GENEVA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that growing human rights violations across the world are akin to a spreading disease which needs to be cured through multilateral forums including the Human Rights Council (HRC), whose latest session kicked off Monday.
"Disregard for human rights is a disease, and it is a disease that is spreading -- north, south, east and west," Guterres told members in his opening address to the 34th session of the HRC.
"The Human Rights Council must be part of the cure. You can be pivotal for prevention -- sounding early warnings of crises," he added.
In light of an increasingly "dangerous and chaotic world," the secretary-general reminded that normative differences among member states must not shadow the shared understanding that human rights should be upheld for all people and in the interest of all member states.
He also highlighted the importance of conducting interactive discussions and recommendations within the Council in a way which avoids "double standards."
"The integrity and credibility of this Council will only be enhanced by proceeding in a manner that avoids unbalanced treatment of Member States," he said.
Guterres, who took office at the beginning of the year, reminded that the most effective tool to counter human rights violations is prevention, which includes capacity-building states, institutions and civil society.
"I look to the Human Rights Council to be fully engaged and help affect the change on the range of issues that require your attention in our troubled and turbulent world," he added.
While deploring systematic rights violations in many of the world's ongoing conflicts, Guterres also condemned growing populism and extremism, the lack of an adequate response to the global refugee crisis, and the fact that gains made on women's and children's rights are being challenged.
"The struggle for human rights is at the heart a struggle to expand the horizons of the possible, to bring out the best of our selves and to unleash the best of our societies," the secretary general noted.
"We will build a safer and more stable world for our children as we recognize the interconnections between peace, development and human rights," he concluded.
Created in 2006, the HRC is an inter-governmental body working to promote and protect human rights around the globe through discussions and recommendations.
Starting Monday, the 34th session will come to a close on March 24.