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Joint statement: Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Last updated: 24.09.2013 // United Nations Human Rights Council, 24th Session. Item 2: General debate. Statement by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden

Thank you, Mr President. I have the honour to speak on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

High Commissioner. Thank you for your update to the Human Right Council. Your tireless work for human rights worldwide is deeply appreciated.

For obvious and independent reasons, this Council session will inevitably dwell on two centres of gravita in the Middle East.

Firstly, the intolerable human suffering in Syria, where those responsible for human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable. We are gravely concerned about reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We once again call on the UN Security Council to address the Syrian crisis in all its aspects, including a possible referral to the International Criminal Court.

We recall that it is a serious violation of international law to impede access for humanitarian assistance. In the strongest terms possible, we appeal to the Syrian authorities to allow unimpeded access for all humanitarian actors, and for all parties to allow for cross-line operations. We also call on all parties to give access and cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry. We look forward to discuss the situation further during the interactive dialogue with the Commission.

Secondly, as close friends of  Egypt, we are truly concerned about the current human rights  situation. We strongly support your Office's request to assess the situation on the ground. We encourage Egypt to welcome your delegates and to actively engage also with this Council in order to ensure the protection of the human rights of everyone under its jurisdiction without any discrimination.

We condemn all acts of violence, including the recent bomb attack in Cairo on 5 September. We stress that all sides have a responsibility to end the circle of violence. However, the primary responsibility to protect and promote human rights lies with national governments. The use of excessive force by the Egyptian authorities is of grave concern.The committee established to investigate these events must be in line with international human rights standards and must be ensured full independence. We encourage the committee to cooperate closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

We call on all parties to engage in restoring a peaceful path to democracy. Civil society must play an active role in this process. Fully lifting the state of emergency, releasing all political prisoners and ensuring freedom of expression and assembly will be essential to this end

We thank you, High Commissioner, for the timely attention you have given the situation and encourage you to remain vigilant regarding developments and report back to the Council if required.

Thank you.

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