While some speakers welcomed the Human Rights Council’s efforts to investigate alleged violations in countries ranging from Myanmar to South Sudan to Yemen, others voiced concern that selectivity had begun to creep into its agenda and working methods, as the General Assembly began its annual consideration of the 11‑year‑old intergovernmental body.
Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s reports on its thirty‑fourth, thirty‑fifth and thirty‑sixth sessions, as well as its twenty‑sixth special session (documents A/72/53 and A/72/53/Add.1), outlining some of the 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions adopted throughout the year. Noting that by the end of 2017 the Council would have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations under its universal periodic review mechanism, he also drew attention to its establishment of several new inquiry bodies and special procedures mandates over the course of the reporting period.
Among those, he said, the Council had created an independent fact-finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces in Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State. It had also requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts on the human rights situation in Yemen and mandated a new Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members.
Noting that the Council had extended the mandates of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, he said it had also requested the High Commissioner to dispatch an international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasaï region. Additionally, the Council had urged the African Union to establish an independent hybrid court to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in South Sudan.
Drawing attention to the establishment of a joint task force to propose recommendations aimed at helping bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and the resources allocated to it, he said the body had received reports of threats against those who participated in its work. Any such intimidation tactics were totally unacceptable, he stressed.
General Assembly Vice-President Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), delivering a statement on behalf of President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), described the Council as the main United Nations body dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Spotlighting the Council’s importance in the context of continuing abuses and violations around the world, he said that, through its mechanisms, procedures and resolutions, the body gave a voice to all people, including those who were most vulnerable and would otherwise not be heard.
Several speakers during the Assembly’s subsequent debate echoed those sentiments, with the representative of the European Union delegation emphasizing that the Council had contributed positively to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. That body had helped countries with human rights challenges and with fulfilling its international human rights obligations, she said, voicing the bloc’s support for that work and condemning any attempts to undermine its independence.
Mongolia’s representative declared: “Human rights are pivotal in ensuring peace and security.” The Council’s role was therefore particularly critical in conflict-affected areas, where situations of human rights and freedoms were deteriorated and the norms of international human rights law were seriously violated. Describing the universal periodic review as one of the Council’s most important mechanisms, he underscored the need to provide States implementing its previous recommendations with technical assistance, capacity-building and adequate resources.
Cuba’s representative recalled that the Council had been established in response to the need to address double standards, political confrontation and manipulation in the work of its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. Stressing that it must avoid any recurrence of such practices, she also emphasized that the periodic review was the only existing universal mechanism mandated to comprehensively analyse the human rights situation in all countries based on the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality and non‑selectivity. In that regard, she called on the Council to continue to speak out in favour of a more democratic and equitable world order.
The representative of Liechtenstein warned that not all the provisions in the Council’s founding resolution were being implemented in practice. Expressing his country’s staunch support for the body — and welcoming such recent efforts as its adoption of resolutions on the situation in Myanmar and technical assistance and capacity-building in Yemen — he nevertheless said its efficiency and impact on the ground could benefit from a review of its working methods and setting of priorities.
Eritrea’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that all human rights were universal and the Council’s work in promoting economic, social and cultural rights remained vital to fighting poverty and inequality. Rejecting the notion of any “hierarchy of rights”, or the promotion of one set of rights to the exclusion of others, he expressed concern over growing attempts to undermine the Council’s mandate by proposing that its report be submitted directly to the Assembly without first obtaining the endorsement of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).
The representative of the Russian Federation was among those expressing concern over the Council’s recent evolution, noting that it was moving from a platform for cooperative dialogue into a space where some States sought to settle political scores. Emphasizing that the body must scrupulously follow the principles of universality, impartiality and objectivity, he also pointed to an increasing polarization of items on the body’s agenda that had once been dealt with in an equitable manner. No country was free of human rights violations, he stressed, adding that it was therefore unacceptable for some States to shame or label others.
Also sounding alarms over the Council’s selective practices was Israel’s delegate, who decried the baseless accusations and dozens of biased resolutions that became part of its global campaign to delegitimize and demonize her country. “Selectivity becomes a poison that eats away at the credibility of this body,” she stressed, noting that the Council continued to single out Israel under item 7 of its agenda. Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights violators passed by without scrutiny, and some were even members of the Council.
Also speaking were the representatives of Qatar, Australia (on behalf of a group of States), India, Kuwait, Belarus, Iran, Argentina, El Salvador, Maldives, Georgia and Switzerland.
