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Opening ceremony of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva
March 15,2017   By:UN
 Opening ceremony of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva
 
Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
 
27 February 2017
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
 
Secretary-General
 
President of the General Assembly,
 
President of the Human Rights Council,
 
Distinguished Ministers, Colleagues and Friends
 
Just a few hundred yards from where we are today, the League of Nations was dissolved, finally and formally on 8 April 1946. Aside from some successes, it was stymied by military aggressions, the absence of the United States and the withdrawals of Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR. Its treatment of colonialism was undermined from the outset by rejection of the principle of non-discrimination.
 
In reaction, the authors of the United Nations Charter placed this principle of non-discrimination in the second paragraph of the preamble.
 
We, the peoples of the United Nations vowed “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” This commitment was made immediately after the determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – before all other language devoted to peace and security; before all language devoted to development.
 
This is, I believe, an important point for us to grasp. Human rights was placed in the preamble of the UN Charter not as the last or a third pillar or as some literary flourish. It was there, it came first, human rights was viewed as the necessary starting condition, because on 26 June 1945, the day of the Charter's signing, killing on a scale hitherto unknown to humans had only just come to an end, with cities across the world pulverized and still smoking, monuments to immense human malevolence and stupidity.
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