearing the responsibility of managing the day-to-day operations of the United Nations.</p> <p>In a large organization, each individual must do their part, and every task—no matter how mundane—is done in the name of our common cause and deserves to be done well. Everyone has a role to play, and all those roles are important.&nbsp;</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>This week has been dominated by discussions of the many and serious problems that humankind faces. Most of these pressing problems do not respect national borders.&nbsp;</p> <p>We are now - more than ever in the history of mankind - in a state of mutual reliance and dependence.&nbsp;</p> <p>The problems created by some of us, often have dire consequences for others.&nbsp;</p> <p>A disruption in production in one part of the world impacts the well-being of people in another.</p> <p>Hateful rhetoric that is used for political gain in one country can spread with the speed of light across borders and poison public discourse in another.</p> <p>But, there are other and more uplifting parts of this reality.</p> <p>Solutions that are discovered in any distant region of the world can be transported and utilized across the globe in an instant.</p> <p>New ideas in culture, in science and in political thought don’t respect any national boundaries.</p> <p>Being interconnected also means that people are aware of each other’s humanity.</p> <p>***</p> <p>But, sadly—at the same time when we need it the most, multilateralism is in serious crisis.&nbsp;</p> <p>I believe that we are at a critical juncture—that when we look back at these times— 30 years from now—we will either look back with absolute sadness and horror to a catastrophe that could have been avoided, or these times will be considered a moment of strength, when the international system showed that it could withstand its toughest test without breaking apart.</p> <p>We need to take the long view and contemplate how our actions today will look a few decades from now.</p> <p>How leaders act and how institutions respond will determine the difference between hope and despair.</p> <p>This means the United Nations, and this means us, the people who are entrusted with positions of leadership and service.</p> <p>In this regard we all have a role to play, and each role is important.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>This year marks the halfway point for the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals set out in 2015. It is estimated that only 15 percent of the SDGs are currently on track for completion by 2030.</p> <p>Plainly speaking - it is halftime - and we are down by a big margin. During this week some positive steps have been taken at the SDG summit; but it will be actions, not words, that count.</p> <p>Iceland presented its second voluntary national review in July. As with many others, we have a mixed story to tell. Some of our goals are on track, others are not. My government remains committed to the timely implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. As for most of us, the second half will be decisive.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Paris Agreement is also in jeopardy. Over the past months, we have witnessed the increased intensity of climate change and natural disasters in the form of flooding draught and extreme weather patterns. Wildfires are battering every corner of the world. These have local and global ramifications, including increased food insecurity, poverty and hunger.</p> <p>This is not just a threat to some in distant parts of the world. This is an existential threat to us all. And it is the most vulnerable, especially women and children and poorer communities, that bear the brunt of these events, that are the consequences of problems that they had no part in creating.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>Where there is hope, it continues to be in co-operation and in a multilateral approach to solving problems.</p> <p>A recent example is the historic agreement reached earlier this year on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, under the auspices of UNCLOS—our constitution of the ocean. The BBNJ agreement is a testament to the importance and effectiveness of multilateralism when it comes to tackling the triple planetary threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was an important milestone that Iceland is proud to have contributed to.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President</p> <p>December marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a milestone worth celebrating.</p> <p>The world has long since learned that when the rights of people are denied in one state, there is a real danger that the effect will be felt by others. Just as domestic violence is a societal problem, not a family matter—brutal treatment of citizens in one state of the UN is a matter that concerns us all.</p> <p>Earlier this month Iceland formally presented its candidature to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2025–2027.&nbsp;</p> <p>Human rights are a key pillar of Iceland’s foreign and development policy, based on the conviction that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Our candidature is endorsed by the Nordic countries.</p> <p>Member states in the Human Rights Council do not have to be perfect. None of us are. We can all do better, and we should all aim to do better.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>We are seeing a serious degradation of human rights in many member states.</p> <p>Women and girls in Afghanistan can’t go to school. Their basic freedoms are taken from them, and they live under cruel and violent suppression. I salute the bravery of the women, within Afghanistan and outside, who continue to bring the attention of the world to the horrors perpetuated by the Taliban.&nbsp;</p> <p>In Iran the authorities continue to deny women freedom and punish those who dissent. We should all listen to the voices of people who put themselves in danger by openly fighting for human rights.</p> <p>We are seeing degradation in the rights of LGBTI+ communities in many places.</p> <p>Of all the things people choose to worry about—I simply can never understand why people should not be allowed the freedom to love and be loved for who they are.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>The shocking treatment of women by many countries, and the blatant inequalities in even more countries, are not only a terribly sad and unfair situation for the women of those countries.</p> <p>Quite frankly it makes no sense.</p> <p>I come from a country that is considered to have a very strong record when it comes to gender equality. And Iceland is fortunate enough to be a society that has developed from being among the poorest in Europe to one of the most prosperous since we became an independent Republic almost 80 years ago.</p> <p>The fact of our equality and the fact of our prosperity are strongly linked.</p> <p>We do not have gender equality in Iceland because it is a luxury we can afford.</p> <p>It is gender equality that has made us strong.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>In Belarus opponents of the regime are jailed and exiled while the rulers align themselves with Russia´s war in Ukraine. All of those who dedicate themselves to ensuring human rights and freedoms for the people of Belarus deserve to be listened to and supported.</p> <p>And there are so many other places around the world where people are being punished for their opinions and for challenging authorities.</p> <p>Civil society, media and freedom of speech are being undermined, not only in autocratic countries, but all over the world.</p> <p>Cases of people being arbitrarily detained by governments are on the rise and are deeply troubling.</p> <p>There is a trend in the direction of deterioration of democratic values and civil rights—often led by populist politicians who offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.</p> <p>They spread suspicion, peddle misinformation and foster polarization in their societies.</p> <p>This poses a dilemma. Those who undermine democratic norms do so under the protection of the same human rights they are attacking.&nbsp;</p> <p>And while some of these rights are misused, it is also clear that we will need to rely on human made solutions to our human made problems. And this will rely on the creative and innovative thinking of individuals who have the freedom to express their thoughts, to challenge the status quo and to test their ideas, services and products in an open and competitive society.&nbsp;</p> <p>Artificial intelligence asks some serious questions that will demand close multilateral co-operation to avoid the very real risk of this technology becoming a tool of destruction rather than creation.</p> <p>We must also bear in mind that the promise of human rights and freedom applies to individuals and does not necessarily extend to state sponsored propaganda or artificially generated misinformation that is intended to sow discord and disunity.</p> <p>Freedom of expression is for human beings, not for programmed bots that spread hate, lies and fear. Human rights are for human beings.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>Military coups are proliferating in Africa, the situation in Sudan is deteriorating, the Taliban regime tightens the grip in Afghanistan, the military junta in Myanmar continues to commit atrocities and the conflict between Israel and Palestine frequently flairs up with the two-state solution nowhere in sight.</p> <p>Russia’s war of territorial aggression is not only a brutal assault on Ukraine and its people - it is also an unprecedented affront to the international system.</p> <p>This madness has been ongoing for over 18 months and is the sole responsibility of a permanent member of the Security Council, which should be acting on behalf of the UN membership as a guardian of international peace and security. Instead, the Russian Federation chooses to viciously attack a neighbouring country in complete violation of the UN Charter and international law.&nbsp;</p> <p>Iceland is proud to have been at the helm when the Council of Europe decided last May to establish a Register for Damage incurred by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. This is an important step in seeking reparations after the war and holding perpetrators to account.&nbsp;</p> <p>Every country of the world and humankind as a whole, stands to lose if the international community allows wars of neo-colonial conquest by large powers against its neighbours.</p> <p>There are many grey zones in world affairs. This is not one of them.</p> <p>Russia is the aggressor and must be stopped.</p> <p>Ukraine is rightly defending its land, and by extension our international system. It must be supported.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>Mankind does not only create problems. We also create solutions, and some of these solutions border on being miraculous.</p> <p>In fact—this very organization, and the system of international and multilateral co-operation of which it is both the pinnacle and foundation—is an example of a man-made solution to man-made problems.&nbsp;</p> <p>But maintaining relevance and importance throughout many decades is no easy task. It falls to the organization itself, but more crucially to its member states, to avoid the pitfalls that put in jeopardy all organizations as they age; that they take on a life of their own, increasingly independent from their original aims.</p> <p>We will need to be creative, innovative and willing to look critically at how things are done, with the aim of finding ever better ways of serving the states and people of the world.<br /> We need reforms to the United Nations Security Council that reflect a much changed and evolved world since the institution was set up.</p> <p>And we need more high-level dialogue that is open and unscripted. Where the people responsible for the making important decisions can engage with each other, exchange views.</p> <p>Sometimes it is difficult to talk to people that you don’t agree with. But I have never found it to be harmful.&nbsp;</p> <p>The people of this organization, and us—people who hold positions of leadership in member states—are all human beings that benefit from being in the company of other human beings.<br /> The United Nations must be modern and change with the times.&nbsp; This system—a miracle of the human spirit when it was first set up—must earn its legitimacy over and over again, as new generations replace those who hold memories of why our current world order, with all its flaws, is still vastly and completely superior to any known alternative.</p> <p>We have no alternative but to adapt. We all have a role to play, and each role is important.</p> <p>Failure is not an option.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Sep 26, 2023General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attentionGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p class="paragraph" style="text-align: center;"><span><strong><span>Human Rights Council – 54th session</span></strong></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland reiterates its condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine with mounting evidence of war crimes and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law resulting in atrocious human suffering and loss of life.</p> <p>In Russia, the widespread and systematic curtailment of human rights and crackdown on civic space is of serious concern. We continue to condemn the severe limitation on freedom of opinion and expression, crackdown on independent media and all types of opposition.</p> <p>In Belarus, we are gravely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation, including continuous systemic repression and politically motivated sentencing of civil society, including human rights defenders, and political opponents for exercising their right to freedom of expression.</p> <p>In Afghanistan, we condemn the Taliban for their systematic discrimination against women and girls which may amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity.</p> <p>Iceland reiterates its concern about the serious human rights situation in China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Tibet. We urge China to abide by its obligations under international human rights law, especially the right to freedom of expression and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.</p> <p>In Iran, we are deeply concerned about reports of authorities reinforcing actions to quell dissent, including through surveillance technology, and the exacerbating punitive measures against those exercising their fundamental rights. We urge the authorities to repeal the new Chastity and Hijab Bill and to eliminate, in law and in practice, the systemic discrimination against women and girls in public and private life.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements made in the interactive dialogues under item 4, including on Russia, Syria, Belarus and Myanmar.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Sep 14, 2023Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitationGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>delivered by</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Martin Eyjólfsson</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report that emphasizes the importance of restoring the good condition of the aquatic ecosystems that supply water to ensure the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. </p> <p>We concur that equal access to drinking water and sanitation goes hand in hand with the importance of climate change adaptation strategies to counter the increasing risks of drought and floods caused by climate change. </p> <p>The overexploitation and pollution of aquatic ecosystems as well as mismanagement of rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers and their impact on the realization of the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is of great concern. These impacts are disproportionate in territories of those who suffer marginalization and discrimination.</p> <p>It is clear that democratic water governance based on a human rights approach, is needed, paving the way to a new environmental regeneration model based on sustainability. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur Indigenous Peoples have effectively protected aquatic ecosystems through their worldviews, practices and knowledge. How can we take this better into account?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you.</span></p>

Sep 13, 2023Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrenceGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><span><strong><span>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur </span></strong></span><strong>on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>delivered by </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Martin Eyjólfsson </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his detailed report on international legal standards underpinning the five pillars of transitional justice.</p> <p>We concur that respect for and compliance with international human rights law and humanitarian law are the parameters for implementing and measuring transitional justice processes. Due consideration must be given to principles of non-discrimination with the aim of addressing root causes of serious human rights violations. Full compliance with human rights is vital to generate truth, justice, peace and security. </p> <p>The international human rights obligations of States are applicable to transitional justice processes. States have the obligation to address serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and ensure that perpetrators are held to account. As emphasized in the report, impunity in transitional processes is of great concern. Failure to close the impunity gap emboldens perpetrators and encourages re-occurrence. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can States ensure a comprehensive approach combining the elements of each pillar in a mutually reinforcing manner? </p> <p><span>I thank you.</span></p>

Sep 13, 2023Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SGGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 2: Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on the High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong><strong> </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I thank the High Commissioner for his update.</p> <p>The Human Rights Council draws strength from its diversity and respect for different backgrounds. That being said, there is no denying that this Council is increasingly struggling to find consensus.</p> <p>We are reminded of these differences when the rights of women and girls are on the Council’s agenda, and the polarization increases exponentially when the rights of LGBTI persons are discussed. </p> <p>Similarly, when the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to freedom of opinion and expression are up for discussion, this Council finds itself in what some have referred to as a “clash” of civilizations.</p> <p>Let us be cognizant that behind these debates there are individuals. Individuals who face discrimination and persecution. Individuals who fear for their lives. Individuals who are not granted the same recognition and rights as those of us sitting in this very room.</p> <p>No society is perfect, and we all represent our respective governments. However, when emotions are running high, let us be mindful that this Council has a precious mandate. Individuals count on us. Their lives may depend on our work.</p> <p>The advancement of human rights is inherently an ongoing process. We as humans continue to learn from past mistakes. Policies and practices that were seen as acceptable are now recognized as human rights violations.</p> <p>Irrespective of our governments’ national positions, let us not forget that lives are at stake.</p> <p class="paragraph" style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you.</span></p>

Sep 12, 2023Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on the Sudan Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="background: white; text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 2: </span></strong><strong>Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on the Sudan</strong> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p><strong>We thank the High Commissioner for his update.</strong></p> <p>The human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan has deteriorated even further since his last update to the Human Rights Council in June. Every week there are new allegations of grave human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, by both parties to the conflict. We are alarmed by reports of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. </p> <p>Humanitarian needs are enormous. We once again call on all parties to the conflict to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. 19 aid workers have been killed in Sudan this year alone.</p> <p>The violence has to stop now. All parties to the conflict must agree and adhere to an immediate ceasefire and civilians need to be protected.</p> <p>High Commissioner, given the dire situation and the lack of access to Sudan, what tools do we have at our disposal to best protect the human rights of people in Sudan? </p> <p style="background: white; text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you.</span></p>

Sep 11, 2023Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p class="Default" style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 2: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (oral update)</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 September 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We commend the Special Rapporteur for his steadfast commitment to the Afghan people and his sobering advice to the de facto authorities and the international community.&nbsp; </p> <p>Grim does not even begin to capture the lived realities of Afghan women and girls. </p> <p>In little over two years, the Taliban have undone hard-won gender equality gains through draconian, oppressive and misogynistic directives.&nbsp; </p> <p>Their systematic discrimination against Afghan women and girls may amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity.</p> <p>The exclusion of half of Afghanistan’s population, from most spheres of life, severely limits the country’s economic recovery, with detrimental consequences for the entire Afghan society. </p> <p>We applaud Afghan women and girls, who continue to show immense resilience and defiance. Without them, Afghanistan will never achieve peace, prosperity and stability. </p> <p>What scope does the Special Rapporteur see for promoting opportunities for Afghan women and girls to make their voices heard and influence their own future?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>I thank you. </span></p>

Aug 04, 2023UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Famine and Conflict-Induced Global Food InsecurityNew York - United Nations

<span></span> <p><span>Delivered by H.E. Martin Bille Hermann, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN<br /> 03.08.2023</span></p> <p><span><br /> President,<br /> <br /> I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.<br /> <br /> President,&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This year has seen devastating effects of conflict in many regions, further compounded by the destructive consequences of climate change. The combined effects have upended the lives of millions of people. Hunger is on the march.<br /> <br /> In this context, <strong>we deplore Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and condemn the subsequent Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports and grain facilities that are key to food security in many parts of the world.</strong> The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been critical for avoiding a further deterioration of the global food crisis; and it has helped stabilise global food prices which have already shown signs of an increase following Russia’s withdrawal.<br /> <br /> Resolution 2417 – which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council 5 years ago – strongly condemns the use of starvation as a method of warfare. It urges parties to armed conflict to protect civilian infrastructure and ensure the proper functioning of food systems and markets. And in this vein, The Nordic countries have joined the cross-regional group of countries who have co-signed the Joint Communique Condemning the Use of Food as Weapon of War, presented by the United States.<br /> <br /> In line with resolution 2417, <strong>we urge all parties to armed conflicts to fully comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and to ensure safe, rapid, unrestricted humanitarian access and to not deprive civilians of objects indispensable for their survival.<br /> </strong><br /> Hunger leads to conflict. However, by developing long-term sustainable and effective global food systems, we can contribute to ending hunger and preventing conflict. <strong>We need to adopt policies and financial instruments to support robust, sustainable and scalable agriculture and food production.</strong><br /> <br /> In order to address the issue of hunger and conflict effectively, we need to work closely and efficiently together across the humanitarian - development – peace nexus, and to include climate action in this equation. Likewise, collaboration across the public and private sector as well as collaboration with affected populations are crucial to deliver the results we need. To this end, we must ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation, as well as protection and access to assistance, in particular for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by hunger worldwide.<br /> <br /> <strong>The Nordic Countries consider Anticipatory Action an important tool for taking action ahead of climate shocks to mitigate, reduce and sometimes even avert humanitarian needs and safeguard long-term development investments.</strong> Anticipatory Action is a cost-effective tool, saving more lives and livelihoods against climate-induced hunger through pre-positioning of supplies, including food items and items for food production.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the end, nothing is achieved without adequate, flexible, and predictable financial support to humanitarian and development assistance. The Nordic countries are and will continue to be reliable contributors of this type of funding.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> President,<br /> <br /> Let me reiterate that the Nordic countries will always stand firm on the side of International Humanitarian Law. In this context, we call for universal ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC, as well as the two 1977 additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions. This would further strengthen international cooperation in the fight to end the use of starvation as a method of warfare.<br /> <br /> Thank you.<br /> <br /> </span></p>

Jul 19, 2023Joint Nordic Statement at General Assembly Debate on use of the Veto New York - United Nations

<p>Delivered by H.E. Martin Bille Hermann, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN<br /> 19.07.2023</p> <p>Check Against Delivery<br /> <br /> </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Denmark.<br /> <br /> Dear colleagues. We find ourselves in this hall once again deliberating on an incomprehensible situation: A permanent member of the Security Council has abused their veto power to block humanitarian aid from crossing into northern Syria. The cross-border mechanism should never have been subject to a veto and its use is a blatant disregard for the suffering of the affected people.<br /> <br /> Mr. President<br /> <br /> Although we regret the need to convene another debate about the use of a veto in the Security Council, we welcome this opportunity for the General Assembly to discuss the use of veto by Russia on 11 July.<br /> <br /> We underline the significance of resolution 76/262. The adoption of the veto-initiative is an important step in making the Council more transparent and accountable, and has paved the way for our debate today.<br /> <br /> We would like to thank the Security Council for sending the Special Report, and would like to see it being formally adopted in a transparent way as well as reflected in the Council’s Annual Report to the General Assembly.<br /> <br /> We – as signatories to the Charter of the UN – have entrusted the Security Council with the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security and to discharge its duties in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The misuse of the veto to prevent the Council from discharging its duties is a matter of great concern – and in this case, it has forced the Council to inaction on a matter of life and death.<br /> <br /> This meeting is another opportunity to convey the urgent need for increased restraint in the use of the veto and for more transparency and accountability when the veto power is used. This debate provides a much-needed occasion for Russia to explain itself and for other member states to express their opinion on this matter.<br /> <br /> We would like to express our strongest possible support for the penholders, Brazil and Switzerland.<br /> <br /> The Secretary-General and humanitarian organizations operating on the ground have consistently stressed that humanitarian imperatives called for a predictable 12-month extension of the mandate to allow for adequate planning and implementation. The final draft resolution put forward by Brazil and Switzerland suggested a 9 month extension, and reflected a fair and careful compromise. It was in no way ideal, but would have secured humanitarian relief through the harsh winter months. <br /> <br /> At a time when Russia stood isolated in the Council with its veto, we are also grateful - once again - for the role played by the elected members. The E10’s collective voice of conscience and the invaluable effort by the penholders, sends a strong and important message of unity when it comes to humanitarian work in the Council.<br /> <br /> Mr. President.<br /> <br /> The war in Syria has caused appalling amounts of human suffering, and earlier this year the people of Syria were hit by yet another catastrophe. An earthquake sent humanitarian needs soaring to the great detriment of people in the most vulnerable situation.<br /> <br /> This adds woes to an already dire situation.<br /> <br /> At a moment when relief is needed more than ever, it is appalling to observe a permanent member obstruct Council action, that would provide critical humanitarian relief to people with immense needs.<br /> <br /> On 13 July the Government of Syria announced in a letter that they have opened the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.<br /> <br /> The United Nation has expressed the need to clarify this letter. We stress the importance of the United Nation’s independence, impartiality, and neutrality. Furthermore, the UN has to be able to communicate with all relevant state and non-state parties, as operationally necessary, to carry out safe and unimpeded humanitarian operations.<br /> <br /> We call on all parties including Syria to find a solution that would allow for sustained, predictable and unconditional humanitarian assistance in line with international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles, including through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing.<br /> <br /> We also call on the Security Council to undertake every effort to find a solution that would enable cross-border assistance to continue without conditions and in line with the humanitarian principles.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> In light of yet another veto in the Council, we are once again reminded of why reform of the Security Council is necessary. We encourage all Member States to support the French-Mexican initiative and the ACT Code of Conduct.<br /> <br /> The Council does its work on behalf of all UN Members, its decisions affect us all. It therefore marks an important progress that resolution 76/262 holds it accountable.<br /> <br /> In light of latest developments, we would encourage the wider UN membership to be ready to take decisive action in the General Assembly. Action that would allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected people in line with international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.<br /> <br /> We hope that the General Assembly today sends a clear signal that life-saving humanitarian assistance must not be politicized. And it should never be made subject to a veto. The legitimacy of this very organization depends on it and most importantly, countless human lives depend on it.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>

Jul 18, 2023Commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal CourtNew York - United Nations

<p>Written Statement by H.E. Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland</p> <p>Commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 17 July 2023</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madame President.</p> <p>Since the adoption of the Rome Statute 25 years ago, the International Criminal Court has made pivotal progress, shaping international criminal law, and contributing to justice for victims of international crimes. Building on the experience from the past, the international community managed to establish a permanent international court trying the most serious crimes of international concern. This was a huge achievement.</p> <p>A paramount characteristic of the ICC is that within its remit, no one is above the law. Even heads of state and government are subject to the court's scrutiny. And, as a court that must act within the foundational principles of the rule of law, it must retain its absolute independence from any outside influence.</p> <p>However, the Court and the continued progress of its work is contingent on the States Parties and their support.</p> <p>In 2022 Iceland responded to the Court’s plea for further funding and provided an additional, unearmarked, contribution of 100 thousand Euros, doubling Iceland’s annual contribution. This was done again this year. The efficiency of the ICC is dependent on the cooperation, both financial and practical, of all its States Parties. </p> <p>All efforts of the Court should build on a victim-oriented approach. The ICC must be able to fulfil its core purpose of delivering justice to victims. A crucial element of the Court’s delivery of justice is implemented by the Trust Fund for Victims. Iceland is proud to contribute annually to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. </p> <p>Iceland welcomes the work of the Office of the Prosecutor to systematically address sexual and gender-based crimes, and its efforts to put focus on the investigation and prosecution of gender persecution.</p> <p>To ensure consistent and sustainable support for the ICC there needs to be effective outreach and consistent implementation of the Court’s mandate across the situations and cases under its jurisdiction.</p> <p>Iceland calls on all States that have not yet become party to the Rome Statute to become States Parties. Our common goal is to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the gravest crimes that threaten the peace, security, and well-being of the world, and to contribute to the prevention of such crimes. This goal has not been reached and we must work together to realise it.</p>

Jul 18, 2023Joint Nordic-Baltic Statement on the Situation in the Temporarily Occupied Territories of UkraineNew York - United Nations

<p>Delivered by Lotte Machon, Deputy Minister for Development Policy of Denmark<br /> <br /> <br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Check Against Delivery<br /> <br /> President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.</p> <p>As Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine rages on, we must recall that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine did not start last year.</p> <p>Nine years ago, the Russian Federation launched a hybrid aggression in the east of Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol.</p> <p>But since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Russia has further illegally occupied and annexed parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, in addition to parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which it had occupied by proxy since 2014. All in clear violation of international law, including the UN Charter.</p> <p>The human rights situation in the temporarily occupied territories has severely deteriorated since 2014, and has become critical since the full-scale invasion last year. Credible reports show that residents, especially Crimean Tartars and those perceived as pro-Ukrainian, face systematic restrictions of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression, religion or belief, association and peaceful assembly.</p> <p>We also continue to witness systematic violations of international humanitarian law, with reports of illegal detentions, torture, ill-treatment, summary executions of prisoners of war, rampant use of sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, including children and civilian objects. In addition, there are reports of illegal deportations and transfers of Ukrainian children out of Ukraine, as well as forced adoptions, which constitute a potential war crime. In this regard, we have taken note of the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against President Putin and Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Lvova-Belova.</p> <p>Moreover, reports show that Russia continues the forced adoption of Russian passports in territories under its temporary illegal occupation. This leaves Ukrainian citizens, who do not acquire Russian passports, at real risk of being deported from their homes, in violation of international law. And in yet another violation of international law, Russia has announced its intention to hold “elections” in September in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.</p> <p>These violations are compounded by the severity of the humanitarian needs of the civilian population in the temporarily occupied areas. We are deeply concerned that it has become nearly impossible for international monitoring bodies and humanitarian actors to gain safe and unhindered access to these areas, dramatically worsening the humanitarian situation on the ground.</p> <p>We reiterate our condemnation of these actions as clear violations of international law and call on Russia to immediately end all hostilities and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine.</p> <p>We also condemn the continued military support for Russia’s war of aggression provided by Iran and Belarus.</p> <p>We reaffirm our unwavering support to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, including its territorial waters.</p> <p>We emphasize the importance of accountability for violations of international law, including human rights and international humanitarian law, committed in the temporarily occupied territories. We are committed to holding all perpetrators accountable for the crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We welcome progress towards the establishment of an appropriate mechanism for the prosecution of the crime of aggression, which is of concern to the international community as a whole. Impunity for these acts undermines the prospects for reconciliation and lasting peace, and diminishes the possibility of justice for victims and survivors.</p> <p>We call for a thorough and independent investigation into all alleged violations of international law, ensuring that those responsible are held accountable through fair and transparent legal processes. We welcome the establishment of the Register of Damage, as agreed at the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavík, as a first step toward an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russia’s aggression. And we look forward to the meeting of Ministers of Justice in Riga in September.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic States stand united in our condemnation of Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, as well as the ongoing illegal occupation. We stand united in support of Ukraine’s Peace Formula and call on the international community to work together to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, consistent with the UN Charter.<br /> <br /> Thank you, Mr. President.</p>

Jul 18, 2023Statement at the 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development New York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Eggert Benedikt Guðmundsson,<br /> Special Envoy for Sustainable Development <br /> High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Developmen </p> <p>18 July 2023, General debate<br /> <br /> <br /> Chair, Excellencies.<br /> <br /> The SDG Summit in September may mark the mid-point of the time that we have to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. But we are nowhere near halfway there yet, in terms of reaching the Goals. In fact we are even regressing on some of the targets. During the four years since the last SDG Summit, humanity has had to face incredible challenges – from COVID and climate change to conflicts. Many of these challenges are human made. We have no other option than to meet them, and to rapidly accelerate implementation of the SDGs; to work even harder than we thought. We know what to do.<br /> <br /> This year, Iceland presents its second Voluntary National Review. In the true democratic, multi-stakeholder spirit of Agenda 2030, in addition to the government assessment; the report includes chapters written several stakeholders. While progress is being made in many areas, the report demonstrates clearly how far we still must go to reach the targets of 2030.<br /> <br /> An important aspect of the work on the SDGs is the effect our work has on other countries - the spillover effects. Iceland is dedicated to analyzing and discussing the various spillover effects and the importance that governments address them in their policy-making and actions. Our Prime Minister mandated aspecial report on the topic, outlining the challenges and tasks at hand.<br /> <br /> To accelerate our progress towards the SDGs, a new cooperation platform, Sustainable Iceland, was established last year. Its purpose is to formulate a national strategy and action plan for sustainable development and coordinate the work of the government with various stakeholders. <br /> <br /> In addition to the SDG indicators, 40 wellbeing indicators have been established, monitoring the quality of life in Iceland and wellbeing by looking at factors beyond traditional economic measures such as GDP. <br /> <br /> The strategy work has two phases. First, we have compiled a status report, explaining the work in progress within the government and with the various stakeholders of the society. It also describes the progress already made. Furthermore, it outlines the challenges we must address in the coming years, at home and through international cooperation.<br /> <br /> The second phase is to develop an action plan for the years 2024 through 2030. This action plan will outline the priorities and focus areas of our work on the SDGs. These will emphasize gender equality, which is the SDG with the slowest global progress to date. On the domestic level, the need to reduce carbon emissions is a top priority. Our electrical energy and energy for house heating come exclusively from green sources, i.e. hydro and geothermal. Now we must complete the energy transition in transport on land, at sea, in the air, where more careful utilization of energy plays a crucial role and we also must reduce our emission through implementing the circular economy, continue to support research and innovation in green solutions and nature-based solution. <br /> <br /> The backbone of Sustainable Iceland is the National Sustainability Council. Its members include all ministers of the government, representatives from each party of the parliament, municipalities, the business sector, social partners and civil society organizations. <br /> <br /> Madame / Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> Iceland remains fully committed to the SDGs and to implementing the 2030 Agenda nationally and through international cooperation. Our Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, will participate in the SDG summit in September, which will be a milestone event. The Icelandic government remains optimistic that the momentum being built here at the HLPF will accelerate dramatically the progress we all have to make towards the SDGs for 2030.<br /> <br /> Thank you!</p>

Jul 17, 2023Joint Nordic Statement in UNSC on Maintenance of International Peace & Security in Ukraine New York - United Nations

