By Elina Siegfried / GICJ
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, emphasized the importance of Human Rights as an inherent and indispensable apparatus for every human being. Mr Guterres' remarks came in a video message at the opening of the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, on Monday, 28th of February 2022.
When Guterres addressed the objectives for the upcoming year to the UN General Assembly, he highlighted to the importance of all nations to work together against the so-called “5-alarm global fire” threatening the international community which comprise the COVID-19 pandemic, global finance, climate action, lawlessness in cyberspace, and peace and security and underlined the fact that these issues could all be solved by observing human rights.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Guterres stated that there are alarming inequities in vaccine distribution worldwide. The global north has turned a blind eye to the needs of countries with less financial resources considering the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN Secretary-General reiterates the need for all countries to cooperate in order to achieve the WHO’s goal to vaccinate 70 per cent of people around the world.
Next, the Secretary-General focused on the global financial system which has increasingly suffered in the past years due to the pandemic. While there were countries that recovered swiftly, others are still struggling with the aftermath of the global event which led to “moral bankruptcy” as stated by Guterres. In addition, millions of children are still prevented from going back to school and do not receive proper education due to the current health situation. This underlines even more, how crucial it is for the international community to collaborate and initiate a support system and eventually to distribute power, wealth and opportunities more fairly among nations.
When addressing the climate crisis, Guterres referred to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), pointing out that the further increase of the already alarming climate and environmental situation is already threatening all human rights. He further welcomed the Council’s initiative to recognize the right to a healthy environment, which he claims to be “an important tool for accountability and climate justice.”
Lastly, Guterres turned his focus to the issue of digital technology by describing it as the “Wild West for human rights,” dominated amongst others by spyware, internet shutdowns and disinformation campaigns. Furthermore, he underlined the human rights constraints interlinked with these problems such as censorship against ethnic and religious minorities, women and members of LGBTIQ+ accentuating the importance of a global network that should benefit – not harm – everyone.
Guterres went on to share his concerns on the increasing violence and conflicts which endanger the effectiveness of human rights and cause great suffering to innocent and uninvolved civilians. Under this aspect, he addresses Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the human rights violations carried out by its military. “We must show all people in Ukraine that we stand by them in their time of need,” he concluded.
Geneva Centre of International Justice (GICJ) calls upon the international community to work together and fight the ongoing human rights violations as well as put an end to the inequalities persistent throughout the world. Human rights are the inherent and very basic principle every human being should be allowed to enjoy. Neither the factor of richness nor development of a country should undermine these fundamental rights that belong to every human being on this planet. GICJ also encourages the richer countries to take action and support the countries with less financial means. Ultimately, all countries share the same world and must all together preserve its viability and its inhabitants’ wellbeing.
HumanRights, HumanRightsforall, Guterres, UNpriorities, 5-alarm fire, geneva4justice, GICJ, Geneva_International_Centre_For_Justice, Justice