Geneva, Switzerland

2 March 2015

Secretary-General's video message to High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council

Your Excellency Mr. Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council, Honourable Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to share a message with you.

The protection and realization of human rights is intrinsic to the entire agenda of the United Nations.

The world faces serious violations of human rights, from discrimination and inequality to oppression and violent extremism.  Our shared challenge is to do far more to keep these and other abuses from occurring in the first place.  The conflict in Syria offers just one example where early United Nations efforts to address human rights violations might have averted a human and political catastrophe.

The United Nations has the mandates and the tools it needs to act preventively, from capacity building to monitoring and reporting.  The biggest challenge to using these tools is the lack of political consensus among Member States.

I appeal to the Human Rights Council to unite behind early, practical steps to support national actors in promoting and protecting human rights.  Early action on human rights helps to strengthen national sovereignty, rather than challenge or restrict it.

My Human Rights Up Front initiative is mobilizing UN agencies and staff.  I look to Member States to do their part in generating this much-needed shift in the way we work. 

The High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office, and I as Secretary-General, will continue to be your allies in fulfilling this responsibility.  Thank you.