The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 7 November, to take up the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the 15‑nation organ.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), Vice-President of the General Assembly, delivering a statement on behalf of Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), said the Human Rights Council was the main United Nations body dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Its importance remained clear, as in many places around the world violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms continued. Through its various mechanisms, procedures and resolutions, the Council gave a voice to all people, including those who were most vulnerable and who would otherwise not be heard. It was also the main forum to address the situation of those facing gross violations, discrimination and exclusion. Noting that the Council had begun the third cycle of its universal periodic review — an inclusive peer review mechanism based on the principles of dialogue cooperation and the equal treatment of all Member States — he stressed that promoting and protecting human rights was one of the three pillars of the United Nations.
JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI (El Salvador), President of the Human Rights Council, presented the intergovernmental body’s annual report (document A/72/53), noting that it contained its activities, resolutions, decisions and presidential statements adopted at its regular session, as well as the special session held in December 2016. Over the year, the Council had proactively addressed human rights issues through its country-specific as well as thematic mandates. It adopted a total of 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of which had been adopted without a vote. Under its universal periodic review, the Council would by the end of 2017 have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations.
Noting that the Council had also seen the increased participation of small island developing States and least developed countries — thanks to the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance that had supported 27 delegates and fellows hailing from 26 countries — he said the situation in Myanmar deserved special attention. The Council had created an independent fact-finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces in that country, particularly in Rakhine state, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered. On the situation in Syria, he said interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry [on the Syrian Arab Republic] had been held during all three of the Council’s regular sessions in 2017. The Commission’s mandate had also been extended for another year, and the Council had held a panel discussion to provide an opportunity for victims to provide testimony on specific cases of rights violations.
Outlining the Council’s work in South Sudan, he said that it had urged the African Union to speedily establish an independent hybrid court to prosecute those responsible for violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, or, where applicable, South Sudanese law. The body had also considered the oral update of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, extending its mandate for another year, and received reports from its Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as well as the group of independent experts on accountability for human rights violations in that country. On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the Council had requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a team of international experts to collect and preserve information and determine the facts and circumstances concerning alleged abuses and violations in the Kasaï region.
Over the course of the year, he said, the Council had also requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations related to human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka, and invited the Office to continue to report on the situations in Ukraine, Libya and Georgia. Regarding human rights in Yemen, he said the body had requested the High Commissioner to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts with knowledge of human rights law and the Yemeni context to monitor and report on the situation and make relevant recommendations. Among other things, the Council had considered the contributions of human rights to peacebuilding and sustainable development. Its panel discussion had focused, among other things, on climate change, public health and access to medicine, racial profiling, the effects of terrorism, xenophobia and the human rights of women and girls.
In 2017, he said the Council had established a new mandate of its special procedures, namely the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members. One observer State had extended a standing invitation to the body’s thematic special procedures; however, he was concerned by the position of some States not to cooperate with those mechanisms or to cooperate only with a select few. Calling upon all States to provide their full cooperation, he described positive progress made by the universal periodic review during its twenty‑eighth session as well as the active participation of civil society and national human rights institutions in the Council’s work. In addition, the Council had adopted several resolutions with recommendations made to the General Assembly, including one adopted last March on the human rights situation in Syria, through which it had recommended that the Assembly submit the reports of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to the Security Council for appropriate action.
Also describing the Council’s recent activities related to the human rights situations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and on the participation of peoples of African descent in the work of the United Nations, he said that it had requested the General Assembly to submit the reports and oral updates of the respective commissions of inquiry on the situations in Eritrea and Burundi to all relevant organs of the United Nations for consideration and appropriate action. Recalling the establishment of a joint task force to propose recommendations aimed at helping bridge the growing gap between the Council’s workload and the resources allocated to it, he also noted that the latter had received reports of threats against those who participated in its work, and emphasized that any such intimidation tactics were totally unacceptable.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that all human rights were universal and the right to development was an inalienable right. Africa fully subscribed to the notion that the elimination of poverty must remain a high priority for the international community. The Human Rights Council’s work in promoting economic, social and cultural rights remained vital to fighting poverty and inequality. The Group stressed the principle of constructive dialogue and international cooperation aimed at assisting States to fulfil their human rights obligations. The Group recognized that the progressive realization of rights was informed by the recognition that extreme poverty and social exclusion constituted a violation of human dignity and that urgent steps were necessary to achieve better knowledge of extreme poverty and its causes.
“We do not believe in the hierarchy of rights which seems to be the premise of the human rights‑based approach,” he said, adding that the Group could not promote one set of rights to the exclusion of others. He reaffirmed the mandate of the Third Committee to examine the work of the Human Rights Council. The Group expressed concern over growing attempts to undermine the Council’s mandate by proposing that the Report of the Human Rights Council be submitted to the General Assembly without the endorsement of the Committee. The Group cautioned against that dangerous precedent on the methods of work of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies. Any changes to that mandate would require the endorsement by the universal membership through an inclusive intergovernmental process.
