Human Rights Council 52nd Session: Opening Session - High-level Segment - PR UN, WTO and other organisations Geneva

Human Rights Council 52nd Session: Opening Session - High-level Segment | 27-02-2023

National statement delivered by H.E. Wopke Hoekstra, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends,

As we meet here today,

in the shadow of the one-year anniversary of the illegal invasion of Ukraine,

it is painfully apparent that human rights are under severe attack.

In Ukraine, which is witnessing rape, deportation and child abductions.

In Russia, where the repression of civil society and independent media is almost complete.

And in so many other parts of the world.

This is a time that calls on all of us not to stand by in silence, but to speak out.

Speak out in support of the international order, in which all countries are treated as equals, and might is not right.

Speak out in support of the universal values, rights and freedoms as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written 75 years ago and so very relevant today.

That is precisely why the Human Rights Council is so very important.

As the world’s main forum for protecting and promoting human rights.

A forum not only for dialogue and discussion, but also for action!

So it is with pride that we announce our candidacy for election to the Council for the term from 2024 to 2026.

We do so knowing that membership is not a free ride. And knowing that it requires us to invest in this role and show backbone.

By speaking out about human rights violations.

Sure in the knowledge that nothing will change if we don’t stand up for what we believe in.

By looking critically at our own country. No country has a perfect track record. It’s always a work in progress.

And by engaging with each other, and reaching out, in a spirit of openness. By conducting a constructive, equal dialogue and by working together.

Realising that working together is the only way to understand each other and move forward.

We are very grateful for all the Council’s impressive collaborative endeavours. And we want to encourage countries, large and small, to seek election to a seat on the Council.

We want the Council to remain fit for purpose.

In our vision, the Human Rights Council must protect the human rights of all people. Everywhere and at all times.

This means preventing violations and providing assistance. And conducting independent investigations.

And we want every member to champion human rights.

Human rights can never be optional for any state. That’s why we should always speak out about violations and abuses.

They cannot be optional because human rights are interlinked and indivisible, be they political, civil, social or economic rights.

And they cannot be optional because they apply to each and every one of us.

That’s why we must ensure that women and LGBTQI+ persons can exercise their rights to the full.

That’s why we must ensure journalists and human rights defenders can do their work without fear.

That’s why we have to strive for accountability, an issue that’s very close to our hearts in my country.

And close to my own heart. 

And that’s why the Kingdom of the Netherlands wants to be your partner in promoting and protecting human rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Even in a year when human rights are being trampled upon so shamefully, I see glimmers of hope.

In Iran, brave young girls and women, young boys and men, are risking their lives to protest for their rights.

It is courage of this kind that our world so desperately needs.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves the uncomfortable question: what do we ourselves risk by speaking out?

I think that if we are really honest with ourselves, we will see that we risk far more by not raising our voices.

So we must listen to each other and have the courage to speak out when we witness injustice.

Only that way can we promote and protect human rights!

Thank you.