Thank you Mr. President
Human rights are universal. No one should be deprived of their rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability, religious or political belief, sexual orientation or for any other reason.
National legislation regulating human rights such as the freedom of expression, assembly and association must be drafted in a way that protects and promotes these rights, not in order to protect governments against the voices of dissent.
In many countries, the activities of civil society are being unjustifiably curtailed and human rights defenders are facing increasing harassment and intimidation. This is not acceptable. We are also concerned by developments in countries such as Russia and Uganda, where new laws have been adopted and old ones amended in ways that clearly run counter to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We are following the social and political unrest in Ukraine closely. We deeply regret the tragic loss of so many lives during the protests. It is vital that the new regime upholds Ukraine’s international human rights obligations in the challenging time ahead. It is also essential that all violations of human rights in the past few months are investigated transparently. We expect that Ukraine’s new government is prepared to follow up these important issues promptly and we are pleased with the new government’s signals so far in these matters.
Norway condemns Russia’s military escalation on the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. Russia’s military activities in Crimea and threats of further use of military force is a breach of international law. Russia has a particular responsibility to de-escalate the tense situation.
We are also following developments in Egypt closely. As a close friend of Egypt and a strong supporter of Egypt’s democratic transition, Norway is deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the excessive use of force by Egyptian security forces, which has resulted in heavy losses of civilian lives. We have noted the establishment of a national Fact-Finding Commission, and urge the authorities to ensure independent investigations in line with international standards.
The Council is continuing to respond to a wide range of important human rights challenges, taking decisions that make a difference and taking concrete steps to ensure promotion and protection of human rights in many difficult and complex areas and circumstances.
The recent publication of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea is a case in point. The report sheds light on violations on a terrifying scale, which require a firm and determined response from the international community.
However, the very success of the Council brings its own challenges. The number of initiatives and resolutions from the Council has reached a record level, but the resources to follow them up are limited. To ensure that we maintain the quality, legitimacy and impact of the Council’s work, we need to find ways of making it more effective.
This is why Norway and Turkey, together with other states, have taken the initiative for voluntary measures and smarter working methods to address these challenges. We hope for your support in maintaining the quality and effectiveness of the important work of the Human Rights Council.