UN Watch Oral Statement
Delivered by Kelsey Truman, 14 March 2014
Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Thank you, Mr. President. Today we ask: How can this Council protect the rights of the Universal Declaration — the right to life, to equality, to freedom of religion and speech, the right to be free from torture and slavery?
One way is by recognizing the heroes who inspire activists the world over for the cause of human rights.
That is what UN Watch did just a few weeks ago, across the street, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights. For the sixth year in a row, we organized this annual civil society forum, together with twenty other non-governmental human rights groups from around the world.
Hundreds of dissidents, activists, diplomats, journalists and students participated, helping to place urgent situations on the world agenda. The summit heard from courageous dissidents and activists, many of them former political prisoners, who embody the founding human rights virtues of the United Nations.
Julietta Lopez of Venezuela delivered an urgent message from her nephew, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
Interruption by Venezuela: Thank you, Mr. President. President, Venezuela is grateful to this organization but doesn’t recognize it as being an NGO, but instead as a political party and on several occasions it has attacked our country and several sovereign countries, failing to respect the agenda of the Human Rights Council which clearly establishes the items or themes to which we may refer in connection with specific country situations. I therefore, sir, would like you to ask the speaker to keep to the agenda of the human rights council, otherwise I will have to interrupt the speaker once more.
Human Rights Council President: May I recall that human rights situations do not arise in a vacuum and it is important for participants to address them in the proper context. At the same time, all speakers are expected to address the relevant agenda item. As long as the speaker is addressing human rights issues relevant to the agenda item under consideration, he or she may refer to specific situation by way of example or illustration. And please keep in mind the agenda, we are half way through the list of speakers and we have to terminate this session by three o’clock. I would ask the speaker to continue now.
UN Watch: Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen examined women’s rights in Pakistan. Biram Dah Abeid spoke of his struggle to end slavery in Mauritania.
Naghmeh Abedini pleaded for the release of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in jail in Iran for exercising his freedom of religion. Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who tried to defend women in China from forced abortions, received the Geneva Summit Courage Award.
Finally, Annick Cojean from Le Monde spoke of her recent book, which documents how thousands of women and girls, including students on campus, were violently raped, over decades and on a systematic basis, by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
We urge everyone to listen to her testimony, which is available at GenevaSummit.org, especially the many countries who, during the Council’s UPR review of Libya, had praised Gaddafi’s record on women’s rights. These include Belarus, DPRK, Iran, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Sudan and Yemen.
Mr. President, when will this Council listen to these courageous voices, and take action for victims worldwide?