GA: Report of the Human Rights Council

Statement by First Secretary Birgitte Wilhelmsen Wessel on the Report of the Human Rights Council, 1 November 2019.

| General Assembly


Sustainable development for all, depends on the realisation of human rights.

A central ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is creating “a world of universal respect for equality and non-discrimination” and leaving no one behind.

Our common task now is to turn that message into reality.

However, looking at the world today – as outlined in the Human Rights Council Report - we are still far from reaching our ambitions. Discrimination of marginalized groups continues. People are left behind on a large scale. With many of them taking to the streets to communicate their discontent.

To which we reiterate that: all States must refrain from responding violently to peaceful protest. If we want to achieve sustainable peace, and development, we must leave no one behind.



We are deeply concerned by the continual shrinking space for civil society in many countries, and here at the UN.

It is vital for States to recommit to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. And to recognize the crucial role played by human rights defenders in building sustainable, prosperous and democratic societies.

The most recent resolutions in the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on human rights defenders were adopted by consensus.

This demonstrates a global recognition of the role of human rights defenders. But unfortunately, there remains a vast gap between what countries have agreed to, and the reality experienced by human rights defenders in many parts of the world.

Through Norway’s facilitation, the General Assembly has adopted far-reaching resolutions on this subject . And we intend to do so again this year. We have recently presented this session’s draft resolution in the Third Committee for the consideration of Member States.

The resolution stresses the need to step up the implementation of the Declaration.

Including by providing a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders and strengthening their protection. We again look forward to building consensus around this important issue.



In 2019 the Human Rights Council addressed serious human rights violations: passing strong resolutions, and renewing important mandates.

We are pleased to see that the Human Rights Council is delivering. But also recognise the need to make the Council even more efficient in order to truly fulfil its mandate.

We welcome also that the High Commissioner is a strong and clear defender of human rights. But there remains a clear need to strengthen the UN human rights pillar as a whole financially.

Norway encourages all countries to contribute to this end.



Before concluding, we again welcome this opportunity to consider the report of the Human Rights Council in the plenary of the General Assembly.

To listen to the views of others on the Council’s overall work and performance.

But must also underline that it is not within the purview of the General Assembly to reopen decisions taken by the Human Rights Council or its annual report.  

We have a collective commitment to strengthen the UNs human rights machinery, its institutional basis must not be undermined.



To conclude, I want to thank the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Seck for his professional leadership. And for traveling to New York to present the report and engage with the Third Committee.

This is a positive practice, one that furthers our goals of harmonizing human rights work in New York and Geneva. 

Thank you.