Koenders to attend Human Rights Council and Disarmament Conference in Geneva

Tomorrow, foreign minister Bert Koenders will attend the opening of the UN Human Rights Council, where he will deliver a speech about Dutch efforts to promote human rights. Heading into the meeting, the minister said, ‘Every day, we are confronted with human rights violations. With every violation, the global level of human rights observance falls to a new low. We need to change direction, and time is short. The Netherlands is doing its part to make this happen, in the Human Rights Council and elsewhere.’ Mr Koenders cautioned against allowing the Council’s work to become nothing more than a ‘ritual dance’: ‘We must go beyond fine speeches and good intentions.’ Mr Koenders’ participation marks the Netherlands’ re-accession to the Human Rights Council.

Prior to the meeting Mr Koenders will speak with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights  Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. ‘I’m looking forward to talking with the High Commissioner,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘I greatly admire his work. He has been tireless and ambitious in opposing human rights violations.’

On Monday afternoon the minister will also address the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, the leading multilateral forum for negotiations on disarmament and arms control. ‘The Netherlands is committed to working towards a world without nuclear weapons. Some steps have already been taken in this area. But much more can and should be done,’ the minister said. ‘Especially in recent months, it has become even more important to continue talking with one another in order to set the stage for further progress on disarmament.’

In the margins of the meeting, the minister will meet with President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and various counterparts who traditionally take part in the annual opening of the Human Rights Council.

Mr Koenders will conclude his visit to Geneva by opening the World Press Photo exhibition. There, the minister will give a brief speech and talk to Lars Boering, the managing director of World Press Photo, about the importance of photojournalism for human rights and freedom of the press.