<p>Delivered by Lotte Machon, Deputy Minister for Development Policy of Denmark</p> <p>Check Against Delivery</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Distinguished delegates,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.</p> <p>We thank Albania and the United States for convening this meeting and the Under-Secretary General for her briefing.</p> <p>The Nordic countries would like to express our grave concern over the grim humanitarian consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as the war’s devastating global implications in areas already affected by humanitarian crisis and food insecurity, such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, Yemen and beyond. All demand our immediate attention and concerted efforts.</p> <p>Today, the Nordics would like to share three messages on 1) the grave humanitarian situation in Ukraine, 2) the global implications of Russia’s aggression and the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and 3) our support to all meaningful initiatives towards a just peace.</p> <p>Russian drone attacks and missile strikes continue in Ukraine, with devastating effects for civilians and civilian infrastructure. On 9 July several civilian casualties were reported, in yet another attack, at a humanitarian aid distribution site in the frontline town of Orikhiv. Not far from there, Russia’s illegal military seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continues to pose devastating and widespread risks, in an area already severely affected by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.</p> <p>President,</p> <p>Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The same applies to the use of weapons and methods of warfare that have indiscriminate effects. We strongly condemn Russia’s indiscriminate warfare and intentional attacks on civilians, as well as Iran’s provision of drones to Russia, in violation of Security Council resolution 2231 of 2015. All those responsible must be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights against Ukraine’s civilian population, including the forcible transfer and deportation of children and conflict-related sexual violence.</p> <p>We also call on Russia to ensure full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to all areas under its temporary military control, as well as to persons detained by Russia or forcibly transferred by Russia, including children.</p> <p>Second, we are concerned with the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Initiative has helped avoid a further deterioration of the global food crisis amplified by Russia’s war on Ukraine. We welcome the active engagement by the Secretary-General and Türkiye in facilitating the Initiative.</p> <p>Since the launch of the Initiative, which has safely exported over 32 million tonnes of grain and food stuff, we have seen a lowering of global food prices. 56 percent of the exports have gone directly to developing countries. In May, exports dropped, however, to the lowest volume since the Initiative began, largely due to Russian obstructions in the inspection and registration of shipping vessels.</p> <p>Let us not forget that the Black Sea Grain Initiative would not have been needed, had it not been for the Russian aggression - and Russia obviously bears a heavy responsibility for ensuring its continuation and smooth operation. We deeply deplore today’s news that Russia has suspended the initiative and urge Russia to ensure a long-term rollover and full implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, in line with the Istanbul agreement, and to urgently lift all impediments that delay operations of the Initiative.</p> <p>President,</p> <p>The Nordics support all meaningful efforts to bring an end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Such efforts must include Russia’s complete and unconditional withdrawal of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine, and respect for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stand ready to support Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace and all initiatives seeking to advance peace in line with the UN Charter, international law and relevant General Assembly resolutions. And we welcome the G7 Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine and intend to build on that framework to ensure Ukraine’s long-term security.</p> <p>In closing, the Nordics reaffirm our commitment to the UN founding principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. To the security and well-being of the people in Ukraine and everywhere. Our resolve is unwavering for as long as it takes.</p> <p>Thank you, Mr. President.</p>

