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UN Rights Council Should Take Principled, Consistent Response to Grave Abuses

HRW Oral Statement – Item 2 General Debate – UN Human Rights Council (HRC55)

Mr. President,

As the High Commissioner said last week, “the power of human rights is rooted in their universality – the equal value of every human life that is at their core.”

That universality is being undermined, as too many states act in narrow self-interest, demonstrating double standards through selective support for human rights.

Rightly condemning Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, but staying shamefully silent in the face of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. Rightly working to hold the Myanmar military accountable for its campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, but staying shamefully silent on the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.

To protect and reinforce the credibility of the human rights system, and the rules-based international order, states need to recommit to universality and take a robust, principled and consistent approach, condemning  grave abuses and supporting accountability, no matter who the perpetrators are.

In this context, where states and this Council fall short, the independent mandate of the Office is all the more important.

In that regard, we appeal to the High Commissioner to brief the Council on the situation in Xinjiang, without delay, providing a concrete update in relation to the recommendations issued by his Office in 2022.

We also encourage the Office to ensure continued investigations and public reporting on grave abuses in Ethiopia, and monitoring whether the promised transitional justice process complies with international law.

Finally, we urge states to ensure the Office has sufficient resources to operationalize mandates established by this Council, including on Sudan and economic, social and cultural rights.

Thank you.

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