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Minister Flanagan to address UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

Minister Flanagan to address UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

Today Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, travels to Geneva to address the United Nations Human Rights Council. In his remarks, Minister Flanagan will focus on extremism, freedom of religion or belief, gender equality, the rights of LGBTI individuals, freedom of expression, a number of pressing human rights crises, including in Syria and Ukraine. Minister Flanagan will also address Irish national initiatives at the Human Rights Council on civil society space and preventable morbidity and mortality of children under five.

Speaking ahead of his address, Minister Flanagan said:

“This is a difficult time for defending human rights. We are confronted by rising threats of terrorism and extremism. Stark humanitarian emergencies are increasing. The injustices suffered by minorities are deepening. The international community must mobilise to address these global challenges.

"Our approach must be based on our shared commitment to strengthening respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, firmly grounded in pluralism, tolerance, equality, justice and above all, recognition of the universality of human rights.

"It is one of the greatest shames of the modern world that States continue to deny individuals their human rights because of who they are or whom they love. Our own laws and Constitution must treat our citizens equally. The marriage equality referendum in May will provide an important opportunity for people to decide whether to amend the Constitution to provide for the availability of civil marriage to two persons, without distinction as to their sex."

The Minister will also deliver Ireland’s national statement to the Conference on Disarmament. The statement will recall the origins of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) which arose directly from the human cost of the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago. Minister Flanagan will also note the increased understanding of the risks associated with nuclear weapons, especially for women, as a result of significant research presented at international conferences in the last two years. Responding to concerns about risk, the Minister will call for implementation of the effective measures to bring about an end to the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament required by Article VI of the Treaty.

During the visit, Minister Flanagan will also take the opportunity to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. T. Alexander Aleinikoff, and the President of the International Red Cross, Mr. Peter Maurer.


Press Office

04 March 2015

Notes for Editors

· Minister Flanagan will address the 28th session of UN Human Rights Council at approx. 10am (Irish time) and the text of his remarks will be made available on

· Established in 2006, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.

· Ireland’s three-year membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council (from 2013 – 2015) presents an opportunity to make an enhanced contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights. Ireland’s approach to membership of the HRC is guided by the voluntary pledges and commitments made during our election campaign, and our well-established human rights priorities. These include the rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex) persons, the rights of the child, protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief and internet freedom.

· During our membership, Ireland has led two national initiatives at the Council: the first on the promotion and protection of civil society space and the second on preventable morbidity and mortality of children under five. Advancing these initiatives has been chief amongst Ireland’s priorities as a member of the Council.