The Netherlands to seek another term on the Human Rights Council

The Netherlands is looking to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council during the 2020-22 term. ‘It’s the most important international forum for human rights in the world,’ said foreign minister Sigrid Kaag in Geneva on Monday at the opening meeting of the 37th session of the Council.

She asked the UN member states to support the Netherlands’ candidacy in the HRC elections, which will be held in the General Assembly at the end of 2019. The Netherlands has previously been a member of the Council, from 2015 to 2017, and it now holds observer status.

In her speech Ms Kaag argued that human rights are under pressure around the world. She went on to say that respect for human rights and the rule of law is a prerequisite for stability and security. Apart from its other benefits, a stable society is attractive to investors and entrepreneurs, and in that sense a foundation for sustainable development and economic growth.

The Human Rights Council has taken a number of significant decisions in recent years. Last September, for example, at the initiative of the Netherlands, it decided to launch an independent international investigation into all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen.

In Ms Kaag’s view, the resolution on Yemen sent a powerful message that such violations should never go unpunished. In a meeting, she urged the Yemeni Minister for Human Rights, Mohammed Mohsen Askar, to allow the team of international investigators full access to his country so that they can do their job effectively.

Ms Kaag also met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. She expressed her support and appreciation for his work, stressing that the Netherlands was keen to do what it could to further enhance the HRC’s functioning and effectiveness in the years ahead.

While in Geneva, the foreign minister also gave a speech to the Conference on Disarmament, the leading international forum for negotiations on disarmament and arms control. At a time of increasing geopolitical instability and aggressive rhetoric, mutual trust is particularly crucial, the minister said. In her view international cooperation through organisations like the UN is the only way forward.