Human Rights as Supreme Value

Speech given by Deputy Head of Mission, Greg Quinn, on 9 December. This is an English transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

UN Human Rights Day, Round Table Human Rights as Supreme Value

Ladies and Gentlemen Mr Chairman, Excellences.

I am delighted to be here today. I would like to welcome and thank everyone involved in making this event possible. It is an honour for me to be speaking from this platform shared Mr Alexei Volkov, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would like to thank Chairman Kuanysh Sultanov and the Secretary of the Human Rights Commission, Tastemir Abishev, for all their efforts in organising this event and for their unstinting commitment to the promotion of human rights. Finally, I would also like to thank the United Nations Development Programme, the European Delegation and the UNHCR office for supporting this event.

Tomorrow is 10 December. Each year on that date, the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is marked by Human Rights Day. The United Kingdom sees this as an opportunity to celebrate human rights and to demonstrate our support and advocacy for the rights of people everywhere to enjoy everything this day stands for. This year it is an even more special day for my country– as we are celebrating our re-election to the UN Human Rights Council on 12 November.

Last year at a similar event to this one my then Ambassador congratulated Kazakhstan on its accession to the Human Rights Council. He noted that it was a highly significant event. Indeed, we see it as an honour to serve on the Council as all members share a duty to promote and protect human rights globally. We will be proud to serve in 2014-2016 and we look forward to working closely with the other members of the Council, including our friends and colleagues from Kazakhstan.

Following the announcement of the election results in New York, the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon William Hague MP, stated that: “We will use our voice to help strengthen the Council, to support countries working to improve their human rights record, and to call to account nations that commit serious and systematic violations against their citizens.” I would also like to take this opportunity to share our priorities for our membership with you. We will focus on: Freedom of Religion and Belief; Business and Human Rights; the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative; and our work on UN institutional reform.

Tomorrow also marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The UK supports this international campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level. We would like to thank Kazakhstan – both governmental agencies and NGOs – for their support of this initiative and their efforts to combat all kinds of gender violence. I am sure that the UK and Kazakhstan will work closely on this issue in the Human Rights Council. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kazakhstan on the occasion of its first ever female Deputy Prime Minister. It is symbolic that DPM Gulshara Adbykalikova has twice chaired the National Commission for Women and Family Affairs and dedicated substantial efforts to combating domestic violence.

I wish everyone here every success in their work on championing human rights and preventing injustices.


Published 11 December 2013
Last updated 11 December 2013 + show all updates
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