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27.02.2023 13:49 Utanríkisráðuneytið

Ávarp í 52. lotu mannréttindaráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna

Mr. President, 

High Commissioner, 



The past year has been a year that has brought on many disappointments but it has also been a year of inspiration.


The last time I addressed this esteemed body it was only four days after Russia launched its illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine.


When I last spoke here there was almost a complete consensus that Ukraine's infrastructure and government would soon crumble under the overwhelming weight of the Russian assault. But a time tested truth has once again been re-established. An overpowering force of arms does not always suffice to defeat an overwhelming strength of purpose.



I mention this here today because I believe that the world has drawn inspiration from the magnificent courage of the Ukranian people and the dynamic and often poetic words of their leader Presdient Zelensky.


As I said in my speech a year ago; Putin's war is waged against the advance of tolerance, against understanding, against peace.


The worldview that the Russian president is offering to the world is based on repression, the stifling of free thought, violent nationalism and fear of the other.


It persecutes those who challenge authority.


It stigmatizes for those who—by choice or by nature—are different and unique.


For these and many other reasons, Russia's war and Ukraine's defense are relevant to the entire world.



The invasion strikes at the heart of the UN Charter and the international rules-based order and is intended to undermine the fundamental human rights that all members states of the United Nations have undertaken to defend.


At this juncture, it is encouraging that a great majority of all UN member states have stated their clear opposition to this grave assault on the system we have built since the end of WWII. 


Last week 141 nations again voted in favour of a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of Russia‘s forces from within Ukraine's internationally recognized borders and emphasized the need to hold those accountable who have committed crimes against international law.



Horrendous reports of atrocities, sexual and gender-based violence, the forced deportations of children, and other grave human rights violations and abuses have fueled a sense of urgency – that we all feel of ending this war and securing a just peace for the people of Ukraine.


Iceland remains unwavering in its support and solidarity with Ukraine, and we are committed to playing our part, including in our Presidency of the Council of Europe.


We also stand with the people of Belarus in their fight for a free and democratic society denied to them by authorities that have also been an enabler of this war. The relentless struggle of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for the rights of her people is an inspiration to all of us who value human rights.


Mr. President,  

In the past year the world has also been inspired by those in Iran who have risked their all to fight for human rights and an end to the subjugation of women by the state.


In November, this Council took a stand against the injustice, the blows and the bullets, which the Islamic Republic of Iran used in trying to stamp out peaceful protests by establishing a fact-finding mission. I am proud that Iceland played a role in this process.

Unfortunately, the people of Iran are still being subjected to brutal violence and arbitrary actions by the state. 


In Afghanistan, the Taliban are committing the gravest violations and abuses of human rights by excluding half of Afghanistan’s population from society and the right to education. 


We call on the Taliban to lift the vast restrictions on women.  



Mr. President,  

Human rights are a fundamental part of Iceland’s foreign policy and over the past few years, we have increasingly become active in the Council, both as a member in 2018-2019 and an observer.  


As part of our commitment to the Council’s work, Iceland is running for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the term 2025-2027. Our candidature is supported by all the Nordic States.  


If elected, we will be resolute in our support for the Council’s mandate and will encourage all Member State to live up to their human rights obligations and commitments, including through cooperation with the High Commissioner and the Council‘s mechanisms.



Mr. President,  

In too many countries, people are persecuted because of their faith, their political views or their sexual orientation.

Human rights defenders and journalists risk their lives and liberties every day for calling out these injustices and for engaging in an open, democratic debate. We have a collective duty to promote and protect human rights and freedom of all.


An let us not forget that the fundamental freedoms of individuals; including the freedom of assembly, expression, conscience and freedom of thought, are needed to fuel human creativity and innovation, which in turn are the foundation of economic and social progress.


The critical importance of this Council has perhaps never been clearer.  


I wish you all peace and freedom. 


Thank you.

Ræðan var flutt í 52. lotu Mannréttindaráðs Sameinuðu þjóðanna í Genf 27. febrúar 2023.


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