Press releases, 05.04.2024

The 55th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva focused on the situations in the Middle East and Ukraine. The session began on 26 February, with Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and around 100 high-level dignitaries in attendance. It ended on Friday 5 April.

On 26 February, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, opened the High-level Segment of this 55th session, welcoming some 130 state representatives to Geneva. Mr Cassis stressed that protecting human rights is absolutely crucial for containing today's many crises, particularly in Ukraine and in the Middle East. Those two particular contexts were discussed at length during the final days of the session.
In its statements, Switzerland reiterated its position on the current conflict in the Middle East. It called for a humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held in Gaza. It also called and calls on all parties to respect international law, in particular international humanitarian law, and human rights. Switzerland reasserted this during the dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occupied Palestinian territory.

Regarding Ukraine, Switzerland reiterated its concerns regarding the continuing violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in the regions occupied by Russia. It stressed the need to take a holistic approach to accountability in efforts to address the social and political consequences of the occupation. Furthermore, Switzerland co-sponsored a resolution to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine by one year.

Switzerland introduces a joint statement on the Philippines

Switzerland also presented a joint statement with the donor countries of the UN human rights programme in the Philippines (Australia, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States). In the statement, it expressed its support for the active inclusion of civil society in promoting and protecting human rights.
Switzerland takes a stance on human rights in Syria, Iran, the DRC and Venezuela

Switzerland took part in the dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on the human rights situation there. This commission is responsible for investigating all the human rights violations and abuses that have occurred since the conflict broke out. In particular, Switzerland voiced alarm at the continuation of hostilities on several fronts and the worsening humanitarian situation, at a time when the funds available are dwindling. In addition, it supported the renewal of the commission's mandate.

Switzerland also endorsed a joint statement on Iran, supported by a total of 54 states. In particular, the statement calls on the Iranian authorities to open civic space to allow for journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders to carry out their work freely. Switzerland took part in the interactive dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran. It condemned the alarming rise in executions and the discrimination against women and girls in the country. Switzerland also supported the renewal of the mandate of the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and that of the fact-finding mission.

Finally, Switzerland expressed its position on the human rights situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Venezuela. Concerning the DRC, Switzerland called on the authorities to reverse the decision to lift the moratorium on executions – a decision that runs contrary to the country's international obligations. Regarding Venezuela, Switzerland deplored the suspension of the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and encouraged the authorities to guarantee a free, fair and transparent electoral process for the forthcoming presidential elections.

Promoting work to better protect human rights and the environment  

For more than a decade, Switzerland has been working within the Human Rights Council to promote multilateral solutions to the global environmental challenges that obstruct the realisation of human rights. At this session, together with a cross-regional group made up of Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco and Slovenia, it presented a resolution aimed at renewing the mandate of the special rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The rapporteur promotes best practice for guiding the formulation of environmental policies that respect human rights. The resolution was adopted by consensus.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Last update 19.07.2023

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FDFA Communication

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