Jul 17, 2023Joint statements during the 53rd session of the Human Rights CouncilGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, on a report on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by the EU on behalf of 57 Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We are gravely concerned by the increasing and systematic erosion of respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls in Afghanistan by the de facto authorities, in particular women and girls’ lack of equal access to education, economic opportunities, including access to work, participation in public life, freedom of movement, justice, and basic services, the absence of which make peace, stability, and prosperity in the country unattainable</p> <p>Banning women from working for the United Nations, and national and international NGOs, is yet another alarming violation of Afghan women’s rights. These restrictions also undermine humanitarian principles, and severely impact the delivery of life-saving assistance and basic services to those most in need.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>The realization of women’s and girls’ rights is indispensable for achieving sustainable development, in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, in peace-building, and in the humanitarian response. </p> <p>We jointly call on de facto authorities to revisit their discriminatory policies. Women and girls have the right to live free from all forms of violence, to exercise all rights in accordance with international human rights law, and to contribute to the social and economic development of the Afghan society. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by Australia on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of more than 37 countries. </p> <p>As we celebrate the 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we reaffirm our commitment to the universality of human rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. </p> <p>We also look ahead toward the 30<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the International Day of Families. </p> <p>Families, in all their diversity, play a fundamental role in society. They can be critical in helping people, especially children, to realise their full potential, and bear most of the burden of care work. Supporting families is therefore an important element in promoting and protecting human rights. In turn, ensuring the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all creates an enabling environment where families can thrive.&nbsp; </p> <p>There is great diversity in families all around the world, and so this support must be inclusive of all family compositions, including multigenerational and extended families, single parent households, LGBTIQ+ families and Indigenous kinship groups. </p> <p>We recognise however, that families can also be the context in which human rights abuses occur, including intimate partner violence, non-partner family violence, violence against children, and elder abuse, amongst others. Gender inequalities and unequal power relations are among the root causes of this violence.&nbsp; In 2020, 58 per cent of women and girls killed, died at the hands of an intimate partner or family member. For this reason, it is critical we support families to be safe spaces for all, in which individuals’ human rights are respected.</p> <p>We are committed to supporting families, and call on States, the OHCHR and UN bodies to continue to apply an inclusive lens to families, and to ensure that equality, non-discrimination, and the universality of human rights remains at the centre of engagement in supporting families.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on cultural preservation delivered by the United States of America on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr High Commissioner, we deliver this statement on behalf of a group of states.</p> <p>We begin by recalling the grievous history of destruction of diverse forms of indigenous and local cultures in many parts of the world, policies that have harmed these populations by denying them their beliefs, their history, and their dignity, while impoverishing humankind as a whole.</p> <p>International law prohibits discrimination, including that based on religious or ethnic identity, and protects minorities in the enjoyment of their culture, the professing of their religion, and the use of their language.</p> <p>Despite these clear obligations, in some parts of the world deplorable human rights violations are being committed against persons belonging to religious, linguistic, national, and ethnic minorities, often with the stated aim of mitigating a perceived security threat.&nbsp; Government laws and policies specifically restrict and suppress practices that are part of the identity and cultural life of persons belonging to minorities:&nbsp; authorities destroy cultural heritage sites, cemeteries and places of worship; suppress languages; forcibly assimilate children through the educational system; place severe restrictions on movement; and restrict access to livelihoods, education, and healthcare. </p> <p>Mr High Commissioner, we reiterate the importance of promoting universal respect for human rights.&nbsp; We call on all governments around the world, including our own government, to uphold their duties and respect the rights of persons belonging to minorities – to allow the culture of ethnic and religious minorities to flourish, and to respect the ability of everyone to worship as they please, to speak the language of their parents, as well as to use their traditional knowledge and to participate in the social institutions of their choice.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement delivered by Argentina on behalf of the SOGI Group of Friends</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>As members of the SOGI Group of Friends, we strongly support the promotion and defence of the universal human rights system, emphasizing that human rights are indivisible, interdependent, mutually reinforcing, and, by their very nature, universal. </p> <p>In this sense, we reaffirm the importance of the work of this Council and the Independent Expert, for the protection of LGBTIQ+ persons against violence and discrimination in all regions, as well as for the progressive development of international human rights norms and standards. Globally, the LGBTIQ+ community still faces discrimination, violence and marginalization, and we need urgent actions to address these issues. This is why we celebrated the renewal of the mandate last year as a fundamental milestone for this topic.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>On this occasion, we wish to highlight and thank the exceptional work of Víctor Madrigal in his role as Independent Expert during his mandate, which is coming to an end. With commitment and responsibility, he managed to foster dialogue with stakeholders from all regions of the world, build consensus and move the international agenda on inclusion and diversity forward.</p> <p>We conclude by highlighting once again the commitment of our countries to the fight against all forms of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the importance to continue promoting the respect, protection, and realization of the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons in the universal system of human rights, and reaffirming our commitment to the consolidation of the issue on the agenda of this Council.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on Femicides and Human Rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Delivered by Cyprus on behalf of 69 Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of 69 countries.</p> <p>Sexual and Gender-based violence against women and girls has alarmingly increased worldwide, amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, over 5 women and girls were killed by someone in their family, every hour.</p> <p>The gender-related killing of women and girls, also known as femicide or feminicide, constitutes the most extreme and brutal manifestation of violence against all women and girls and is prevalent in all regions and countries worldwide. A major problem is the difficulty of identifying the occurrence of femicide given the absence of data collection strategies and systems.</p> <p>The former Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women produced a landmark report in 2016, where she proposed the establishment of different levels of a “femicide watch” and observatories on violence against women and girls. The centrality of data collection and monitoring in State efforts to combat femicides was recognized by her, UN Women, and by the CEDAW Committee in recent years.</p> <p>Therefore, we encourage all States to acknowledge its existence, define gender-related killings in national legal frameworks, and develop prevention strategies to address it, including through education, to strengthen response systems through training service providers, law enforcement authorities, judicial officials, educators, health system workers, and other relevant stakeholders so they can recognize it and prevent its occurrence. Moreover, we need to develop, in advance, systems for collecting disaggregated data that specify the type of gender-based crime committed, the relationship between victim and perpetrator and the response regarding accountability and reparations. In this regard, we welcome UN Women and UNODC efforts to improve data collection through the Statistical Framework for measuring the gender-related killing of women and girls. </p> <p>This will allow us to take appropriate and effective action towards eradicating this heinous crime. We owe it to the victims and their families.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement delivered by Belgium on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of 35 countries, in order to express our deep collective concern about the findings published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last month. The report states that in March 2022 over 500 civilians were killed in the village of Moura, in central Mali, by elements of the Malian armed forces, with support from, and, I quote, “foreign military personnel”. Hidden behind this label lies the Wagner Group, whose presence in Mali is well-known and has been confirmed by Russian authorities, and which has contributed to continued instability and a rise in human rights violations both in Mali and in other areas of conflict.</p> <p>Mr President, this report provides harrowing details of summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and other ill-treatment, backed up by extensive evidence. This is despite the Malian authorities’ refusal to allow UN access to the site of the most serious reported atrocity committed in Mali in a decade. &nbsp;The report concluded that these acts could amount to war crimes and, depending on the circumstances, crimes against humanity. These cannot go unanswered and perpetrators must be held to account.&nbsp; The Malian authorities must investigate these allegations and all other reports of human rights violations and abuses regardless of the actors allegedly involved, fully, transparently, impartially and independently, and urgently implement the recommendations of this report to ensure, that both their own forces and foreign military personnel fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. We call on the UN High Commissioner and the international community to continue to raise this matter with the Malian authorities, and for Malian authorities to ensure full protection of witnesses and human rights defenders.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on the tobacco industry and human rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Delivered by Panama on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of countries.</p> <p>By virtue of the UNGP on Business and Human Rights, the tobacco industry has the responsibility to respect human rights across its supply chain. Yet, it continues to assert undue corporate influence in the implementation of tobacco control policies and regulations.</p> <p>Tobacco remains the leading cause of global preventable diseases, resulting in more than 8 million deaths annually, and it negatively affects the enjoyment of human rights throughout its whole life cycle, in particular the right to life and the right to health.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about reports of persons at risk of trafficking for forced labour, child labour, exploitation and exposure to hazardous conditions while working in tobacco fields.</p> <p>This year marks the 20<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the adoption of the WHO FCTC, which provides an international legal safeguard against corporate capture. We invite States that have not yet ratified it, to consider doing so. </p> <p>We wish to take this opportunity to encourage the Working Group to address the adverse impacts on human rights, health and the environment related to the tobacco industry, including on the grounds of,<em> inter alia</em>, age, gender, race, ethnicity and disability, as well as States’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and their commitment to the SDGs and target 3.a, and to collaborate with the WHO FCTC Secretariat in this regard.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: </strong><strong>Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on safe learning environment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Delivered by Kazakhstan on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a Group of Countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for her timely report.</p> <p>We concur that fundamental human right to education includes the right to be safe in education.</p> <p>Children should get the best possible start in life and have access to education in which every child, including adolescents, have ample opportunity to develop their individual capacities in a space where they feel safe, respected and valued. It is crucial for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.</p> <p>We are committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its entirety, especially the SDGs and targets aimed at ending abuse and all forms of violence against and torture of children, and creating child-friendly learning environments where every child feels safe and encouraged to learn.</p> <p>Recognizing State’s responsibility to ensure every child’s protection and care, we also acknowledge the distinct and important roles that parents, legal guardians, schools and all other institutions of society can play in contributing to providing safe and inclusive learning environment.</p> <p>We believe that all forms of violence and abuse in schools <em>can </em>and <em>must </em>be prevented. It is important to foster culture of open communication and trust between children, parents, and educators. Educational programs and materials that fully reflect the promotion and protection of all human rights, as well as the values of peace, tolerance and gender equality, can make a significant contribution to their prevention.</p> <p>Children should feel comfortable speaking up about any concerns or issues they may have, and parents should be encouraged to be involved in their child’s education and well-being.</p> <p>Ending violence in and around schools and ensuring safe and inclusive learning environments for children requires joint work and multifaceted approach of governments and other stakeholders.</p> <p>By prioritizing the safety and well-being of our children, we can help them to thrive and reach their full potential.<br clear="all" /> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: </strong><strong>Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement </strong><strong>delivered by Qatar on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of 57 countries. </p> <p>Education is a basic human right that should be enjoyed by everyone without discrimination of any kind. It is a key right the access to which impacts the enjoyment of all other human rights.</p> <p>Education benefits both individuals and society. It promotes the knowledge, skills and values that are fundamental for human, social, and economic development, thus helps achieving lasting peace and sustainable development.</p> <p>By ratifying international human rights treaties, states assume responsibilities to respect, protect and fulfil the right to education.</p> <p>The obligation to protect education includes protecting education and educational facilities from attacks through all appropriate and feasible measures and safeguards.</p> <p>Unfortunately, attack against education has continued unabatedly over the last years. Records in this regard are very alarming. According to the GCPEA, in 2020 and 2021, there were more than 5,000 reported attacks on education and incidents of military use of schools and universities, harming more than 9,000 students and educators in at least 85 countries.</p> <p>While attacks on education have a devastating impact on all students and teachers, they can have a particular horrific suffering for girls and women.</p> <p>Female students and educators are particularly targeted during attacks on education. They face all kinds of conflict related violations committed against women and girls that can have long-lasting consequences on their future.</p> <p>We urge States and all conflicting parties to refrain from using schools for military purposes. We encourage States to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration so that schools shall always remain safe havens.</p> <p>We also invite the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Procedures mandate holders and treaty bodies to address this issue within their respective mandates.<br clear="all" /> </p> <p><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on the Role of Access to Clean and Affordable Energy in Eradication of Extreme Poverty</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Delivered by India on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I am delivering this joint statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries, on the critical role of access to clean and affordable energy in the eradication of extreme poverty. </p> <p>Clean and affordable energy is a critical input to primary developmental goals and basic human rights of providing adequate food, housing, water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and access to information including digital media and entertainment. Availability of energy plays a fundamental role in improving living standards, enhancing productivity, and unlocking development opportunities for individuals and communities. Unfortunately, a significant part of the global population still lacks access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy, perpetuating their entrapment in the vicious cycle of poverty and gravely hindering their social and economic progress.</p> <p>Reliable energy supply facilitates education through lighting for schools and power for electronic learning devices like tablets, computers, and projectors; improves availability of water, sanitation, and good hygiene practices. Clean cooking fuel reduces the burden of disease and drudgery, particularly for women. Access to energy enables productive economic activities, including agriculture and small and cottage industry, which directly contributes to poverty reduction. </p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>Without ensuring access to energy for all, it would be impossible to achieve the SDGs of reducing poverty, broadening the education base, and improving public health.&nbsp;Therefore, access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy is not only fundamental to the eradication of extreme poverty, but for enjoyment of human rights by all.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>International Day of Women in Diplomacy</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel 1: Gender-based violence against women and girls in public and political life</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by Mexico and Costa Rica on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on the International Day of Women in Diplomacy on behalf of México, Costa Rica and a Group of States.</p> <p>Last year the General Assembly adopted the resolution 76/269 marking this International Day, to celebrate and highlight the significant contributions that women have made and continue to make in shaping the course of our global affairs. </p> <p>We acknowledge the significant progress of recent years, recognize there are still challenges to be addressed, and reaffirm our commitment to promoting women's full, equal and meaningful participation at all levels of decision-making, as an essential measure for achieving sustainable development, peace, and effectively protecting human rights.</p> <p>Women's participation in diplomacy is an indispensable pillar of a well-rounded foreign policy. It has a transformative effect on the way we design, implement, and promote initiatives in bilateral engagements and multilateral fora. Women ´s contributions have been essential in finding adequate, just, and comprehensive avenues to address global challenges.</p> <p>We need to further accelerate efforts to mainstream a gender perspective throughout the Human Rights Council work and mechanisms, and advocate for increased representation of women. We also need to reflect more profoundly on the challenges of a work-life balance which impacts disproportionately on women, including women in diplomacy and can be an inhibiting factor in the choice of a career.</p> <p>This year’s commemoration coincides with the 75<sup>th</sup> Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.&nbsp; In this regard, we recall that the VDPA also affirms that “the human rights of women should form an integral part of the United Nations human rights activities”.</p> <p>Let us mark this day as an opportunity to reflect on the measures that should be taken to enable full and equal participation of women in all diplomatic spheres.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel 1: Gender-based violence against women and girls in public and political life</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by South Africa, Bolivia and Belgium</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this joint statement on behalf of a Group of Countries. </p> <p>Today, women represent only one in four members of parliament around the world. If we look at female ministers, the situation is even worse. While progress has been made, we are still far from achieving full, equal and meaningful political participation, and a lot of obstacles remain. </p> <p>Women's and girls’ participation in political and public life is linked to the organization of society as a whole: it depends heavily on social, cultural and economic factors. It is related to education, economic position, the division of household chores, persistent stereotypes, the role of the media during elections, intolerance and discrimination, election systems and many other elements. But above all, it is impeded by widespread patterns of misogyny, intimidation and violence faced by women leaders today. Around the world, women leaders are subject to sexist hate speech and misinformation – very often online – which not only have a detrimental effect on women's right to political participation, but also pose a challenge to democracy itself. </p> <p>By targeting, intimidating and silencing women, gender-based violence has a particularly negative impact on women's freedom of expression. It pushes them to self-censor and withdrawing from public spaces online and offline. And it sends the message that women and girls in general have no place in public life.</p> <p>We call on all States, but also on private actors, to step up and take bold actions to end gender-based violence against women and girls in public and political life, while looking forward to the CEDAW’s Committee upcoming General Recommendation that will explore this issue. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue on the Secretary General report on climate change</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on importance of civil society access to and participation in international climate discussions</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by the EU on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>The European Union has the honour to deliver this Joint Statement on behalf of a group of countries.</p> <p>We welcome today’s discussion, and the increased awareness and engagement shown by this Council on the interdependence between human rights, and combatting climate change.</p> <p>A crucial element to advance this agenda must be to ensure transparent, inclusive, safe and meaningful participation and leadership both online and offline by civil society in international climate discussions.</p> <p>We welcome the UAE’s commitment, as also expressed during the recent UPR, “to ensure that the COP28 is inclusive for all, especially those at the frontlines of climate change, including civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and youth”. We are convinced that the meaningful participation of climate activists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society, especially women, youth and marginalized groups, in an enabling environment free of intimidation, harassment, including sexual harassment, arbitrary surveillance and reprisal, is an indispensable element for the success of the Conference.</p> <p>The climate crisis requires immediate accelerated action and strengthened ambition, including to deliver on global commitments and fully integrate human rights into our response. Nobody knows this better than those already in vulnerable situations. Let’s ensure their voices can resound strong and free; and contribute to all international climate discussions.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Panel discussion on the role of digital, media and information literacy in the promotion and enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement delivered by the EU on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>The European Union has the honour to deliver this Statement on behalf of a Group of Countries.</p> <p>Access to the Internet is an indispensable enabler of a broad range of human rights. An open, free, global, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet for all facilitates individuals’ enjoyment of their rights, including freedoms of expression, opinion, and peaceful assembly, the rights to education and to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. It allows access to objective information and public services. </p> <p>Internet shutdowns are a growing concern worldwide, as some governments take measures to disrupt access to Internet and telecommunications, often in the context of political protests, electoral processes, crises, or armed conflicts. </p> <p>Shutdowns and network disruptions negatively affect the ability of journalists, media workers, and civil society, including human rights defenders, to operate. Internet shutdowns also undermine access to critical support and protection, including for women and girls, and hamper humanitarian assistance.</p> <p>Furthermore, Internet shutdowns severely hinder the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, while deepening digital divides. Internet shutdowns hamper businesses and customers, disrupt trade, investment, financial transactions, and the delivery of services and remittances. </p> <p>The signatories of this Joint Statement call on States to foster an open Internet and not to impose shutdowns, restricting civic space online.</p> <p>We emphasise that the private sector, in particular telecommunication companies and social media platforms, also plays an important role in sharing information on shutdowns and taking measures to prevent those that they have been requested or forced to implement. </p> <p>We will continue to promote meaningful connectivity for all, including those in marginalised and vulnerable situations.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement on the Commemoration of the 75<sup>th</sup> Anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Delivered by Armenia on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a Group of Countries.</p> <p>We welcome Special Adviser Nderitu, and reiterate our continuous support to the Office of the Special Advisors of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect. </p> <p>This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly, one day before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Together, these documents outline a vision of a world where genocide and other mass atrocities are prevented and punished.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>This anniversary offers an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to this objective and to reflect on best practices and challenges with regard to the Convention’s implementation. </p> <p>Genocide never happens suddenly. It is typically preceded by discriminatory practices against a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, and patterns of human rights violations and abuses. </p> <p>We vow to mobilise the political will to prevent genocide and other atrocity crimes, notably by using the Secretary-General’s Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes. There is no excuse for the failure to properly address situations where genocide is at risk of occurring.</p> <p>We emphasize the role of the UN human rights system, including this Council, the OHCHR, and relevant special procedures, and treaty bodies to collate information on violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that may lead to genocide. </p> <p>Drawing the world’s attention to situations at risk of atrocity crimes requires follow-up actions and coordinated efforts in order truly to make prevention work.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement delivered by Costa Rica on behalf of a Group of Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 July 2023</strong></p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of Costa Rica and a cross-regional group of countries.</p> <p>We would like to thank the Fact-Finding Mission for their update. </p> <p>We are particularly concerned by the reports of the ongoing surge of executions in Iran and the authorities’ use of the death penalty as a tool to chill dissent.&nbsp;</p> <p>Iran has been carrying out death sentences at an alarming pace, with over 300 executions reported since the beginning of 2023, and 582 last year compared to 333 in 2021. </p> <p>Many of these executions are for alleged offences that do not meet the threshold of “the most serious crimes” under the ICCPR, including drug offenses. Seven were in connection to the protest movement following the death in custody of Jina Mahsa Amini.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the execution of three alleged child offenders in 2022 and are deeply concerned that dozens of alleged child offenders remain on death row, at risk of execution.&nbsp;</p> <p>Persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities are being executed at disproportionately high rates; one-third of those executed in 2022 belonged to the Baloch minority.</p> <p>We remain deeply troubled by reports that death sentences are often imposed following unfair trials procedures, without due process, and based on forced confessions obtained through torture and other inhuman treatment.</p> <p>We urge Iran to immediately cease its violations, respect human dignity and cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. We note calls by the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures for Iran to “establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty”.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 10: Interactive dialogue on oral presentation of the High Commissioner on Ukraine and interim report of the Secretary-General on human rights in Crimea</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement by the Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President, Mr High Commissioner,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the 'Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine'. </p> <p>763 men, 94 women, and 7 boys unlawfully detained, 72 men and 5 women summarily executed.</p> <p>These numbers, presented in your reports, paint a clear picture of the serious violations of international humanitarian law and egregious human rights violations and abuses perpetrated since the launch of Russia’s full-scale, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. They depict the blatant disregard of the Russian authorities for their obligations under international law. But they only form the tip of the iceberg of human suffering as the OHCHR has recorded 25,170 civilian casualties since 24<sup>th</sup> February 2022.</p> <p>Behind these numbers, there are individuals, their families and loved ones who suffer. This we must never forget. Especially not here, at this Council, which seeks to uphold the inherent dignity of every person. </p> <p>Human dignity that has been denied time and time again by Russia. As shown by your report more than 91 per cent of civilian detainees held by Russia have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including through sexual violence.</p> <p>These alarming findings from your report reinforce the need to ensure accountability for the serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine, and ensure justice for all victims and the prevention of future crimes. </p> <p>We, therefore, welcome the reporting of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine,&nbsp; work by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, the investigation into the Ukraine situation by the International Criminal Court, the operationalization of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, the establishment of the Council of Europe’s Register of Damage, and the work of the Core Group towards a tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine. We call for work to continue on the path towards full accountability.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>End of Session Statement by members of the Group of Friends of the SOGI Mandate</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>This statement is delivered on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of the Mandate of the Independent Expert on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.</p> <p>We regret the initiative of a group of states to disregard the agenda items set in the Programme of Work of the Human Rights Council and to deliver a statement regarding a report that was presented earlier in this session and that had a full interactive dialogue dedicated to it, with opportunities for Members and Observers to engage in dialogue with the mandate holder. </p> <p>The Human Rights Council should foster respectful and constructive dialogue. We believe that to present a statement about a Special Procedure report without the presence of the mandate holder and therefore not providing them with the opportunity to reply is not a constructive approach and should not be a practice taken by Members and Observers of the Human Rights Council.</p> <p>We take this opportunity to reiterate our strong support for the mandate of the IE SOGI and for the work carried out by the current mandate holder. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Jul 17, 2023National and Nordic-Baltic Statements during the 51st session of the Human Rights CouncilGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>High Commissioner for Human Rights farewell speech at the Organizational Meeting of the&nbsp;</strong><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 August 2022</strong></p> <p>Your Excellency,</p> <p>On behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries, allow me to express our deepest appreciation for your service as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It has been a great pleasure to work with you. We will remember your dedication to support human rights globally and strengthen the multilateral system.</p> <p>Your Excellency, you have always been ready to discuss various human rights concerns and dedicated to broaden our horizons. In particular, we note the significant progress in this Council in addressing the human rights implications of climate change. We reiterate our support to the efforts of Your Office’s work to address both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights and ensure that everyone, everywhere, can fully enjoy them.</p> <p>Your term coincided with some unpredicted crises. The Covid 19 pandemic had an effect on the respect and protection of human rights globally. These included shrinking civic space and disproportionate consequences for persons in vulnerable situations, women’s and girls’ enjoyment of all human rights, the elderly, the disabled and others. Your guidance has been most valuable in ensuring that our work continues and new challenges to the global constituency of human rights are addressed. We thank you for this.</p> <p>We will continue to support the independent mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and that of its Office. We remain concerned about the severe lack of funding to human rights pillar in the United Nations. We all have a responsibility to ensure that the human rights pillar, as one of the three foundational pillars of the United Nations, can function properly in advancing the enjoyment of Human Rights globally.</p> <p>Your Excellency, we wish you success in your future endeavours. May they bring you fulfilment and happiness. Even if our paths are now diverging, we hope we can continue to contribute to the global dialogue on human rights and gender equality together.&nbsp;</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 – Enhanced ID on human rights situation of women and girls in Afghanistan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Sweden</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, including the continuous human rights violations and abuses, the lack of political inclusion and the growing humanitarian needs.</p> <p>Promises made by the Taliban to respect human rights have not been fulfilled. This is particularly true when it comes to women and girls, whose lives have changed dramatically to the worse.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the imposition of restrictive measures for women and girls, excluding them from work, education, politics, and public life. Afghanistan will never find peace and stability if half the population is left out.</p> <p>We urge the Taliban to take immediate steps to ensure women’s and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including freedom of movement, freedom of expression and access to education and work.</p> <p>It is time the Taliban back their words with concrete action.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 – Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We welcome your report. We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration in the human rights situation in Afghanistan. We are alarmed by the speed and scale of the deprivation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls, such as the rights to work, education, freedom of movement, expression and peaceful assembly. We strongly call on the Taliban to ensure full respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including women and girls.&nbsp;</p> <p>We are concerned by the reports of arbitrary detention, intimidation and discrimination of media workers and human rights defenders. We call on the Taliban to secure the safety of media workers, human rights defenders and to respect the right to access to information.</p> <p>The crisis in Afghanistan is also humanitarian. Half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance and many are on the brink of starvation. The restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms and the shrinking space for NGO’s and civil society remain a primary concern.</p> <p>We welcome your recent successful trip to Afghanistan. How does the Special Rapporteur envisage to engage the Taliban to ensure the implementation of the recommendations in the report?</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 - Interactive dialogue on the report of OHCHR on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.</p> <p>We thank the Deputy High Commissioner for this update. We acknowledge the difficult circumstances Sri Lanka finds itself in. However, such circumstances should also be viewed as an opportunity to undertake much-needed reforms, ensuring inclusiveness.</p> <p>We are concerned by the lack of progress in the areas of transitional justice, accountability, and reconciliation, and encourage the new government to demonstrate progress. Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be a welcome start to an inclusive process, where impunity for past violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law are addressed.</p> <p>We are deeply dismayed at the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act against student activists despite an alleged moratorium. We urge Sri Lankan authorities to repeal the PTA, and in the interim, stop its use.</p> <p>We urge Sri Lankan authorities to protect the freedom of expression and assembly for all, including persons belonging to minorities, and to stop arbitrary arrests of persons engaging in peaceful protests.</p> <p>We support the recommendations of the OHCHR report and call upon Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the Office in line with resolution 46/1 and any new resolution.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 - Interactive dialogue on the report of Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.</p> <p>We welcome the report of the IIMM and reiterate our support for its mandate. We strongly condemn the human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, which the IIMM indicates amount to systematic crimes against humanity, as well as the recent execution of pro- democracy leaders. The reporting on systematic sexual and gender based violence and crimes against and affecting children is especially appalling.</p> <p>Since the military takeover in February 2021, the human rights situation in Myanmar has only deteriorated, especially for persons belonging to religious and other minorities. Over one million Rohingyas are displaced. This underlines the importance of a well-functioning accountability Mechanism. The three million information items in the IIMM repository send a clear message: perpetrators must be held accountable. We call on all partners of the international community, to cooperate fully with the Mechanism, so it can deliver and victims can get justice.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 - Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Thank you, Mr. President. </p> <p>Iceland thanks the Acting High Commissioner for her oral update.</p> <p>We would like to raise concerns of the sharply deteriorating human rights situation in the Russian Federation after its war of aggression against Ukraine. The persecution of human rights defenders, silencing of journalists, the ban against independent media and peaceful protests, and the attack against civil society is alarming. </p> <p>Iceland also strongly condemns Russia’s expansion and harsh enforcement of its “foreign agents’ law” which is systematically used to silence dissenting and opposition voices. Formal scrutiny of the human rights situation in Russia is urgently needed. </p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>In Afghanistan, we remain greatly alarmed by the sharp deterioration of human rights, in particular women and girls, and ethnic and religious minorities. We reiterate our call on Taliban to respect women’s and girls’ rights and accept diversity and different views. The Taliban must close the gap between their words and their deeds, as they continue to be judged by the latter.</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>We thank the OHCHR for the assessment report of human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which is sound, and its credibility cannot be refuted. </p> <p>Iceland is gravely concerned by accounts of systematic, widespread, and targeted human rights violations and abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities that may amount to crimes against humanity. Accountability must be ensured. We urge China to abide by its international human rights obligations and to immediately implement the report’s recommendations. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 - Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Sweden</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Madame Acting High Commissioner,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the High Commissioner for her latest report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Nicaragua, including arbitrary detentions, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and consistent attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, political opposition, religious institutions, and civil society leaders.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the Nicaraguan Government’s latest assault on the freedoms of association and religion and the arbitrary and unlawful imprisonment of Catholic clerics. We demand that the regime immediately release those imprisoned and cease its harassment against human rights defenders, journalists, clergymen, political opponents and persons considered as such.</p> <p>We urge Nicaragua to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights, including civil and political rights, and to free all political prisoners. Impunity for human rights violations must end. We call on Nicaragua to cooperate fully with international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the OHCHR.</p> <p>Madame Acting High Commissioner,</p> <p>What concrete steps can be taken to urge Nicaragua to stop arbitrary detentions, and to release political prisoners?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2 - Interactive dialogue on the UN High Commissioner’s comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Sweden</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 September 2022 </strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I make this intervention on behalf of a group of countries.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner and her Office for her new comprehensive report, which showcases the self-isolation of the authorities of Nicaragua from cooperation with human rights mechanisms. This attitude constitutes more evidence of the lack of responsibility and accountability from Nicaragua’s international human rights obligations, resulting in the continued and progressive deterioration of human rights in the country.</p> <p>Nicaragua has continued to suppress the right to freedom of assembly and association; this year alone, it has cancelled the legal personality of 1112 human rights, development and other organizations, professional associations, including medical associations, and others. Twelve universities have also had their legal personality cancelled, impacting the right to education. The enjoyment of the freedom of opinion and expression also worsened, with more journalists being forced into exile, and by the recent closure of 12 radio and television media outlets of the Catholic Church, especially in Matagalpa.</p> <p>Without delay Nicaragua should reinstitute the national dialogue. Furthermore, in view of the upcoming November municipal elections, it is particularly concerning that recommendations by the OHCHR to reform Nicaragua’s electoral body have not been undertaken.</p> <p>We once again urge the authorities of Nicaragua to collaborate openly with human rights mechanisms, restore civic space, release all political prisoners, guarantee judicial independence, end politically motivated detentions and the repression of independent media, as well as of minorities, cooperate with the OHCHR, and implement its recommendations.</p> <p>We reiterate our commitment to and solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and call on this Council to continue to take concrete measures to promote and protect their human rights.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - ID with SR on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report.</p> <p>We firmly belief that safe drinking water and sanitation is not only a human right; it is also central to living a life in dignity.</p> <p>Lack of access to quality water and sanitation disproportionately affects women and girls; and indigenous women and girls are no exception. Discriminatory norms and structures, gender stereotypes, and stigma and taboos related to menstruation and child birth seriously affect the realization of the right to water and sanitation. The multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that indigenous women and girls face need to be taken into account.</p> <p>With growing global water scarcity and contamination, indigenous women and girls are increasingly forced to walk longer distances to fetch water. With this, the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination and exploitation and lack of autonomy increases.</p> <p>Despite indigenous women’ and girls’ irrefutable live-saving water role, they remain under-represented in consultative processes and decision-making about water management. The vast majority of water-related laws and programmes fail to include their knowledge. Essentially, their effective participation is not guaranteed. This must change.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, what more can be done to guarantee indigenous women’s and girls’ seat at the table?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We welcome the report from the Special Rapporteur focusing on contemporary forms of slavery particularly affecting persons belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Persons belonging to minority groups are in some countries still suffering from deep-rooted intersecting discrimination. In some cases, the discrimination is State-sponsored and institutionalized in the national legislation.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about the continued existence of different forms of contemporary forms of slavery, such as chattel slavery, forced and bonded labour, child labour, child and forced marriage, domestic servitude and sexual slavery in all regions of the world. Several of these are linked to discrimination based on gender and descent. Migrant workers globally face a disproportionate risk of being subjected to forced labour.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, in your report you also outline some positive developments in protecting minorities from contemporary forms of slavery, highlighting new legislative measures and requirements of human rights due diligence in supply chains. We would like to ask you to further explore what have been the driving forces for the positive changes that have taken place in certain countries?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>The right to development is rooted in the universality, indivisibility, interrelation, and interdependence of all human rights.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries are convinced that human rights and good governance are key to the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.</p> <p>The COVID-19 pandemic marked a major setback in implementation of the 2030 Agenda.</p> <p>The impacts of the pandemic are further exacerbated by the current food and energy crises, as well as by climate change. And of course, nothing violates the right to development so directly and devastatingly as an outright military aggression. These crises are likely to further increase poverty, and inequalities, which hit people and countries in vulnerable situations the hardest.</p> <p>It is critical that recovery plans and policies put emphasis on individuals as central actors, drivers, and beneficiaries of development processes and include the most vulnerable. </p> <p>As States bear the primary responsibility for the full realisation of human rights, we call on all governments to ensure participatory approaches that leave no one behind and to refrain from actions that put human rights, at risk.</p> <p>Mr Special Rapporteur, could you please share your views on how to best mitigate the negative impact of the current crises on human rights?</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive dialogue on the report of OHCHR on the right to privacy in the digital age</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>16 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>Use of digital technologies, be it by governments or private companies, should be regulated by safeguards that are up to date and comply with international human rights law. We need more collaboration with, inter alia, academia and technology experts, to help anticipate development and deployment of digital technologies that risk resulting in human rights violations and abuses, identify gaps in regulation, and create solid due diligence processes.</p> <p>It is crucial to understand how human rights can be violated by the use of digital technologies. The failure to regulate the use of digital technologies in institutions that are either not aware of or not incentivized to accommodate human rights can result in substantial harm to democracy and the realization of human rights.</p> <p>Lastly, we need more informed, public debate about this topic. Knowledge about the risks to the right to privacy is key.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive Dialogue with special rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Estonia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>16 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia.</p> <p>We would like to thank you for your detailed report on the role and responsibilities of non-State actors in transitional justice processes. We concur with you that international humanitarian law; international human rights standards and international criminal law are applicable to non-State armed groups.</p> <p>It is important that in addition to the individual accountability also non-State armed groups can effectively be held organizationally responsible for serious breaches of humanitarian or human rights law. Blanket amnesties for serious breaches of humanitarian or human rights law are unacceptable as this practice further endorses a culture of impunity, leading to the recurrence of new violations.</p> <p>Memorialization must aim at building a democratic, pluralistic, inclusive and peaceful society where non-State armed groups could engage in dialogue with the State and civil society organizations. We believe that online and archived forums for such interventions, systematically tracked, can help to create a meaningful soul-searching platform as well as effectively encounter disinformation. In addition, all transitional (justice) processes should be victims-centered and gender-transformative.</p> <p>Mr Rapporteur,</p> <p>We would welcome your advice to governments on how to better ensure victims´ rights in the transitional justice processes, including through their positive engagement, and how to better mediate memorialization dialogue between victims and non-State armed groups?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive dialogue with the Working Group on arbitrary detention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Estonia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Latvia.</p> <p>We thank the Working Group for presenting the report on its activities in 2021, and welcome the resumption of country visits.</p> <p>We note with concern the low response rate under the Working Group’s regular communications procedure and the decrease in the response rate under the follow-up procedure. The Nordic-Baltic countries concur with the Working Group’s recommendation in this regard and encourage all States to fully cooperate and engage with all UN special procedures, including this Working Group.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries condemn all acts of torture and other ill-treatment and call for universal eradication of torture and for holding all those responsible for acts of torture accountable. Admissibility in courts of evidence obtained by torture can lead to situations of arbitrary detention due to the denial of the fair trial guarantees. In this regard, we welcome the launch of the Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering, and urge all States to provide for their effective implementation by law enforcement authorities.</p> <p>Madam Chair-Rapporteur, how can effective implementation of the Méndez Principles safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We thank the Working Group for the report and its addendums.</p> <p>As this year marks the 30<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, we regret to acknowledge that enforced disappearance continues to be an alarming reality. As stipulated by the article 7 of the Declaration, no circumstances whatsoever, whether a threat of war, a state of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked to justify enforced disappearances.</p> <p>Continued reports of reprisals faced by families of victims and the human rights defenders, as well as increasing numbers of enforced disappearance of journalists and media workers are particularly alarming.</p> <p>We urge all States to immediately stop and prevent enforced disappearances, initiate impartial and independent investigations and protect the rights of the victims and their families. We also reiterate our call to countries concerned to engage and cooperate with the Working Group in order to facilitate their important work.</p> <p>What additional measures could this Council take to improve the implementation of the Declaration?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: General debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Lithuania.</p> <p>We welcome the comprehensive report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implications for civil society in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The pandemic proved to everyone that active involvement in public affairs is of paramount importance, especially in times of crisis. Volunteers and other civil society actors stayed on the frontlines providing health care, food, shelter and other essentials to those in need, despite the risks to their own safety.</p> <p>Human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers significantly contributed by promoting vaccination campaigns and disseminating reliable information, as well as playing a monitoring role, ensuring that any imposed restrictions were justified, proportional and temporary.</p> <p>A significant number of civil society initiatives started around the world, thus boosting active public engagement.</p> <p>However, the report regrettably concludes that despite being essential to combating the pandemic, civil society was frequently excluded from critical processes, such as decision-making, often due to the lack of digital infrastructure and digital literacy. In particular, women, youth and other groups of society were significantly under-represented in Covid-19 management and decision-making, or even disregarded, thus undermining global efforts to overcome and sustainably recover after the pandemic.</p> <p>It is particularly alarming that journalists and other media workers faced increased surveillance, smear campaigns, restrictions on reporting and other repressions against them, both online and offline.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We want to emphasize that crisis situations must never become an excuse for undue restrictions on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.</p> <p>Rather than fearing, dismissing or repressing, we call on governments to engage with civil society and ensure ways for its meaningful participation in decision-making at all levels, especially in times of crisis.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (oral progress report)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Sweden</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States.</p> <p>Thank you, Special Rapporteur, for your update and tireless efforts.</p> <p>Since the military coup last year, a complete human rights catastrophe has unfolded in Myanmar.</p> <p>We continue to condemn the coup in the strongest of terms and call for an immediate end to all forms of violence, including mass killings, torture, including of children, and sexual and gender-based violence. The systematic persecution must stop.</p> <p>We condemn the politically motivated executions of four persons and call on the military to reinstate the de facto moratorium on the death penalty. All those arbitrarily detained, including political prisoners, including children and minors, must be immediately and unconditionally released.</p> <p>It is of utmost importance to ensure justice for victims and accountability for past and ongoing serious international crimes, including for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the coup, the country has plunged into a humanitarian crisis that threatens the lives and wellbeing of millions. Full, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access must be ensured.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>At this stage, what measures can the international community, including regional actors and the UN, take to prevent the military from continuing its violence against its own people?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive dialogue on OHCHR report on Myanmar </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We highly value the work of the Office of the High Commissioner and appreciate its latest report.</p> <p>Attacks directed against the Myanmar people continue, as the perpetrators remain unpunished.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries condemn in the strongest possible terms the military coup and the military’s actions since, leading Myanmar towards a deep and multidimensional crisis.</p> <p>We reiterate our call on military and security forces to immediately cease all violence and attacks against the people of Myanmar, release all those arbitrarily detained, discontinue politically motivated prosecutions and permanently halt the imposition of the death penalty.</p> <p>We echo the recommendations of the OHCHR and the repeated calls of the people of Myanmar to isolate the military authorities and implement effective targeted sanctions, including on those arms transfers that enable them to continue perpetrating the crimes.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic states remain in full solidarity with the Myanmar people not least those who continue to protest and oppose the regime despite enormous threats to their lives.</p> <p>What measures could be taken to enhance regional cooperation helping to prevent violence and ensure accountability?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Norway </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for this update and for the dedicated efforts to follow up on his mandate.</p> <p>We have seen some positive developments on freedom of expression after the new administration came into power in 2020. However, we still raise considerable concern about the structural human rights violations in Burundi.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about continued human rights violations committed by security forces and Imbonerakure against members of the opposition, human rights defenders, civil society, and journalists.</p> <p>The Government has a responsibility to protect human rights and ensure that state and non-state actors cannot act with impunity. The role and the actions of the Imbonerakure are of particular concern.</p> <p>We urge the Government to ensure that human rights violations and abuses are efficiently investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice; and to enhance human rights and political freedoms. This includes encouraging the voluntary return of refugees and exiles. National human rights institutions must be strengthened, including the National Human Rights Commission.</p> <p>We urge the Government to cooperate with the UN Human Rights system and give the Special Rapporteur full and unhindered access.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We express our firm support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry and its mandate and appreciate its latest comprehensive report.</p> <p>The human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic remain dire for the twelfth year of this protracted conflict.</p> <p>It is exacerbated by attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, such as the Russian Federation, on civilian objects indispensable to the survival of the population, including water stations, fuel depots, and farms.</p> <p>Damage to the water system caused shortages of water, which have recently led to the outbreak of cholera in Aleppo and Deir Al-Zour provinces.</p> <p>Risk of hunger in Syria remains high due to global food insecurity resulting from draught and Russia‘s military aggression against Ukraine. Future of cross-border aid through the Bab al-Hawa corridor is uncertain.</p> <p>We join the Commission of Inquiry in urging all relevant actors to refrain from providing military support and funds to the government forces and other parties to the conflict continuously committing war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.</p> <p>We fully support the international monitoring and accountability mechanisms, including the IIIM. Accountability for crimes committed against the Syrian people must be ensured.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive dialogue with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.</p> <p>We thank the Commission for its update and the initial report. We welcome the efforts of the Commission, which is an important complement to national efforts to ensure accountability. Comprehensive, transparent and independent investigations are central to ensuring a credible accountability process without which there will be no sustainable peace or justice for victims.</p> <p>We welcome previous commitments by the Federal Ethiopian Government as well as the recent announcement by Tigray authorities to an immediate cessation of hostilities and to commit to an AU-led peace process without preconditions.</p> <p>However, we remain deeply concerned about human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia. We call for all parties to end hostilities immediately and urge them to seek a negotiated political peace settlement, ensure unhindered humanitarian access and respect the human rights, security and safety of civilians.</p> <p>Commissioners,</p> <p>could you share your thoughts on how you will pursue cooperation with relevant stakeholders going forward, including the Government of Ethiopia, regional State governments and the Government of Eritrea?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive Dialogue on the interim oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>23 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We thank the acting High Commissioner for her oral update.</p> <p>The Belarusian authorities continue to seriously infringe on the fundamental rights of their own people. The relentless attack on civil society and independent voices, and the widespread use of disinformation is appalling. Today, over one thousand three hundred political prisoners remain detained in Belarus. Moreover, the repression by the Belarusian regime of persons belonging to minorities, such as the Polish minority, is gravely concerning.</p> <p>Despite this grave situation, Belarusian activists continue to show great courage in their fight for the public’s enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. The recent harsh sentencing of Belarusian journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Belarusian activists Maria (Marfa) Rabkova and Andrey Chapiuk are a stark reminder of the risks they take.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We call on Belarus to adhere to its international commitments and obligations under human rights law. We request an immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners and other arbitrarily detained persons. The rights of persons belonging to minorities likewise need to be respected, including their right to foster their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity.</p> <p>The international community must send a strong message that we stand united for a democratic Belarus. Iceland certainly does so.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>23 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We thank the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine for the oral update.</p> <p>We continue to witness systematic violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights law by Russia in Ukraine. Russia´s complete disregard for human lives is appalling, confirmed by sickening reports of mass graves and atrocities in areas recaptured by the Ukrainian armed forces.</p> <p>Evidence of filtration camps in Russian occupied territory in Ukraine are extremely disturbing and bring back painful memories of Europe´s past. Reports of forced transfers of unaccompanied Ukrainian children to Russia are likewise chilling. These cannot and will not be tolerated.</p> <p>Along with the immediate damage and destruction, where civilians and civilian infrastructure, are the primary victims, Russia’s war will have devastating long-term consequences on the Ukrainian population, not least young people and future generations. Scars caused by war take long to heal.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Iceland strongly condemns Russia´s plans for "referendums". They are a clear violation of international law and their outcomes can never be respected.</p> <p>We once again call on Russia to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law.</p> <p>Iceland stands in full unity with the people of Ukraine and demands the withdrawal of all Russian military personnel and equipment from Ukraine.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Interactive Dialogue on the interim oral update of OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Belarus</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Estonia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>23 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia.</p> <p>We thank the OHCHR for the oral update on Belarus.</p> <p>The human rights situation in Belarus is appalling. As we speak, the authorities continue imprisoning and torturing persons for exercising their human rights, including their right to freedom of expression. There are currently more than 1300 political prisoners behind bars. Foreign diplomats are systematically harassed for attempting to attend sham trials of political prisoners. This month the&nbsp;Chargé d'affaires of the EU Delegation to Minsk was detained in a blatant violation of international law.</p> <p>The authorities have developed a widespread system of repression. We support all international initiatives to hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account. We urge the Belarusian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, journalists and media workers.</p> <p>Since the falsified elections 2 years ago, we observe in Belarus a steady departure from the rule of law. We are deeply worried by the widened scope of application of capital punishment, and we repeat the call to promptly introduce a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.</p> <p>We strongly condemn Belarus’ illegal involvement in Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine and the human rights violations against Ukrainian people.</p> <p>Madam Acting High Commissioner,</p> <p>Which steps should we take to improve the exchange of information when human rights are violated evermore vigorously?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - ID with Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine (oral update)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>23 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Chairperson,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Commission of Inquiry for the important update.</p> <p>The reported international law violations escape any reasoning. Indiscriminate attacks affecting civilians, deliberate attacks on schools, forced deportations and rapes are not only a source of deep concern. These violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.</p> <p>The mass graves discovered in Izyum are deeply shocking. Reports of trials of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians in filtration camps are alarming.</p> <p>We need to investigate. We strongly support the mandate’s crucial contribution on ensuring accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.</p> <p>We need to hold Russia accountable. Its warfare against civilians is not collateral damage. Russia must immediately end its aggression.</p> <p>We are gravely concerned on the disproportionate impact on children, women, elderly and persons with disabilities.</p> <p>Russia must grant full and safe access for humanitarian actors and allow safe passage for civilians who wish to leave.</p> <p>Our support to Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity remains firm.</p> <p>Chair, how can the Commission collaborate with other ongoing investigative efforts, including the ICC?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: General Debate on Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Iceland remains gravely concerned about steps <strong>Russia </strong>has taken to further restrict fundamental freedoms inside Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. We urge Russia to respect freedoms of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly, and welcome steps underway to bring the human rights situation inside Russia to Council’s attention.</p> <p>In Ethiopia, we are alarmed by reports of extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender based violence and starvation, as a method of warfare. We urge all parties to immediately cease&nbsp; hostilities, and take steps towards reachin<em>g</em>&nbsp;a political solution. Redress for past violations and abuses, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, must be ensured.</p> <p>We are deeply alarmed by accounts of systematic human rights violations and abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in <strong>China </strong>that may amount to crimes against humanity, including mass arbitrary detention, cultural and religious persecution, forced labor and sterilization. Accountability must be ensured.</p> <p>In Iran, we condemn the violent enforcement of the discriminatory compulsory veiling law. We urge the authorities to ensure that fundamental human rights of its citizens, including those of women and girls, are respected and that those under any form of detention are not subject to any form of mistreatment. Violence directed against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders must stop.</p> <p>In Egypt, we remain concerned about widespread and systematic violations and abuses of human rights, including freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of assembly and association.</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>In Myanmar, we deplore the relentless attacks on children and call for an immediate end to all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, mass killings, torture, airstrikes and arson. Ensuring accountability for past and ongoing international crimes is vital.</p> <p>Finally, Iceland raised its concerns about the human rights situation in Belarus and Ukraine stemming from Russia’s aggression elsewhere under item 4.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 - Annual Discussion on Integration of a Gender Perspective</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>The right to freedom of opinion and expression for all people, irrespective of their sex or gender identity, are characteristic of true democracies. They are crucial for maintaining peace and achieving sustainable development. Despite the impressive and inspirational gains made by women and girls, as well as people with diverse gender identities, expression and opinion are still not equally free and protected for all of us.</p> <p>Cultural norms, gender stereotypes and ensuing discrimination online and offline continue to suppress, censor and mute women and girls’ voices. Unfortunately, women activists, politicians, human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are disproportionately targeted by State and non-State actors, including hate speech, bullying and acts of violence.</p> <p>Discriminatory laws, policies and practises continue enabling additional challenges for women and girls and people with diverse gender identities, disregarding their particular needs. Lack of gender perspective hinders meaningful participation of half of the population in decision making and creation of sustainable future, adding additional obstacles to an already demanding path towards gender equality.</p> <p>Mr. President, we would like to ask the panellists, how State and private actors could provide the necessary support for freedom of opinion and expression for all genders and an integrated gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel Discussion on the future of the right to work in connection with climate change actions, responses and impacts in the context of sustainable and inclusive economies</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>The negative impact of climate change on work environment is a worrisome reality. It is our common responsibility to implement human rights-based policies on climate change while ensuring effective enjoyment of the right to work. Special emphasis must be placed on promoting decent work for those most affected by climate change– women, indigenous peoples and communities in rural areas.</p> <p>We thank the panellists for their insights on these issues and especially the ILO for comprehensive information and reports that highlight the urgency to reform and transit to green, sustainable and inclusive economies.</p> <p>We note with concern that by 2030, 80 million jobs including key workers and essential services might be lost due to rising temperatures. This has to be taken into account and adaptation to new reality should start immediately to minimize the negative consequences and ensure the right to work.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries continue to ensure access to adequate social protection, decent work, education and training opportunities for all through national programmes. It is particularly important to ensure the inclusion of women, as they often have less access to resources and tend to work in informal settings.&nbsp;</p> <p>Distinguished panellists, as today's discussion is dedicated to explore practical examples of inclusive economies, how can we improve the inclusion of women in decision-making processes?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Theme: “Impact of social and economic recovery plans in the COVID-19 context on indigenous peoples, with a special focus on food security"</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Sweden</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Esteemed panellists,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic states.</p> <p>COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and has had a disproportionate negative impact on indigenous peoples, not least regarding the right to food and the protection against food insecurity due to the loss of jobs and livelihoods, lands and natural resources. Additionally, the situation for many indigenous women and girls, indigenous LGBTIQ persons and indigenous persons with disabilities is further exposed as they face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.</p> <p>We are deeply concerned about reports of threats, violence and attacks on indigenous human rights defenders standing up to protect their livelihoods, lands and the natural environment, not least indigenous women human rights defenders. We all have an obligation to protect human rights defenders and to hold perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses to account.</p> <p>To achieve truly successful COVID-19 responses and recovery measures it is crucial that indigenous peoples, are included and can participate in the development of those measures in a meaningful way, also taking in to account their traditional cultural practices and knowledge.</p> <p>How can we make sure that the lessons learned from the panel discussion today can be included in the future responses to support and improve the realization the rights of indigenous peoples?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement, delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark together with Greenland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report.</p> <p>The protection of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, including their science and technologies, languages and practices is inextricably linked to the rights to self-determination, autonomy, lands and resources.</p> <p>The scientific and technical knowledge of Indigenous women has a key role to play in managing the risks and impacts of climate change, protecting biodiversity and achieving sustainable development. Generation after generation, Indigenous women pass on their knowledge, which is a precious inheritance. Not just to indigenous peoples, but to all of us.</p> <p>Yet, despite Indigenous women’s irrefutable life-saving knowledge, they face unique challenges in retaining and revitalizing their role as knowledge keepers. Indigenous women are disproportionally affected by the loss of lands, territories and resources owing to climate change. Furthermore, they are still under-represented in consultative processes and political decision-making. This must change.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, what do you see as the most pressing steps to protect the scientific and technical knowledge of Indigenous women?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3&amp;5 - Interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark together with Greenland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.</p> <p>We welcome the annual report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.</p> <p>We applaud EMRIP for its leadership in discussions on enhanced participation of Indigenous Peoples at the Human Rights Council. We will engage actively in the forthcoming workshop in November and look forward to taking concrete next steps.</p> <p>We reiterate your call to guarantee indigenous human rights defenders a safe living and working environment, without discrimination, fear of reprisals, intimidation or threats of any kind. The additional risks faced by indigenous women human rights defenders must be addressed.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the increase in cases of harassment against Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, particularly women leaders, attending UN meetings. This simply must stop.</p> <p>Members of the EMRIP, what are your expectations from us Member States at the forthcoming workshop?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 5 - Interactive Dialogue on the Secretary-General's report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Latvia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and Latvia.</p> <p>We thank the Assistant Secretary-General for presenting the annual report on intimidation and reprisals.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries strongly condemn all acts of intimidation, harassment and reprisals. The continuously high number of reprisals reported is alarming, as is the fact that many of the countries cited in the report are members of or candidate States to this Council.</p> <p>Often these acts are indicative of a broader practice of shutting down civic space, including by imposing disproportionate requirements on CSO funding and reporting, and using counter-terrorism or national security legislation to restrict legitimate activities of CSOs, activists and journalists.</p> <p>We call on all States and non-State actors to ensure an open, secure and safe environment for civil society and human rights defenders, free from all acts of intimidation, harassment and reprisals.</p> <p>Women are most at risk of intimidation and reprisals. The Nordic-Baltic countries are committed to protecting women from all acts of intimidation and reprisals and ensuring that their voices continue to be heard and they are able to safely and meaningfully engage with this Council and all other UN bodies and mechanisms.</p> <p>Assistant Secretary-General, what concrete actions can this Council take to address acts of intimidation and reprisals in a gender-transformative manner?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 8 - Follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 September 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.</p> <p>We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s illegal sham “referenda” in Ukraine and announced illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions. We reiterate our unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We will never recognize the so-called results and claimed consequences of the sham “referenda”. All states have an obligation under international law to not recognize the illegal annexation.</p> <p>We underline that there can be no such thing as legitimate “referenda” reflecting the will of the people amidst widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses conducted by Russia and its illegitimately appointed authorities in Ukraine. Voting at gunpoint does not constitute a referendum.</p> <p>Russia’s faulted attempts at legalizing acts of aggression and human rights violations are blatantly violating the very foundations of the UN Charter. In this regard, we are deeply concerned by the atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine, with recent discovery of several mass burial sites in Izyum giving special rise to alarm.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9 - Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner and the report of the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Finland.</p> <p>The law enforcement has the duty to ensure national legislation is respected. Situations where law enforcement acts against those it has sworn to protect, especially persons in vulnerable situations, are always serious. These must be dealt with accordingly.</p> <p>We are not yet free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances. Better, disaggregated data, both quantitative and qualitative research as well as analysis are crucial to understanding how racism and racial discrimination can affect the behaviour and decision-making processes of the law enforcement. Furthermore, better data can shed more light on the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that people of African descent can face. The work done in this field by civil society organizations, researchers, academia and human rights institutions are especially valuable.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries are committed to the fight against racism and racial discrimination in all spheres of our societies.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner on the oral update on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Iceland reiterates its unwavering commitment to the independence, sovereignty and respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.</p> <p>We condemn in the strongest possible terms Putin’s illegal sham “referenda” in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzia regions of Ukraine. The annexation is a fundamental violation of the Principles of the UN Charter and international law.</p> <p>Relately, we are sickened by Russia´s systematic use of filtration camps which are integral to Russia´s annexation and “Russification”.</p> <p>We continue to witness grave violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights in Ukraine. Russia´s disregard for human lives is harrowing, confirmed by sickening reports of mass graves and atrocities in areas recaptured by Ukrainian armed forces.</p> <p>We welcome the launch of the Fact-Finding Mission regarding the 29 July incident at Olenivka and look forward to the report to the Secretary General.</p> <p>We are deeply alarmed by the severe repercussions of Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine on global food security, which particularly affects developing countries and persons in vulnerable situations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Iceland stands in full unity with the people of Ukraine and demands the withdrawal of all Russian military personnel and equipment from Ukraine.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue on the oral update of OHCHR on technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>Human rights violations and abuses and human suffering remain pervasive in South Sudan. Extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, sexual and gender-based violence are sadly only some of the ongoing violations and abuses. These must stop.</p> <p>We urge the Government – that has the primary responsibility to protect its population – to take long-awaited steps to improve the security situation in the country. This must include investigating and holding those responsible of human rights violations and abuses to account.</p> <p>With the recent two-year extension of the Peace Agreement and the Government’s own Roadmap, we call for a renewed push for the implementation of Chapter V on transitional justice. The technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner is fundamental to ensure this. Building capacity in national courts to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes is imperative.</p> <p>The support of the Office of the High Commissioner can only translate to progress with the full cooperation of the Government. We urge the Government to make use of the support provided, to take active measures to reduce the level of violence and ensure that those responsible are held to account.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner on the oral update on Ukraine </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Joint Statement, Delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>October 4 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I am delivering this statement on behalf of the 46 member states of the Group of Friends of Accountability Following the Aggression against Ukraine.</p> <p>We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s illegal sham “referenda” in Ukraine and the announced illegal, attempted annexation of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. We urge the international community to condemn the attempted annexation and to join us in support of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We reaffirm that any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and international law and without legal effect under international law. &nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We are equally devastated by the discoveries of mass graves in the formerly Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, recently in Izyum, and the increasing number of civilian casualties across the country. We remain deeply alarmed about the continuing and widespread reports of human rights abuses and violations and violations of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, including those stemming from Russia’s reported filtration policy.</p> <p>This filtration policy is designed to intimidate and harass local populations, identify individuals whom Russia deems insufficiently compliant or opposed to its aggression and temporary control, suppress Ukrainian identity, and lay the groundwork for the continued “Russification” and attempted, illegal annexation of parts of a sovereign Ukraine.</p> <p>The filtration operations are reported to include practices of torture of civilians and military forces, as well as the separation of families,&nbsp;including forced adoption of Ukrainian children, confiscation of Ukrainian passports, issuance of Russian passports, and surveillance.</p> <p>Evidence is mounting that Russian authorities are also reportedly detaining or making disappear thousands of Ukrainian civilians during the filtration processes, with reports that some civilians have been summarily executed.</p> <p>We call on Russia to immediately halt its pervasive filtration operations, arbitrary detentions, and forced deportations and disappearances and to promptly release those arbitrarily detained, and&nbsp;allow all citizens, particularly children to promptly and safely return home.&nbsp;</p> <p>We recall obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law prohibiting torture and inhuman treatment of detainees and strongly condemn all reported cases of torture and ill-treatment.</p> <p>We furthermore express deep concern about the grave effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine on global food and energy security, which particularly affects developing countries and persons in vulnerable situations. </p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We reaffirm our full solidarity with Ukraine and its courageous people in their defence of their country and of the UN Charter. And we express our unwavering commitment to the independence, sovereignty and respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner on the oral update on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Estonia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the European Union. We thank the Acting High Commissioner for the update.</p> <p>Russia´s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine has lasted 7 months. Russia bears full responsibility for the war and for the immense suffering its aggression is bringing upon the Ukrainian people.</p> <p>Russia´s continued mass displacement of Ukrainians enables the exploitation of the vulnerable, allowing systemic and barbaric sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking of women and girls. Russia tramples on Ukrainian children. Overwhelming evidence of forced transfers of unaccompanied children to Russia, granting them Russian citizenship to facilitate their adoption in Russia, is a gross violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.</p> <p>In Crimea, after calls for mobilization, Russians hunt for Crimean Tatars to cowardly send them to fight in their war.</p> <p>As we heard from the International Commission of Inquiry earlier during this session – Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. The future is clear. All atrocities by Russian forces will be investigated, all perpetrators held accountable.</p> <p>To conclude, we will never recognize Russia’s illegal sham “referenda” in Ukraine’s occupied territories and do not and will never recognize the attempt of the annexation.</p> <p>Madam Acting High Commissioner, what more can the international community do to help to monitor and document the gross and massive human rights violations committed by the Russia in Ukraine?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - EID on the report of the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and on the final report of the team of international experts on the situation in Kasai</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I make this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>Thank you, Deputy High Commissioner, [for your report] and to the Team of International Experts for their final report.</p> <p>The increase in ethnic tensions, attacks against civilians and other human rights violations and abuses in eastern DRC is of serious concern. We note that the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri introduced in 2021, remains. The volatile security situation and the challenges regarding good governance constitute major obstacles to legal proceedings. We also note the dependence on military courts and the limited judicial accessibility outside of urban areas.</p> <p>Accountability and the rule of law must be ensured. We note the verdict regarding the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp. It is of utmost importance that the upcoming appeals process takes all evidence into consideration. The ongoing investigation to shed full light on these heinous crimes, which is conducted in close cooperation with the UN-mandated follow-up mechanism, remains important and enjoys our full support.&nbsp;</p> <p>Deputy High Commissioner, we would appreciate if you could elaborate on the consequences of the state of siege and the following extensive use of military courts rather than civilian courts?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>We would like to express our deep appreciation for the invaluable work of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Resident Coordinator together with the Government to achieve a first of its kind framework in the UN Joint Programme.</p> <p>As Iceland had been a vocal critic of the Philippine’s human rights record it is important that the Joint Programme addresses the issues raised in the previous High Commissioner’s report and resolution 45/33 jointly submitted by the Philippines and Iceland.</p> <p>The briefing today underlines that important steps and progress have been made since the Programme came into effect, as well as further steps that we trust will be taken to fully implement the Joint Programme.</p> <p>We emphasize the importance of its&nbsp;full&nbsp;implementation and particularly note the recommendations made by the Office of the High Commissioner and the Resident Coordinator in this regard. We encourage the Government to take them onboard.</p> <p>We particularly welcome the recommendation for OHCHR to produce a follow-up report to evaluate the impact of the Programme and look forward to the Government and Resident Coordinator continuing to keep the Council up to date on the Programme’s implementation.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on technical cooperation and capacity-building for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries welcome the report and thank the Acting High Commissioner and the Resident Coordinator for their updates.</p> <p>Resolution 45/33 importantly requested technical assistance and capacity building through the implementation of a multi-year UN Joint Programme in the Philippines. We are pleased that the Programme is based on this request of the Council with corresponding focus areas.</p> <p>We express concern over the lack of progress made on the accountability agenda. This is a key component of the program and justice is needed, both for the victims of human rights violations and to prevent new ones from occurring. In addition, we would like to highlight the importance of broad civil society participation across all components of the Programme. &nbsp;</p> <p>We believe the Programme, if implemented to the letter, is an important tool in institutionalizing human rights in law enforcement.</p> <p>The Programme has generated some important outputs over the past fourteen months. Now we need to see the outcomes. Anything less than genuine intentions of all stakeholders to use the Programme to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines will constitute a failure.</p> <p>We look forward to the Government and the Resident Coordinator continuing to keep the Council abreast of the implementation of the Programme at future sessions.<br clear="all" /> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Finland.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur Dr. Muntarbhorn for his second report and welcome Cambodia’s cooperation with Special Procedures.</p> <p>We welcome also the efforts of Cambodia in strengthening the social protection system while combatting Covid-19, and in upholding an advanced positioning towards LGBTQI rights.</p> <p>In spite of achieved progress, we are deeply concerned about repressions regarding civil and political rights as well as the further shrinking civic space. We are disturbed by the systematic detentions, intimidation, harassment and politically motivated trials of members of political opposition, journalists and media workers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors. Independent and impartial judiciary must be ensured.</p> <p>We urge Cambodia to fully implement the recommendations as well as other benchmarks the Special Rapporteur has identified in his report and which are also supported by the Treaty Bodies. Respect to political and civil rights as well as social and economic rights is essential for a functioning society. It is crucial to form an enabling environment for all actors to ensure free and fair national elections in 2023.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, how can we collaborate with Cambodia best to strengthen its implementation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all?&nbsp;</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2022</strong></p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.</p> <p>We welcome the successful completion of the electoral process and peaceful transition of power in Somalia. However, many serious challenges remain, including with regard to human rights.&nbsp;</p> <p>We are deeply concerned with the increasing number of internally displaced persons due to drought and conflict. People on the move, particularly women, girls and children, are especially vulnerable to human rights violations and abuse, not least sexual and gender-based violence.</p> <p>We remain seriously concerned about the increase in violence against women and girls and encourage the Government of Somalia to adopt and implement sexual offenses legislation in line with international standards. It is key that women are supported and perpetrators held to account. In this regard, we reiterate our call on the Government of Somalia to ratify CEDAW.</p> <p>Lastly, we underscore the importance of adopting a constitution in line with Somalia’s human rights obligations and ensure that the human rights of all Somalis are respected, protected and fulfilled.</p> <p>Ms. Dyfan; how can we best support you in your mandate?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement, delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 October 2022</strong></p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We thank the Independent Expert for his dedicated efforts.</p> <p>The Independent Expert’s report highlights human rights violations and abuses that are overwhelming in scope and character: large scale killings targeting civilians, recruitment and use of child soldiers, sexual and gender based violence against women and children, torture, arbitrary arrests.</p> <p>The armed groups are not the only perpetrators. It is shocking to learn that the armed forces of the Central African Republic and its Russian allies, are responsible for a large part of the violations. We call on the government of the Central African Republic to investigate all incidents, hold the perpetrators accountable, and ensure that their Russian allies do not impede MINUSCA human rights investigations.</p> <p>Those who are most vulnerable usually suffer the most in conflicts. Efforts must increase&nbsp; to protect civilians, in particular children, persons with disabilities, and those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.</p> <p>We urge the government of the Central African Republic to take specific measures to enact the Child Protection Code provisions to prevent and punish the recruitment and use of children in hostilities, early marriages, and trafficking of persons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Jul 17, 2023National and Nordic-Baltic Statements during the 53rd session of the Human Rights CouncilGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, on a report on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Finland. We welcome the joint report. </p> <p>We commend the Special Rapporteur’s valuable work and appreciate his access to the country.</p> <p>Afghanistan has the duty to comply with various international human rights conventions, including CEDAW, and conventions prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.</p> <p>Supporting human rights defenders and civil society space remains our priority. </p> <p>We strongly condemn the systematic discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan, which may amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity. This systematic crackdown on women’s and girls’ rights damages the entire Afghan society, also boys and men. </p> <p>Without access to education at all levels, girls and women of Afghanistan lose the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Female professionals are crucial for the delivery of basic services not least healthcare and perinatal care. Education is key for protecting girls and women from violence, poverty and exploitation.</p> <p>The use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments is deeply concerning.&nbsp; </p> <p>The severe lack of respect for international obligations by the de facto authorities only further isolates Afghanistan from the international community.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue on a comprehensive report on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, with the High Commissioner, the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, and other stakeholders</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>19 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for the update and echo the grave concern over the crisis in Sudan. Reported cases of unlawful killings, including of children, arbitrary detentions, sexual and gender-based violence continue to be worrisome. We are concerned over the increasing numbers of refugees, internally displaced persons and millions of Sudanese in need of humanitarian aid and protection. We strongly condemn all violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and the decision to expel the Head of UNITAMS, Mr. Volker Perthes.</p> <p>We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease violence and put the interests and safety of the people in Sudan first. We urge the belligerents to engage in an African-led political process under the auspices of the African Union in order to find an immediate, peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict. </p> <p>We firmly believe that the cessation of hostilities, protection of human rights and accountability for all violations and abuses committed should remain central and contribute to the resolution of crisis in Sudan. Ultimately, a return to an inclusive political process, where women are included, is where the future for Sudan lies.</p> <p>Mr. High Commissioner, how can the international community best support the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons in Sudan? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President.</p> <p>I would like to thank the High Commissioner - and his Office – for their tireless work in promoting and protecting human rights around the world. </p> <p>As the High Commissioner highlighted, the human rights pillar remains chronically underfunded. Meanwhile, the need for a well-resourced and effective international human rights framework continues to increase. </p> <p>In your remarks, Mr High Commissioner, you paid tribute to countries that engage constructively with OHCHR and international human rights bodies. </p> <p>Iceland is a stern supporter of Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies. Cooperating and engaging with all mechanisms should be the norm and we urge all countries to do so unconditionally. No one is above scrutiny. </p> <p>The 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents a valuable opportunity to both look inwards as well as outwards – to take stock of opportunities and challenges and commit to improving and enhancing our respective national frameworks in line with international human rights obligations, and to collectively re-commit to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of all. </p> <p>Let us continue to work together to ensure that the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is fully realised for all persons, everywhere, in all their diversity. </p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries thank the Special Rapporteur for his report<em>.</em></p> <p>Again, we must express our concern over the persistent human rights violations in Eritrea, including indefinite national service, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and widespread sexual and gender-based violence.</p> <p>We welcome progress made in the sphere of social rights as concerns education and health, and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from several towns in Northern Ethiopia. Yet, we remain deeply concerned by reports of continued Eritrean involvement in Ethiopia and condemn earlier deployments of child soldiers and the forced conscription of Eritrean refugees. We urge the Government to immediately seize such practises, withdraw any remaining Eritrean forces from Ethiopia and investigate all alleged breaches of international law by Eritrean actors. </p> <p>We call on the Eritrean Government to release all those arbitrarily detained, to end the practices of prolonged, incommunicado and arbitrary detention, and to develop independent rule-of-law institutions to protect human rights. We condemn the severe restrictions on the rights to freedoms of expression, religion or belief and on civil organisations.</p> <p>Yet again, we call on Eritrea to fully co-operate with the Council’s mechanisms, including by granting the Special Rapporteur full and unhindered access to the country.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Panel discussion on the measures necessary to find durable solutions to the Rohingya crisis and to end all forms of human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 June 2023</strong></p> <p>High Commissioner and panelists, </p> <p>Thank you for these insights. The Nordic-Baltic States remain deeply disturbed by the human rights situation in Myanmar. </p> <p>Daily, we hear reports of military action against civilians amounting to serious violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law.</p> <p>The consequences are increased human suffering and regression in all areas of human rights, including for the Rohingya and other minorities. </p> <p>We condemn the military’s indiscriminate use of force against civilians, including women and children.</p> <p>We call for an immediate end to all violence against civilians, for perpetrators to be brought to justice and the provision of full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.</p> <p>We urge Myanmar to endorse and implement the Safe School Declaration.</p> <p>This is not the first time we discuss durable solutions for Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar. As we are witnessing a prolonged crisis, we need to adopt our recommendations to the current developments.</p> <p>In this regard, we are concerned about the planned repatriation pilot of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar. </p> <p>The refugees need an environment that allows for voluntary, safe, and dignified return. Even before the cyclone Mocha hit Rakhine State, the conditions were not conducive to their sustainable return, according to UNHCR. </p> <p>In the last two years, intercommunal dialogue and a shared plight has seemingly fostered a greater understanding amongst some ethnic groups and democratic forces in Myanmar. </p> <p>High Commissioner and panelists, what actions should be prioritized by external actors in the short and medium term to make sure this moment does not become a missed opportunity?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We reiterate our unwavering support for the work of the Independent Expert and this critical mandate. </p> <p>The right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to live free from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are not at odds and states are bound to uphold these rights together. </p> <p>However, as the report highlights, some states use religious narratives and invoke freedom of religion to excuse, condone or justify discrimination and violence against LGBT and other gender diverse persons. </p> <p>Criminalisation of consensual same-sex conduct is one of the most severe manifestations of state-led discrimination and repression of persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. Justifications range from dogmatic interpretations of faith-based scriptures to colonial-era legislation that has morphed into norms invoking religion. </p> <p>We urge states that have not done so yet to decriminalise consensual same-sex conduct, in line with their obligations under international human rights law.</p> <p>The full realisation of all human rights of LGBT and other gender diverse persons hinges on states respecting, fulfilling and upholding the rights and fundamental freedoms of all their citizens, in all their diversity. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries.</p> <p>Women and girls – in all their diversity – play a crucial role in promoting positive change and inclusive sustainable development and peace. However, multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls is still widespread across the globe, gendered socioeconomic inequality and poverty being some of the consequences. </p> <p>To this day, there is no country in the world that has achieved full and substantial gender equality. The persistence of the discriminatory and negative social norms and gender stereotypes affect women and girls across every area of life, from families to communities, in businesses and in all branches of the public sector, and contribute to maintaining and deepening socioeconomic inequalities. </p> <p>Women and girls continue to experience structural gender discrimination in both formal and informal employment on the grounds of gender, pregnancy and caring responsibilities. As highlighted in the report, the unequal and inadequate remuneration, precarious employment, lack of union representation, and violence and harassment in the workplace are all factors that increase sex- and gender-based inequalities and entrench poverty for women and girls. </p> <p>In your report, you describe how women‘s poverty and inequality is directly linked to economic policy choices at the global, regional and national levels. What can we do on multilateral level and in UN fora to advance the economic policies so that women and girls – everywhere and in all their diversity – can enjoy the full range of human rights? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls </strong><strong>Statement by Norway, on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and my own country Norway.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the concern about the pattern of ignoring intimate partner violence against women in determining child custody cases.&nbsp; </p> <p>It is particularly worrisome that there are cases where protection systems fail in their duty to protect children and women, and children are compelled to return to abusive and life-threatening situations.&nbsp; All violations of the rights of the child and the principle of the best interest of the child are to be fully respected.&nbsp; </p> <p>To address these challenges, we must ensure that judges and other experts have adequate training.&nbsp; Allegations of domestic violence must be properly investigated and women experiencing such violence must be ensured with all necessary protection and services.&nbsp; </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries are committed to protecting women and children against domestic violence and ensuring that gender stereotypes do not affect decisions in child custody cases.&nbsp; </p> <p>Ms. Asalem, what would be your advice to national authorities to ensure proper processes in child custody cases?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>23 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for presenting her latest report.</p> <p>Freedom of expression and access to information are integral to achieving sustainable development that leaves no one behind. Human rights defenders, journalists and media workers have a vital role in advancing sustainable development, and restricting their actions and suppressing their voices hinders global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda goals.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, as you mention in your report, a harrowing 97 per cent of the world’s population today is estimated to be living in countries where civic space is either closed, severely repressed, obstructed or has narrowed.</p> <p>Nordic-Baltic countries condemn all threats, attacks and killings of human rights defenders, journalists and media workers. It is the duty of all States to ensure that they can carry out their work free from attacks, harassment, intimidation and reprisals both online and offline.</p> <p>With less than halfway to 2030 we are far from achieving the SDGs, including strengthening information, media and digital literacy, breaching digital divides, and ensuring connectivity for all humans to a free, secure and open Internet, which promotes inclusion and participation in societies. What we see instead is more censorship and internet shutdowns.</p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, what can we do to strengthen a multi-stakeholder approach that can help support meaningful participation of women and Indigenous Peoples in decision-making and development processes?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>26 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries; Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report highlighting the severe issue of deaths in prison and express our full support for the renewal of his mandate this session.</p> <p>States assume direct responsibility for the lives of individuals deprived of liberty. The relatively high rate of deaths in custody is a grim reminder that States have not been able to uphold the right to life for all. However, positive reforms from across the globe, presented in the report, show that change is possible.&nbsp; </p> <p>Preventing deaths is key. Ways to reduce the amount of prisoners, for example by applying non-custodial measures, could be explored. Women should not be imprisoned for exercising their reproductive rights.</p> <p>We call for investigating every death in custody and observing the Minnesota Protocol in investigations. Prisoners should be treated with dignity, including after their death.</p> <p>We highlight the need to ratify the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).&nbsp; Could the Special Rapporteur elaborate why it is so important for States to ratify this protocol?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries:&nbsp; Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for the report and its two addendums. </p> <p>Advancing accountability and ending impunity for human rights violations, including those related to the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, both online and offline, is a priority for our states.&nbsp; </p> <p>We recognize the digital sphere as a unique space for assembly and association. However, we are concerned about the growing trend of imposing restrictions, including internet shutdowns and digital surveillance.</p> <p>It is alarming that civil society activists, including human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, are facing increasing repression, criminalization and judicial harassment. They are often depicted as a threat to national security or public order, instead of enabling and protecting their rights. </p> <p>We call on states to refrain from actions that undermine the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and to ensure robust and timely accountability for serious crimes committed against activists and protesters. Also, as the report points out, it is particularly incumbent on the international community to respond to serious human rights violations, in order to ensure accountability and deter further violations. </p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, how could the cooperation between national, regional and international mechanisms be strengthened in order to advance accountability? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland, on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries; Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland. </p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report and his work in promoting the full realization of the right to work as a way of tackling poverty. </p> <p>Unemployment can have far-reaching effects on individuals and on society as a whole. Full and productive employment and decent work for all contribute to the realization of human rights, including the right to work by reducing poverty and discrimination. </p> <p>The labour market is not equal for all. We need to better integrate persons in vulnerable situations, including persons with disabilities, into the labour market and ensure social protection for those who are excluded from it. Innovative solutions are necessary to tackle poverty globally as is also ensuring that the greening of the economy is fair and inclusive. </p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>How can we make sure that the just transition to a green economy is human rights-based and inclusive of persons with disabilities and others in vulnerable situations?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel 1: Gender-based violence against women and girls in public and political life</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Latvia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr<strong>. </strong>&nbsp;President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>Over the past few decades, there has been significant normative progress towards eliminating violence against women and girls and sexual and gender-based violence. However, more often than not this has not translated in tangible results. Every day, women and girls around the world continue to experience sexual and gender-based violence in public spaces, including sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, and femicide. This has a significant negative effect on the ability of women and girls to exercise their rights and participate in school, work, and public life, and negatively impacts their health, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and well-being. This particularly concerns armed conflicts.</p> <p>International human rights law guarantees the right of women and girls – in all their diversity – to participate in political and public life. It is the obligation of States to remove all structural barriers preventing their participation, including the disproportionate share of unpaid care work, gender stereotypes, negative social norms and sexual and gender-based violence.</p> <p>Girls face particular challenges due to misconceptions about children’s right to participation in political and public life, restrictions on their autonomy, disregard for their best interests, and paternalistic control, among others.</p> <p>Dear panellists, can you share some of the best practices in empowering girls to participate in public and political life and addressing the challenges to girls’ participation, including violence against women and girls?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel 2: Social protection: women’s participation and leadership</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 June 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>Gender stereotypes, harmful and discriminatory social norms continue to impact women and girls’ rights across the world.&nbsp; In addition to the increased negative impact on women and girls of armed conflicts, pandemics and climate crises, women and girls – in all their diversity – continue to experience structural gender-based discrimination in education, formal and informal employment due to pregnancy and caring responsibilities. </p> <p>The position of women in the labour market is still less favourable than that of men. They continue to face gender pay gaps, precarious employment, sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It accumulates gender discrimination throughout their life-course, makes it harder for women to access contributory social security, and feminizes poverty. </p> <p>Full, equal, inclusive, and meaningful participation and leadership of all women and girls, including women with disabilities and women in vulnerable situations, in decision-making is crucial for their full enjoyment of all human rights. Empowering women and girls and closing the gender gap in the world of work is also key to achieving the 2030 Agenda. However, this is not possible without increased efforts in reforming social protection policies, such as ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights, accessible childcare services, parental leave, and work life balance. </p> <p>Dear panellists, how would you recommend expanding and strengthening social protection to make it gender transformative?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Annual Panel on Adverse Impacts of Climate Change</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries -Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner and distinguished panellists for providing valuable insight on the negative impact of climate change on the right to food, especially on its physical and economical accessibility, availability, adequacy, and sustainability, as well as on how we should respond to these challenges.</p> <p>Climate change continues to increase pressure on food production, particularly in already vulnerable regions. Climate-induced disasters and wars reduce food availability and quality, impact food prices, especially harming persons in vulnerable situations. People at the frontline of climate change, including women, children, and Indigenous Peoples, are especially at risk. </p> <p>Furthermore, in many parts of the world, farmers and agricultural workers increasingly face highly unfavourable conditions ranging from conflicts and weather shocks, such as desertification in dry areas, floodings, and salinization in low-lying coastal areas.</p> <p>Distinguished panellists, how would you recommend to increase the participation of vulnerable groups, including women, youth and Indigenous Peoples in transforming food systems to promote everyone‘s full realization of the right to food and build climate resilience?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue on the report of the Secretary-General on climate change and the right to food</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.</p> <p>This decade represents a closing window of opportunity for us to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. We must act together to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. </p> <p>Increasingly, we witness the negative impacts of climate change. From extreme drought and flooding to more frequent and severe natural disasters destroying the ability of entire regions to feed themselves. </p> <p>Climate induced events like these, whether they hit suddenly or arrives slowly, have an impact not only on the right to food, but on the full realization of all human rights all over the world. Persons at the frontline of climate change, including women, children, Indigenous Peoples, and LGBTQI+, are especially at risk, and action needs to be inclusive and ensure their participation. </p> <p>We welcome the report of the Secretary-General, and we would welcome the thoughts of the Office on how we could further bring forward the report and the topics it touches upon in the work of the Council?&nbsp; </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Panel discussion on the role of digital, media and information literacy in the promotion and enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic- Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr, President, esteemed panellists, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We are living in an era marked by digital technologies that are causing unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities. </p> <p>In this new era, digital, media and information literacy are necessary tools to protect the respect and enjoyment of human rights. It empowers people and builds their resilience against disinformation and misinformation. </p> <p>The role of civil society and media is crucial in identifying, uncovering and debunking false information, as well as identifying and raising awareness on practices of internet shutdowns, unlawful surveillance and other malicious cyber activities.</p> <p>Protecting freedom of expression online and offline are key components in our efforts to defend and promote democracy and human rights. To be able to seek, evaluate, use and create information online and offline is crucial in this regard.</p> <p>Our firm belief is that we should leave no one behind. For this cause, we must close the gender digital divide and make sure to address the needs of women, girls and persons in vulnerable or disadvantaged situations. </p> <p>Esteemed panellists, what role do you see for the OHCHR in taking the important work on the topic of this panel forward?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We congratulate the Special Rapporteur on her appointment and we thank her for the report, detailing her vision and thematic priorities.</p> <p>We support the approach presented, building on the efforts made by her predecessors and momentum created by the High-Level panel on Internal Displacement, the Secretary General’s Action Agenda and the appointment of the Special Adviser on Solutions. </p> <p>We also support the focus on a rights-based approach in the implementation of the mandate, recognizing IDPs as rights holders. Likewise, integration of a perspective that considers gender in all its diversity and recognition of specific vulnerabilities among IDPs is essential.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The recent steep increase and record numbers of IDPs resulting from armed conflicts, human rights violations, adverse effects of climate change and natural disasters are of grave concern. The trend must be addressed.; The efforts by the Special Rapporteur are important for preventing growing numbers of IDPs, as well as improving the protection of and respect for their human rights. </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries strongly support the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and stand ready to assist her in its implementation.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>4 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic states: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark. </p> <p>We reaffirm our firm commitment to atrocity prevention and our full support to the Joint Office on Genocide Prevention and R2P. </p> <p>We thank you for the new report on the role of technological advances in the prevention and perpetration of genocide. We will study the report carefully to further the implementation of its recommendations. </p> <p>In addition to thematic reports, we call on the Joint Office to share country-specific updates on warning signs and recommendations on atrocity prevention. These will provide Member States with concrete advice on how to better implement R2P and genocide prevention. This is especially meaningful in the context of the prevention mandate of the Human Rights Council.</p> <p>Madam Special Advisor, how often do you share your country analysis on atrocity risks with the OHCHR and special procedures under the Human Rights Council? And how does your office interact with and follow up on treaty body recommendations?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>Iceland thanks the Experts of the Fact-Finding Mission for their valuable update and reiterates its unwavering support for the mandate. </p> <p>We welcome the FFM’s interpretation of the mandate, and their carefully crafted approach to collecting, consolidating, analysing and preserving information and evidence of violations by taking a victim-centred and intersectional approach, and by examining how multiple forms of discrimination affect victims of human rights violations. </p> <p>Iceland is also strongly supportive of the FFM analysing patterns of impunity and identification of individuals and entities responsible for alleged violations and the establishment of facts regarding their responsibility.&nbsp; </p> <p>We look forward to the FFM’s findings in HRC 55 and recommendations including on measures for prevention, protection, and reparation and accountability. </p> <p>We urge the Iranian authorities to reconsider their initial rejection of the mechanism and to heed the Secretary-General’s and the High Commissioners call for full cooperation with the FFM and to accept their request for a country visit.</p> <p>History has shown that addressing grievances and ensuring accountability is key to justice and reconciliation. </p> <p>In closing, Madam Chair how can we best support the work of the FFM going forward?</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>Madam Rapporteur, we thank you for the report and highly appreciate your work.</p> <p>The human rights situation in Belarus is appalling. Since 2020, there have been hundreds of raids on media offices and private homes of journalists and media workers, who face serious legal consequences and prison sentences. Over 600 professionals have been arrested and more than 100.000 Belarusians have been forced into exile. </p> <p>By allowing and enabling Russia to use the territory of Belarus for Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, the leadership of Belarus is responsible for the act of the aggression. Those responsible must be held accountable for violations of international law. Since February 2022, over 1500 people have been detained and persecuted for their opposition to government, including for anti-war statements and for supporting Ukraine. New amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code allow trials <em>in absentia</em> on extremism charges.</p> <p>We call upon Belarus for immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained persons and for the charges against them to be dropped, including political prisoners, journalists and media workers. We also reiterate our call to introduce a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.</p> <p>Disregarding the rights of the child, Belarus has started the militarization and politicization of school programs. Hundreds of Ukrainian children have also been allegedly forcibly transferred to Belarus, which implies that Lukashenko may be considered directly responsible for such a despicable war crime.</p> <p>Madam Rapporteur, how can the international community ensure accountability for the persecution by the Belarusian authorities of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society organizations? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries. We thank the Fact-Finding Mission for the valuable update and reiterate our support to the mandate.</p> <p>People of Iran persistently demand respect for their rights, including an end to systemic discrimination against women and girls. Yet, the repression intensifies in law and in practice. We are alarmed by the draft bill regarding the enforcement of compulsory veiling laws and the draft Penal Code provisions, further criminalizing non-compliance. </p> <p>We echo the profound concern of the High Commissioner on the wave of executions, including in the context of the protests. Iran must immediately halt the executions and introduce a moratorium on death penalty.</p> <p>Civic freedoms, especially freedom of expression and assembly, continue to be severely curtailed, both online and offline. We call on the authorities to cease arbitrary detention, killings, torture and inhuman treatment, and sexual and gender-based violence, and to release all those unjustly detained.</p> <p>Finally, we expect Iran to fully cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms. </p> <p>Distinguished Chairperson, could you elaborate on the challenges you experience or foresee in investigating sexual and gender-based violence as part of your mandate?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>5 July 2023 </strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Iceland. </p> <p>We express our firm support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry. We are gravely concerned about reported continued violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria. </p> <p>All indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians must cease immediately, as well as torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.</p> <p>Accountability is crucial for achieving a lasting political solution to the conflict. We welcome the legal proceedings initiated at the International Court of Justice concerning violations of the Convention against Torture.</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>Humanitarian needs are record high. We note the improved humanitarian access after the earthquakes in February. All parties must provide full, unhindered, and sustained humanitarian access. We also urge the UN Security Council to renew the cross-border mechanism before it expires on 10 July.</p> <p>To end the suffering of the Syrian population there must be a comprehensive ceasefire, and an inclusive political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.</p> <p>Mr. Commissioner, you have reported a gendered impact of the conflict and how longstanding discrimination against women and girls has been dramatically amplified. What measures would you recommend for addressing these issues?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his update and reiterate our firm support for his mandate.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic States are deeply troubled by reports of an intensification of violence, indiscriminate attacks, persecution of perceived opponents, systemic discrimination against Rohingya and other minorities and the disregard for human rights. Ensuring that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable remains a critical task. Therefore, we continue to support the important work carried out by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. </p> <p>The recent cyclone Mocha has only exacerbated the already existing immense humanitarian needs of the affected population. We express our grave concern over the growing access constraints, particularly in the wake of the cyclone, and we call for full, safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to reach those who are suffering, with the assistance needed. </p> <p>Furthermore, we cannot turn a blind eye to the deteriorating situation for women and girls. The alarming reports of sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination, and lack of access to healthcare and education are deeply distressing. We stand in solidarity with the women and girls of Myanmar and emphasize the urgent need for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all aspects of society. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, what is your view on the potential complicity of the countries that continue to supply the Myanmar military with heavy weapons that are used for suppression and human rights violations?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9 - Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>10 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We welcome the first report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism which gives the strategic vision and priorities for the mandate holder. </p> <p>We stay fully committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 75th anniversary of the Declaration gives us the opportunity to highlight the need for strengthening efforts against all forms of discrimination.&nbsp; </p> <p>President,</p> <p>Let me highlight two aspects from the report which we find especially important: </p> <p>Persons can face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on gender, race, and ethnicity. We are pleased that the mandate holder pays attention to the relationship between gender discrimination and racism. </p> <p>To advance on the implementation of the Durban declaration and to move the international debate on racism further we need engagement from all relevant stakeholders. </p> <p>What steps will the Special Rapporteur take to have a broad and inclusive approach to the process going forward?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Enhanced</strong><strong> Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on technical cooperation and capacity-building</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Lithuania, on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>11 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for the report and commend the OHCHR’s unwavering efforts to assist states in fulfilling their international human rights obligations and commitments.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries will therefore continue to support technical assistance and capacity-building, which is of vital importance for the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground, for the prevention of further violations and abuses, as well as for the facilitation of accountability processes. </p> <p>We encourage all countries to provide unhindered access and cooperate with the OHCHR, other UN human rights mechanisms and the UN Country Teams, and to implement their recommendations. In the spirit of dialogue and cooperation, this will, in turn, help States to overcome crises, achieve tangible human rights impact on the ground, build up resilience and ensure sustainable economic development.</p> <p>Furthermore, demand-driven technical cooperation, partnerships, complementarity, as well as sufficient and predictable funding are key for solving global challenges, sustaining peace, and improving human rights situation worldwide.</p> <p>Mr. High Commissioner, how can we ensure complementarity and facilitate cooperation among stakeholders operating on the ground? </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10 - Interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Independent Expert for his dedicated efforts.</p> <p>The security, humanitarian, and human rights situation in the Central African Republic remains deeply worrying. The widespread and serious human rights </p> <p>violations and abuses continue to alarm us. </p> <p>Armed groups are responsible for attacks and grave abuses against civilians. It is even more alarming that the majority of human rights violations are reportedly committed by State agents – agents with a responsibility to protect. </p> <p>We are particularly worried about the grave violations and abuses committed against children. We call on the CAR government to investigate all incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.</p> <p>Half of the population in CAR requires lifesaving assistance, and the escalation in neighbouring Sudan worsens the situation. Rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access must be guaranteed, and in line with humanitarian principles. </p> <p>Children are entitled to special protection under international law and are to be given priority in humanitarian action. In your view, what are the most urgent measures to be undertaken to ensure adequate protection of children in the Central African Republic?</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 10: Interactive dialogue on oral presentation of the High Commissioner on Ukraine and interim report of the Secretary-General on human rights in Crimea</strong></p> <p><strong>Statement by Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>12 July 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the High Commissioner for the update and strongly support the reporting mandate.</p> <p>Every day, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine results in massive suffering of civilians, including in illegally annexed Crimea. The price they pay is beyond comprehension. </p> <p>We are alarmed by the reports of arbitrary detention of almost 900 men, women and children by Russia. Most of them were tortured and ill-treated, some of them subjected to sexual violence. We echo the grave concern of the OHCHR on the summary executions of civilians in detention. </p> <p>Russia must immediately halt the filtration processes and enforced disappearances often related to detention. The Ukrainian children, deported by force to Russia, must be returned. </p> <p>No country is above international human rights and humanitarian law. Perpetrators of blatant violations of international law will be held accountable. </p> <p>Finally, we expect Russia to provide OHCHR unconditional and unimpeded access to temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. We encourage Ukraine to continue its full cooperation with the OHCHR.</p> <p>Distinguished High Commissioner, how can we ensure effective psycho-social support for survivors of Russian atrocities?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Jul 06, 2023Opnunarávarp sendiherra á ljósmyndahátíðinni Les Rencontres d´Arles Paris - UNESCO