Ms. BRITO-MANEIRA, of the European Union delegation, said the mechanisms of the Council had contributed positively to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. That body had helped countries with human rights challenges and with fulfilling its international human rights obligations. The Human Rights Council must continue to promote the mainstreaming of human rights at the United Nations and enhance constructive dialogue and cooperation between itself and the Security Council. The European Union looked forward to continuing the implementation of the Human Rights Council’s mandate by engaging in a constructive dialogue and review focusing on the body’s efficiency, effectiveness and impact. She recalled the independence of the Human Rights Council and condemned any attempt to undermine it.
The severe consequences of the crisis in Syria could not be ignored, she stressed, emphasizing that violators of international law and human rights law must be brought to justice. Welcoming the establishment of a group to carry out an investigation of abuses committed in Yemen, she called on all parties to the conflict to cooperate fully with the new fact-finding mechanism. She also welcomed human rights efforts in Sri Lanka, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Mali, East Jerusalem, Libya, Georgia and Ukraine. Civil society played a crucial role in the Council, she continued, condemning any acts to intimidate those actors, also adding: “We must do the utmost to prevent and eliminate such acts.” She called on members of the Council to pay careful attention to the human rights situation in their own country without discrimination and to engage with the body in the spirit of self-reflection. She also expressed concern over violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), noting that her country had been re‑elected to the Human Rights Council for the period 2018‑2020, said its national policies were aimed at ensuring respect and protection of all peoples’ fundamental freedoms and human rights. Describing Qatar’s consistent “open door policy” to all special mandate holders, its strategic approach to the protection and promotion of human rights and its close work with the Council’s various mechanisms, she said the latter’s annual report demonstrated the difficult situation still faced by people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Calling upon all parties to respect human rights, and to observe all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council, she also drew attention to the report’s sections on the serious human rights violations that continued in Syria. Despite its many strides in protecting and promoting human rights, her country still suffered under the imposition of illegal unilateral measures, which constituted a violation of Qataris’ human rights. Policies should be put in place against States that sought to flout international standards on human rights, she stressed, not against those that protected them as Qatar did.
CAITLIN WILSON (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, underscored the Council’s direct reporting relationship with the Assembly plenary and called on States to respect its separate mandate. Tolerance of, acquiescence to or the commission of gross and systematic violations should not be accepted or condoned by Council members. “Being a member of the Council is a privilege,” she said, and her delegation supported discussion of how it might be reformed to secure its continued status as a respected human rights advocate.
She voiced deep concern over hostility against civil society and human rights defenders, and objected to reprisals against any person cooperating or seeking to do so with the United Nations. She also expressed deep concern over harassment, intimidation and obstruction by States towards mandate holders, calling on States to work constructively with them, grant access where required, consider their recommendations and engage respectfully “even when common ground is difficult to find”. To remain effective, the Council must emphasize diversity and inclusion, notably by ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons enjoyed equal rights protection; that persons with disabilities were empowered; and that indigenous peoples’ rights were upheld. States must consistently apply agreed language in core international human rights instruments, she asserted.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that while his country was a staunch supporter of the Human Rights Council, it also recognized that there was need for improvement in several key areas. Not all provisions in the body’s founding resolution were implemented in practice, he added, recalling that it was a binding political commitment that States had to live up to. He called on States to renew their commitment and adapt their election practice accordingly as a contribution to strengthening the Council in its daily work. The body’s efficiency and impact on the ground could certainly benefit from a review of its working methods and setting of priorities. He welcomed the resolution adopted by the Council regarding the situation of human rights in Myanmar and particularly its decision to dispatch an independent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations by security forces. That was an important step in ensuring full accountability. He also welcomed the resolution on human rights, technical assistance and capacity-building in Yemen and in particular the establishment of a body to investigate atrocities and violations there.
TANMAYA LAL (India) said divergent priorities and concerns surrounding human rights discussions stemmed from differing levels of development, social and cultural contexts and governance systems of Member States. While global discourse on human rights continued to evolve, contradictions remained. Constraints on national capacities to implement certain rights, the politicization of human rights issues as a foreign policy tool and perceived intrusiveness remained contentious. Furthermore, there were continued calls for reforms to the institutional mechanisms that encompassed human rights issues, including the Human Rights Council. While the Council continued to expand, the effectiveness of its work was not always clear. For instance, there was a proliferation of special procedures that were not always productive, opaquely funded and often exceeded their mandates. The universal periodic review was a successful tool in addressing some of those issues, and he encouraged more instances of constructive and collaborative engagement rather than politicized ‘naming and shaming’ to promote the protection of human rights.
