HRC | Cooperation, participation and dialogue key to solving challenges in 2018


New UN Human Rights Council President Vojislav Šuc spoke about his key objectives for the Council during the welcome reception hosted by ISHR on 31 January 2018. The President emphasised his will to ensure greater effectiveness of the Council through cooperation, dialogue and increased civil society participation. He also highlighted his intention to develop closer ties with the New-York-based Third Committee and with regional human rights organisations - for greater impact on the ground. Read the Council's President full speech below. 

It is very nice to see you at this traditional civil society annual event. I would like to thank the International Service for Human Rights for organising this reception and for inviting me to address you this evening.

I am honoured to be presiding over the Human Rights Council this year.  Of course, given the current situation of human rights around the world as well as the resource constraints that the Council is facing here in Geneva, 2018 is setting out to be a challenging year. But I take up the Presidency with a deep sense of pride in the Council and a deep motivation to make the Council stronger in its work.

The Human Rights Council, with its robust mandate and effective mechanisms, plays an essential role in the efforts of the international community towards achieving peace and security, development and human rights. Of course, there is room for improvement.

The Council’s agenda has become extremely overcrowded – which is perhaps a reflection of the state of human rights around the world today. This overcrowding means that we lack time to engage in genuine dialogue and cooperation, making the Council less effective. In order to address this challenge, I will build upon the efforts of my predecessors and work with delegations to identify efficiency measures, both short-term and long-term. The Bureau has already begun to work on this, and I am optimistic that through inclusive dialogue and joint efforts, we will find workable solutions. In this regard, I assure you that I will consult with civil society in order to hear your valuable views and ideas as we move through the process.

I strongly believe that solutions to any challenge the Council may face can be found through cooperation and dialogue. In order to be more effective in our work, we must engage in more constructive conversations and reduce the use of monologues. Only through genuine and respectful dialogue, we can learn from each other, build trust, and create a more cooperative atmosphere within the Council.

This year I also wish to strengthen the Council’s relationship with New York-based bodies and especially the Third Committee, as well as strengthen cooperation with regional organisations, all with the view to build stronger partnerships in order to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground.

I also believe that there is a pressing need to increase the visibility of the Council, in order to build awareness of the important work that the Council is doing.

Moreover, I will work to ensure the safe participation of civil society in the work of the Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council provides the world with a unique forum to discuss and address human rights issues, where all voices can and should be heard. And civil society and human rights defenders play an essential role in the Council’s work. In addition to providing us with up-to-date information about the situation on the ground, civil society keeps the Council connected to the people and plays an important role in implementation efforts.

I will do my utmost to ensure that civil society and human rights defenders are able to safely participate in the work of the Council. And I will respond promptly to all allegations of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who cooperate or have cooperated with the Council.

We are all very much aware that there are diverse points of view and positions held within the Council. But I am sure that through cooperation and dialogue, we can build consensus and tackle the challenges that we are facing. To achieve this, all Council stakeholders must be committed to working together to achieve our common goals.

The Human Rights Council stands as a beacon of hope for many around the world. This is a great responsibility, but one that we, the members and observers of the Council, have the duty to embrace and fulfill.

We have a very busy year ahead of us and I do count on your support.

Thank you.

Photo: ISHR