<span></span> <p><em>Allocution à l’occasion de l’ouverture de l’exposition Søsterskap au Rencontres d’Arles.</em></p> <p><em>4 juillet, 2023</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chers festivaliers, chers organisateurs, curateurs de cette exposition, chères artistes, Dear all !&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>C’est avec une grande joie et une immense fierté que nous nous réunissons ce soir pour célébrer le vernissage de cette exposition photographique, Søsterskap, ici, à Arles, capitale de la photographie, mettant en lumière le talent et la créativité des artistes femmes nordiques.</li> <li>En tant qu’ambassadrice d’Islande, pays peu peuplé, mais par ailleurs, vivier d’artistes et notamment, d’artiste femmes, je suis particulièrement touchée par la thématique de cette exposition et de voir ces photographes de tous les pays nordiques exposées ensemble.&nbsp;</li> <li>Les pays Nordiques sont reconnus pour leur engagement profond en faveur de l’égalité femmes-hommes. Ils ont établi des normes élevées en matière de droits des femmes, de parité et d’inclusion. Dans ces sociétés, la promotion des artistes femmes joue un rôle essentiel pour renforcer ces valeurs d’égalité. Cette exposition est un témoignage vivant de cet engagement, mettant en avant des voix féminines fortes et talentueuses.&nbsp; <ul> <li>C’est une grande opportunité pour les artistes nordiques ici présentes – que d’être si magnifiquement honorées et au sein d’un festival photographique aussi prestigieux que celui-ci et à la renommée internationale.&nbsp;</li> </ul> </li> <li>As the Ambassador of Iceland, a country with a small population but an incredibly rich and vibrant cultural life, I'm particularly touched by the theme of this exhibition, and by seeing all these immensely talented photographers from all the Nordic countries exhibited together here in Arles.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>“<em>Søsterskap</em>”, en islandais “<em>Systralag</em>”, en anglais «&nbsp;<em>sisterhood</em>&nbsp;», c’est la « fraternité féminine » : un lien unique entre les femmes, basé sur la sororité, la reconnaissance et la valorisation des expériences, des luttes et des réussites féminines.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>C’est une solidarité entre celles qui se soutiennent, s’inspirent mutuellement et travaillent ensemble pour atteindre des objectifs communs, mais surtout bénéfiques à toutes et tous, car donner la parole aux femmes, leur donner l’opportunité de s’exprimer dans la création, est essentiel pour questionner notre société, surtout d‘un point de vue personnel et humain. Car, comme disait le slogan des années 70 „<em>the personal is political</em>“, la sphère privée dévoile les fractures dans nos sociétés et nous devons les combattre pour créer un état du bien-être digne de ce nom.</li> <li>Pour les anglophones présents dans la salle, je souhaite leur adresser également ces quelques mots &nbsp;:</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Each of the Nordic artists, find their uniqueness in universal themes of daily life, such as childhood, parenthood, work, relationship, nature, and identity, but common to all, sisterhood as a driving force for emancipation, is present in all the works.</li> <li>Their work showcase the Nordic welfare model as seen through the lens of woman photographers and society‘s expectations and view on different gender roles.</li> <li>Although the Nordic states are in many ways very progressive in terms of gender, equity, and justice there is still work to do and a need to discuss and challenge the traditional gender roles and intersectionality.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Je tenais à adresser un immense bravo aux curateurs et scénographes de l’exposition, d’avoir su mettre si bien en valeur des travaux à la fois si différents et si complémentaires.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Je tiens également à remercier la direction du festival de m’avoir si chaleureusement accueillie. C’est un grand honneur pour moi d’être ici et de représenter mes collègues et homologues nordiques, les ambassadeurs du Danemark, de Finlande, de Norvège et de Suède avec qui je travaille main dans la main au quotidien à promouvoir notre culture, mais également nos liens forts et amicaux, inspirants je l’espère pour la France, pays très accueillant et avec lequel nous prenons tant plaisir à collaborer.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>I'd like to express my heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved in this incredible exhibition, the curators and the scenographers, for bringing out the very best in works that are so different yet so complementary, to the Festival Rencontres d´Arles and to all the artists for brining their work to Arles, giving a glimpse of &nbsp;the daily life and work in the Nordic region and showcasing the strength of Nordic photography.</li> </ul> <p>Merci à toutes et à tous&nbsp;!</p>

