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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Iceland‘s first session as a member of the Human Rights Council

Yesterday was a historic day when Iceland attended the first session of the Human Rights Council since being elected to the Council this summer. The session began with an opening statement from the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, where she gave a broad overview of the state of human rights in the world.

Iceland‘s representatives responded to Mrs. Bachelet’s statement with a speech during today’s session. Iceland took the opportunity to recall that in his address to the Council in February, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, shared his concerns that countries such as the Philippines, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are members on the Council and yet their human rights record has been far from exemplary. 

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

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

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