The 40th session of the Human Rights Council took place from 25 February to 22 March 2019. Having recently concluded its most recent term as a member of the HRC (2016–18), it was Switzerland's first session as an observer state.
Addressing the high-level opening plenary of the 40th session, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis paid tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 100 years of multilateralism in Geneva and the role played by Inter-national Geneva. Other high-ranking figures, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, also underlined the importance of multilateralism.
During the session, Switzerland participated in debates on the human rights situa-tion in several countries, in particular Burundi, Eritrea, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It also advocated the mandate renewals of the Special rap-porteurs on the human rights situation in Myanmar and North Korea, the Commis-sion of Inquiry in Syria and the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Switzerland also supported the new resolution calling for the promotion and protec-tion of human rights in Nicaragua. The adoption of this resolution underscores the Human Rights Council's ability to respond to current developments.
Thematically, Switzerland focused on the resolution marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and a resolution on environmental hu-man rights defenders. It also worked to ensure the mandate renewals of the Special rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental free-doms while countering terrorism, on the right to food and on freedom of religion or belief. In addition, Switzerland took part in a panel discussion on the question of the death penalty where, along with other States, it took a firm stand against this prac-tice.
The 41st session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 24 June to 12 July 2019.
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