Jun 20, 2023BBNJ Further Resumed Fifth Session - Adoption of the AgreementNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Birgir Hrafn Buasson,<br /> Deputy Legal Adviser, Directorate for Legal and Executive Affairs, MFA</p> <p> Thank you, Madam President. We did it.<br /> <br /> We would like to start by thanking you for your able and dedicated leadership. Your knowledge and professionalism kept us on track, and your lightness created an atmosphere where difficult positions could be reconciled. We would also like to thank your team, all facilitators and DOALOS, as well as the many interpreters and other staff who assisted us. Together you made all this possible.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, we would like to recognize the support of civil society. Thank you for keeping us focused and on track towards conclusion of this agreement.<br /> <br /> As the International Day for Women in Diplomacy is this week, allow me to highlight the major role played by a high number of female Heads of Delegations and negotiators in this process. Without them none of this would have been possible.<br /> <br /> On that note, I see some familiar faces around the room, and there are many more that I miss. I would like to use this chance to thank you all, dear colleagues, for constructive engagement, especially those who sat with me for 17 hours on Wednesday, 19 hours on Thursday, and then 37 hours from Friday morning until 10 pm on Saturday night. We are and will forever be trauma bonded.<br /> <br /> Madam President.<br /> <br /> In a considerably high percentage of statements made by Iceland here at the UN, we emphasise the importance of the ocean to our country. I am sorry for the repetition, dear colleagues, but today will be no exception. A half a century ago, when many of the customs of international law were formed that later became the foundation of UNCLOS, Iceland was classified as a developing country.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Since then, the sustainable use of the ocean has been a cornerstone of Iceland’s prosperity. A healthy and bountiful ocean, with long-term sustainability at the core of all management decisions is for the benefit of all. As we have said throughout this process, conservation and sustainable use are not separate or conflicting notions, but two sides of the same coin.<br /> <br /> Iceland remains committed to the health of our Ocean and we see this new agreement as an important addition to the law of the sea family, under the Convention, our constitution of the Ocean. The BBNJ Agreement provides us with many of the tools we need to achieve our common objectives, some of which have now been set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity last December.<br /> <br /> As so many of my colleagues have said, while this adoption is a victory for multilateralism, this is only the beginning. Nothing has been conserved or protected. No benefits have been shared.<br /> <br /> Now it is our time to show the world that we cannot only come together and agree on text, we can take action - and we can do it together.<br /> <br /> Madam President.<br /> <br /> I thank you.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Jun 16, 2023HER LAND. HER RIGHTS. Desertification & Drought Day 2023.New York - United Nations

<span></span><span>Statement by Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.<br /> <br /> Excellencies.<br /> <br /> It gives me great pleasure to participate in this timely event on a pressing topic.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Tomorrow, June 17th, is both the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, as well as the National Independence Day of Iceland.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Gender equality is a top priority for Iceland and is a key to a good society as far as we see it. The same will apply to combatting land degradation. This is a major challenge but we firmly believe that keeping gender equality in mind will increase success.<br /> <br /> In one version of the Icelandic Book of Settlement (called Landnámabók in Icelandic) composed around 1300, is a passage where it says that when the land was almost fully settled, limits had to be set as to how much land the newcomers could claim. When it came to men, the limit was how much he could cover running with a torch whereas a woman could claim as much land as she could lead a cow through for the same amount of time. Obviously the idea here (whether this passage describes actual practice in the 10th century) is different rules for different genders, but such discriminatory laws and practices need to be abolished.<br /> <br /> For example, it is unacceptable that women are still being denied the right to inherit their husbands’ property in over 100 countries. Similarly, the fact that women globally spend 200 million hours every day collecting water is thought-provoking. Would it not be a better use of these women’s time to own the land and have the resources to work it?<br /> <br /> It is our firm belief that gender equality will increase the probability of success in combatting major global challenges, such as reaching land degradation neutrality, and ultimately in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> This is firmly kept in mind at the GRÓ Land Restoration Training Program, hosted in Iceland, under the auspices of UNESCO.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The topic of gender and land tenure is specifically addressed within this program, which assists low- and middle-income countries to combat land degradation, promote sustainable land management and restore degraded land through targeted capacity building. Gender equality is an integral part of the Program’s Mission.<br /> <br /> I thank you for your attention.  <br /> </span> <div>&nbsp;</div>

Jun 15, 2023Thirty-Third Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the SeaNew York - United Nations

<p> Statement by Birgir Hrafn Búason, Director (International Law),<br /> Directorate for Legal and Executive Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs</p> <p> SPLOS 33rd session, 15 June 2022, Agenda item 14<br /> <br /> Reports of the SG under Article 319 (general debate)<br /> <br /> <br /> Madame President.<br /> I would like to start by congratulating the newly elected members of ITLOS, and no less importantly, to thank all the highly qualified candidates for making themselves available. On that note, I would also like to use this opportunity to thank you all for your kind support during yesterday’s election. <br /> <br /> My delegation also thanks the Secretary General for the informative report that this agenda item refers to. <br /> <br /> In December last year, Iceland was delighted to join the global community in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the remarkable achievement that is UNCLOS. Our constitution of the ocean, within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. As we have often reiterated, such a success, and its continued effectiveness should not be taken for granted. <br /> <br /> Madame President. <br /> This year we are able to celebrate another achievement. Through constructive engagement, delegations were finally able to conclude the text of a new agreement under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, usually referred to as BBNJ, and we look forward to participating in its adoption next week. <br /> <br /> We believe that the new BBNJ agreement will be an important addition to our ocean tapestry and provides us with necessary tools to achieve our common objectives, some of which have now been set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity last December. <br /> <br /> Madame President.<br /> A month ago, we participated in the resumed Review Conference of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement here in NY. What my delegation took away from that meeting is that positive steps have been taken, towards sustainable management of fish stocks, since the last conference in 2016, and many important issues are on the right track. That being said, there is still much to be done, and a third of the world's fish stocks remain over-fished. <br /> Two positive developments regarding the health and sustainability of our ocean, which we believe important to highlight, are the commencement of the negotiations on a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution, as well as the conclusion of the WTO Agreement on harmful fisheries subsidies. <br /> Last year was “the super year of the Ocean. A lot has happened, and it is clear that we as States Parties need to adapt to a changing reality and an evolving regulatory framework. We need to prepare, both unilaterally and through close cooperation within various international bodies and frameworks, so that we can all meet our joint objectives and provide the action that our ocean so desperately needs. <br /> <br /> Madame President. <br /> Iceland would like to warmly thank Kenya and Portugal for the excellent organization of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon last summer. Following this success, we very much welcome the decision of the General Assembly that the next UN Ocean Conference will be co-hosted by Costa Rica and France. As a sign of the importance Iceland attaches to the Ocean and law of the sea, we participated in Lisbon at the highest level of government. We look forward to coming together with the extended Ocean family again in Nice in 2025 – and we emphasize that the UN Ocean Conference is without doubt the most important international conference on the Ocean and SDG14. It is a conference mandated by the General Assembly, where we all participate on an equal footing, united by a common ambition to sustainably manage the Ocean, tackle the grave challenges it faces and make the most of its potential. <br /> <br /> Madame President .<br /> As we sit here at the meeting of the States Parties, our colleagues in Bonn have been discussing ocean aspects of climate change. The two are closely interlinked in many different ways. Furthermore, greenhouse gas emissions not only lead to climate change, but to ocean acidification as well. In the cold, Arctic waters around Iceland, ocean acidification is happening faster than the global average. It is a serious threat to biodiversity in the Ocean, that in and of itself is a reason to end the use of fossil fuels. <br /> <br /> Now that humanity is at a point where both mitigation and adaptation to climate change becomes ever more pressing, and the Sustainable Development Goals have reached halfway point in time, Iceland believes that greater attention can be given to food sustainably sourced from the Ocean. Often referred to as blue food, it is a low carbon-intensity, nutritious source of food that provides a vital source of nutrition for more than 3 billion people worldwide and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. Iceland has the honour of Chairing the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition; a multi-stakeholder Coalition that promotes the realization of the full potential of blue food in order to end malnutrition and build nature-positive, equitable and resilient food systems. <br /> <br /> Madame President. <br /> Sea level rise is another major threat that carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels contribute to. This threat is going nowhere, even if humanity manages to quit the use of fossil fuels in the next few years. As Iceland has stated before, we are confident that in the context of UNCLOS, solutions will be found - even if it is challenging due to that this problem was largely unknown at the time UNCLOS was negotiated. We closely follow developments on this topic, both in terms of state practice as well as the continued work of the International Law Commission on sea level rise. Importantly, small island developing states and others in particularly vulnerable positions, should not carry the burden of a situation they have done the least to contribute to. <br /> <br /> Madame President. <br /> Last but not least, we would like to thank all of those who engaged this week in the discussions on the conditions of service of the members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. For the first time, there seems to be a general sense that something needs to be done and that we are moving towards a solution. This is an extremely positive development, and I thank my colleagues for their open-mindedness and flexibility. <br /> <br /> We need to build on this momentum and jointly move towards a sustainable long-term solution. <br /> <br /> I thank you.</p>

Jun 15, 2023UNICEF Executive Board Annual Session 2023 – joint gender statementNew York - United Nations

<p>UNICEF Executive Board<br /> Annual Session 13-16 June 2023<br /> Agenda item 5: Annual report on the implementation of the UNICEF Gender Action Plan 2022-2025<br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Republic of Moldova, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and my own country Iceland. </p> <p>Thank you for the presentation on the first Annual Report on the implementation of the 2022-2025 Gender Action Plan.</p> <p>The Secretary General’s progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals paints a bleak picture overall, including on gender equality. It is therefore more important than ever that UNICEF continues to gain traction in its gender equality programming. We appreciate that the Gender Action Plan symbolizes an intentional programming shift, addressing the root causes of gender inequality for more transformative, lasting results. We also thank the Executive Director for having a strong focus on gender equality and for acknowledging that the achievement of gender equality is truly central to all our development goals.</p> <p>We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Lauren Rumble and her gender team for their tireless efforts towards promoting gender equality in UNICEF’s work. The Annual Report details some impressive results achieved during these challenging social, political and economic contexts for women and girls worldwide. This includes a 5-percentage point increase in live births attended by skilled health personnel. Nearly half of all UNICEF country offices are reporting gender-transformative results. And 116 million children and adolescents benefitted from UNICEF-supported gender-responsive nutrition programming. An important result, given that one billion adolescent girls and women suffer from undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, or anemia, with devastating consequences for their wellbeing and the development of their children. </p> <p>However, more can and needs to be done. Too many girls continue to be out of school and girls’ learning opportunities and outcomes remain disadvantaged compared to boys. Undernutrition, slowing progress on reducing child marriage, lagging HIV rates, lack of access to services for sexual and reproductive health and rights and ongoing high levels of violence, including technology-facilitated gender-based violence, all point towards the necessity of scaling up interconnected adolescent girls’ programming. One important step in that direction is the UNICEF Adolescent Girls Programme Strategy for 2022-2025, which targets 20 million girls in 30 countries by 2025 and aims to leapfrog girls’ health, nutrition, protection, education and learning and economic outcomes.</p> <p>We take note of the new gender transformative expenditures formula and the corresponding drop in expenditures from around 14% to 6%. At the same time, we appreciate your efforts in revising the calculation formulas to reflect more ambitious goals in terms of gender. Because this is no time to be complacent, we must be ambitious.</p> <p>Ambition is also needed when it comes to evaluating the impact of our actions. While we note with satisfaction that the number of evaluations covering gender increased in 2022, the Annual Report on the Evaluation Function also notes that the quality of the integration of gender equality and the empowerment of women in the scope of the analysis has declined, as did the overall performance of UNICEF under the UN-SWAP on Gender Equality. </p> <p>The whole-of institution approach to gender equality is vital for achieving transformative results, as is institutional strengthening. We note that around half of country offices have a system in place to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. While there have been positive gains, we urge the acceleration of the achievement of the target that at least 90% of country offices have a system in place by 2025. </p> <p>Gender equality is a major challenge that cannot be met without ample coordination and joint initiatives among all UN actors, and we encourage UNICEF to work closely with other UN agencies, such as UN Women and UFPA, on joint programming and sharing of data and best practices on gender equality.”</p> <p>Allow us to pose a few questions. </p> <p>When do you expect to reach the institutional gender transformative expenditure target of 15%? </p> <p>We regret that the Thematic Fund on Gender continues to be the least funded of the thematic funds, despite its pivotal role in mainstreaming gender across UNICEF’s strategic objectives. Could you indicate how much of core funding is dedicated for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan and what can be done to increase funding for the thematic fund on gender? </p> <p>And finally, we pivot towards countries where we are witnessing increasing restrictions on women and girls’ exercise of their rights, such as Afghanistan and Iran, with devastating results. Could you elaborate on how UNICEF manages to deliver gender-transformative services under these circumstances? </p> <p>Madam/Mr. President, </p> <p>You can count on us, as a collective, in advancing the rights of children and gender equalityworldwide with UNICEF as a key partner. </p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Jun 05, 2023Statement at ICP23 General DebateNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by Hendrik Dadi Jonsson<br /> Ministry for Foreign Affairs<br /> <br /> Co-Chairs,</p> <p>As this is the first time our delegation takes the floor, we would like to begin by congratulating you on your respective appointment and reappointment as co-chairs of this twenty third meeting of the open-ended informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea. We wish to express to you our support for your stewardship over the discussions we will engage in in the coming week.<br /> <br /> We thank the Secretary-General for an informative and extensive report, which has been useful groundwork in preparation for this meeting. Furthermore, we also convey to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea our continuing appreciation and commendations for their excellent and important work in the organisation of this meeting.<br /> <br /> At the outset, we would like to reaffirm Iceland’s support for the Informal Consultative Process, on which we place a great deal of both importance and expectation. The scale of the acute challenges that our oceans are facing and, as the focus of this meeting makes evident, the boundless opportunities which they hold require our discussions and action at the international level to be informed, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary.<br /> <br /> Our oceans are not a monolith which we can survey, discuss and address from a single perspective. Their inherent multiplicity necessarily means that ocean issues are dispersed across a myriad of different global, regional and sectoral fora. It is for this reason that the Informal Consultative Process is both unique and valuable. This is the thoroughfare where governments, scientists, stakeholders and innovators can converse thereby bringing new knowledge and shared lessons onwards into other fora.<br /> <br /> Co-chairs,<br /> <br /> Our oceans, enveloping 70% of our planet’s surface and harbouring up to 80% of its life, are under enormous stress. Stress from climate change; biodiversity loss; ocean acidification; pollution; and other grave challenges which threaten the habitability of our planet for present and future generations.<br /> <br /> As the focus of our meeting reveals, the responses to the oceans’ challenges, and global challenges at large, may themselves be found in the oceans. Innovation in the development of new maritime technologies could hold opportunities to harvest the powers of the oceans to mitigate climate change, decarbonise the shipping sector, counter pollution and develop new renewable energy sources.<br /> <br /> However, these opportunities cannot be brought to bear without bridging existing capacity gaps which result in research efforts being insufficiently funded and too narrowly concentrated in geographic terms. Enhanced and sustained efforts for capacity-building are essential to ensure the widespread research, development, uptake and implementation of new maritime technologies.<br /> <br /> Co-chairs,<br /> <br /> We anticipate that the exchanges which we will have in the coming days will serve as a reminder to us all of the significant value and importance of marine scientific research in addressing shared global challenges. It is the conviction of the Icelandic government that effective responses to the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, food insecurity and poverty may be crafted and deployed by sustainably realising the unrealised potential of the oceans.<br /> <br /> As an island state dependent on the ocean, much of Iceland’s research and innovation relates to the development of new maritime technologies, in particular as a response to shared global challenges. As just one example, Icelandic innovators are coordinating joint efforts with European partners in the WHISPER project which works to support the onboard harnessing of wind and solar energy sources in the long-distance maritime transport industry.<br /> <br /> Indeed, the challenges we face can only be addressed through successful international cooperation. In turn, international cooperation can only be successful where it builds on mutual trust fostered and underpinned by a rules-based international order. It is the right of all States to engage in marine scientific research, but it must be conducted for peaceful purposes and in compliance with other obligations, including relevant international regulations.<br /> <br /> Iceland would like to reiterate our continued support for and commitment to the Law of the Sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is the cornerstone of international cooperation in ocean affairs; our Constitution of the Ocean.<br /> <br /> In this regard, we are heartened by recent successes in the multilateral arena, in particular the finalisation of negotiations for an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.<br /> <br /> We are hopeful that the new BBNJ agreement, once adopted and in force, will be an effective, multilateral tool for conservation, sustainable use, capacity building and enhanced marine scientific research.<br /> <br /> With all of the aforementioned in mind, we welcome the focus of this meeting on new maritime technologies and look forward to the discussions in the week ahead.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p> <br />

Jun 02, 2023Statement at the UNRWA Pledging Conference New York - United Nations

<p>Remarks by H.E. Mr. Jörundur Valtýsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland</p> <p>Mr President, Commissioner General, Excellencies,<br /> <br /> Let me start by thanking the President for convening this important meeting in support of UNRWA and Palestinian refugees - and expressing Iceland´s appreciation to Commissioner General Lazzarini for his leadership and measures undertaken by him and his staff to address the serious financial situation that UNRWA continues to face. I also wish to thank the two Palestinian students that spoke so eloquently this morning. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Iceland is a longstanding supporter of UNRWA’s mandate. Our support consists of unearmarked, predictable funding through a multi-year framework agreement. We also continue to provide seconded staff into UNRWA’s structures.<br /> <br /> To lend a helping hand in addressing the financial shortfalls of the agency, I am pleased to confirm that Iceland is doubling its core contribution for this year - from 25 million ISK in 2022 to 50 million ISK in 2023. <br /> <br /> I wish to take this opportunity to commend UNRWA for its enduring commitment and dedication to Palestinian refugees in Palestine and neighbouring countries. In the absence of a lasting political solution, UNRWA´s role remains of critical importance. You can rely on Iceland´s continued support.<br /> <br /> I thank you. </p>

Jun 01, 2023Joint Statement at meeting with the chairs of the Human Rights Treaty BodiesNew York - United Nations

<p> Delivered by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland<br /> on behalf of<br /> Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden<br /> <br /> Thank you, Mr. Chair, and at the outset let me welcome the chairs of the treaty bodies to New York. I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of countries that have led a biannual resolution on the Human Rights treaty body system in the Third Committee of the General Assembly since 2016; Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Iceland. Together we attach great importance to the strengthening of the human rights treaty body system and have been actively engaged on this issue for more than a decade. Therefore, we welcome today’s timely exchange and other discussions happening this week. <br /> <br /> We would like to extend our appreciation for the recently published working paper as a good basis for further discussion, with many suggestions for practical solutions, although we will need time to study it more carefully. We also look forward to actively engaging in the forthcoming consultations organized by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to solicit inputs for the implementation plan. <br /> <br /> This paper adds to a growing body of reports and studies, including the 2020 report co-facilitated by Morocco and Switzerland, previous chairs’ reports, and reports of the Secretary-General, that identify a number of proposals that urgently need your attention. These include the implementation of predictable review cycles, better alignment of working methods, and acceleration of the digital shift, including with regards to individual complaints and the use of virtual forms of meetings. Further progress on these proposals is needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the treaty body system and bring more predictability and transparency to its work. <br /> <br /> While plenty of challenges remain, many opportunities lie within the work that has already been carried out over the years, through various processes and reports, including your own, on how to improve and better align the working methods of the treaty bodies. As chairs, you play a key role in ensuring that implementation happens in a timely manner. We urge you to be more ambitious in this work, within your respective mandates. <br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> The challenges faced by the treaty body system are not new, but eighteen months of full suspension or postponement of their sessions, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021, did worsen these challenges. Our biannual resolution was most recently adopted by the General Assembly in December 2022 as resolution 77/210. An important element of it has been maintaining consensus, while reflecting the ongoing efforts towards strengthening the human rights treaty body system. The resolution adopted last December has two new additions worth highlighting. <br /> <br /> 1. The resolution acknowledges the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the work of the human rights treaty bodies, and;<br /> 2. Notes the considerable potential of digitalization of the work of the treaty bodies and encourages further use of digital technologies in the treaty bodies’ work.<br /> <br /> As it stands now, overcoming the Covid-backlog will take years for most of the treaty body committees. We have seen, however, that increased use of simplified State party reporting procedures has helped some committees to begin to address their backlogs. We therefore encourage you – the chairs – to take further steps in this regard, so that simplified reporting procedure can be implemented by all committees for all interested State parties, making the reporting process both more efficient and focused.<br /> <br /> We also urge you to coordinate and shorten the list of issues and to work, in consultation with member states, on a more predictable and better aligned calendar for States’ reporting, which is coordinated with other treaty bodies and with the calendar of the UPR. We look forward to the future digitalization of the treaty body system, which will strengthen the work of the Treaty Bodies and improve efficiency and transparency. Introducing a digital case management system and an online submission platform for individual complaints, as recommended in the 2020 Treaty Body review process, should remain a key priority of any “digital shift”.<br /> <br /> Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> In conclusion, many of the measures that have been identified do not require more guidance or budget allocations from Member States. The COVID pandemic provided the committees with some practical experiences in terms of adapting their working methods, State Party reviews and further digitalization. We would like to emphasise the importance of these lessons to be used as a ground to build upon in your work as Chairs. <br /> <br /> Finally, let me reiterate that much of the success depends on your stewardship – the chairs’ – in leading your respective committees towards improved working methods, predictability and alignment in a timely manner. In achieving this, you should be guided by your mandates, inspired by the extensive work already done and encouraged by our firm support of your work.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>

May 23, 2023Joint Nordic Statement at the UN Security Council: Annual Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict New York - United Nations

<p>State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Ms. Johanna Sumuvuori delivered the Joint Nordic Statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the Annual Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: “Ensuring the security and dignity of civilians in conflict: Addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services” on May 23, 2023.</p> <p > Madam President, Members of the Security Council,<br /> <br /> I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Finland.<br /> <br /> Still today, five years after the adoption of resolution 2417, armed conflict continues to be the main driver of humanitarian needs, and of food insecurity globally. Consequences of Russia’s war of aggression on global food security are devastating. Especially for those most in need, and for those that were already facing food-insecurity.<br /> <br /> Safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access is a prerequisite to effective humanitarian action, especially in situations of armed conflict. All parties to a conflict must fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This includes protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers. For the aid to reach those most in need, ceasefires and security guarantees for humanitarian organizations are essential.<br /> <br /> Addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services are especially important in protracted conflicts, where the needs are ever increasing, and aggravated by climate change.<br /> <br /> Women play an essential role in food security and they often face enormous challenges due to limited access to resources, information and education, and because of discriminatory structures and social norms. Consequently, women are more likely to experience poverty and income inequality, which can lead to higher rates of food insecurity.<br /> <br /> The Nordics promote the protection of women and girls, and the full realization of their rights at all stages of a conflict. We stress the importance of prevention and elimination of gender based and sexual violence, and promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Furthermore, women should play a role in the design and delivery of humanitarian aid. The international community must support local groups, including women’s groups that are the first to respond to conflict.<br /> <br /> Particular attention needs to be paid to persons in vulnerable situations, such as women and girls who are subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as gender and sexual minorities, and persons with disabilities. <br /> <br /> Protecting civilians is one of the key tasks of UN peacekeeping operations. Providing training for peacekeeping personnel on how to ensure the protection of civilians is critical for successfully implementing this mandate. <br /> <br /> Access to water is a prerequisite for the protection of civilians and food security, and for providing essential services. Modern warfare has an impact on water sources and provision by destroying essential infrastructure, and by causing pollution and environmental degradation. Water is indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, and has special protection under international humanitarian law.<br /> <br /> Water plays an increasing role in geopolitical strategies, and pressures on transboundary basins are mounting. In many contexts, these effects may be exacerbated by climate change. Transboundary water cooperation often continues during armed conflict, and can act as a driver for peace. We call on governments to make necessary investments in providing access to water, particularly in areas already marginalised and prone to conflict. We call on the development community to invest in basic services and climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-prone regions.<br /> <br /> Five years after the adoption of resolution 2417, the impact of conflicts on global hunger remains strong, and work remains to be done to change the trend. We welcome the attention of the Security Council to this important topic, and remain committed to the objectives set forth in resolution 2417.<br /> <br /> Thank you.</p>

May 17, 2023UNESCO: National Statement of Iceland at the 216th session of the Executive BoardParis - UNESCO

