GENEVA / GUTERRES HRC OPENING

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24-Feb-2020 00:05:08
People’s basic human rights are “under assault”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, as he launched a Call For Action’’ aimed at boosting equality and reducing suffering everywhere. UNTV CH

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STORY: GENEVA / GUTERRES HRC OPENING
TRT: 5:08
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 24 FEBRUARY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Wide shot, exterior, flag alley, Palais des nations
2. Wide shot, podium
3. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“I have come to the Human Rights Council - the fulcrum for international dialogue and cooperation to advance all human rights – to launch a Call for Action. And I decided to do it now – during the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations – because of the centrality of human rights in all UN does, and because human rights are under assault.”
4. Wide shot, delegates sitting beneath the multi-colored ceiling fresco in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations’ room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Human rights are our ultimate tool to help societies grow in freedom. To ensure equality for women and girls. To advance sustainable development. To prevent conflict, reduce human suffering and build a just and equitable world. As Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims, human rights are ‘humanity’s highest aspiration’.”
6. Med shot, Guterres with Michelle Bachelet standing
7. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Over the decades, the efforts of many have ushered in massive human rights gains on all continents. Colonial rule and apartheid were overcome. Dictatorships have fallen. Democracy has spread. Landmark covenants spell out the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. A robust treaty-based system is in place, along with special procedures and accountability mechanisms. One billion people have been lifted out of poverty in a generation. And we have seen big advances from the access to drinking water – to big declines in child mortality. All our societies have benefitted from human rights movements led by women, young people, minorities, indigenous peoples and others. Yet, human rights today face growing challenges. And no country is immune. We see civilians trapped in war-torn enclaves, starved and bombarded in clear violation of international law. Human trafficking affecting every region in the world, preying on vulnerability and despair. Women and girls enslaved, exploited and abused, denied the opportunity to make the most of their potential. Civil society activists tossed in jail, and religious and ethnic minorities persecuted, under overly broad definitions of national security. Journalists killed or harassed for seeking only to do their jobs. Minorities, indigenous people, migrants, refugees, the LGBTI community vilified as the “other” and tormented by acts of hate. We also see global hunger on the rise and youth unemployment at alarming levels. A new set of challenges is arising from megatrends such as the climate crisis, demographic change, rapid urbanization and the march of technology. People are being left behind. Fears are growing. Divisions are widening. And some leaders are exploiting anxieties to broaden those gaps to the breaking point. A perverse political arithmetic has taken hold: divide people to multiply votes.”
8. Close up, Bachelet at the podium
9. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Sovereignty remains a bedrock principle of international relations. But national sovereignty cannot be a pretext for violating human rights. We must overcome the false dichotomy between human rights and national sovereignty. Human rights and national sovereignty go hand in hand. The promotion of human rights strengthens States and societies, thereby reinforcing sovereignty.”
10. Med shot, Tatiana Valovaya, UN Geneva Director-General and Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly
11. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Human rights will never be realized without the human rights of women. Yet in this year in which we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action, we see a pushback against women’s rights, alarming levels of femicide, attacks on women human rights defenders, and the persistence of laws and policies that perpetuate subjugation and exclusion. Violence against women and girls is the world’s most pervasive human rights abuse.”
12. Wide shot, photographers taking photos of speakers, crouching.
13. SOUNDBITE (English) António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“On 1 January — for the first time in UN history — we achieved gender parity across our senior-most ranks of full-time Under- and Assistant-Secretaries-General – 90 women and 90 men. We pledge to reach gender parity throughout the UN system at all levels by 2028, apply a gender perspective to everything the United Nations does, strengthen our push for gender equality across the board, and better track and set benchmarks on funding for gender equality. Today, I call on every country to support policies and legislation that promote gender equality, repeal discriminatory laws, end violence against women and girls, ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights, and strive for women’s equal representation and participation in all spheres.”
14. Med shot, photographer taking photos of Guterres speaking from podium.

STORYLINE:

People’s basic human rights are “under assault”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday (24 Feb), as he launched a Call For Action’’ aimed at boosting equality and reducing suffering everywhere.

“Human rights are our ultimate tool to help societies grow in freedom,” he told Member States on the opening day of the Council’s 43rd session in Geneva. “To ensure equality for women and girls. To advance sustainable development. To prevent conflict, reduce human suffering and build a just and equitable world.”

In his speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in which he detailed a seven-point blueprint for positive change, Guterres issued an appeal for solidarity.

