Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi delivers a speech at the opening of the 40th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 25, 2019. The UNHRC opened its 40th regular session here on Monday. The delegates are to hear statements by some 100 high-level dignitaries in the coming weeks. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)
GENEVA, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opened its 40th regular session here on Monday. The delegates are to hear statements by some 100 high-level dignitaries in the coming weeks.
Addressing the opening session, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed that the UNHRC was "the epicenter for international dialogue and cooperation" on the protection of all human rights.
"Every measure to uphold human rights helped to ease tensions, deliver sustainable development and sustain peace," said the UN chief.
He told the audience that the world had achieved remarkable progress in fighting extreme poverty and the UNHRC played a pivotal role "in fostering the right to development." The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals were the clearest blueprints for realizing the rights of all.
Guterres also stressed that prevention had to be a priority and that human rights were a template for building resilience and preventing crises.
Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the UN General Assembly, highlighted in her opening speech that each session of the Human Rights Council represented an opportunity to renew the commitment to human rights, especially at a time when the most basic principles of multilateralism were threatened.
Calling for renewed commitment, dialogue and mutual understanding, Espinosa Garces also stressed that perhaps the most pressing issue was inequality and the concentration of wealth in very few hands.
"If the goals of the 2030 Agenda were to be achieved, inequality needed to be addressed," she said.
Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, called for "courage and vision" from state leaders to advance both the interests of humanity and the national interests of their own countries.
She highlighted that no country had a perfect human rights record but all acknowledged that their people had rights, which their respective governments must uphold and protect.
"Policies that build social justice also help to develop stronger economies. They drive more inclusive political systems, better frameworks for education, health care, and other basic services. They build confidence and social harmony. They deepen trust. They build hope," she said.
The 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council will continue until March 22.