Statement of Ms. Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the occasion of my first anniversary in office, allow me to discuss the salient human rights issues that have shaped the past eventful twelve months and that are likely to remain of the utmost concern for the human rights community in the foreseeable future.
A year ago, I stated that the United Nations principles of impartiality, independence and integrity would guide me in discharging my mandate. I added that I regarded my Office as a springboard for the protection, betterment and welfare of all and a place where all would be given a fair audience.
Developments of the past year have given our priorities a renewed sense of urgency and have also thrown the spotlight on emerging issues. They have put in sharp focus the need to promote, and protect human rights more effectively. I refer particularly to the effects of the economic crisis, the flaring-up of conflict, as well as continuing discrimination and violence against women, minorities, migrants and other vulnerable groups.
On the positive side, we have seen commemorations all over the world of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the expansion of international human rights law through the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the adoption by the Durban Review Conference of an outcome document that will strengthen our efforts to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. I urge all States to adopt the General Assembly resolution endorsing the outcome document. Distinguished Members of the Human Rights Council, I look forward to your forthcoming discussions related to the special sessions, including those on the occupied Palestinian territory, and the global food and financial crises.
For the present address, I shall focus on several specific overarching issues that, I believe, affect many States and that form the roots of chronic human rights conditions as well as emergencies. These issues will engage my Office as thematic priorities over the next biennium.