Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said:
At a time of tensions in many regions and risks to human rights, the UN’s Human Rights Council provides the international community with a strong voice to uphold universal rights and condemn human rights violations wherever they occur. We must never tire of calling for all alleged violations and abuses of human rights to be investigated and ensuring those responsible for atrocities are held to account. I was pleased to see progress in this session on several of the UK’s priorities.
Today’s vote on Ukraine matters. The UK welcomes HRC support for Ukraine’s efforts to address the human rights challenges in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and its commitment to working with the UN human rights bodies. The resolution calls on both the Government of Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists to ensure the protection of human rights and for continued UN monitoring. It also requested that the UN High Commissioner report on the implementation of the resolution to the Human Rights Council at the next session. The endorsement of the resolution will bolster Ukraine as it works to protect human rights throughout the country. We encourage the Government of Ukraine to draw on the advice and expertise of UN and OSCE human rights institutions in tackling the challenges ahead. We assure them of our continued support.
We welcome the continued strong support for a resolution which demands that the Assad regime grant the UN Commission of Inquiry unrestricted access throughout Syria. The resolution sends a clear message that human rights violations and abuses carry serious consequences, and, referring to the role of the International Criminal Court, makes clear that perpetrators will be brought to justice. We will continue to work to document atrocities, sanction those responsible and support the victims of the war.
The UK remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in South Sudan. The resolution presented by the Africa Group and subsequently adopted fails to reflect the extent and seriousness of recent events in the country. The dire situation requires ongoing monitoring and reporting to help the HRC and the government of South Sudan to appropriately address the situation. To this end we believe that the establishment of a mandate holder to enable such monitoring and support is vital. The UK urges the Government of South Sudan to use all the mechanisms at its disposal to address the situation, including co-operating with the AU Commission of Inquiry and OHCHR. The UK is ready to work with the Government to support the enjoyment of human rights by all citizens of the country.
The UK welcomes the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for Belarus, which provides important international scrutiny of the human rights situation. We will continue to monitor the human rights situation, in particular the use of the death penalty – which the UK opposes in all circumstances and in all countries.
Promoting and protecting women’s rights is a priority for the UK Government and I am encouraged that the HRC has again demonstrated the resolve of the international community to tackle violence and discrimination against women through the adoption of two important resolutions. As we said during Council debates on female genital mutilation (FGM), early child and forced marriage, violence against women and gender stereotyping, the time for talk has ended. These are priority issues for the UK and we will be tireless in our efforts to see words translated into action.
We were pleased that the core-group resolution on Business and Human Rights was adopted. The UK remains committed to action, including through the implementation of our National Action Plan. However, we regret that the failure to agree on single resolution puts at risk the international consensus which has existed around business and human rights since the UN Guiding Principles were agreed in 2011. We remain convinced that the implementation of the Guiding Principles provides the best way to promote responsible business practice, protect potential victims, and provide remedy for victims of human rights abuses.
The United Kingdom is proud to have contributed to the vital work of the Council at this session, helping to consolidate its role at the forefront of global human rights work. Without action those who flout human rights face no consequences, and a culture of impunity is allowed to thrive. We are already looking ahead to the next session in September.
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