Ms. AL-SABAH (Kuwait), noting that many challenges still faced the United Nations and its bodies working to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, said Member States had the obligation to cooperate with those efforts. In that regard, she recalled that, in 2017, Kuwait had hosted both the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, as well as members of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. Among other special procedures mandate holders, she expressed hope that the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of persons with disabilities and on the right to housing would also visit the country. Voicing regret that flagrant violations of human rights continued unabated in many parts of the world — including in Kuwait’s own region — with many people displaced as a result, she noted with concern that such abuses continued in the context of the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territory and against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
NELLY SHILO (Israel), decrying the dismal and hypocritical situation of the Human Rights Council, said its baseless accusations and dozens of biased resolutions as part of item 7 had become part of a global campaign to delegitimize and demonize her country. That must change if the international community truly wanted to promote and protect human rights. The High Commissioner himself referred in early September to the hypocrisy in the work of the Human Rights Council when he said: “Selectivity becomes a poison that eats away at the credibility of this body.” Her country had reiterated that fact repeatedly, but item 7 remained and, with it, the singling out of one State, Israel. Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights violators passed by without scrutiny. Some were even members of the Council, entrusted with the protection of human rights for the world. She called for reform in the body that finally erased the discriminatory practices against Israel.
IRINA VELICHKO (Belarus) said that the intergovernmental body was always burdening its agenda with politicized approaches to human rights, with selectivity and political motivations continuing to taint its major principles. She expressed concern that in the Human Rights Council’s decision-making, Member States did not try to negotiate and many of the resolutions were adopted by vote. Those decisions then caused disputes among Member States at the General Assembly. Decisions must be aimed at the real needs of Member States, she stressed. The Council’s report continued to demonstrate an ongoing trend to increase the work of the body. It was unacceptable to expand the Council’s agenda and increase its length of sessions. The body must take a serious look at its work, including in duplicating and reproducing resolutions. As long as States continued to manipulate human rights for their own political motives, the Council would be unable to conduct its work objectively.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), welcoming important strides made by the Council over the reporting period, declared: “Human rights are pivotal in ensuring peace and security.” The Council’s role was therefore particularly critical in conflict-affected areas, where situations of human rights and freedoms were deteriorated and the norms of international human rights law were seriously violated. Mongolia, which was currently serving the second year of its membership on the Council, was committed to contributing to the full implementation of its mandate. Describing the universal periodic review as one of its most important mechanisms, he underscored the need to provide States implementing its previous recommendations with both technical assistance and capacity-building. The special procedures mandate holders were another integral part of the Council’s work, he said, recalling that several such rapporteurs had completed successful visits to Mongolia. OHCHR should be provided with more financial and human resources, and more resources should also be made available for the effective implementation of all relevant recommendations, he said, adding that the Council should step up its work with the private sector and the business community.
MOHAMMAD HASSANI NEJAD PIRKOUHI (Iran) said that, unfortunately, the Council was yet to be fully utilized as a medium for dialogue and cooperation. In many instances, it was being exploited for political purposes, he added, emphasizing that politicization and manipulation had increased the mistrust and eroded the effectiveness of the body. It was unfortunate that some countries still preferred to revert to the dysfunctional practice of the Commission on Human Rights and table country-specific resolutions that only increased confrontation rather than cooperation. His country disassociated itself from the part of the Human Rights Council’s report which included the so‑called resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran. He also reiterated his country’s principled position of non‑recognition of and non‑cooperation with the mandates that were created by the Council out of the sphere of internationally recognized human rights.
Mr. LUKIANTSEV (Russian Federation) said the Council should scrupulously follow the principles of universality, impartiality and objectivity and work to pursue the protection of human rights for all. Expressing concern that the body was evolving from a platform for cooperative dialogue into a space where some States sought to settle political scores, he also pointed to an increasing polarization of items on the Council’s agenda that had once been dealt with in an equitable manner. No country was free of human rights violations, and it was therefore unacceptable for some States to shame or label others. Such actions undermined the United Nations work, he stressed, adding that even agenda item 10 on the provision of technical assistance and capacity-building had regrettably been politicized.
