Switzerland elected to the UN Human Rights Council from 2016

Bern, Press release, 28.10.2015

The UN General Assembly in New York elected Switzerland to the UN Human Rights Council today. Switzerland’s third three-year term on the UN’s most important human rights body will begin at the start of 2016.

The Human Rights Room of the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva. © UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

For Switzerland, the promotion and protection of the human rights of all individuals worldwide is more than just a goal to work towards; it is a duty and a priority of Swiss foreign policy. Geneva has become a global human rights hub, and Switzerland hosts the UN Human Rights Council, the treaty bodies of the UN’s human rights treaties and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Numerous prominent international non-governmental organisations and educational institutions are headquartered in the country too. All of these factors mean that Switzerland has a special responsibility and a particular interest in being a member of the most important intergovernmental UN human rights body.

As a member of the Human Rights Council, Switzerland will prioritise abolishing the death penalty worldwide, enforcing the ban on torture, strengthening the role of civil society, protecting human rights defenders, ensuring human rights are respected in the context of peaceful protests, promoting the rights of women and children and increasing criminal responsibility for serious human rights violations. With that in mind, Switzerland will endeavour to close gaps in international law and boost implementation of existing international standards in these and other fields.

Switzerland will focus on dialogue and cooperation with partners from every region of the world, thus fulfilling its role as a bridge-builder. It will strive to ensure that the Human Rights Council is credible, functions well, is capable of action, delivers timely and appropriate responses to worrying human rights situations and contributes to conflict prevention through its activities. With an eye to the Council’s tenth anniversary next year, Switzerland will also make efforts to bolster the entire UN human rights system above and beyond the Human Rights Council.

Switzerland played a key role in the creation of the Human Rights Council, which replaced the Commission on Human Rights in 2006. It has already been a member of the Council twice, from 2006 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2013. Switzerland has also been very active within the Human Rights Council over the last two years, but its status as an observer meant it was unable to participate in votes. Switzerland’s third term of Council membership will run from January 2016 to the end of 2018.

Further information:

Switzerland in the UN Human Rights Council
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Brochure on Switzerland’s candidacy for Human Rights Council membership for the 2016-2018 term(pdf, 757kb)

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