<span></span> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light'; color: black;"><em>National Statement of Iceland&nbsp;<br /> </em></span><em><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">216th session of the Executive Board of UNESCO, May 202</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">3</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light'; color: black;"><strong>Delivered by the Permanent Delegate of Iceland, Ms Auðbjörg Halldórsdóttir</strong></span></em></p> <p class="paragraph"><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif; color: black;">Ms Chairperson of the Executive Board, Ms Director-General,&nbsp;</span><span class="eop" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif; color: black;"><br /> </span><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Mr President of the General Conference,&nbsp;</span><span class="eop" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"><br /> </span><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;">Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,</span><span class="eop" style="font-family: 'FiraGO Light', sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">As we approach the half-way point of the 2030 agenda this year, it is clear the SDGs are far off track and there is a need for turbocharged process on all fronts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">The various multi-dimensional crises we are confronted with will be hard to address without restoring trust in the multilateral system, between countries and within societies. Senseless armed conflicts around the world not only inflict unimaginable suffering on ordinary civilians, but exacerbate social disparities, undermine trust in democracy, threaten fundamental human rights and damage the future of generations to come. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">The destruction of Russia’s unlawful war on Ukraine was evident in Kyiv when visited by a group of Ambassadors from the Group of Friends of Ukraine last month. Destroyed homes, schools, cultural centres, livelihoods. But the visit also underscored the critical importance of UNESCO’s expertise and assistance. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">The need for UNESCO‘s message and creative intelligence has never been more compelling.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">UNESCO‘s work promotes culture of peace and tolerance, celebrates diversity in all of its‘ shape and form, works to deliver knowledge, science and educational development and defends human rights and freedom of expression. &nbsp;It is our job to help the Organization achieve these goals and to uphold the principles and common values as set out in the UN Charter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">We need concrete actions, ambitious commitments and innovative policies based on scientific inputs and lessons learned. We need to work harder to address climate change, inequalities, strengthen quality education for all and the general advancement of social well-being and human development. And we need to do it faster.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Our forthcoming discussions at the EXB are therefore important and I would like to thank the IOS and all the secretariat’s staff for excellent reports and your hard work in preparation for the board meeting.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Dear colleagues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">We need to provide UNESCO with the necessary funds to implement the organization‘s important work, including its leading role across sectors. In this regard let me emphasize the importance of transparency, effectiveness and prioritization, as well as the alignment of the organization with the overall efforts of the UN system. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">We need a strong, agile and well-manned organization, built on an inclusive and diverse working environment. We encourage the consideration of gender balance and geographical distribution and we would especially like to encourage the organization to continue to &nbsp;address the gender gap in managerial positions. The safe inclusion of people of other marginalized groups is also of high importance to Iceland, including the LGBTQI+ community and persons with disabilities. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Dear collegues</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Iceland is committed to supporting the Organization’s Global Priorities. According to UN Women, it will take 300 years to achieve gender equality at the current pace – and the gender gap has increased, following recent crises. &nbsp;We must reverse this serious backlash. UNESCO needs to invest more in a Gender-transformative approach. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Clear frameworks on gender equality for all programmes are necessary, and a theory of change should be applied to all of UNESCO’s Programmes. We encourage the Sectors to strengthen the monitoring and information-sharing of gendered results and call for an increased focus on the accountability of staff for delivering these results. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">We would also like to highlight the critical situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and the continued violation of their basic human rights, including education. We recognize &nbsp;and emphasize the importance of continued support to UNESCO’s work in Afghanistan and the reporting thereon.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Excellencies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Let me congratulate UNESCO and all ratifying Member States on the entry into force of the 20-19 Global Convention on Higher Education and we look forward to participating in its first Intergovernmental Conference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">We also want to highlight the importance of UNESCO’s focus on the issue of climate change, which is undeniably one of our most urgent generational challenges. UNESCO has an important role to play through education, adaptation at World Heritage Sites, the Open Science Strategy, and not the least through the work of the IOC. The UN General Assembly has recognized the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all and we would like to see a greater focus on climate change across all programmes and sectors.<span class="eop" style="background: white; color: black;"></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">Finally.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">AI and transformational technologies are developing at an exponential speed and the impact on our societies is unquestionable. With the invention of new technologies, come responsibilities. This topic is critical for the future of our societies and international relations. We welcome the initiative on ethics of neurotechnology and believe it is important that the international community can move swiftly on this important topic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'FiraGO Light';">I thank you.</span></p>

May 11, 20231422 PC Meeting, 11 May 2023 (Russian Federation's Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=4794313f-f4b7-11ed-9bba-005056bc4727">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

May 04, 20231421 PC Meeting, 4 May 2023 (World Press Freedom Day, Kosovo, Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=4c59c1a6-f4b6-11ed-9bba-005056bc4727">EU Statement in Response to the Head by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Michael Davenport</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=84f1283a-f4b6-11ed-9bba-005056bc4727">EU Statement on the World Press Freedom Day</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/lisalib/getfile.aspx?itemid=c112d3b2-f4b6-11ed-9bba-005056bc4727">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span></p>

Apr 27, 20231420 PC Meeting, 27 April 2023 (Russia's Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1420pc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span>

Apr 26, 2023Statement at introduction of UNGA draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of EuropeNew York - United Nations

<p>Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour, on behalf of Iceland, as current Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and Ireland as the previous Chair, to introduce draft resolution A/77/L.65 entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe”. I would like to thank Member States who have joined Iceland and Ireland as co-sponsors.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> The cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe is characterized by long tradition and shared vision of the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and rule of law.<br /> <br /> First submitted to the 55th Session of the General Assembly in the year 2000, this biannual resolution touches on numerous important issues. Consultations, as customary, began in Strasbourg amongst Council of Europe members during the Irish Presidency last spring. The zero draft was agreed upon last November, outlining the issues of most importance to the Council of Europe and its members, before being introduced to the wider UN membership here in New York.<br /> <br /> As co-facilitators, Iceland and Ireland strived to conduct inclusive negotiations through several rounds of informal consultations, in addition to bilateral and smaller group discussions. Based on the previously agreed language from resolution A/75/264, adopted by consensus two years ago, compromises were reached on several issues in order to submit a draft that the vast majority of members could accept. This meant that some key elements from the zero draft, agreed upon by the Council of Europe membership, were omitted from the text.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Early on, in the informal consultations, it became clear that there was no ground for consensus on preambular paragraph 9. The war that followed the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation fourteen months ago has had devastating impact on Ukraine, the region and every corner of the world. No country has escaped the far-reaching consequences of this unprovoked and unjust invasion. <br /> <br /> The draft resolution before us recognizes these unprecedented challenges in the context of regional cooperation, international law and multilateralism. PP9 calls for strengthened cooperation between the UN and the Council of Europe, and I quote “notably in order to promptly restore and maintain peace and security based on respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of any State”. End of quote. <br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> It is regrettable that we will have to vote on this draft resolution here today. I call on all Member States to support the text as drafted, and vote in favour. <br /> <br /> I thank you.</p>

Apr 24, 2023Statement by Iceland in Response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe at the OSCE Permanent Council, 20 April 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20Statement%20by%20Iceland.pdf"><span>Statement of Iceland in Response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Ms. Marija Pejčinović Burić, at the 1419 Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 20 April 2023, Vienna</span></a></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Apr 20, 2023Joint Statement on Political Repression in Russia at the OSCE Permanent Council, 20 April 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20joint%20statement.pdf">Joint Statement Delivered by Ambassador Jocelyn Kinnear on Political Repression in Russia, 1419th Special Meeting of the Permanent Council</a></span>

Apr 20, 20231419 PC Meeting, 20 April 2023 (Council of Europe, Ukraine, Trafficking of Cultural Property, Geneva International Discussion)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20eu%20reply%20CoE%20SG.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Address by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms. Marija Pejčinović Burić</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419%20pc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20eu%20reply%20hom%20skopje.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje, Ambassador Kilian Wahl</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20eu%20on%20SG%20thematic%20report.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Secretary-General’s Thematic Report on Trafficking of Cultural Property</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419%20pc%20eu%201.pdf">EU Statement under the Current Issue raised by the US on the Political Repression in Russia</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1419pc%20eu%20on%20GID.pdf">EU Statement on the 57th Round of the Geneva International Discussions</a></span></p> <br />

Apr 19, 2023Statement at the 2023 Financing for Development ForumNew York - United Nations

<p> Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations</p> <p>19 April 2023<br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. Chair,<br /> <br /> This year’s Financing for Development Forum marks the halfway point in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. An important milestone in the lead-up to the SDG Summit and the Summit of the Future.<br /> <br /> We thank the President of ECOSOC and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for organizing these thoughtful discussions and the co-facilitators from Portugal and Rwanda, and member states, for their efforts in delivering a balanced and forward-looking FFD outcome document. Not an easy task, as Iceland knows first-hand, serving as a co-facilitator with Grenada last year, where member states strived to meet the moment and collectively move the needle forward.<br /> <br /> Regrettably, the global economic outlook has not improved since. The significant progress that developing countries have achieved through decades of effort is fading in part due to conflicts and soaring food and energy prices, the climate and debt crises and increasing inequality. We must act immediately if we are to ensure that the impacts of the overlapping crises are not felt for generations to come. <br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. Chair, <br /> <br /> Iceland is committed to play its part during these trying times. Our Official Development Assistance grew in real terms by approximately 32% between 2021 and 2022. Although this increase is due, in part, to our steadfast and continued support to Ukraine as well as an increase in in-donor refugee costs, we are acutely aware of the fact that the far-reaching ramifications of the Russian aggression in Ukraine have hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Therefore, we continue to emphasize the importance of continuing our strong support to our bilateral development partners, and we have increased our core funding to our key UN partners. Our contributions to climate finance are increasing, as well as our assistance to some of the most fragile places on earth. <br /> <br /> But ODA alone cannot ensure the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. We need to expand on new and innovative partnerships and funding streams, including private and blended finance, and green and gender bonds. Domestic resource mobilization must be strengthened, and illicit financial flows curbed. The external debt burden and debt service obligations are preventing far too many developing countries from investing in their people and recovering from COVID-19. A holistic approach to financing for development is more urgent than ever.<br /> <br /> We welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to address the financing gap and his proposal for an SDG stimulus to tackle the high cost of debt and rising risk of debt distress. We also hear the calls of several members states to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation and look forward to further discussions on this important topic. <br /> <br /> The ongoing UN discussion on a “beyond GPD” metric is highly important. Indeed, as the Secretary General has outlined, when profits come at the expense of people and our planet, we are left with an incomplete picture of the true cost of economic growth. While we agree that “beyond GDP” could serve as a tool to enhance decision-making in the best interest of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships, it is important that we proceed carefully and ensure that access to finance for the most vulnerable countries is not further limited in the process.<br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. Chair, <br /> <br /> You can count on Iceland to play its part for the achievement of the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.<br /> <br /> I thank you. </p>

Apr 14, 2023Joint Nordic Statement on Cluster 4 at resumed session of the 6th Committee on Crimes Against HumanityNew York - United Nations

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement on behalf of the Nordic countries&nbsp; </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Resumed session of the 6<sup>th</sup> Committee on Crimes Against Humanity </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>10 – 14 April 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>(International Measures, Articles 13,14 and 15 (and annex))</strong></p> <p>Thank you, Mr Chair.</p> <p>Speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Iceland, I would like to begin by thanking colleagues for excellent discussions so far this week.</p> <p>Now that we move on to discussing international measures, the Nordic countries would like to underline that aspects of international cooperation are vital in reaching the overall goals of prevention and punishment for crimes against humanity.</p> <p>To close the impunity gap, states need to be able to prosecute at the national level. This requires a clear treaty definition as well as national legislation, but what it also requires is a joint understanding of and clear provisions on inter-state cooperation. Without that, States run a risk of unintentionally becoming safe havens for those who commit core international crimes.</p> <p>In this regard, the Draft Articles are a strong addition to international law in and of itself, as well as contributing to the implementation of the principle of complementarity as prescribed by the Rome Statute for States Parties. Regarding the latter, the Nordics would like to emphasise that in order to join an agreement based on the ILC proposed Draft Articles, no State would have to become a state party to the Rome Statute. </p> <p>Ultimately, it is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes.</p> <p>The nature of the Draft Articles calls for the text to be succinct, not unlike the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948 that has 153 States Parties. The text should be easily understandable and not unwieldy so as not to deter States from undergoing the obligations set out in the instrument.</p> <p>The Draft Articles strike the right balance in terms of being effective and broadly acceptable to States. This is evident in the text of Draft Articles 13, 14 and 15, read together with the annex. The text builds on widely adhered to treaty provisions that have been previously accepted by States and is not dependent on adherence to any other treaty. This is certainly one of the strengths of the Draft Articles. The carefully thought-out internal balance is a central element of the Draft Articles, and therefore these particular articles should, as the ILC points out, be considered in the overall context of the draft.</p> <p>The structure of the Draft Articles incentivises States to strengthen national legislation to end impunity. They also provide a clear overview on international cooperation. The overall structure of draft Articles 13 and 14 is clear and reflects the nature of extraditions and mutual legal assistance in practice. This is complemented by the draft Annex, which is an integral part of the draft articles. </p> <p>While international law currently lacks a special regime for State-to-State cooperation concerning international crimes, we note that the Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition initiative is a very positive development. The diplomatic conference taking place in Slovenia next month [to negotiate a multilateral treaty that would provide inter-State cooperation mechanisms for the investigation and prosecution of the most serious international crimes] is highly welcomed.</p> <p>Compared to the MLA draft text, which is more detailed and covers mutual legal assistance on more than crimes against humanity alone, the text of these Draft Articles is clear and concise. The Nordic countries take the view that the MLA Initiative and the Draft Articles discussed here today would simply complement each other. </p> <p>We support Draft Article 13, paragraph 3, which provides that an offence covered by the draft articles shall not be regarded as a political offence and, accordingly, a request for extradition based on such an offence may not be refused on these grounds alone. </p> <p>As regards Draft Article 13, paragraph 11, the ILC commentary points out that this paragraph may strictly speaking not be necessary for an extradition occurring solely pursuant to the present Draft Articles. The Nordics, however, agree with the ILC that paragraph 11 enhances the draft Articles in terms of extradition pursuant to extradition treaties or national law, since this will help prevent extradition requests made on impermissible grounds.</p> <p>Draft Article 14, paragraph 8, on the application of the Annex, helps close any potential gaps in terms of mutual legal assistance. Notably, point two of the Annex to the Draft Articles, on the designation of a central authority, strengthens effective communication between States for a speedy and effective cooperation.</p> <p>Lastly, clear provisions on settlement of disputes are necessary for any well-functioning international agreement. Draft Article 15 on the settlement of disputes strikes a careful balance and should lay a good foundation for universal membership of what eventually would become a new international agreement on crimes against humanity.</p> <p>I thank you.</p>

Apr 04, 2023Nordic-Baltic Statements and National Statements of Iceland during the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council 27 February – 4 April 2023Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Nordic-Baltic Statements and National Statements of Iceland during the 52<sup>nd</sup> session of the Human Rights Council 27 February – 4 April 2023</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming: A reflection on five years of UN Youth 2030: mapping a blueprint for next steps</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement of the Republic of Lithuania, on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>27 February 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>Today we see active, determined and concerned young people. The international community has an obligation to provide a safe and prosperous future for the next generation. But the main global urgencies remain: including armed conflicts, climate change, disparities in education and employment both within and between countries, digital inequalities and social exclusion of vulnerable groups. In order to make progress on these issues, we fully support the UN Youth Strategy and we are determined to continue engaging and working for and with youth.</p> <p>As a next step for tangible results we see the need for strengthened cooperation among the private sector, governments and civil society. Only by working together we can provide platforms for young people to express their concerns and participate in decision making processes. </p> <p>Furthermore, we believe it is important to provide opportunities for active youth participation in labour market and ensure increased youth employment without any discrimination or age-related exploitation. It would allow young people to improve their skills and balance labour demand.&nbsp; </p> <p>Our goal is to hear, learn and work together with youth. We are looking forward to engage in further implementation of the UN Youth Strategy.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Biennial high-level panel discussion on the question of the death penalty</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 February 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>Crimes must be met with consequences. However, taking a life is never the answer. We call on all states to abolish the death penalty.g</p> <p>We commend the countries and states that have recently abolished the death penalty or actively moved towards it. We call for immediate moratoria on executions, leading to abolition, as well as restricting the use of the death penalty to the minimum, only to the “most serious crimes” in accordance with international law. </p> <p>We are alarmed by the lack of transparency on the death penalty in various countries and call upon States to provide public, disaggregated data on death sentences. Increased attention to the gender dimension of the death penalty is necessary.</p> <p>The state has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights of all. Not meeting due process and fair trial guarantees or causing additional suffering in the execution of the death penalty can amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, among other violations. In accordance with international human rights law, children must always be exempted from the death penalty. </p> <p>Lastly, exercising human rights, such as freedoms of religion and belief, of expression, or belonging to the LGBTQI+ community, must never be punishable by death.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>High level meeting on right to development</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>28 February 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Latvia.</p> <p>Last year we celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development. It was agreed that the right to development, which is rooted in the universality, indivisibility, interrelation, and interdependence of all human rights, is a fundamental human right by virtue of which every person is entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized. </p> <p>Thirty-six years ago, there was a strong belief that our future will be better, wealthier and happier.</p> <p>Unfortunately, global trends are not encouraging – many different challenges, as the COVID 19 pandemic, devasting climate change and outright military aggressions, hinder the achievement of sustainable development goals and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. These crises have already increased extreme poverty, which hits people and countries in vulnerable situations the hardest.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries call on all governments to ensure participatory approaches that leave no one behind, and to refrain from actions that put human rights at risk. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>High-level panel discussion on UPR Voluntary Funds</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>1 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>No country is perfect, but we can help each other to do more on human rights. The Universal Periodic Review is a key tool in this regard. The recommendations, given in constructive spirit, guide States to build societies that are equal and just for all. We can take pride in the 100% participation rate thus far and aim at the same during the fourth UPR cycle. </p> <p>The UPR Voluntary Funds play an essential role in ensuring that all States, including least developed countries and small island developing states can benefit from the UPR process in full. We particularly welcome the concrete actions on implementation and follow-up which have been possible with contributions through the UPR Voluntary Funds.</p> <p>The UPR is a state driven process but it can greatly benefit from taking the civil society on board. Consulting their views during the process and including their representatives in national delegations can bring stronger, more inclusive results.&nbsp; </p> <p>Esteemed Panellists, how can the UPR Voluntary Funds support the participation of the civil society in the UPR process?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on the Sudan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Norway on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic Countries. We thank the High Commissioner for the update.</p> <p>The situation for human rights in Sudan remains a cause for serious concern. In recent months, parts of the country have seen clashes between armed groups. Too many civilians remain exposed to violence, harassment and SGBV while those responsible are not held to account. We once again call on the signatories to implement the Juba Peace Agreement. Moreover, the right of peaceful protests must be respected, and we urge the military authorities to show restraint.</p> <p>Human rights violations and abuse are linked to the fragile political situation. Therefore, we appreciate that&nbsp;a broad range of Sudanese stakeholders are engaged in negotiations to solve the country’s crisis. This work should be centred around the Framework Political Agreement, which remains the only credible basis to establish a new civilian-led government to lead Sudan through a transitional period to free and fair elections.</p> <p>We are encouraged by your own and the High Commissioner’s visits to Sudan, and we call upon the Sudanese authorities to fully cooperate with UN mandates and mechanisms.</p> <p>What steps can the Sudanese authorities take to protect and promote human rights during the current political crisis?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>I</strong><strong>tem 2:</strong> <strong>Interactive dialogue on the report of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Group of Human Rights Experts for their report. </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Nicaragua, including arbitrary detentions, restrictions on civic space and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. The consistent attacks against human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples, journalists and other media workers, political opposition, religious institutions, and civil society leaders must stop.</p> <p>The release of the 222 political prisoners by the Government of Nicaragua marks a constructive move, however we condemn the decision to revoke their citizenship and to strip nationality from a further 94 citizens.</p> <p>We urge the Nicaraguan Government to respect all civil and political rights, and to free all political prisoners. Impunity for human rights violations must end. We call on Nicaragua to lift all restrictions on civic space and guarantee all persons their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. We call on Nicaragua to resume full cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the OHCHR. </p> <p>In conclusion, what concrete steps can be taken to urge Nicaragua to end impunity and guarantee accountability for all human rights violations? </p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the High Commissioner on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. High Commissioner, </p> <p>The Nordic Baltic countries remain deeply disturbed by the human rights violations and abuses which continue to cause human suffering and regression in all areas of human rights in Myanmar.</p> <p>We condemn the military’s indiscriminate use of force, including air attacks, and other violent actions causing civilian casualties, including women and children in Myanmar. </p> <p>We express our continued support to the ASEAN five-point consensus. We recall UN Security Council Resolution 2669 (2022) and demand an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country. We call for the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, the provision of full and unhindered humanitarian access and the protection of civilians in Myanmar.</p> <p>The Nordic Baltic countries strongly support the OHCHR recommendation to sanction arms transfers enabling further violations. We urge Myanmar to give the UN Human Rights Office access to monitor the situation independently and impartially. We call on all member states to support efforts to bring perpetrators to justice.</p> <p>High Commissioner, </p> <p>What measures can be taken to reduce violence against civilians and human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, as well as to ensure accountability for past and ongoing crimes? </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We commend the Special Rapporteur for his ardent efforts in documenting human rights abuses and engaging the de facto authorities.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the dire situation in Afghanistan, in particular the situation of women and girls and that of minorities.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the draconian restrictions on women and girls, excluding them from education, politics, and public life. This discriminatory denial of women and girls’ human rights may amount to gender persecution which is considered a crime against humanity. </p> <p>The recent decision to ban women from working for national and international NGOs underscores the Taliban’s utter disregard for half the population of Afghanistan.</p> <p>We stand with the women and girls of Afghanistan, who continue to show immense resilience. Without them, Afghanistan will never achieve peace, prosperity and stability. </p> <p>What scope does the Special Rapporteur see for ensuring women and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation in all spheres of life and their right to have control over their own future?</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue on the report of the Commission of Human Rights on advancing the human rights in South Sudan</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2023</strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the pleasure of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Countries - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and Norway. We thank the Commission for its work in South Sudan.</p> <p>Political violence and insecurity continue to be fundamental obstacles to improving the human rights situation. We regret that the extension of the Peace Agreement has not been accompanied by a renewed sense of urgency in its implementation.&nbsp; </p> <p>As a result, human rights violations and abuses, such as arbitrary and extrajudicial killings, abductions, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on humanitarian workers continue with impunity. We urge the parties to make immediate progress on security arrangements, transitional justice and rule of law.</p> <p>We are also deeply concerned by large-scale diversion of public revenues, which undermines South Sudan’s ability to fulfill its human rights obligations. We urge the government to strengthen its financial management systems and use more of its own resources to address the needs of its people. </p> <p>Finally, a strong UN human rights monitoring mechanism is still needed. We urge the government to continue its history of cooperation with the Commission. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>7 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President. </p> <p>Iceland thanks the High Commissioner for his oral update.</p> <p>Iceland continues to monitor the UN Joint Programme on human rights in the <strong>Philippines</strong>. Genuine intentions of all stakeholders are crucial for the programme to bring about positive change. Iceland calls on the Government to implement the Programme to the letter and address accountability failings. </p> <p>In<strong> Ethiopia</strong>, Iceland commends the Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front for steps taken in implementing the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Transitional justice and accountability through independent, transparent and impartial investigations must be ensured. </p> <p>In <strong>Egypt</strong>, human rights defenders, journalists, and activists continue to face reprisals and unlawful restrictions. Iceland urges the Government to respect, protect and fulfill the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, and peaceful assembly and association. </p> <p>In <strong>Yemen</strong>, Iceland calls on all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law and to secure a political solution. The people of Yemen deserve peace. </p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on the situation in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Sudan and South-Sudan in respective Interactive Dialogues. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Latvia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for presenting her latest report on the importance of reparation for child victims and survivors of sale and sexual exploitation.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries believe that reparation should be tailored to the specific case and proportional to the gravity of violations and the harm suffered by the child victims and survivors.</p> <p>However, there are numerous barriers preventing child victims and survivors from being able to access justice and claim reparations. We are especially concerned about legislative gaps regarding, in particular, child, early and forced marriage and child labour. We align with the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations in this regard.</p> <p>Another challenge can be the lack of education about and awareness of potential venues for reparation. Capacity-building and comprehensive education of law enforcement officials, medical professionals, social workers and teachers is vital to ensuring that child victims and survivors are aware of their rights and are able to claim reparation.</p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, what are the best practices in providing for the participation of child victims and survivors in developing reparation programmes and procedures, while ensuring that their dignity and rights are respected and they do not face the risk of revictimization?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We thank the Special Rapporteur on his important report. </p> <p>The climate crisis is also a housing crisis. Extreme weather events, desertification and rising sea levels severely affect housing around the world. </p> <p>Impacts of climate change disproportionately affect persons in vulnerable situations and their homes. Persons with disabilities and older persons have less capacity to move away from exposed areas. Indigenous Peoples often live on lands heavily exposed to climate impacts.&nbsp; </p> <p>Therefore, we must ensure that persons in vulnerable situations are involved in climate responses at all levels. This includes participation in decision-making, implementation and monitoring of climate actions and policies.</p> <p>It is our joint duty to tackle the effects of climate change on the realization of the right to adequate housing. Comprehensive recommendations of the Special Rapporteur give us a way forward.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can we best support the work of human rights defenders promoting the right to adequate housing and addressing the negative impact of climate change?</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue on the report of Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries thank the Special Rapporteur for an enlightening report on conflict and right to food. </p> <p>Conflict remains the primary driver for food insecurity and thus represents the main hindrance for fulfillment of the right to food.</p> <p>Keeping in mind that today is 8 March, we express our appreciation for Mr. Fakhri’s focus on discrimination and equality in the food systems. </p> <p>Women and girls are food producers, traders, consumers, care-takers, decision-makers and negotiators. Protecting women and girls from violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, is crucial to eliminating hunger. In many households, food insecurity and poverty prevail when women are hurt.</p> <p>We need targeted measures to strengthen women, including rural and Indigenous women and girls and other vulnerable groups’ position in the food systems. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has led to disruption of global food markets and aggravated hunger and famines in other regions.</p> <p>In your view, what are the most serious consequences facing women in particular? And what would be the most pertinent measures? </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, your role and voice is more important than ever. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>9 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report highlighting the disproportionate harms on women and girls by environmental risks. </p> <p>It is particularly worrisome that gender stereotypes, biases, inequalities and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination negatively affect women and girls’ enjoyment of the right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment. To address these challenges, a human rights-based approach, where States, businesses and civil society work together, must be in place.</p> <p>Furthermore, women and girls should participate fully, equally and meaningfully in all processes when it comes to protecting the environment. Their participation and empowerment is crucial for a sustainable future. </p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries are committed to accelerating gender-transformative and inclusive environmental action where everyone has a say. </p> <p>Mr. Boyd, how can the Human Rights Council contribute to eliminating systemic discrimination of women and girls and empowering them to be a part of the climate and environmental transformation? </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Panel Discussion on strengthening of legislative system in order to protect children in digital environment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>10 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia. </p> <p>Children are considered to be the largest proportion of users of digital technologies in the world. Even though the online network provides them the opportunity to express, fulfil and be informed about their rights, higher engagement and self-presentation by children on various digital platforms also poses risks to children’s rights – from violating their privacy to online sexual exploitation and abuse in worst cases.&nbsp;</p> <p>We are concerned that such violations that disproportionately affect children, are on the rise. Therefore, we believe that it is extremely important to continue taking concrete steps to guarantee children's privacy and confidentiality to better protect children from any harm in the digital space, which in the long run contributes to ensuring a healthy and safe childhood for them.</p> <p>In order to achieve this, it is crucial to evaluate, update and put in place wide-ranging measures and best practices, with children’s rights at the core and the best interests of every child as a primary consideration.&nbsp; In the legislative review, it is necessary to include relevant stakeholders, such as experts from civil society, private sector and academia, and guarantee to children the right to be heard and have their views taken into account. Implementing key elements from the Committee on the Rights of the Child general comment No. 25 is also crucial.&nbsp; </p> <p>Further attention should be given to private sector by better regulating their activities and ensuring compliance with their responsibility to prevent networks or online services from being used in ways that cause or contribute to violations or abuses of children’s rights. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the special rapporteur for her <em>inclusive</em> approach, demonstrating how freedom of religion or belief can be traced back to many different sources. </p> <p>Yet, these different sources converge in highlighting the need for mutual understanding and respect. We wish to clearly signal today, that we disassociate with all actions by individuals, which only aim to hurt and provoke. We find them disturbing and disrespectful. </p> <p>Fortunately, as displayed in the report, elaborate human rights norms exist on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. While they cannot prevent all incidents, they provide a clear human rights approach to tackle challenges in our interconnected world. We recall our full commitment to these standards and to our collective efforts to promote and protect them.</p> <p>Madame Special Rapporteur, you give a thorough overview of ongoing work on freedom of religion or belief, also in the regional organisations. How do you plan to work with them to ensure a coherent approach?</p> <p>Looking ahead, how will you address the intersectionality between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality throughout your mandate?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>Let me start by thanking the Special Rapporteur for his valuable work and recent report on reimagining services to give effect to the right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community. </p> <p>We fully agree that active consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations is required to understand what persons with disabilities need and want. We need human rights-based, inclusive and gender transformative solutions that can work in different countries and in different circumstances.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the potential of businesses and new technologies, including artificial intelligence, in transforming services for persons with disabilities. As stated in the report, the business sector is increasingly regarded as an important human rights actor. </p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, how can we better engage with businesses as partners for change in the transformation of services and support for persons with disabilities?</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the </strong><strong>Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We thank the Special Rapporteur for the report. </p> <p>Ensuring the full respect for human rights and the rule of law is crucial in efforts to counter-terrorism. Any measure taken to counter terrorism must comply with international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, and should not unduly restrict civic space. We firmly believe that a human-rights based approach is a prerequisite for combatting terrorism effectively.</p> <p>We acknowledge the capacity of new technologies to enhance the full realization of human rights. </p> <p>However, we share the Special Rapporteur’s concern that the misuse of these technologies may have serious negative impacts on the enjoyment of human rights. It is vital to address and mitigate the human rights risks associated with these technologies. </p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, what measures should we take to better assess the human rights implications of new technologies in the context of counter-terrorism?&nbsp; </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Theme: Support systems to ensure community inclusion of persons with disabilities, including as a means of building forward better after the COVID-19 pandemic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">We thank the panellists for their contributions and the OHCHR for the report that gives a solid basis for our discussion. </p> <p>International human rights law leaves no doubt on the right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others. Care and support systems are main enablers of this right, as well as of the autonomy, independence and dignity of the persons with disabilities. </p> <p>Persons in vulnerable situations that rely on care work and support networks, including persons with disabilities, were disproportionally affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has exposed deep-rooted problems of the support and care systems that urgently need to be addressed in our efforts to build forward better. </p> <p>As States play a fundamental role in organizing the distribution of the care work and ensuring community inclusion, we encourage their resolute action on transforming traditional care systems in a gender-responsive and disability-inclusive way. </p> <p>Furthermore, meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, as well as all other stakeholders, in the discussions related to the respect, protection and fulfilment of their rights must be ensured. </p> <p>Distinguished panellists, how could the international community better contribute to enhancing disability-inclusive approaches to care and support systems?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <strong><br clear="all" /> </strong> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue&nbsp;with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Intervention by Denmark on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>From the outset, we would like to congratulate you on your appointment as new Special Rapporteur on Torture. We are committed allies in your important work to eradicate torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment globally.&nbsp; </p> <p>We appreciate your efforts to shed light on the good practices in national criminalization, investigation, prosecution and sentencing for offences of torture.</p> <p>The need to invest in training and education runs like a thread through the entire report and we could not agree more with you, as this is intrinsically linked to the duty to investigate enshrined in Article 12 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. </p> <p>Over the past year, many fundamental tools have either been developed or updated, such as the Méndez Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering or the updated Istanbul Protocol on Effective Investigation and Documentation. These tools – together with the many others already existing – merit to be widely known and used so as to give full effect to the principle of the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. </p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>What measures can the Human Rights Council along with other relevant UN bodies take to ensure that these tools are known and used through training and education?</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Latvia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>14 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for presenting her latest report to this Council.</p> <p>It is the obligation of all States to ensure that the need to collect and analyse data in response to the Covid-19 pandemic or any potential future health crises is not used as a pretext for mass surveillance and the violation of an individual’s right to privacy.</p> <p>We concur with the Special Rapporteur that States must build and consolidate public confidence in the programmes of public entities that involve the processing of personal data. To achieve this, we need to promote the responsible and transparent collection and use of personal data and show compliance with the legal obligations established in personal data processing regulations.</p> <p>The right to privacy and its abuses have become important themes in the relationship between tech companies and their users. According to your mandate, you should promote and protect the right to privacy by, inter alia, articulating private sector responsibilities to respect human rights.</p> <p>Madam Special Rapporteur, can you share some of the best practices in establishing a risk monitoring and management system to ensure that data are processed fairly and lawfully?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 March 2023</strong> <strong><br /> <br /> </strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic states.</p> <p>We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur which again demonstrates the resourcefulness and tenacity of human rights defenders despite ongoing threats, harassment, and violence, both online and offline. </p> <p>The report recounts the achievements of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, </p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; to end discriminatory laws, </p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; to strengthen the rule of law by ensuring accountability and access to remedy, </p> <p>-&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; and to ensure that more people enjoy and benefit from the rights and protections afforded them. </p> <p>We call on all States to acknowledge and protect of human rights defenders and to support the renewal of the mandate. The mandate has again demonstrated its relevance and value. </p> <p>Madame Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>On the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, this report demonstrates the value of human rights to peace, security and sustainable development.</p> <p>How can this Council best support human rights defenders in their efforts to bring about positive change?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>on Violence against Children</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Representative for the latest report and her actions taken on elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against children.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries also thank the Special Representative for focusing on the protection of children in the digital environment. We are alarmed by the high number of children cyberbullied and subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse.</p> <p>We are equally highly concerned over the lack of comprehensive data on violence against children and believe the remaining gaps must be filled. An evidence-based approach in tackling violence against children is vital and can only be achieved when child- and gender-sensitive data is available.</p> <p>To ensure that children are protected, respected and empowered online, safety standards and regulations must be mandated. </p> <p>As the report confirms, many organisations are working on a wide range of actions on violence against children online. How can this work be better synchronized to meet the best interest of the child?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue</strong><strong> </strong><strong>with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on children and armed conflicts</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordi</strong><strong>c-</strong><strong>Baltic</strong><strong> Statement delivered by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>16 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. We would like to thank the Special Representative for the report. </p> <p>Armed conflicts deprive children of their rights, leaving permanent physical and psychological harm. From the right to education to the right to security and life itself – children’s rights continue to be violated in conflict zones and their future jeopardized.</p> <p>We are extremely concerned about the increasing use of indiscriminate airstrikes, landmines and attacks on schools. This trend places children directly at risk. According to the SRSG reports, the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas leads to a steady increase in the number of killings and injuries over the years. In the context of Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine we witness deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure, killing and injuring thousands of children; also there are reports on forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia and their illegal adoption there. </p> <p>Grave violations of children’s rights in conflict zones are one of the most pressing political and humanitarian concerns. In June 2023, Norway will host an international conference in order to mobilize action to better protect children in conflict zones.</p> <p>Madam Special Representative,</p> <p>How should we ensure accountability for crimes against children during armed conflicts, including their forced deportations?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway<br /> </strong><strong>16 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I make this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Norway.</p> <p>We thank the OHCHR for the report on access for all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>The development of medical countermeasures to COVID-19 set new records including for time taken between vaccine development to roll-out in low income countries. The ACT-A* partnership aided this effort, and its vaccine pillar, COVAX, distributed billions of vaccine doses. </p> <p>The report points out many of the challenges faced in ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access to vaccines. This includes the lack of diversified production across regions, the lack of capacity in some countries to store and distribute vaccines, vaccine hesitancy, the lack of reliable systematic and timely data, misinformation, and weak health systems. Learning from these experiences will be key. National policies should be human rights-based, including for immunization. Building resilient and robust health systems must be high on our agenda. </p> <p>High Commissioner, Could you elaborate on how you assist countries in ensuring that immunization priorities are in line with a human rights-based approach? </p> <p>* [Access to COVID-19 Tools-Accelerator]</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic </strong><strong>Statement delivered </strong><strong>by Denmark</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for his update on the deeply concerning situation in Myanmar. We strongly support his mandate.</p> <p>We continue to condemn the military coup in the strongest possible terms and reiterate our call on the military to immediately end all forms of violence and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, against the people of Myanmar, including children. </p> <p>We call on the military junta to end the systematic intimidation and reprisals against the people of Myanmar for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, we call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those arbitrarily detained – including children, political leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, and others. </p> <p>We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, and we call for unimpeded humanitarian access to all parts of the country without discrimination.</p> <p>Special Rapporteur, we are witnessing a prolonged crisis in which the military carries out actions against its own people which there are reasonable grounds to believe amount to serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Some of these may – as you point out - amount to international crimes. </p> <p>Ensuring that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable remains a critical task. </p> <p>Special Rapporteur, how can the international community at this time best support the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons in Myanmar?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Islamic Republic of Iran</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his report.</p> <p>For months, the brave people of Iran, especially women and girls, have faced extreme and unjustified violence and crackdown by the Iranian authorities for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. </p> <p>We strongly condemn the use of violence, harassment and detentions against peaceful protesters. Perpetrators of torture, killings and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, must be held accountable. We urge Iran to release all persons who were imprisoned or detained for exercising their right to peacefully protest. We strongly oppose the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances and call on the Iranian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on executions.</p> <p>We are also concerned about press freedom and safety of journalists in Iran. Journalists and media workers are threatened, harassed and detained. Families of Iranians working for foreign media outlets are intimidated and persecuted. We call on Iran to release all arbitrarily detained, including journalist, media workers and their family members and to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and access to information, both online and offline.</p> <p>Finally, we urge Iran to fully cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, including by granting full and unhindered access to the country.</p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur,</p> <p>What more can the international community do to support the people of Iran fighting for their human rights?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><br /> </strong><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on</strong> <strong>the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 March 2023</strong><strong><br /> <br /> </strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honor of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for her latest report. We are deeply concerned about the serious systematic and widespread human rights violations in the DPRK, some of which, as pointed out by the Secretary-General, may amount to crimes against humanity. The complete absence of an independent and impartial judiciary provides no national recourse for human rights violations in the country.</p> <p>We are particularly worried about the situation for women and girls, the prevalence of SGBV, the use of forced labor and the prevention of persons leaving or entering the country. </p> <p>The disproportionate share of the DPRK’s state budget allocated to military spending cripples the ability of the DPRK to meet its own population’s basic needs. </p> <p>We urge the DPRK to cooperate fully with the UN and the OHCHR and take meaningful and measurable steps to improve the human rights situation in the country, including opening its borders for humanitarian assistance. </p> <p>Efforts to support dialogue must be continued to achieve lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.</p> <p>In the Special Rapporteur’s view, how can we best engage with DPRK to improve the human rights situation in the country? </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: </strong><strong>Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement </strong><strong>delivered by </strong><strong>Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>20 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Lithuania.</p> <p>The brutality of the Russian armed forces is shocking. For more than one year indiscriminate killings of Ukrainian civilians, deliberate attacks on schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure have been daily occurrences in Ukraine. Russian soldiers continue to demonstrate unimaginable cruelty by perpetrating summary executions, torture and conflict-related sexual violence.</p> <p>Furthermore, the Russian authorities at all levels engage in forced transfers and deportations of children from Ukrainian territory to Russia and Russian occupied territory, and their illegal adoption there. We condemn these practices in the strongest possible terms and call for immediate return of all Ukrainian children to their homes. </p> <p>The findings of the Commission of Inquiry are objective and impartial as opposed to Russia’s deliberate disinformation and propaganda. Its findings give us even stronger impetus to take decisive action as it concludes that numerous of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as war crimes, were committed. </p> <p>There can be no impunity for violations of international law. The investigations must continue until full accountability is ensured. We strongly support the Commission’s crucial role in that regard. </p> <p>Mr. Møse, how could we make sure that the international community remains well informed about the violations happening in Ukraine? And how could we further strengthen your mandate in order to support the overall accountability effort? </p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We express our firm support for the work of the Commission of Inquiry. We note with serious concern the Commission’s conclusion that there have been “pervasive violations of human rights and humanitarian law across the country. </p> <p>We reiterate the need to cease all indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects as well as to end torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,</p> <p>President, after 12 years of armed conflict, the Syrian people, were recently hit by the most devastating earthquake in the area for decades. An already dire humanitarian situation has now become even worse.</p> <p>It is therefore important that all parties to the conflict provide full, unhindered, and sustained humanitarian access. We expect to see a renewal of the cross-border mechanism when it expires on 10 July.</p> <p>The Syrian people have suffered enough. There must be a comprehensive ceasefire, and there must be a political process in line with UNSCR 2254.&nbsp; </p> <p>Mr Commissioner: The many missing people and people under arbitrary detention in Syria is a major concern for the Syrian people. What more can we do – as you see it – to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing people? </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia<br /> Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>21 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>The Nordic and Baltic countries thank the International Commission of Human Rights Experts for the briefing and for your valuable contribution. We are glad to see progress on the implementation of the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 2 November 2022 and the Agreement from the Senior Commanders Meeting 12 November. </p> <p>Accountability and transitional justice must remain at the core of the peace process. We welcome the announcement by the Ethiopian Minister of Justice that the OHCHR will deploy human rights monitors to the conflict-affected areas in northern Ethiopia. Furthermore, we welcome the commitment by Ethiopia to implement a comprehensive national transitional justice policy.</p> <p>Independent and credible documentation, investigation and prosecution of reported violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law are crucial for the victims and their communities and fundamental to ensure lasting reconciliation, peace and stability.</p> <p>We welcome further progress on the implementation which could signal to the Ethiopian people and the international community that the Ethiopian Government is fully committed to reconciliation, peace and stability.</p> <p>In the Commission’s view, how can we best engage with the Government of Ethiopia and all stakeholders to achieve this?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4: Interactive dialogue – High Commissioner for Human Rights report on human rights situation in Belarus</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement by Lithuania</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>As reported by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the human rights situation in Belarus continuously deteriorates. </p> <p>Politically motivated persecutions, reprisals, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture remain endemic, while the justice system is abused to silence dissent and systematically oppress pro-democratic forces. </p> <p>By allowing Russia to use its territory for aggression against Ukraine, the leadership of Belarus is responsible for the act of aggression.</p> <p>Currently there are about 1500 political prisoners in Belarus; the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ales Bialiatski among them. They are forced to wear identifying tags, subjected to violence and torture, and not provided with timely medical aid or legal counsel. Meanwhile, lawyers defending political prisoners are deprived of their licences. </p> <p>We strongly condemn the politically motivated prison sentences of human rights defenders, political opponents and representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition in exile. We stand in solidarity with political prisoners in Belarus and call for their immediate, unconditional release. </p> <p>International community must ensure accountability of the Belarusian authorities for the violations of international law and international human rights law in order to end impunity and prevent further crimes. </p> <p>Mr. High Commissioner, </p> <p>What more could the international community do to protect political prisoners, journalists, media workers and human rights defenders persecuted by the Belarusian authorities?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>Iceland condemns <strong>Russia</strong>’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine which is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The human suffering and loss of life stemming from Russia’s invasion is horrifying. Forced transfers and deportations of children, and targeting of civilians and critical infrastructure is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. </p> <p>We also condemn <strong>Belarus</strong>’ involvement in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and deplore the widespread and gross human rights violations perpetrated in Belarus. We urge for an end to systematic repression and politically motivated sentencing, including of political opponents and representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition in exile. </p> <p>In <strong>Saudi Arabia</strong>, we are alarmed by the handing down of sentences for peaceful expression of opinion and a surge in executions for offenses that no not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.&nbsp; </p> <p>In <strong>China</strong>, we remain alarmed by the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We urge China to meaningfully cooperate with OHCHR and to abide by its obligations under international human rights law.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on Myanmar, Iran, DPRK, Ukraine, Syria, Ethiopia and Belarus. </p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Debate in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>29 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>This year we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; however, concrete and coordinated action is still necessary to promote and protect human rights and to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.</p> <p>Sadly, racism and racial discrimination continue to exist in all spheres of society, often causing conflict and suffering. Whether overt or covert, it remains a potent weapon to incite fear and polarization within society. But, as history has shown us far too many times: Any system of oppression, is ultimately one in which we all lose.&nbsp; </p> <p>Efforts to solve these challenges must be founded on respect for human rights, the inherent dignity and equality of every person. An inclusive civic space, with diverse and meaningful participation, representation, and leadership, is imperative for transformative change. This requires indicating and eliminating structural inequalities and implementing well-targeted policy measures.</p> <p>Women and girls, as well as persons in vulnerable situations, often face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. Their perspectives must be heard and translated into action.</p> <p>Eliminating racism requires decisive, coordinated, and sustained efforts to achieve real change and progress towards a world where human rights are ensured for all, without discrimination of any kind, and where no one is left behind.</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9: General Debate</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We remain fully committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. All individuals must be treated with dignity and enjoy equal rights as also stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. </p> <p>We commend and are committed to protect those who work at the forefront in combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including persons and communities of African descent. It is key to increase full, equal and meaningful participation of persons from diverse backgrounds, especially those who have traditionally been marginalized, in all spheres of society. An inclusive civic space is imperative for positive change.&nbsp; </p> <p>In recent years, the fight against racism and racial discrimination has gained increased momentum globally. It has revitalized engagement at all levels of society. </p> <p>We acknowledge the need for strong Government leadership on this matter. But we also underscore that inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders, including from civil society, is essential to achieve sustainable progress. We must all work together towards ending the scourge of racism and racial discrimination, by upholding dignity and rights for everyone, everywhere. </p> <p>In conclusion, rest assured that we will continue our persistent efforts to combat racism in our own countries as well as promoting the cause internationally. </p> <p>Thank you. </p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the oral updates of the High Commissioner on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the team of international experts on Kasai</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>The recurrent and intensified armed violence in eastern DRC and related human rights violations and abuses, including attacks against civilians, are of serious concern. The deteriorating security situation, caused primarily by the armed group M23, as well as other armed groups such as the ADF, severely impacts the rights of the Congolese population and jeopardises the coming elections. We note that the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri introduced in 2021, remains.</p> <p>Accountability and the rule of law must be ensured. We note that the trial regarding the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp is now in appeal and in the final instance. It is of utmost importance that the appeals process takes all evidence into consideration. The ongoing investigation on these heinous crimes, conducted in close cooperation with the UN-mandated follow-up mechanism, remains crucial and enjoys our full support.</p> <p>High Commissioner, we would appreciate if you could elaborate on the consequences that the violence may have on existing ethnic tensions?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Norway</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>31 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President. </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the security, humanitarian, and human rights situation in the Central African Republic. The scope and character of the human rights violations and abuses continue to alarm and grieve us. </p> <p>The perpetrators are not only the armed groups. The Central African armed forces and its Russian allies are responsible for the majority of the human rights violations. We call on the CAR government to investigate all incidents and hold perpetrators accountable in order to build peace.</p> <p>We are particularly worried about the grave violations and abuses committed against children. Increased effort must be made to protect them. Their childhood, education and future are at stake, and thus, the future of the Central African Republic.</p> <p>We have previously urged the CAR government to take specific measures to give effect to the Child Protection Code provisions to prevent and punish the recruitment and use of children in conflict, early marriages, and trafficking in persons. We would appreciate if you could elaborate on the progress on the government’s implementation of the Child Protection Code.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral report on Ukraine</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Estonia</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>31 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia. </p> <p>We thank the High Commissioner for the update and the continuous OHCHR’s work on the ground.</p> <p>Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has resulted in widespread terror and intolerable suffering with far-reaching consequences. We have witnessed images and reports of both indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians and civilian and critical energy infrastructure, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.</p> <p>Ukrainian children are paying a particularly high price for this brutal and unjustified war. More than 400 children have been killed, hundreds more injured and over 7 million Ukrainian children are left without peaceful and happy childhood, having lost family members, homes, schools or playgrounds. Moreover, numerous children have been systematically put through filtration camps and forcibly transferred within Ukraine and deported to Russia, many of them separated from parents and illegally adopted. As the Commission of Inquiry clearly stated – these forced transfers and deportations amount to war crimes.</p> <p>We once again reiterate that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes and do everything we can to hold Russia fully accountable for war crimes and other grave violations of international law. The ICC’s decision to issue arrests warrants against Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria <em>Lvova</em>-<em>Belova </em>is an important step towards accountability.</p> <p>High Commissioner, how can we best support the fight against impunity?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <br clear="all" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item10: </strong><strong>Interactive dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Finland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>3 April 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President, </p> <p>I speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We commend the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya for its important report. In light of the deteriorating human rights situation in Libya, we urge continued engagement by the HRC on Libya’s efforts to end impunity, which, we believe, will also benefit national reconciliation. We also urge Libya to implement the recommendations of the FFM. </p> <p>We are seriously concerned by reports of torture, sexual and gender-based violence, enslavement including sexual slavery, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and other human rights violations and abuses against Libyans, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Some of which may amount to crimes against humanity. Accountability for violations and abuses committed is key. We call upon Libya to hold accountable all those responsible. We encourage full scrutiny of detention centres, leading to reforms, and dismantling secret prisons. </p> <p>Finally, we are deeply concerned by the continued crackdown on civil society. We call on Libya to respect civil society and human rights defenders so they can participate in building the country, without fear of violence. A vibrant thriving civil society is a cornerstone of a thriving nation, where human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.</p> <p>Thank you.<span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;"></span></p>

