Envoy holds folder at the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s credibility rests on its unbiased treatment of member states, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday in Geneva.
“We must speak up for humanity in an impartial way without double standards,” Guterres said as he helped open the monthlong 34th session of the UNHRC in his first address to the UNHRC since taking office in January.
Israel has long complained of the UNHRC’s biased treatment, which includes more condemnations of Israel than any other nation, including Syria and Iran. Guterres spoke of the issue of equitable treatment of member states, but did not specifically speak of the council’s treatment of Israel.
“We must invest in human rights and recognize human rights as a value, not allowing them to be instrumentalized as a political tool,” he said. “The integrity and credibility of this council will only enhanced by proceeding in a manner that avoids unbalanced treatment of member states,” Guterres said.
“Disregard for human rights is a disease that is spreading and the UNHRC must be part of the cure. “Human rights must never be seen as a luxury,” said Guterres, adding, “they are an increasing part of all that we do and all that we are.”
He warned that populism and extremism are fueling antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also spoke out strongly in support human rights and alluded to a report in Politico that the US may pull out of the UNHRC and urged it to remain engaged.
“For political leaders who today wage campaigns against universal human rights, or threaten withdrawal from international or regional treaties and the institutions which uphold them, it is worth recalling what the world has achieved over seven decades – and what we all stand to lose if their threats succeed in choking off universal human rights,” he said.