Speech by Mr. Lionel Veer, Human Rights Ambassador

The Kingdom of the Netherlands

Human Rights Council 25nd Session

Speech delivered by Mr. Lionel Veer, Human Rights Ambassador

- Check against delivery –

Mr. President, honorable delegates,

'Dignity, Equality and Freedom'. This is the slogan of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for our pledge for membership to the Human Rights Council for the term 2015 – 2017.We believe that the Council holds great responsibility and that human rights need to be defended, at home and around the world. Please allow me to explain our priorities for a term in the Council.

  • At the national level, we pledge to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. To that end, we will implement our recently adopted National Action Plan on Human Rights. This National Action Plan aims to improve the protection of human rights in the Netherlands in five main areas: (1) the improvement of our national human rights infrastructure, (2) tackling discrimination, (3) protecting privacy and personal data, (4) protecting rights in alien detention and (5) combating domestic violence, child abuse and trafficking in human beings. We also strongly believe that a high level of national protection of human rights is well served by a willingness to engage in dialogue with partners and external supervisory bodies. We therefore uphold a standing invitation to all Special Procedures and pledge to cooperate fully with the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies.
  • At the international level, we will continue our longstanding tradition of promoting and protecting human rights through bilateral and trilateral partnerships. Where possible, we seek to work through cross-regional alliances. We believe that through partnerships based on mutual trust and support, we can achieve dignity, equality and freedom worldwide.
  • First: A life of human dignity for all. Too many women and girls continue to fall victim to a wide range of violence. Too many children around the world are forced to work, rather than to go to school. And too manyfamilies are deprived of their rights to water, sanitation and food. We will continue our efforts, both financially and politically, to address these important human rights issues. We will also actively promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and are proud to be one of the first countries that have adopted a National Action Plan on this matter.
  • Second: Equality and non-discrimination. There can be no room for discrimination of any kind; not on the basis of race, not on the basis of religion, not on the basis of political or other opinion, nor on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. We are strongly committed to promote gender equality and have adopted a National Action Plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We also stand for the protection of persons with disabilities and aim to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities no later than 2015.
  • Third: fundamental freedoms. We believe that every person has the right to choose his or her own religion or belief, and to freely express his opinion, both offline and online. To promote freedom online we have cofounded the Freedom Online Coalition, which we pledge to further support. We also continue to support human rights defenders, and offer them temporary relief if needed through our Shelter City Initiative.

Mr. President, honorable delegates,

  • If elected to the Council, the Kingdom of the Netherlands will play its role as active promoter of all human rights, ranging from economic, social and cultural rights to civil and political rights. We believe in a Council which responds timely and effectively to urgent human rights crises around the world. A Council which discusses and takes action on country situations, but also on broader themes. We believe in a Council in which all countries can voice their concerns, and we therefore strongly support the OHCHR Trust Fund to promote the participation of Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries in the Council. We believe in a Council with a functioning UPR-system in which all countries are equally evaluated for their national human rights situation, including my very own country. We believe in a Council in which civil society is heard, and through our Human Rights Fund we provide financial support for civil society actors working for the promotion and protection of human rights. And finally, we believe in a Council which operates on the basis of mutual respect, engagement and dialogue. Together with you, we hope to offer a valuable contribution to the important work of this Council. We therefore hope for your trust and support.