By Ban Ki-Moon –
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Council is mandated to advance human rights every day and everywhere.
Through its increased dynamism, more frequent meetings and agile and innovative use of its unique special procedures, the Human Rights Council is helping the world become more vigilant in tracking the earliest signs of crisis.
Through the Universal Periodic Review – which is now well into its second cycle – the Council is fostering an ever-growing richness in the dialogue with states about their human rights commitments.
This Council is uniquely aware of the heavy toll of human rights abuses and atrocities. You read the Rapporteurs’ reports. You hear the testimony of victims and witnesses. You help translate those appeals into concrete action.
As we survey crises and challenges around the world, your work for accountability and an end to impunity is critical.
Conflicts from Syria to South Sudan and the Central African Republic are sad testaments to what can happen when perpetrators feel free to abuse without consequences.
I welcome the High Commissioner’s report on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.
The Commission on Inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gives voice to the suffering of the many victims of grave human rights violations and provides a roadmap for the country to adhere with universal human rights standards.
I once again urge the DPRK authorities to work with the international community to improve human rights and the living conditions of its people – and I reaffirm my commitment as Secretary-General of the United Nations to help the DPRK toward that end.
In Syria, all parties have committed violations of human rights of unimaginable scope and character.
Those States that are members of both the Human Rights Council and the Security Council have a special duty to end this bloody war and ensure robust accountability.
The besieging of communities, death by starvation and indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons of terror are unacceptable.
Those committing such acts are on notice: This Council and the world are watching.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
This will be the final time I have the honour to address the Human Rights Council in the presence of High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madame Navi Pillay.
High Commissioner Pillay has been a fearless defender of the most vulnerable.
She has been on the frontlines of crises.
She has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and an eloquent voice against racism, xenophobia and intolerance.
She has been creative, persistent and patient in our vital efforts to strengthen the treaty body system.
This is not a time for farewells – she will continue to lead the OHCHR for a number of months to come.
But I know you join me in this early tribute to express our appreciation, respect and deep gratitude to High Commissioner Pillay.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
As we build on our progress, I cannot help but reflect on the many places and people I have encountered in recent years.
I have walked with the survivors of the death camps of Auschwitz and visited the killing fields of Cambodia.
I have wept with the survivors of the Rwanda genocide, widows in Srebrenica and the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
I have spoken with the children in refugee camps that continue to swell with Syrians fleeing the nightmare in their country.
I am pained by their plight but also inspired by their resilience.
I know that their grief and their grievances – their appeals and their aspirations – can find expression and purpose in your work here.
Together, let us work together to secure all human rights for all people.
Together, let us build a life of dignity for all.
I count on your commitment and leadership.
*Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s speech at the opening of the twenty-fifth regular session of the Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva: