Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, at Palace of Nations, Geneva; Credit: MAEE

Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, participated today in the 43rd ordinary session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the Palace of Nations in Geneva.

During the high-level segment, Jean Asselborn delivered a speech in which he reiterated the importance of "following a multilateral approach - with the United Nations at its centre - to ensure peace, respect for human rights and sustainable development within the framework of the 2030 Agenda".

Minister Asselborn then reviewed the human rights situation, particularly in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Myanmar and the Sahel, placing particular emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this context, he stressed that “we cannot accept that parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory are annexed, such as the Jordan Valley in the West Bank. It would be another gross violation of international law”.

Recalling that human rights defenders continue to be repressed in many countries, especially those in conflict zones, Luxembourg's Foreign Affairs Minister strongly condemned "any act of reprisals or intimidation against them”. He added that "today it is more important than ever to reaffirm the importance of civic space and the participation of civil society, in each country, as in multilateral fora, as well as the guarantee of freedom of expression, online and offline”.

According to Minister Asselborn, the continued detention of Turkish activist Osman Kavala is "an illustration of the hostile environment in which civil society and human rights defenders operate in Turkey". In this context, he called on the Turkish authorities to "respect the standards of the rule of law to the application of which they are committed under the European Convention on Human Rights".

Jean Asselborn also recalled that Luxembourg recently "published the second edition of its National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the period 2020-2022 ". He added: "We encourage all states that have not yet done so to develop such a plan".

Similarly, Minister Asselborn reiterated that, following on from his resolute commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, "the Luxembourg government has decided to present Luxembourg's candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the 2022-2024 mandate”.

At the United Nations in Geneva, Jean Asselborn also spoke on behalf of the Benelux at the high-level debate organised within the framework of the Human Rights Council to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to strengthen the means to achieve equality between women and men and to empower women and girls.

Regretting that, 25 years after the Beijing Declaration, progress in implementation has been slow and new challenges remain to be overcome, Jean Asselborn stated: “Luxembourg wishes to broaden the base of the action programme, invest in health and sexual and reproductive rights and contribute to a lasting change in mentalities”.

During his stay in Geneva, Minister Asselborn also held bilateral interviews with the his counterparts from San Marino, Luca Beccari, and Palestine, Riad Malki, in order to take stock of bilateral relations and international political news.