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Source: Human Rights Council
4 March 2008



UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HEARS FROM
15 DIGNITARIES AS IT CONTINUES
HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT
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Human Rights Council
MORNING


4 March 2008



The Human Rights Council this morning continued its high-level segment, hearing from 15 dignitaries, who raised a wide range of issues, including the respect for cultural differences and religions, the linkage between climate change and human rights, poverty eradication, technical and capacity building assistance, the rights of refugees and displaced persons, and the role of human rights in peace and reconciliation efforts. The majority of speakers spoke on the observance of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the steps being taken at the national, regional and international levels to promote and protect human rights in this context.


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High-Level Segment


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HOUDA ALI ALBAN, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, ...

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On the work of the Council, Ms. Alban said that the rejection of selectivity, politicization and double standards would surely strengthen the Human Rights Council. The Council was a few weeks away from the first Universal Periodic Review process, and Yemen hoped that this process would be held in a spirit of cooperation and that it would set a correct basis for future meetings of the Universal Periodic Review. Special attention had to be paid to the suffering of peoples. It was unacceptable that Arab peoples remained under the Israeli occupation and the humiliating practices of this army which were against all human values. Israel was ignoring international instruments. Gaza had witnessed frightful massacres just a few days ago. The occupying forces had concocted unprecedented criminal methods. Yemen condemned this massacre. Israel should put an end to these practices. The Council was called on to use its mandate in order to address these issues. Archbishop Tutu had been unable to fulfil his mandate given by the Council and to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory; no real human rights mission could take place without an international effort. An end should be put to injustice. Silence would only lead to more human rights violations. The distortions placed on Islam by media in some countries could break down the dialogue between religions and civilizations; it did no service to humanity. Yemen called for further studies on this matter.

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MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, recalled the current situation in Palestine where he said violations of the right of owning land and the right to life were taking place. He requested one minute of silence for the women and children who were under attack by the Zionist regime. The culture of human rights was a core component of the common heritage of humanity. It was built on the values shared in various cultures and civilizations. Diversities should never be used as an excuse to foment political and ideological confrontation; they were a source of richer cultural life. Achieving this aim required collective commitment. Iran had thus hosted the Non-Aligned Movement ministerial meeting on human rights and cultural diversity in 2007. Its purpose was to articulate standards required to command greater respect. The establishment of the Human Rights Council, based on lessons learned from the Commission, gave new hopes. The Council should be the focal point of reliance, hope and participation for all peoples. The question was now to see if the Council would be able to address human rights issues and rectify the shortcomings of the human rights machinery. This could not take place unless partiality, selectivity and double-standards were prevented.

Mr. Mottaki noted that the Universal Periodic Review constituted a breakthrough. The real challenge before the Council was to ensure that the monitoring system truly worked as a universal mechanism. Equal attention should be paid to human rights situations in all corners of the world. The Council was the most competent United Nations human rights institution, where the plights of the Palestinian people should be seriously addressed. The Zionist regime continued and intensified its heinous crimes, in defiance of human rights principles and international law, as well as United Nations resolutions. The world was also experiencing new forms of xenophobia, which endangered peace and coexistence. Iran would actively participate in the Durban Review Conference. The growing tendency toward Ismalmophobia was also a critical issue. Freedom of speech was important, but the protection of the religion was also important. The European Union should adopt measures rules and regulations to forbid the offence of one's religion.


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