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UN chief warns human rights advances are ‘reversed’

GENEVA: Respect for human rights has been reversed, the United Nations chief warned on Monday, calling for a renewal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years after it was signed.

Noting the war raging in Ukraine and the threat to rights posed by rising poverty, hunger and climate catastrophe, Antonio Guterres said the statement was “attacked from all sides”.

“Some governments are picking on it. Others use a wrecking ball,” he said at the opening of the annual main session of the UN Human Rights Council, describing the disregard and contempt for human rights around the world as a “wake-up call”.

He said the “Russian invasion of Ukraine has unleashed the most massive human rights violations” seen anywhere in the world today.

“It has triggered widespread death, destruction and displacement,” he said.

While the past century has seen amazing advances in human rights and human development, Guterres warned that “rather than continue that progress, we are going into reverse gear.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine was the focus of the meeting, which was to last a record six weeks, with calls for unity in condemning Moscow and expanding an investigation into war crimes in the conflict.

The session comes just days after the one-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Moscow – which UN chief justice Volker Turk has warned to show that 75 years after the world agreed on universal rights, “the oppression of the past disguises can return in various forms.”

Turk cited “the old destructive wars of aggression from a bygone era with global consequences, such as we have seen again in Europe with the senseless Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

After the speeches by the UN leadership, almost 150 ministers and heads of state and government will have their say virtually or in person over the first four days of the session.

Among them will be the foreign ministers of the United States, China, Ukraine and Iran.

– Go out? –

Moscow will send Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to address the council in person on Thursday.

Despite calls from NGOs, observers said a strike like the one attended by many diplomats was unlikely to materialize when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video was shown at the council last year.

Several diplomats suggested taking other measures to express their disapproval.

“We believe that Russia does not deserve to sit in this room,” Ukraine’s Ambassador Yevheniya Filipenko told reporters. “We will act accordingly.”

There is no shortage of other pressing human rights issues for the Council to address, with the situations in Iran, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria and Israel on the agenda.

A long series of resolutions will be voted on in the final days of the session, which is due to end on April 4th.

– War Crimes Investigation –

A key resolution will be the expansion of a high-level investigation into crimes committed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

The so-called commission of inquiry, which has already found that Russia is committing war crimes on a “massive scale” in Ukraine, is due to present a comprehensive report to the council at the end of March.

The commission must “continue its important work, which is paramount to the principles of accountability and justice,” Filipenko told reporters on Friday.

She said her country is urging the Commission’s mandate not only to be extended but strengthened, and insisted that the “many developments” over the past year “should be reflected upon”.

However, there are fears that strengthening the text further could cost it votes in the 47-member Council, diminishing the sense that the UN’s top legal body is united in its opposition to Russia’s actions.

Last year, 32 council members voted in favor of setting up the commission, only Russia itself and Eritrea voted against, and 13 countries abstained.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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