Speaking at an event to mark the UNHCR’s 10th anniversary, Moon said that human rights are, sadly, “under attack” worldwide, and therefore UNHCR must increase its impact on the ground over its second decade.
“The Council’s work on Burundi, Guinea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria and many other places has helped the international community to respond to human rights emergencies and work towards accountability,” he noted.
Moon said that over the past decade, human rights mechanisms have been strengthened, with such instruments as the Universal Periodic Review, which periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States.
In particular, Syria figured high in the UN Chief’s speech. “For five years, the people of that country have endured horrific and widespread human rights abuses including extrajudicial executions and torture,” he said, noting that over 250,000 Syrians have been killed, and nearly half of all Syrians have been displaced from their homes.
The UN chief said an important task for the 47-member Human Rights Council is to reinforce the links between human rights, peace and security, and development. “While Member States have the primary responsibility for upholding rights, it is Member States that are all too often in breach of their commitments,” he said, urging the Human Rights Council to more than ever pursue its work with courage and persistence.