Ignazio Cassis opens UN Human Rights Council on anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and war in Ukraine

Press releases, 27.02.2023

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, opened the 52nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today. In his speech, he reiterated his strong condemnation of Russia's aggression against Ukraine and massive violation of human rights, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Never again should a state be allowed to deprive individuals of their fundamental rights and freedoms. Regrettably, since 1948, the world has been accumulating 'agains'," said Mr Cassis in his opening speech.

Speaking in Geneva on Monday, Mr Cassis recalled the numerous human rights violations committed during the war in Ukraine but also in other parts of the world. "Ukraine is on the front line today, but I am not forgetting all the human dramas that are before this Council. We have seen some important progress in regard to the respect of human rights, however," noted Mr Cassis, highlighting the establishment of special tribunals and the International Criminal Court in particular. "We continue to see a gap between states' commitments and what is actually happening," he added.

Protecting human rights for greater peace, security and justice

Speaking alongside UN Secretary-General António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, Mr Cassis called on the international community to step up its efforts – firstly, in order to ensure respect for fundamental rights and, secondly, in order to forestall any risk of their violation, in particular through dialogue, and to offer a guarantee of justice to the victims. "Switzerland is ready to search for solutions," concluded Cassis.

The Human Rights Council plays a central role: its mandate is to address human rights violations around the world and to make recommendations. Since the Council's establishment in 2006, Switzerland has made a significant contribution to supporting this mandate.

Bilateral talks on the margins of the Human Rights Council

While participating in the opening of the Human Rights Council, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis also took the opportunity to hold bilateral talks. Among others, he met with the Prime Minister of Yemen, the President of the UN General Assembly and the Foreign Ministers of Kuwait, Indonesia and Senegal.

Further information:

UN Human Rights Council
Address by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

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