Athens, February 28, 2023
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ address, via video-recorded message, at the opening of the 52th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (27.02.2023)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I begin, allow me to convey our sincere condolences for the tragic loss of lives, following the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. Greece has expressed its solidarity right from the beginning.
It is an honour to address the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council. I would like to congratulate Ambassador Bálek, on assuming the Presidency of the Council. I also wish a warm welcome to the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Türk. We are looking forward to working with him in the difficult task he has assumed.
We are faced with a series of unprecedented crises. The long-term effect of the pandemic, climate change, scarcity of basic goods, such as food and water; and of course, prolonged conflicts, caused by the blatant violation of international norms.
In this context, we need to reaffirm our universal commitment to the respect of International Law; and in particular in the UN Charter. 75 years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is here to underline that there can be no peace if human rights are violated.
Unfortunately, on the 24th of February, a year elapsed since Russia invaded Ukraine.
I personally have visited Ukraine three times since the beginning of the war and one just before. I have seen for myself the suffering of innocent people. I am apprehensive about the fate of the Greek community in areas now under Russian occupation, including Mariupol.
In these challenging times, we stand along with all our partners in seeking justice and accountability. At the same time, we must not forget other conflicts, conducive to human rights violations; Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and Belarus are just a few cases.
In this turmoil, Greece once again stood by its principles: Respect for rules-based multilateralism, based on International Law. After all, not all is doom and gloom. Efforts are being undertaken to improve the human rights situation in several countries. In times of severe challenges, there is one way forward. Working together and building bridges in order to reach our common goals.
To actively support this effort, Greece has put forward its candidature for the UN Security Council, for 2025-2026. At the same time, we contribute to resolutions such as: promoting cultural rights, Sports and the Olympic Games, as well as the Human Rights in Neurotechnology.
It is with these priorities and principles that we aim to promote the vital work of the Council. In this vein, Greece presented its candidature for the Human Rights Council in 2028-2030. Greece has never had the chance to serve in the Council before.
We will continue working in a spirit of international synergy and dialogue with all relevant UN bodies and member states. Because we are convinced of the added value and effectiveness of a consensus-based approach.