Geneva, February 28: Addressing the top United Nation human rights body for the first time since becoming Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres appealed to world governments to speak up for human rights in an “impartial way.”Guterres also urged member states to uphold the rights of all people in the face of rising populism, extremism and said, "We will advance security by advancing dignity, justice, equality and the rule of law.”
“Disregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading – North, South, East and West,” the Secretary-General told the high-level segment of the 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council, alongside UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. “The Human Rights Council must be part of the cure.”
Calling today's world “more dangerous, less predictable, more chaotic,” the Secretary-General called for making prevention a priority, tackling root causes of conflict and reacting early and more effectively to human rights violations. He also highlighted the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties that derive from it and urged the Council to be “fully engaged” on the issues that require their attention.
Guterres further said, “We are increasingly seeing the perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism feeding off each other in a frenzy of growing racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance.”
“Minorities, indigenous communities and others face discriminations and abuse across the world,” he added, noting abuse targeting refugees and migrants, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex. Guterres in the end also called for protection of the human rights defenders and of journalists who are “essential” to the checks and balances of any society.