UN: Human Rights Council

House of Lords written statement – made on 10th December 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Today, on 10 December, UN Human Rights Day, I will host the London launch of the UK's campaign for election to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for January 2014-December 2016.

The UK is committed to strengthening the UN's mechanisms for driving progress on international adherence to human rights standards, demonstrated by our constructive and thorough approach to our Universal Periodic Review, led by the Ministry of Justice in May. Membership of the HRC would reaffirm our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms across the world.

We have been a strong supporter and active contributor to the HRC since its inception in 2006. Through the HRC, we have been able to turn rhetoric on human rights into accountability and lasting change, leading initiatives on issues including the prevention of torture and combating intolerance. Though the HRC, we have called to account those countries who commit the most serious and widespread violations against their own citizens, for example in Belarus, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Most recently, the HRC has been at the forefront of the international response to the crisis in Syria, mandating the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria to investigate human rights violations and abuses. Membership of the HRC will help ensure the UK stays at the front of efforts to hold those responsible for crimes in Syria to account.

We would use a place at the table to promote appropriate attention to country situations and to priority human rights themes. We would fight hard against those who seek to weaken or undermine international human rights mechanisms.

Throughout our campaign we will focus on four key human rights priorities: protecting those most vulnerable in societies, working towards human dignity for all, responding proactively to evolving challenges, and keeping human rights at the heart of multilateral priorities.

This year, Ministers agreed the HRC should be the UK's top priority international election for 2013. A budget of £30,000 has been allocated between this and one other priority international election (Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, ACABQ).

For colleagues who are interested, I have today placed a more detailed background note in the Libraries of both Houses.