Explaining his decision to come to Geneva to announce the initiative, he said: “I have come to the Human Rights Council - the fulcrum for international dialogue and cooperation to advance all human rights – to launch a Call for Action. And I decided to do it now – during the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations – because of the centrality of human rights in all UN does, and because human rights are under assault.”

In his pledge to utilise the full weight of his office and the UN family to fulfil the Call For Action, Guterres highlighted the enduring value of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This cornerstone of understanding between UN Member States was proclaimed in 1948, out of the ashes of the Second World War - and a desire to prevent such suffering from ever happening again.

All States had a responsibility to protect and promote people’s “dignity and worth”, he insisted.

“National sovereignty “cannot be a pretext for violating human rights”, Guterres insisted, while also maintaining that greater equality “strengthens States and societies, thereby reinforcing sovereignty”.

Positive change is possible, the UN chief insisted, recalling his own experience living under dictatorship in Portugal, which finally gave way to a democratic movement when he was 24 years old.

One billion people have also been lifted out of poverty in a generation, he continued, and there have also been major advances in improving access to drinking water, along with big declines in child mortality.

“Over the decades, the efforts of many have ushered in massive human rights gains on all continents,” he said. “Colonial rule and apartheid were overcome. Dictatorships have fallen. Democracy has spread. Landmark covenants spell out the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. A robust treaty-based system is in place, along with special procedures and accountability mechanisms. One billion people have been lifted out of poverty in a generation. And we have seen big advances from the access to drinking water – to big declines in child mortality. All our societies have benefitted from human rights movements led by women, young people, minorities, indigenous peoples and others.”

Despite this, in the 75 years that the UN has strived for peace, security and development, myriad challenges persist and “no country is immune”, Guterres explained. Chief among these challenges are several protracted, unresolved conflicts that have left families trapped in war-torn enclaves, “starved and bombed in clear violation of international law”, he said.

Human trafficking also affects “every region of the world”, the UN chief noted, leaving women and girls “enslaved, exploited and abused”, unable to realise their potential. Journalists and civil society are also under threat, with activists jailed, religious groups and minorities – including indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and the LGBTI community - persecuted under “overly broad definitions of national security”.

Global hunger is also increasing, Guterres warned, before highlighting a series of 21st century issues linked to huge problems that affect all countries: the climate crisis, population growth, urbanization and the dark underbelly of technological progress.

“People are being left behind. Fears are growing. Divisions are widening. And some leaders are exploiting anxieties to broaden those gaps to the breaking point. A perverse political arithmetic has taken hold: divide people to multiply votes.”

Introducing his Call For Action blueprint, Guterres explained that its aim was to transform the ambitions of the Universal Declaration into real-world change on the ground.

Heading the seven-point protocol is a call to put human rights at the core of sustainable development – a reference to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed to by the international community in 2015 under the Agenda 2030 banner.

Among the other priorities, the UN Secretary-General highlighted that much more needs to be done to prevent violence against women.

“Human rights will never be realized without the human rights of women,” he said. “Yet in this year in which we mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action, we see a pushback against women’s rights, alarming levels of femicide, attacks on women human rights defenders, and the persistence of laws and policies that perpetuate subjugation and exclusion.”

The UN Secretary-General noted too that gender equality among staff was taken seriously within the organization, too.

“On 1 January — for the first time in UN history — we achieved gender parity across our senior-most ranks of full-time Under- and Assistant-Secretaries-General – 90 women and 90 men,” he said. “We pledge to reach gender parity throughout the UN system at all levels by 2028, apply a gender perspective to everything the United Nations does, strengthen our push for gender equality across the board, and better track and set benchmarks on funding for gender equality. Today, I call on every country to support policies and legislation that promote gender equality, repeal discriminatory laws, end violence against women and girls, ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights, and strive for women’s equal representation and participation in all spheres.”

Turning to 21st century challenges, Guterres reiterated that the climate crisis was he biggest threat to our survival, which has already threatened human rights around the world and would continue to do so in future, he noted, before underscoring people’s right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable planet that the Call For Action is designed to achieve.

Finally, on the challenges posed to human rights by new technology, Guterres explained that progress in this field are too often used to violate rights and privacy through surveillance, repression and online harassment and hate. Facial recognition and robotics should never be used to deepen inequality, he insisted, while also reiterating his call for online-ready human rights norms such as the Internet Governance Forum. At the same time, the UN chief also repeated his call for a global ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems.

Echoing the call for change, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that although threats to human rights, development and peace were on the rise, so were the practicable solutions to these issues.
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