Mar 31, 2023Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on MaliGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 10: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Mali</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>March 31, 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries. </p> <p>We thank the Independent Expert for the report. We share the deep concern raised in the report.</p> <p>We are alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation accompanying Mali’s worsening security crisis, including the systematic targeting of civilians by extremist armed groups. We are deeply concerned by continued reports of violations committed by national forces and the Wagner Group, including conflict related gender-based violence. It should be recalled that Malian authorities carry the responsibility also for violations committed by foreign military companies on their behalf.</p> <p>Strengthening access to justice, fighting impunity, and increasing accountability is crucial. The report of the Independent Expert clearly illustrates that much remains to be done.</p> <p>We note with deep concern the shrinking civic space and growing pressure on freedom of expression, including attacks on human rights defenders, who have been forced to flee the country. The decision by Malian authorities to declare the Director of the Human Rights Division of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali "<em>persona non grata</em>” and the difficulties which the Independent Expert faced during his visit are worrying developments.</p> <p>Allow me to ask the following question: How can the Malian authorities improve freedom of speech and association, and how can the international community most effectively address the shrinking civic space in Mali?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Thank you.</span></p>

Mar 30, 2023Item 10: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the oral updates of the High Commissioner on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the team of international experts on KasaiGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Item 10: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the oral updates of the High Commissioner on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the team of international experts on Kasai</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>The recurrent and intensified armed violence in eastern DRC and related human rights violations and abuses, including attacks against civilians, are of serious concern. The deteriorating security situation, caused primarily by the armed group M23, as well as other armed groups such as the ADF, severely impacts the rights of the Congolese population and jeopardises the coming elections. We note that the state of siege in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri introduced in 2021, remains.</p> <p>Accountability and the rule of law must be ensured. We note that the trial regarding the murders of UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp is now in appeal and in the final instance. It is of utmost importance that the appeals process takes all evidence into consideration. The ongoing investigation on these heinous crimes, conducted in close cooperation with the UN-mandated follow-up mechanism, remains crucial and enjoys our full support.</p> <p>High Commissioner, we would appreciate if you could elaborate on the consequences that the violence may have on existing ethnic tensions?</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>

Mar 30, 2023Item 9: General debate Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intoleranceGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 9: General debate Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance:&nbsp; follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>30 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We remain fully committed to combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. All individuals must be treated with dignity and enjoy equal rights as also stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.</p> <p>We commend and are committed to protect those who work at the forefront in combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including persons and communities of African descent. It is key to increase full, equal and meaningful participation of persons from diverse backgrounds, especially those who have traditionally been marginalized, in all spheres of society. An inclusive civic space is imperative for positive change.&nbsp;</p> <p>In recent years, the fight against racism and racial discrimination has gained increased momentum globally. It has revitalized engagement at all levels of society.</p> <p>We acknowledge the need for strong Government leadership on this matter. But we also underscore that inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders, including from civil society, is essential to achieve sustainable progress. We must all work together towards ending the scourge of racism and racial discrimination, by upholding dignity and rights for everyone, everywhere.</p> <p>In conclusion, rest assured that we will continue our persistent efforts to combat racism in our own countries as well as promoting the cause internationally.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Mar 30, 20231417 PC Meeting, 30 March 2023 (Ukraine, OCEEA, OSCE Mission to BiH, Elections in Kazakhstan)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1417pc%20eu%202.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span>&nbsp;</p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1417pc%20eu%20reply%20CoEEA%20report.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Report by the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Ambassador Igli Hasani</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1417pc%20eu%20reply%20hom%20bah.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Report by the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ambassador Brian Aggeler</a></span></p> <p><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1417pc%20eu%20-%20Copy%20(1).pdf">EU Statement on the Outcome of the Early Parliamentary Elections in Kazakhstan</a></p>

Mar 29, 2023Statement after adoption of resolution on ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change New York - United Nations

<br /> Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson, <br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations <br /> General Assembly 77th session, 29 March 2023 <br /> Draft resolution A/77/L.58 – Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.<br /> <br /> Mr. President.<br /> <br /> At the outset, let me thank Vanuatu and other core group members for this important initiative, and for the constructive approach they have taken to negotiations on the text. <br /> <br /> Iceland is a co-sponsor of this draft resolution, in recognition of that climate change is the defining issue of our time - and of the importance for Small Island Developing States and other states that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.<br /> <br /> Throughout the process, leading up to the adoption of this resolution, it has been clear that above all else, the hope is that the initiative becomes part of a collective push towards greater climate action. Likewise, the UN Secretary General, in response to the report of the IPCC released earlier this month, has presented a plan to super-charge efforts, namely the Acceleration Agenda. <br /> <br /> The time to act is now. Iceland is committed to climate action. Our government has set an ambitious emission reduction goal, as well as a national carbon neutrality target through climate legislation. This means that our laws state that Iceland is to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2040. In addition, Iceland is to reach full energy conversion no later than 2040, which will make Iceland fully free of fossil fuels. Also, our government will not issue any licences for oil exploration in our exclusive economic zone.<br /> <br /> Internationally, Iceland has stepped up contributions to climate finance, by doubling our commitment to the Green Climate Fund during the past two years and joining the Adaptation Fund. We thereby recognize the crucial role of adaptation, for which the need can be most dire within the states, and among the people, that have least contributed to climate change. Our multilateral development cooperation is also increasingly focused on Climate Finance.<br /> <br /> Mr. President, <br /> <br /> Regarding the text of this resolution, we welcome an advisory opinion of the ICJ, to shed light on the obligations of States under applicable international law, and the legal consequences for all States for breaching these obligations. <br /> <br /> We expect the Court to answer the legal questions on the basis of the current obligations of all States to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. The questions to the ICJ, and the Resolution as a whole, do neither prejudge the nature of such obligations, nor whether breaches have occurred, are occurring or will occur.<br /> <br /> Furthermore, we note that the preamble refers to some matters that are not related to legal obligations and as such would not be expected to have bearing on this advisory opinion.<br /> <br /> Our co-sponsorship is without prejudice to our position on, and interpretation of, the obligations, instruments and concepts this resolution refers to, as well as any eventual submissions before the ICJ and other courts and tribunals.<br /> <br /> Mr. President,<br /> <br /> Iceland actively and constructively participated in the process that led to the adoption of this resolution today. We were positive towards the idea from the outset and happy to have become one of the co-sponsors. We remain committed to climate action and recall the primary role of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement in that regard.<br /> <br /> I thank you.<br /> <br />

Mar 29, 2023Debate in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial DiscriminationGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Debate in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>29 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>This year we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; however, concrete and coordinated action is still necessary to promote and protect human rights and to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.</p> <p>Sadly, racism and racial discrimination continue to exist in all spheres of society, often causing conflict and suffering. Whether overt or covert, it remains a potent weapon to incite fear and polarization within society. But, as history has shown us far too many times: Any system of oppression, is ultimately one in which we all lose.&nbsp; </p> <p>Efforts to solve these challenges must be founded on respect for human rights, the inherent dignity and equality of every person. An inclusive civic space, with diverse and meaningful participation, representation, and leadership, is imperative for transformative change. This requires indicating and eliminating structural inequalities and implementing well-targeted policy measures.</p> <p>Women and girls, as well as persons in vulnerable situations, often face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. Their perspectives must be heard and translated into action.</p> <p>Eliminating racism requires decisive, coordinated, and sustained efforts to achieve real change and progress towards a world where human rights are ensured for all, without discrimination of any kind, and where no one is left behind.</p> <p>Thank you. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Mar 29, 20231041 FSC Meeting, 29 March 2023 (Closing Session of the FSC Chairpersonship of Bosnia and Herzegovina)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1041fsc%20eu%201.pdf">EU Statement at the Closing Session of the FSC Chairpersonship of Bosnia and Herzegovina</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 28, 2023Statement at the DPPA´s Annual Donor MeetingNew York - United Nations

Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson, <br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the UN,<br /> at the DPPA’s Annual Donor Meeting<br /> 28 March 2023<br /> <br /> Thank you, Under-Secretary General DiCarlo for your report and informative briefing today. As others, let me start by commending the work of the DPPA and the daily impact you are having on people´s life. <br /> <br /> As you have described, the world, and by extension the work of the United Nations, has only become more challenging. In recent years, we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated climate crisis, unprecedented humanitarian needs, refugee movements driven primarily by conflicts, and recently a war in Ukraine. <br /> <br /> And as your report illustrates, this has underscored the need for more preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. We fully acknowledge that the DPPA requires more resources and, like the UN as a whole, it needs to be better able to respond to needs in a timely manner. We believe the Multi-Year Appeal addresses many of these concerns and challenges. <br /> <br /> Therefore, it was a great pleasure to sign a new contribution agreement earlier this morning with the DPPA, where the Government of Iceland is doubling its yearly voluntary contribution for the period 2023-2026. While it is a modest contribution it signals appreciation for and readiness to support the work of the DPPA.<br /> <br /> There are two issues I wish to highlight:<br /> <br /> First, we much appreciate the work of DPPA on Women, Peace and Security. Iceland puts gender mainstreaming at the forefront of its foreign policy. We see the importance of these voluntary contributions for the Department and how they enable DPPA to continue its work on this very important file and intensify its efforts to promote inclusion in political processes. <br /> <br /> Second, some two years ago, we signed the UN75 Declaration. The New Agenda for Peace is meant to build on the Declaration and its call for using the diplomatic toolbox of the UN Charter to its full potential. It also requires capacity for DPPA to support the developing of the New Agenda for Peace ahead of the 2024 Summit of the Future. We look forward to contributing to the process.<br /> <br /> I thank you.<br />

Mar 23, 2023Statement at the 2023 United Nations Water ConferenceNew York - United Nations

Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,<br /> Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations<br /> United Nations Water Conference<br /> 23 March 2023<br /> <br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. President, Excellencies,<br /> <br /> Iceland is pleased to address the UN 2023 Water Conference and thanks the co-hosts, Tajikistan and Kingdom of the Netherlands for their leadership and excellent work in organizing this conference. <br /> <br /> Water is fundamental to our existence. It is a human right, essential for all aspects of life and inextricably linked to the three pillars of sustainable development. And although it is abundantly clear that access to water provides enormous economic and health benefits, in addition to essential gender equality outcomes, we are far off track when it comes to the achievement of SDG6. <br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We have plenty of fresh drinking water in Iceland, and my country is among the richest in terms of water resources. We therefore have an obligation to contribute to improving people’s access to water in areas where water scarcity is prevalent. That is why Iceland has, for decades, worked with local authorities to improve access to clean water and sanitation facilities in several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.<br /> <br /> This also aligns with our emphasis on gender equality in our development cooperation, as the lack of access to safe drinking water disproportionately impacts women, who often have the primary responsibility for fetching water. SDG6 is at its core a gender goal. We need to ensure women’s active participation in all decision-making regarding water management, and that their voices are heard and taken into consideration, from policy and national budget decisions, to designing and constructing community water infrastructure.<br /> <br /> In Mangochi district in Malawi, Iceland has worked with local authorities to secure over 400 thousand people with access to clean drinking water. This is more than the entire population of Iceland. Now it takes an average of 8 minutes for families in the targeted areas to collect water. Before the water project was launched, it took an average of 28 minutes.<br /> <br /> In Buikwe district in Uganda, Iceland and the local authorities have increased the percentage of households that have access to safe drinking water from 58% in 2015 to 89% in 2021. Iceland also works closely with UNICEF on the achievement of SDG6, such as in refugee-hosting districts in north-eastern Uganda, improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for both refugees and the hosting communities. In Sierra Leone, UNICEF and Iceland have supported access to climate resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services in rural fishing communities.<br /> <br /> Madam / Mr. President,<br /> <br /> While Iceland is indeed rich in water resources, it is important to ensure their protection and sustainability for the foreseeable future. That is why Iceland adopted last year its first national water strategy for the years 2022-2027. We must not take for granted what we have - and ensure we preserve it for future generations. <br /> <br /> The Sustainable Development Goals are all interconnected, as demonstrated by the fact that climate change is driving water scarcity and floods. Droughts are leading to less, and more contaminated, water. Floods damage infrastructure and can lead to water contamination. This we are witnessing most recently in Mozambique and our partner country Malawi where cyclone Freddy has devastated the already vulnerable communities, leading to increased concerns that Malawi’s ongoing cholera outbreak will further worsen. Also, the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides us with a stark warning. If we do not correct course immediately, events such as those occurring in Malawi will increase in frequency and duration, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable. <br /> <br /> Water and land are also interconnected. Land degradation, desertification and drought needs to be addressed to achieve universal access to water by 2030. When land degrades, it loses its natural ability to absorb, filter and store water. Restoring degraded land and fighting land degradation, coupled with sound water management, are therefore key to ensure availability of water by 2030.<br /> <br /> Madam/Mr. President,<br /> <br /> We have the tools at our disposal to significantly improve global access to water. What we need is universal political and financial commitments to SDG6. And everyone has a role to play, including governments, individuals, civil society, the private sector - and the United Nations. This momentous conference and the Water Action Agenda will hopefully drive this forward. <br /> <br /> This is, indeed, a watershed moment. Iceland is committed to play its part in this new tide of water action. By sustainably managing its water resources, by investing in improved water access for vulnerable populations and by increasing its climate financing. <br /> <br /> Thank you. <br />

Mar 23, 2023Statement by Iceland at the Permanent Council Meeting of the OSCE, 23 March 2023 Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1416pc%20iceland.pdf">Statement by Ambassador of Iceland, Kristín A. Árnadóttir, at the 1416 Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 24 March 2023</a></span>

Mar 23, 2023Joint Statement on Moscow Mechanism at the Permanent Council Meeting of the OSCE, 23 March 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1416pc%20joint%20statement.pdf">Joint Statement on the Moscow Mechanism: Threats to the Fulfilment of the Provisions of the Human Dimension Posed by Human Rights Violations and Abuse s in the Republic of Belarus</a></span>

Mar 23, 20231416 PC Meeting, 23 March 2023 (Russia's Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1416pc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukrain</a>e</span>

Mar 22, 2023Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attentionGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span> </span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Human Rights Council – 52nd session</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 4 General Debate: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>22 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>Iceland condemns Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine which is a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The human suffering and loss of life stemming from Russia’s invasion is horrifying. Forced transfers and deportations of children, and targeting of civilians and critical infrastructure is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. </p> <p>We also condemn Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and deplore the widespread and gross human rights violations perpetrated in Belarus. We urge for an end to systematic repression and politically motivated sentencing, including of political opponents and representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition in exile. </p> <p>In Saudi Arabia, we are alarmed by the handing down of sentences for peaceful expression of opinion and a surge in executions for offenses that no not meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.&nbsp; </p> <p>In China, we remain alarmed by the human rights situation in Xinjiang. We urge China to meaningfully cooperate with OHCHR and to abide by its obligations under international human rights law.</p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on Myanmar, Iran, DPRK, Ukraine, Syria, Ethiopia and Belarus. </p> <p>I thank you.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>

