Successful Swiss initiative: Human Rights Council approves resolution on dealing with the past

Press release, 30.09.2016

The Human Rights Council ends its three-week September session today in Geneva. Switzerland has successfully introduced a resolution on dealing with the past with the aim of strengthening efforts to prevent atrocities.

Switzerland has been involved in the area of dealing with the past since 2003. During the September session of the Human Rights Council, Switzerland took the opportunity to emphasise the contribution of dealing with the past to preventing atrocities (including their recurrence) and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence and the and the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide have been tasked with drawing up a report on the contribution of dealing with the past to the prevention of atrocities The corresponding resolution was adopted today with 29 votes in favour, 1 against, and 17 abstentions. Switzerland worked on this initiative primarily with Argentina and Morocco, two partner countries with which it also worked to secure the establishment of the mandate of the special rapporteur in 2011.

The concept of dealing with the past is based on the 'principles against impunity', which recognise the rights of victims and the obligations of states in the fight against impunity when serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have taken place. These principles provide for a series of combined measures concerning the right to know, the right to justice, the right to reparation and the guarantee of non-recurrence.

During the September session of the Human Rights Council, Switzerland also co-initiated a resolution at the interface of the protection of cultural heritage and the protection of human rights, which reminds the international community of its obligations with respect to cultural rights and condemns the illegal destruction, theft and smuggling of cultural property. As always, it also closely monitored the situation in various countries, for example through the debates and resolutions on Burundi, Syria and Yemen. In this respect, Switzerland not only consistently demands respect for human rights and, where applicable, international humanitarian law, but also works to ensure that violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law are documented by international monitoring and investigation mechanisms so that the perpetrators can in future be held criminally responsible.


Further information:

Switzerland's activities in the area of dealing with the past
Switzerland’s activities in the area of dealing with the prevention of atrocities
Switzerland in the UN Human Rights Council


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