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Human Rights Council 33, joint statement entitled A Race to the Top, 29 September, 2016

UK statement deleivered during general debate under item 10: A Race to the Top at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

Mr President,

I am pleased to deliver the following statement on behalf of over 40 States.

This Council is mandated by GA resolution 60/251, to promote and protect human rights around the world. That mandate sets out the need for the Council to address situations of violations of human rights and to prevent serious violations from happening.

While maintaining that important work, we believe that the Council’s mandate, and the cause of human rights, could be helped by better identifying situations where the enjoyment of human rights has been strengthened through positive engagement with the Council and the wider UN human rights system.

Mr President,

Over the past ten years, there have been many such examples of cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms, from states’ implementation of far-reaching UPR recommendations to cooperation with country specific and thematic Special Procedures.

However, with more Council sessions, more panels and side events, it is increasingly difficult to find time to take stock of the positive impact that our work has had on the ground. We are missing an evidentiary basis for its real-world impact and therefore a sense of the art of the possible. In particular, we have lacked a system – or mechanism – for systematically identifying these successes, using them to develop good practice, as well as giving countries the recognition they deserve at the HRC.

We believe that this year, the 10th anniversary of the Council, represents an opportune moment to begin a conversation about how we might develop such an approach. This should not be seen as an exercise in self-congratulation or in praising for praising’s sake. Rather it should be an exercise in recognising progress but also difficulties and shortfalls; exchanging information on how obstacles were overcome.

Sadly, this Council will still need to react with concern to deteriorating situations around the world. But that is only one part of the work, and the duty, of this Council. We therefore commit to finding ways to recognise states’ cooperation with the Human Rights Council and the resulting positive impact and progress. This could ultimately serve as inspiration for others to follow-suit; encouraging a race to the top.

Published 29 September 2016