Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto at the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council's 52nd session
Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto at the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council's 52nd session on 27 February 2023.
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Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to address the Human Rights Council.
Finland works to ensure that gender equality is always a top priority for the Council. Women and girls have the right to full political and economic participation in society. They have the right to make informed decisions over their future and their own bodies. This Council must continue to support women and girls to make human rights a reality worldwide.
I have great respect for the braveness of women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran. By standing up for their rights, they have set an inspiring example for everyone. At the risk of their own safety, they rightfully demand for international attention and accountability. We must support their call for positive change.
Russia blatantly violates the UN Charter by its unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine. Russian forces have committed brutal atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, including children. We have all seen horrendous images and heard devastating victims’ accounts.
The Russian aggression hampers agricultural production in Ukraine. Reduced Ukrainian harvest means less food for the world population. Globally, poverty and food insecurity are on the rise. Those in hunger need our commitment to help. The Council can build on the work done by the UN General Assembly on the right to food.
Finland fully supports the determined action by this Council to hold Russia accountable for its human rights and humanitarian law violations. The work of the Commission of Inquiry needs to continue. The Council must stand with Ukrainians.
It is our duty to act on all human rights violations, no matter where they occur. Let us not forget the protracted, severe situations in Syria, Mali, South Sudan, Yemen, Myanmar, Nicaragua or Venezuela. From Finland’s standpoint, it is important to create solutions that protect and fulfil human rights. For true reconciliation to take place, victims of violations must get justice.
A strong and free civil society, free media and national human rights institutions remind governments of their responsibilities. A flourishing society embraces different views and backgrounds no matter the person’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, ethnic or indigenous origin.
In this regard, the oppressive restrictions on civic space in Russia, Belarus and China is a concern. Indigenous Peoples in Russia, including Sámi, tell us their rights are harassed. The report on the situation of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang is yet to be discussed in the Council.
To be successful in our solemn obligation to keep human rights at the forefront, we need to engage the youth. I am proud that student organizations in Finland have taken the initiative to create a “Students-at-risk” programme in support of young student human rights defenders.
We still need to improve human rights also in Finland. During our UPR-review last November we got valuable views and suggestions from many of you. This work continues at home.
I hope our common cause will inspire us Members in the Council to do everything we can globally for human rights, including in each of our own home countries.
UN Member States are key guardians of the international human rights framework. The work of the Human Rights Council is vital in promoting dignity of every human being. It is also vital for global peace, security and sustainable development.
This Council has achieved a lot. I am confident that we can do even better. In doing so we have to cooperate with civil society and support the independent work of the UN Human Rights Office. I hope we all can reflect upon our joint commitment as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.