Geneva,, Switzerland

12 March 2007

Secretary-General's video message for the opening of the Fourth Session of the Human Rights Council

Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Madam High Commissioner,

As you open this Fourth Session of the Human Rights Council, a vast responsibility rests on your shoulders. The pursuit of human rights lies at the heart of the mission of the United Nations. It underpins the hopes of millions of people for a life in freedom, security and prosperity.

Last year, I participated in your inaugural session as Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea. I saw, at first hand, the high level of excitement and anticipation at that time.

Now, the world is watching to see whether this young Council will live up to its promise. It is my hope that Council members will work together to promote an objective and universal approach to human rights.

In the weeks and months ahead, your determination will be put to the test time and again. Acute crises and long-simmering human rights issues will demand scrutiny and remedy. It is crucial that you have the components in place to pass those tests.

By your first anniversary in June, the wheels of the Council should be in full motion, including the Universal Periodic Review. This mechanism has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.

Once the Review is in place, you will be able to examine the record and performance of all countries, on all human rights, at regular intervals.

This will also require the help of independent experts, who can use impartial fact collection and analysis to facilitate your work. It will require you to tap into the resources of civil society and the international human rights machinery. And it will require you to make full use of the mandate-holders of special procedures.

I hope you will ensure that all States open their doors to all of them. I hope you will strive to ensure that Governments cooperate with the Council's decisions. And I hope you will work in full partnership with the High Commissioner and her Office, who offer invaluable support for your work to make human rights a permanent item in everyone's agenda.


All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action. That is the essence of your mandate. That is ultimately how you will be judged.

I wish you strength and inspiration in that mission.

Thank you very much.