Human Rights Council adopts two Swiss-led resolutions

Press release, 07.10.2020

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva closed its 45th regular session on 7 October 2020 after almost four weeks of work. It adopted two resolutions presented by Switzerland and partner States. The first seeks to strengthen the HRC's role in the prevention of human rights violations. The second resolution extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of transitional justice.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HRC successfully continued its operations. It adapted its working methods to enable a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. The HRC has thus maintained its capacity to act and respond to current human rights situations around the world.

The two Swiss-led initiatives proved successful. First, together with Norway, Sierra Leone and Uruguay, Switzerland tabled a resolution on strengthening the HRC's contribution to the prevention of human rights violations. This resolution calls for an increase in the early warning capabilities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to enable it to timely inform the HRC in cases of human rights violations. Particular emphasis was placed on coordination between the HRC and the other two UN pillars (peace/security and development).

Switzerland supports initiatives for dealing with the past
The second resolution, presented by Switzerland together with Argentina and Morocco, extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence for a period of three years. Switzerland has thereby reaffirmed its conviction that these four dimensions – truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence – are necessary in contexts of serious human rights violations in order to combat impunity and prevent the recurrence of future violations and crises. In a statement on this subject, Switzerland further encouraged States to implement transitional justice processes in accordance with international best practices and the relevant standards, in cooperation with victims' groups and civil society.

Switzerland adds its voice to the call for dialogue between the Belarus government and the opposition
This 45th session also featured an urgent debate on the situation of human rights in Belarus, initiated by the EU. In this context, Switzerland expressed its concern about the violent repression of peaceful protests in the country in connection with the presidential elections on 9 August. Switzerland also supported the resolution presented by the EU calling on the Belarus government to end the excessive use of force and to enter into a dialogue with the political opposition and civil society. The holding of this urgent debate once again illustrated the HRC's ability to respond swiftly to a country's deteriorating human rights situation.

Switzerland supports the documentation of human rights violations
Regarding the human rights situation in other countries, Switzerland continued to support efforts to document and independently investigate all alleged violations of international law so that perpetrators can ultimately be held criminally accountable. It thus supported the resolutions extending the mandates of the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela and the Group of Experts on Yemen. Switzerland also commented on reports presented by recently established mechanisms, such as the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya and the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. Furthermore, Switzerland supported two separate joint statements expressing the signatory States' concern over the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and in Iran. These statements reflect the same positions expressed by Switzerland in its bilateral discussions with these countries, specifically on the situation of women human rights defenders and the use of the death penalty. The statement on Saudi Arabia, initiated by Denmark, was endorsed by 33 States, and the statement, initiated by Germany, on Iran by 47 States. 

With its partners, Switzerland defended the universal nature of human rights in light of attempts to undermine the established international framework designed to ensure human rights for all. Finally, in the run-up to various elections around the world, Switzerland called on all sSates to place respect for human rights at the center of their actions in order to prevent all forms of electoral violence.

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