UN Secretary-General António Guterres painted a bleak picture of the world at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. With crises and conflicts, they experience setbacks instead of progress.
Poverty and hunger are increasing, social cohesion is dwindling given the gap between rich and poor, Guterres said in Geneva at the start of the UN committee meetings. He spoke of Russia's "senseless war" against Ukraine, which had led to "massive human rights violations".
The Russian war of aggression was the main topic on the first day of the session. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addressed reports of systematic abductions of Ukrainian children to Russia. "What could be more despicable than taking children out of their homes, away from their friends, their loved ones," said the Greens politician. "We will not rest until every single child is back home."
Baerbock also criticized the oppression of women in Afghanistan. They experienced the "most brutal and systematic human rights violations" imaginable. The militant Islamist Taliban have severely restricted the rights of women and girls since returning to power in 2021. Because women are practically no longer allowed to work outside the home, it is difficult to get them help, Baerbock said. But Germany will continue to help without becoming the henchman of those who restrict women's rights.
"Will protesters in Iran not be forgotten"
Addressing the demonstrators in Iran, Baerbock said: "I can assure you that we will not forget you in Iran". Executions of protesters must stop.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdollahian spoke shortly after Baerbock. He spoke of terrorist elements being supported from abroad, namely from the USA. "No responsible state can allow violent and lawless behavior to disrupt public safety and order," he said.
Guterres also addressed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although this is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, it is under fire. "She is abused and abused and ignored - often by the same people." Guterres said: "We need to reinvigorate the declaration and ensure its full implementation to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow."
The UN Human Rights Council meets three times a year. He cannot punish countries, but he can set up investigative commissions, as he did a year ago after the Russian attack on Ukraine. Among the 47 member countries elected for three years there are always those with dubious respect for human rights. China, Cuba and Eritrea, which currently sit on the Council, always dismiss criticism of other countries as interference in internal affairs.