The 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council commenced at Geneva, this morning. The Session will continue for 3 weeks, ending on 23 June 2017. The session began with Opening Remarks by Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli of El Salvador, President of the Council.

At the opening session, His Excellency Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay addressed the Council, which was followed by the oral update by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein speaking on the situation of human rights around the world.

During this 35th Council session, the Maldives will lead, along with a core group of other member, states, the Resolution on “Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review” and the Resolution on “Independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers”.

The Maldives as the Co-chair and on behalf of the “Friends of SIDS” group with Australia, will also lead a cross regional Joint Statement under Agenda Item 10, highlighting the importance of universal, equal and effective representation at the UN Human Rights Council and reiterating the vital role of the “Trust Fund established to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the work of the HRC” has played in this regard.

The Maldives delegation will actively participate at the session including delivering statements around a vast number of Agenda Items presented in the Program of Work for this session. This also includes the panel discussions, on enhancing capacity building in public health; unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights; the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women; and the annual thematic discussion on technical cooperation.

The Maldives priorities at the UN Human Rights Council include women’s rights, children’s rights, climate change and environment, and, rule of law and democracy. The Maldives will actively enagage and co-sponsor a number of resolutions. Some of the key resolutions for the Maldives at this session are: violence against women, youth and human rights, climate change and human rights, protection of family, right to education, civil society space, political participation of women, and trafficking in persons.

The Maldives will be represented at the UN Human Rights Council by Her Excellency Dr Hala Hameed, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Maldives delegation includes Mr. Salim Waheed, Minister / Deputy Permanent Representative of Maldives to United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Hassan Hussain Shihab, Communications Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ms Aishath Shahula, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Maldives to United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Maldives is currently on a mandatory break from the Council in 2017, after two consecutive terms as a member of the council. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, made up of 47 States which are responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

ENDS.