Koenders in Geneva for Human Rights Council and disarmament conference

On Monday foreign minister Bert Koenders will take part in the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council, where he will deliver a speech and meet with a number of officials, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein.

The Council will last for a total of four weeks. Key themes this year include the situation in Syria and developments in Burundi, North Korea, Libya and South Sudan. ‘New hotbeds of conflict are cropping up all the time. Unfortunately, these are also causing an rise in the number of human rights violations,’ said Mr Koenders.

‘The Human Rights Council was established 10 years ago, but the human rights situation in the world gives little cause for celebration,’ Mr Koenders went on to say. ‘We have to do everything in our power to better protect human rights.’ This will be the minister’s central message when he addresses the Council on Monday.

Mr Koenders will also deliver a speech on behalf of the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini. ‘During our Presidency the Netherlands has stressed that the EU must act in concert when it comes to issues with global dimensions,’ the minister remarked. ‘Human rights is just such an issue.’

In his meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Koenders will reiterate his support for the agency’s important work. ‘Dr Al Hussein’s team is a major partner for the Netherlands in terms of implementing human rights policy. They not only support states in improving the human rights situation within their borders; they also hold states to account.’

At the initiative of the Netherlands, a ‘Diplohack’ will be held on Friday and Saturday, prior to the opening of the Human Rights Council. This event will feature the participation of tech developers, businesspeople, academics, diplomats, human rights activists, and the staff of NGOs and international organisations. Their challenge is come up with innovative ways of collecting, verifying and transmitting information about human rights violations to the office of the High Commissioner. On Monday the team will present the results of the Diplohack to Mr Koenders at a public meeting.

While in Geneva, Mr Koenders will also give a speech at the disarmament conference, the leading international forum for negotiations on disarmament and arms control. ‘In these unstable times, progress on this front is needed more than ever,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘The Netherlands is fully committed to this goal, and we will continue to play a constructive role in the complex negotiations that are required.’