It was unacceptable to use the Council to insert issues that were outside of its mandate, he stressed, noting that the body’s work must be based on the parameters laid out in Assembly resolution 60/251. Any changes to that mandate must be agreed by all States, he said, urging States to avoid attempts to enshrine narrow interpretations of human rights norms as “universal” when they in fact were not. He also voiced concern over the Council’s intrusion on the work of other United Nations bodies and agencies, noting that the integration of human rights into their work “must have its limits” and that duplication should be avoided. Moreover, ensuring respect for the sovereignty and the sovereign equality of all States — as well as avoiding double standards — was critical.
GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), underscoring the need to ensure smooth cooperation between Headquarters and Geneva, said her country had always upheld the Council’s independence, work and achievements and would continue to do so. Emphasizing the Council’s primary role in protecting and promoting human rights around the world, she said the body had contributed to increased dialogue between States on such issues. Applauding the recent renewal of the mandate of the Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, she called on all States to strengthen cooperation with the various special procedures mandate holders, adding that Argentina had welcomed numerous special rapporteurs over the past year and hoped to be visited by others in 2018.
Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador) said the Human Rights Council was the principle United Nations body intended to uphold human rights worldwide. In that context, its procedures and work must be fully respected. El Salvador was an active member of the Human Rights Council, having joined it in 2015. The respect for and promotion of human rights was a State policy in El Salvador, he added. His country remained committed to international human rights processes. At the national level, El Salvador remained committed to the promotion and protection of human rights without any discrimination. He also welcomed the Council’s report and commended the work conducted by the body in the reporting period.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) called for the Human Rights Council to return to its roots and undertake its work in an impartial, objective and non‑selective manner, to reflect its intergovernmental character and ensure its credibility. His delegation condemned not only the human rights abuses in Syria, but also the international community’s acceptance of them, he said, adding: “We seem to remain complacent when warring parties attack humanitarian targets.” Another crisis that had escaped adequate response from the Council was the situation facing the Rohingya community in Myanmar. That minority Muslim population faced gross and systematic violations of their rights, he emphasized, noting that the renewal of the fact-finding mission was a step in the right direction, but was not enough. He expressed support for the call for a special session of the Human Rights Council to be convened urgently with a substantive and clear outcome resolution to stop any further atrocities. He noted that the Human Rights Council’s working methods were more opaque and less inclusive than those of the Assembly, and delegates attending a single session, such as those from small island developing States, were at a disadvantage. He called for introducing specific and practical measures to improve the body’s working methods.
ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said that the Council’s effectiveness highly depended on universal participation. Recalling the resolution on “Cooperation with Georgia”, she said it was regrettable that no access was granted to OHCHR or to the United Nations human rights mechanisms. She underscored the importance of the universal periodic review mechanism, adding that Georgia had incorporated the recommendations received into its national action plans. At the national level, her country had established an institution that tracked and coordinated national implementation of various recommendations. Effective domestic implementation was critical to advancing human rights on the ground. She also underscored the participation of civil society, adding that strengthening their role was important to ensuring their voices were heard. She rejected any action of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who had cooperated with the United Nations.
Ms. VALIENTE (Cuba) stressed that the Human Rights Council had been established because of the need to address double standards, political confrontation and manipulation in the former Commission on Human Rights and underscored that it should avoid the recurrence of the negative practices that had discredited that body. Reiterating Cuba’s concerns over trends to impose selectivity and double standards in the Council in addressing human rights situations — which was reflected in the report before the Assembly today — she said political manipulation in dealing with country situations must be brought to a halt. Noting that the periodic review was the only existing universal mechanism to comprehensively analyse the human rights situation in all countries based on respect for the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality and non‑selectivity, she called on the Council to continue to speak out in favour of a democratic and equitable world order. That must include its continued rejection of such unilateral coercive measures and blockades as the one under which her country had suffered for more than 55 years, she said, also expressing regret that, at its last session, the Council had adopted by a vote several resolutions that had previously enjoyed the consensus of Member States, including one on the Right to Food.
Ms. WAGNER (Switzerland) said the international community’s success in protecting and promoting respect for human rights depended on better integration of those rights into the United Nations global agenda. The relationship between human rights and peace and security was worthy of special attention. He noted that Switzerland and other Member States had launched an appeal in June to put human rights at the heart of efforts in conflict prevention and to enhance the exchange of useful information between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council. He called on all Member States to join the 71 countries which had already lent their support to the appeal. Greater inclusion and protection of civil society represented an investment in a Human Rights Council with significant impact, efficiency and credibility. He expressed concern for the numerous cases of intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders and other members of civil society when exercising their fundamental rights by providing first-hand information to representatives of United Nations mechanisms. He also added that while the increase in the Council’s workload confirmed its relevance, it was not sustainable in the medium term.