Mar 22, 20231040 FSC Side Event, 22 March 2023 (“Value of Sub-regional Initiatives for Arms Control”)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/EU%20on%20the%20Value%20of%20Sub-regional%20Initiatives%20for%20Arms%20Control.pdf">EU Statement on “Regional Mechanisms for Building Trust”&nbsp;</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 16, 20231415th PC Meeting, 16 March 2023 (Ukraine, Report of the ODIHR Director)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1415pc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine.</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1415pc%20eu%201.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Report of the ODIHR Director, Matteo Mecacci.</a></span></p>

Mar 15, 202352nd session of the Human Rights Council: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against ChildrenGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>52<sup>nd</sup> session of the Human Rights Council</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>on Violence against Children</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>15 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the Special Representative for the latest report and her actions taken on elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against children.</p> <p>The Nordic-Baltic countries also thank the Special Representative for focusing on the protection of children in the digital environment. We are alarmed by the high number of children cyberbullied and subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse.</p> <p>We are equally highly concerned over the lack of comprehensive data on violence against children and believe the remaining gaps must be filled. An evidence-based approach in tackling violence against children is vital and can only be achieved when child- and gender-sensitive data is available.</p> <p>To ensure that children are protected, respected and empowered online, safety standards and regulations must be mandated. </p> <p>As the report confirms, many organisations are working on a wide range of actions on violence against children online. How can this work be better synchronized to meet the best interest of the child?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Thank you.</span></p>

Mar 13, 2023Joint Statement at the 1st Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting of the OSCE, 13-14 March 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/joint%20statement%20HDC.pdf">Joint Statement on the Moscow Mechanism on the Threats to the Fulfilment of the Provisions of the Human Dimension Posed by Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Russian Federation</a>.</span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 13, 202352nd session of the Human Rights Council: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or BeliefGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>52<sup>nd</sup> session of the Human Rights Council</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic-Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>13 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries.</p> <p>We thank the special rapporteur for her <em>inclusive</em> approach, demonstrating how freedom of religion or belief can be traced back to many different sources. </p> <p>Yet, these different sources converge in highlighting the need for mutual understanding and respect. We wish to clearly signal today, that we disassociate with all actions by individuals, which only aim to hurt and provoke. We find them disturbing and disrespectful. </p> <p>Fortunately, as displayed in the report, elaborate human rights norms exist on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. While they cannot prevent all incidents, they provide a clear human rights approach to tackle challenges in our interconnected world. We recall our full commitment to these standards and to our collective efforts to promote and protect them.</p> <p>Madame Special Rapporteur, you give a thorough overview of ongoing work on freedom of religion or belief, also in the regional organisations. How do you plan to work with them to ensure a coherent approach?</p> <p>Looking ahead, how will you address the intersectionality between freedom of religion or belief and gender equality throughout your mandate?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Thank you.</span></p>

Mar 13, 202352nd session of the Human Rights Council: Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<span></span> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>Human Rights Council – 52<sup>nd</sup> session</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Iceland on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span>13 March 2023</span></strong></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Mr. President,</span></p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries.</p> <p>Let me start by thanking the Special Rapporteur for his valuable work and recent report on reimagining services to give effect to the right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community. </p> <p>We fully agree that active consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations is required to understand what persons with disabilities need and want. We need human rights-based, inclusive and gender transformative solutions that can work in different countries and in different circumstances.</p> <p>We thank the Special Rapporteur for highlighting the potential of businesses and new technologies, including artificial intelligence, in transforming services for persons with disabilities. As stated in the report, the business sector is increasingly regarded as an important human rights actor. </p> <p>Mr. Special Rapporteur, how can we better engage with businesses as partners for change in the transformation of services and support for persons with disabilities?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Thank you.</span><span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;"> </span></p>

Mar 09, 20231414th PC Meeting, 9 March 2023 (The International Women's Day, Belarus, Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1414pc%20eu%20on%20int.%20women%e2%80%99s%20day.pdf">EU Statement on the International Women’s Day&nbsp;</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1414pc%20eu%20on%20belarus.pdf">EU Statement on the Political Prisoners in Belarus</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1414pc%20eu%20reply%20to%20project%20coord%20uzbekistan.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Report by the (Acting) Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1414pc%20eu%20-%20Copy%20(1).pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 09, 2023Joint Statement at the IAEA Board of Governors Meeting, March 2023 Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<span><br /> <a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/230131-Joint%20Statment%20on%20Ukraine-FINAL-With%20Sponsors.pdf">Joint Statement on Nuclear Safety, Security, and Safeguards in Ukraine</a></span>

Mar 09, 2023Joint Statement at the 1414th OSCE Permanent Council Meeting on the International Women's Day, 9 March 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/Joint%20Nordic%20Statement%20on%20the%20IWD%201414%20PC%20FINAL.pdf">Joint Nordic Statement on the International Women’s Day as delivered by Ambassador of Iceland, Kristín A. Árnadóttir, at the 1414th OSCE Permanent Council Meeting</a></span></p> <p><span><br /> </span></p>

Mar 08, 2023Statement by Iceland at the 87th Joint FSC - PC Meeting, 8 March 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/87th%20Joint%20FSCPC%20Meeting%20on%20WPS%20Iceland%20FINAL%20(002).pdf">Statement Delivered by Special Adviser, Eva Dröfn Hassell Guðmundsdóttir, at the 87th Joint Meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security and Cooperation and the Permanent Council, Vienna, 8 March 2023</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Mar 08, 202387th Joint FSC - PC Meeting, Vienna, 8 March 2023 Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/87%20fsc%20eu%20-%20Copy%20(1).pdf">EU Statement on Women, Peace and Security and the Conflict Cycle</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/fscpcdel0014%20germany%20on%20behalf%20of%20WAN.pdf">Statement by Ambassador Gesa Bräutigam, Permanent Representative of Germany to the OSCE, on Behalf of the Women Ambassadors’ Network, Members of Women in the 1st Dimension and OSCE Men for Gender Equality</a></span></p>

Mar 08, 202352nd Session of the Human Rights Council: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 52<sup>nd</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement delivered by Iceland on behalf of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>8 March 2023</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and my own country Iceland.</p> <p>We commend the Special Rapporteur for his ardent efforts in documenting human rights abuses and engaging the de facto authorities.</p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the dire situation in Afghanistan, in particular the situation of women and girls and that of minorities.</p> <p>We strongly condemn the draconian restrictions on women and girls, excluding them from education, politics, and public life. This discriminatory denial of women and girls’ human rights may amount to gender persecution which is considered a crime against humanity. </p> <p>The recent decision to ban women from working for national and international NGOs underscores the Taliban’s utter disregard for half the population of Afghanistan.</p> <p>We stand with the women and girls of Afghanistan, who continue to show immense resilience. Without them, Afghanistan will never achieve peace, prosperity and stability. </p> <p>What scope does the Special Rapporteur see for ensuring women and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation in all spheres of life and their right to have control over their own future?</p> <p>Thank you. </p>

Mar 07, 2023Statement at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries New York - United Nations

<p>Iceland General Debate Statement by<br /> Thórdís Sigurdardottir, Head of Mission, Embassy of Iceland in Uganda<br /> <br /> Mr. President, </p> <p>Allow me to first thank the Government of Qatar for hosting the second part of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.</p> <p>The world has changed drastically since we last met in Istanbul 12 years ago. Unfortunately, not for the better. Gains made over the past decade in poverty eradication are evaporating. The significant progress that LDCs have achieved through decades of effort is fading due to soaring food and energy prices, the climate crisis and increasing hunger and inequality. It is therefore highly opportune that we convene here in Qatar to provide a second boost to the Doha Programme of Action and fulfill our commitments to the LDCs. Strengthened partnerships with the LDCs is needed now more than ever. </p> <p>Ladies and gentleman, </p> <p>Human rights, gender equality, and the environment are unwavering priorities in Iceland´s development cooperation. The achievement of gender equality is essential to achieving sustained, inclusive, and equitable economic growth and addressing climate change and environmental degradation is key for sustainable development. Iceland is no stranger to the three interconnected pillars of sustainability: environment, society, and economy. Sustainability has, in fact, been the key to our prosperity. By respecting our nature and its resources and promoting gender equality and human rights we have seen rapid and relatively inclusive socioeconomic growth. </p> <p>The Doha Programme of Action will serve as a blueprint for the next 8 years. The blueprint’s emphasis on eradicating poverty, investing in people, achieving gender equality and addressing environmental degradation and climate change aligns with Iceland’s strategic focus and priorities. It is now up to us member states to fulfill the potential of the Doha Programme of Action. </p> <p>Iceland is committed to play its part, especially now during these trying times. Our ODA continues to grow and we are increasing our core funding to all our main UN partners. Our contributions to climate finance are increasing and so is our assistance to some of the most fragile places on earth. And as the far-reaching ramifications of the war in Ukraine, have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, Iceland has decided to make sure that Iceland’s strong support for Ukraine is on top of existing ODA levels as developing countries are disproportionally affected. Furthermore, all three of our bilateral development partners are LDCs in Africa.</p> <p>Iceland is a small donor and therefore places an even stronger emphasis on high-quality partnerships. We work with national governments, district authorities and other development partners, based on a human rights-based approach working with both duty-bearers and rights-holders. Local ownership is emphasized, both as a principle and to ensure sustainability. In this regard, we have adopted a programme-based approach at the district level while aligning with national government efforts. This localisation effort requires higher short-term investments but increases the long-term sustainability. </p> <p>But ODA alone cannot address the needs of the LDCs or ensure the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. We need to expand on new and innovative partnerships and funding streams, including blended finance, and green and gender bonds. Domestic resource mobilization must be strengthened, and illicit financial flows curbed. The external debt burden and debt service obligations is preventing far too many LDCs from investing in their people and recovering from COVID-19. A holistic approach to financing for development is more urgent than ever. </p> <p>LDCs are more vulnerable than ever. But there are seeds of hope and opportunity which will ensure we move from potential to prosperity. Harnessing the power of the youth and their innovative mindsets has the power to transform our societies. This requires us to adequately invest in the social sectors, such as health and education, to achieve structural change. This is why Iceland emphasizes investments in health, education and water and sanitation in its bilateral development cooperation. </p> <p>Iceland recognizes the immense task we, the global community have at hand in addressing the severe climate change taking place in all parts of the world. We pay special attention to the impact climate change has on the LDCs as a group of countries as we do also for the SIDS.</p> <p>During the past two years Iceland has emphasized the dire need for strengthening the level of resource mobilization needed for funds to tackle the issue. For this Iceland has stepped up significantly its contributions to the already agreed facilities for this purposes, namely the Green Climate Fund and the Adaption Fund.</p> <p>In addition, Iceland is working with other likeminded sovereign donors under UNDP´s Climate Promise facility, which support over 100 hundred countries in their quest to achieve their NDCs before 2050. And similarly, Iceland is a founding member of the Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF) which supports LDCs in addressing their needs to monitor, observe and address changing weather conditions under the leadership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).</p> <p>Looking ahead, it is now clear that in order to tackle climate change sufficiently all stakeholders must be brought to the table. We must find ways to leverage private and philanthropic funding towards our common global task; to cut emissions and at the same time enhance what is becoming a call for a new green industrial revolution based on clean and sustainable energy sources.</p> <p>Ladies and gentlemen, </p> <p>It is Iceland’s sincere wish that the next time we meet, we have graduated at least 16 countries from the LDC category, as they are on track to do. This conference and our subsequent actions are indeed a litmus test for the idea of leaving no one behind during the current hardships. Our global commitment to solidarity and cooperation is weakened if we do not fulfill our commitments to the LDCs. You can count on Iceland in playing its part. </p> <p>Thank you. </p>

Mar 07, 202352nd Session of the Human Rights Council: General Debate on High Commissioner’s Oral UpdateGeneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Human Rights Council – 52<sup>nd</sup> session</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Item 2: Annual report of HC for Human Rights and report of OHCHR and SG</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>General Debate on High Commissioner’s Oral Update</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Statement by Iceland</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thank you, Mr. President. </p> <p>Iceland thanks the High Commissioner for his oral update.</p> <p>Iceland continues to monitor the UN Joint Programme on human rights in the <strong>Philippines</strong>. Genuine intentions of all stakeholders are crucial for the programme to bring about positive change. Iceland calls on the Government to implement the Programme to the letter and address accountability failings. </p> <p>In<strong> Ethiopia</strong>, Iceland commends the Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front for steps taken in implementing the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Transitional justice and accountability through independent, transparent and impartial investigations must be ensured. </p> <p>In <strong>Egypt</strong>, human rights defenders, journalists, and activists continue to face reprisals and unlawful restrictions. Iceland urges the Government to respect, protect and fulfill the rights to freedoms of expression and opinion, and peaceful assembly and association. </p> <p>In <strong>Yemen</strong>, Iceland calls on all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law and to secure a political solution. The people of Yemen deserve peace. </p> <p>In closing, Iceland refers to Nordic-Baltic statements on the situation in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Sudan and South-Sudan in respective Interactive Dialogues. </p>

Mar 06, 2023Statement by H.E. Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland at CSW67 General DebateNew York - United Nations

<p>Honourable chair.</p> <p>Iceland welcomes the opportunity to review our efforts and progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.<br /> <br /> There are challenges that stand before us regarding gender equality and technological change.<br /> <br /> We all know that the world as we know it has largely been designed by men, for men. But what about the digital world, where we spend an increasing amount of our time? Who designs the algorithms that have more control over our thoughts and decisions than we care to think about?<br /> <br /> Algorithms will be exactly as flawed as their creators, including having built in gender biases. We have a huge data gap when it comes to women’s role in society and AI is based on data. If we do not have data on women and if the algorithms are mainly designed by men, the risk is that new technologies will make our world even more unequal.<br /> <br /> Gender equality must remain a top priority regarding innovation and technological change. We need to take action to make innovation and technological change work for all of us. By embedding gender in innovation and technology development, investing in feminist innovation and tech, dismantling gender stereotypes and educating and empowering women, I truly believe it will contribute to a better, more equal society, but we need the whole of humanity to produce knowledge and solutions for our current challenges, not just half of it.<br /> <br /> Digitalisation has expanded a growing resistance to gender equality and provided a new platform for gender based violence that cannot be tolerated. Recent numbers show that 38% of women have experienced online violence. At the same time that we should be moving forward we see that younger women are more likely to have been the victim of such violence In Iceland we are already taking action and in 2021 the Icelandic Parliament adopted a progressive legislation to fight online gender based violence. We will continue to build policies to end this and all forms of gender based violence.<br /> <br /> As one of the leaders of the Generation Equality Forum’s Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, Iceland participates in an action coalition on technology and innovation for gender equality. Our shared goal there is to bridge the gender gap in digital access and competence, which is substantial.<br /> <br /> But the fight against gender based and sexual violence takes place on many frontiers.<br /> <br /> In every war we see gender-based violence surging. In Ukraine, women have been raped and sexually assaulted as part of Russia’s military strategy, and more than 8 million Ukrainians have fled their country, mostly women and children.<br /> <br /> Domestic violence continues to be one of the greatest threats to women. Out of all violent crimes reported in 2020 in Iceland, 50% were crimes of domestic violence. The high number follows a change in protocol on how we deal with domestic violence crimes. This shift is happening right now and I strongly believe that bringing gender based violence into the light is the only way to eradicate it.<br /> <br /> Dear colleagues, the line of defense is not a constant – it moves and we are forever reminded that human rights, women’s rights, can be lost just as they can be won. Today the battle revolves around women’s sexual and reproductive rights that are under attack all around the world. Iceland passed a progressive abortion legislation in 2019, ensuring women’s self-determination over their bodies. Our demands for women all over the world are clear: They control their bodies.<br /> <br /> Distinguished guests:<br /> <br /> In Iceland we have put gender equality in the foreground in all decision-making. We will continue to do so both at home and in international cooperation, with the aim of creating a socially just, a more peaceful and a better world.</p>

Mar 06, 202352nd Session of the Human Rights Council: Interactive dialogue on the report of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua Geneva - EFTA, UNOG, WTO

<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Interactive dialogue on the report of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua </strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Nordic – Baltic Statement delivered by Iceland</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>6 March 2023</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr President,</p> <p>I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries. We thank the Group of Human Rights Experts for the latest report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua. </p> <p>We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Nicaragua, including arbitrary detentions, restrictions on civic space and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and consistent attacks against human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples, journalists and other media workers, political opposition, religious institutions, and civil society leaders.</p> <p>The release of the 222 political prisoners by the Government of Nicaragua marks a constructive move, however we condemn the decision to revoke their citizenship and to strip nationality from a further 94 citizens.</p> <p>We urge the Nicaraguan Government to respect all civil and political rights, and to free all political prisoners. Impunity for human rights violations must end. We call on Nicaragua to lift all restrictions on civic space and guarantee all persons their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. We call on Nicaragua to resume full cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the OHCHR.</p> <p>Mr President, </p> <p>What concrete steps can be taken to urge Nicaragua to end impunity and guarantee accountability for all human rights violations? </p> <p>Thank you. </p>

Mar 02, 20231413 PC Meeting, 2 March 2023 (Russia's Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine, SG Report on Climate Change, Armenia)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1413pc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1413pc%20eu%20on%20SG%20thematic%20report%20on%20climate%20change.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the SG Report on Climate Change</a></span></p> <p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1413pc%20eu%201.pdf">EU Statement in Response to the Current Issue Raised by Armenia on the Order of the International Court of Justice</a></span><span></span></p>

Mar 01, 20231038 FSC Meeting, 1 March 2023 (Russia's Ongoing Military Aggression Against Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1038fsc%20eu.pdf">EU Statement on Russia’s Ongoing Military Aggression Against Ukraine</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Feb 24, 20231412 Reinforced PC Meeting, 24 February 2023 (Ukraine)Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1412reinforced%20pc%20eu.pdf">Statement by the EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell.</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Feb 24, 2023Statement by the Foreign Minister of Iceland at the 1412th Reinforced Permanent Council Meeting, 24 February 2023Vienna - OSCE, IAEA, CTBTO, UNOV

<p><span><a href="/library/09-Embassies/Vienna/1412reinforced%20pc%20iceland.pdf">Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, H.E. Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir at the 1412 Reinforced Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council<br /> Vienna, 24 February 2023.</a></span></p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>

Feb 23, 2023Joint Nordic Statement, General Assembly 11th Emergency Special Session on UkraineNew York - United Nations

Statement by H.E. Mr. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark<br /> <br /> President,<br /> I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden – and my own country Denmark.<br /> Almost eight decades ago, leaders from all over the world signed the UN Charter.<br /> They thereby committed their countries to protect future generations from the scourge of war and to ensure that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest.<br /> They committed to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.<br /> They committed to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.<br /> But, one year ago, air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine, and Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian border.<br /> Russia chose to launch an unprovoked and brutal war of aggression on a sovereign and peaceful neighbour. In blatant violation of the UN Charter.<br /> So far, many thousands have lost their lives. Millions have been displaced. And right now, we see no end to the war.<br /> Instead, we see Russia waging a brutal war. We see systematic violations of international law, including international humanitarian law by Russia.<br /> Inhumane attacks on civilians. On critical infrastructure. Health care facilities. Schools. Residential areas.<br /> We see sexual violence, and civilians – including children – being forcibly deported out of Ukraine. And we see forced adoption of children in violation of international law.<br /> We have a joint responsibility to stand up against all violations of international law, wherever they occur.<br /> A responsibility to ensure that war crimes and other atrocities are investigated and perpetrators held to account.<br /> Today, a resolution for peace will be put before us.<br /> A resolution, which – in essence – asks us to denounce this brutal aggression. Asks us to support a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on the principles of the UN Charter.<br /> To support territorial integrity and demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.<br /> A resolution that urges us to cooperate in the spirit of solidarity to address the global impact of the war.<br /> Distinguished colleagues. The UN charter was signed to maintain international peace and security.<br /> It clearly prohibits aggression and wars of conquest, like the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine.<br /> So let us be honest about the issue before us. This is about standing up for international law, including the UN Charter. About standing up for peace.<br /> We will not be neutral when asked to stand on the side of the UN Charter and of a victim of aggression.<br /> As the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”<br /> The fact remains today as simple as one year ago: If Russia stops fighting, there will be no more war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine.<br /> The fact remains that Ukraine’s right to protect themselves is enshrined in article 51 of the UN Charter. The inherent right to self-defense.<br /> The fact also remains that Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has no justification, legal or moral. The International Court of Justice has ordered Russia to immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine.<br /> This war must end. The violence must end. We must restore respect for the UN Charter. And we must make sure that similar horrors do not happen again.<br /> Today we have an opportunity to vote for peace. For a peace, which respects and upholds the UN Charter. For a peace that does not encourage future aggressions. Against Ukraine or any other Member State.<br /> Let us not miss this opportunity. The Nordics will honour the signatures our representatives placed on the UN Charter. We hope to be joined by all.<br /> <br /> Thank you.

Feb 22, 2023 Emergency Special Session on UkraineNew York - United Nations

<p><strong>Statement by H.E. Mr. Martin Eyjólfsson</strong></p> <p><strong>Permanent Secretary of State of Iceland</strong></p> <p><strong>General Assembly, 22 February 2023</strong></p> <p><strong></strong></p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland aligns itself with the statement to be made tomorrow by Denmark on the behalf of the Nordic countries.</p> <p>This is a sad moment. The General Assembly of the United Nations convenes in an Emergency Session to mark that a year has passed since Russia launched its unprovoked and unjustifiable full-scale invasion of Ukraine.</p> <p>Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, has with this horrendous act of aggression assaulted not only Ukraine but our common institutions, our common values and our basic human rights. Rights enshrined in the very United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rights that we have all subscribed to. Rights that Russia has subscribed to.</p> <p>Our admiration for the courage and resilience of the people of Ukraine grows with each day they valiantly defend their country. Their sacrifice and suffering must not be in vain. The Foreign Minister of Estonia said in his speech a short while a go that the people of Ukraine were the bravest people in the world. I can not only subscribe to that but added that the Captain of Team Ukraine, President Zelensky, is the bravest leader in the world and has given a whole new meaning to the concept of leadership.</p> <p>Mr. President.</p> <p>The solution to end the war is straightforward. Russia can and must stop this war today and withdraw all its forces from Ukraine in full respect of Ukraine´s recognized right to independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-defense.&nbsp; </p> <p>Let us also be reminded that ending the war is only first step. To establish just and lasting peace for Ukraine is also of critical importance.&nbsp; Russia must and will be held to account for its actions. Accountability for international crimes committed within the context of the war, including the crime of aggression, is vital to ensure justice and reparations. There can be no impunity. Accountability is the only way to ensure lasting peace.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>This warfare conducted by Russia against a member state is an act of aggression that affects us all. Humanitarian concerns, food security, economic development - all these important issues that weigh so much on our agenda are hit by this senseless war. To sit idle on the fence or even support the aggressor is beyond comprehension.</p> <p>It is our collective responsibility to end this war, defend Ukraine, and stand up for the values and principles that underpin the UN Charter and the work of this organisation.</p> <p>That “we, the Peoples” owe to the people of Ukraine and all other innocent victims presently facing the scourge of armed conflict all over the world. That we owe to previous generations that built the system of international law and the rule-based order, from the ruins of two world wars and their unforgettable horrors. And that we owe to our children, the generations that will follow us.</p> <p>Mr. President,</p> <p>Iceland remains unwavering in its support and solidarity with Ukraine We are committed to play our part, including in our role as the Chair of the Council of Europe, and we are proud to co-sponsor the resolution on just and lasting peace in Ukraine.</p> <p>I call on all Member States to support the draft resolution and vote against the Belarus amendments of course.</p> <p>I thank you Mr. President.</p>

Feb 22, 2023Joint Nordic Statement Delivered at the Intergovernmental Negotiations (ING)New York - United Nations

<p>Statement delivered by H.E. Martin Bille Hermann, Permanent Representative of Denmark</p> <p>Excellences, Co-Chairs,</p> <p>I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.</p> <p>Please allow me to extend our sincere gratitude to Ambassador Alexander Marschik of Austria for taking on the important role as Co-Chair. We also thank Ambassador Tareq Albanai of Kuwait and Ambassador Michal Mlynar for getting us off to a good start in the first set of meetings last month.</p> <p>We wish to thank the Co-Chairs for their letter of 2 February 2023, which sets out the calendar for the remaining meetings on the five clusters of the IGN process. And we welcome the Co-Chairs’ initiative to formulate specific “areas of particular focus” to help guide our conversation and allow for deeper exploration to clarify further the positions of Member States and Groups of States on some of the central questions under each cluster.</p> <p>We further welcome the commitment of the Co-Chairs – as conveyed in the last IGN meeting on 26-27 January – to convene so-called “un-formal conversations” in order to allow delegations to think more freely and communicate more frankly with each other about ideas, proposals and concerns related to Security Council reform.</p> <p>Co-Chairs,</p> <p>The Nordic countries seek a more representative, transparent and accountable Security Council. One which is better equipped to address global challenges, while also better reflecting global realities and the desires, needs and concerns of people all over the world.</p> <p>The impact of the veto on the effectiveness of the Council is the first area of focus outlined by the Co-Chairs for this meeting. In terms of the use of the veto, we must carefully consider the possible negative impacts of the veto power on the work and functioning of the current and a future enlarged Security Council, and of the United Nations as a whole. The use of the veto should come with transparency and accountability, in line with how it was intended, when it was originally introduced at the founding of the United Nations.</p> <p>As co-sponsors of the veto initiative, adopted by the General Assembly in April last year, the Nordic countries believe that further reforms are urgently needed to ensure that a veto is always used in the spirit of the Charter and not to paralyze Council action on critical matters of international peace of security. The urgency of the current situation should be used to move the discussion on veto reforms forward.</p> <p>In terms of the second area of focus, he Nordics are strongly in favour initiatives to limit to the&nbsp;<em>use&nbsp;</em>of the veto, including through voluntary restraint and by enhancing accountability vis-à-vis the General Assembly. The Nordics have therefore supported the ACT&nbsp;<em>Code of Conduct</em>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<em>Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity</em>&nbsp;launched by France and Mexico. We once again urge remaining Member States, who haven’t already done so, to join these two important initiatives.</p> <p>Here, the Permanent five members of the Council can of course also set an important and meaningful example by leading the way. But so far, only two of the five permanent members have supported the Code of Conduct, while only one has signed on to the French-Mexican veto initiative. Most recently, the GA veto initiative managed to garner the support of a majority of the P5. It is important that we build on this momentum here in the General Assembly.</p> <p>In addition to these existing initiatives to limit the&nbsp;<em>use&nbsp;</em>of the veto, we believe that we must expand the scope of our deliberations to also explore possible restrictions to the very&nbsp;<em>scope&nbsp;</em>of the veto itself. We would therefore like to encourage all delegations to share their views on additional relevant reforms to also limit the&nbsp;<em>scope</em>&nbsp;of the veto. In this regard, Member States have presented various proposals to date. These include suggestions (1) to waive the veto power in all proceedings arising under Chapter VI – or even stricter to limit it to decisions taken under Chapter VII; (2) to restrict the scope of the veto power to only prevent the Council from adopting a resolution if it were cast by two or more permanent members simultaneously; or a third variant, whereby (3) the GA has the possibility to overrule the use of the veto by a two-thirds majority.</p> <p>There are possibly other meaningful ideas circulating, which have not yet been fully considered by Member States in the IGN process, and we encourage all delegations to share their views on additional options for relevant reforms to further limit the&nbsp;<em>scope</em>&nbsp;as well as the&nbsp;<em>use</em>&nbsp;of the veto.</p> <p>On the third area of focus, which is the principles for voting by a party to a dispute, we note that the UN Charter in its Article 27(3) includes a provision for restricting the use and scope of the veto. The key tenet of this provision is that a State should not be allowed to be party, judge and jury at the same time. According to the interpretation provided by the International Court of Justice in 1971,&nbsp;<em>“for the application of Article 27(3), the prior determination by the Council that a dispute existed and that certain members of the Council were involved as parties to such a dispute was required”</em>.</p> <p>The reality is that obligatory abstentions under Article 27(3) have been successfully invoked in only a limited number of early instances in the Council’s history, and in these cases on a voluntary basis by the abstaining Council members. It has been invoked by permanent and non-permanent members alike as the basis for their decision to either cast an abstaining vote or not participate in the vote altogether. It will be important to consider how to further bolster the practice associated with Article 27(3), since a veto cast by the aggressor in a given conflict undermines the purpose of the Council and is a violation of the very foundation of the Charter of the United Nations.&nbsp;Regarding the fourth area of focus, the extension of the veto to new members in case of enlargement, we welcome more in-depth discussions of this going forward. The Nordics stand committed to ensuring that reform contributes to a more representative but also a more effective Council. On the one hand, we recognize that new permanent members of a reformed Council would understandably demand the same powers as the sitting permanent members. On the other hand, the Nordics remain committed to ensuring a transparent, accountable and effective Council. Introducing more members with veto powers could potentially jeopardize these priorities. These are dilemmas and difficult trade-offs that we as diplomats are tasked with.&nbsp;</p> <p>Co-Chairs,</p> <p>In closing, let me reiterate that the Nordic Countries lend our full support to the Co-Chairs. We welcome today’s opportunity for delegations to engage in a dedicated discussion on the question of the veto. In the face of the ongoing violation of the Charter by a permanent member of the Council, our conversation could not be more timely. And our resolve could not be more urgently needed. Rarely before have regular people across the world taken as much interest in the language, intent and application of the UN Charter. To illustrate this, the veto has now become an actual hashtag.</p> <p>We stand ready to contribute to a constructive and interactive dialogue. We further take note of the concrete proposals presented in today’s meeting as well as in last month’s meetings, which gives us all something concrete to consider, while hopefully challenging us to further explore where there could be potential for convergences.</p> <p>Thank you.</p>

Feb 22, 2023UNESCO: Address by Prime Minister of Iceland at the Internet for Trust ConferenceParis - UNESCO

<span></span> <p><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"><em>Video-address by H.E. Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland</em><br /> <strong><a href="https://www.unesco.org/en/internet-conference">UNESCO Internet for Trust conference</a> - Paris 22 February 2023</strong></span></p> <p><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"></span><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">Chere Audrey, distinguished audience,</span><span class="eop" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"></span><span style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">I am delighted to be with you here today virtually, to address this important issue. This issue is closely tied to the founding mandate of UNESCO. To protect the free flow of information, both word and images, and for UNESCO to serve as a laboratory of ideas.</span></p> <p><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"></span><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">Today, few things impact our minds more than the information we get through our digital devices, brought to us by algorithms.&nbsp;</span><span class="eop" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;"></span><span class="normaltextrun" style="font-size: 14pt; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif;">The huge changes we are seeing in how we get our information, are neither the first or the last ones of their kind. When written language replaced spoken language, and when printing presses replaced manuscript writers, the power structures of societies were inevitably affected.</span></p> <p>