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Federal Minister Steinmeier: "The Human Rights Council must become more efficient and credible"

17.06.2009 - Press release

In view of the fact that tomorrow Germany's membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council will end, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement today (17 June) in Berlin:

"Germany has played a pioneering role in the Human Rights Council. We have helped to broaden the foundations of international human rights protection. That applies in particular to the creation of a means of international comparison through the introduction of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Nonetheless, we have not yet achieved our objective. The Human Rights Council must become more efficient and credible! It will only be credible if it discusses, and clearly names as such, serious human rights violations worldwide. Its members must live up to their responsibility and truly work towards the global implementation of human rights, without being influenced by ideology. It's therefore good that the USA will in future be engaged in the Council."

Germany was one of the first members of the UN's main human rights forum, which was created in 2006. In 2007, during its EU Presidency, Germany was instrumental in shaping the Council's initial phase. One major success has been the creation of the UPR, a new instrument for monitoring the human rights situation in all UN Member States. Germany successfully completed this procedure in February 2009, thus helping to establish the UPR within the Council.

During the past three years Germany has been committed in a variety of ways. Germany launched a number of successful initiatives, for example regarding the right to water and the fight against human trafficking. Moreover, together with its EU partners, Germany successfully called for the Council to discuss grave human rights violations. For example, the EU initiated special Council sessions on Sudan (December 2006), Myanmar (October 2007) and, most recently, Sri Lanka (May 2009). Germany has put forward its candidacy for renewed membership of the Human Rights Council for the period 2012-2015.

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