The 39th regular session of the Human Rights Council, held from 10 to 28 September in Geneva, was the first attended by the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
Switzerland has been actively involved in this session, during which it has taken advantage of various opportunities to engage in dialogue and discussions, further its interests and highlight its concerns. A few examples: on the 70th anniversary of the Genocide Prevention Convention, Switzerland recalled the international community's collective responsibility to ensure that the crimes of genocide are not only punished but also prevented. During a discussion on the rights to drinking water and sanitation, Switzerland underscored that access to water is a key factor in strengthening the resilience of local population groups and preventing forced displacement. During a debate about the growing number of forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions, Switzerland also expressed its concern about these issues. It also participated in the annual discussion on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the Human Rights Council's mechanisms for documenting and investigating violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
In addition, Switzerland has been involved in negotiations over several resolutions on specific topics, including efforts to reduce maternal mortality, ensure the safety of journalists and protect the rights of smallholder farmers.
Finally, Switzerland has participated in debates and negotiations over resolutions on the human rights situation in countries on the Human Rights Council's agenda, such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela. In this context and in keeping with its long-standing commitment to respecting, protecting and implementing human rights and international humanitarian law, Switzerland has worked to ensure that violations of international law are documented by international investigatory mechanisms so that those responsible can one day be held criminally accountable.
This will be the last session of Switzerland's third term as a member of the Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body composed of 47 member states. Switzerland's term ends on 31 December 2018, after which it will have observer status. As an observer without the right to vote, Switzerland will however continue to actively promote the respect, protection and implementation of human rights within and beyond the Human Rights Council.
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