UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pays visit to Bern

Press release, 02.03.2020

On Monday, 2 March, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, met with President Simonetta Sommaruga and Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis in Bern. Both meetings highlighted the valuable cooperation between Switzerland and the Office of the High Commissioner in Geneva, with President Sommaruga and the UN High Commissioner going on in the afternoon to discuss further topics such as women’s rights, climate policy and the areas in which these two issues overlap.

Talks between President Sommaruga and the UN High Commissioner focused on manifold human rights violations as an obstacle to peace, security and sustainable development. Ms Sommaruga and Dr Bachelet expressed their conviction that human rights must be upheld in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic and social development, and to prevent conflicts and violent extremism.

The UN High Commissioner set out the current priorities for her institution and the challenges that it faces and thanked Switzerland for the support it gives, in political and financial terms, to the High Commission for Human Rights as one of its most significant donor countries. Switzerland regards the Office of the UN High Commissioner as one of its most important partners in implementing its human right policy. In addition, the High Commission plays a key role in strengthening human rights in partner countries for Switzerland’s development cooperation programme.

The talks also addressed climate change. The effect on women can be different from that on men, not least because in many places society assigns different roles and responsibilities to men and women, for example in the home or in agriculture. Globally, the effects of climate change on women are disproportionately more serious than its effects on men. Guaranteeing that women play a full and equal role in deciding on, planning and implementing measures, also on climate protection, is therefore vitally important in order to protect women’s rights.

2020 is an important year both for women’s rights and for climate policy. In relation to women’s rights, this year sees the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (one of the most important documents on women’s rights), and in the context of climate change, this year marks the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. And in terms of climate policy, this year countries must confirm and update the contributions that they agreed to under the Paris Agreement.

At a working lunch with the High Commissioner, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis also assured Dr Bachelet of Switzerland’s full support and thanked the UN High Commission for the indispensable work that it does on the ground. He noted that human rights are one of the three pillars on which the UN bases its activities (together with the pillars of peace/security and development) made the point that it is vital that UN member states provide sufficient funding for these three pillars.

Mr Cassis and Dr Bachelet also discussed the impact, both positive and negative, of new technologies, in particular digital technologies, on human rights. Both sides stressed the role that international Geneva plays as an innovative centre for governance, and highlighted the crucial role played by private sector companies. In addition, they discussed the human rights situation in various countries.

Further information:

United Nations: Human Rights - Office of the High Commissioner
FDFA: The UN and human rights

Address for enquiries:

DETEC Information Service: Géraldine Eicher
+41 79 211 30 52, info@gs-uvek.admin.ch

FDFA Communications:
+41 58 462 31 53, kommunikation@eda.admin.ch


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