High Commissioner Abdrakhmanov,
High Commissioner Bachelet,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A warm welcome in person and virtually to the Palais des Nations in Geneva. This event is jointly organized by the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Office at Geneva. I wholeheartedly thank all our partners for making this hybrid event possible.
Respect for diversity is one of the core values of the United Nations. At the United Nations Office at Geneva, over 150 nationalities are represented and over 60 mother languages are spoken by our staff. As UN Secretary-General Guterres succinctly phrased: “Diversity is richness, not a threat.” Being one of the most geographically represented UN duty station, we have a special responsibility to promote greater inclusion and diversity at workplace and beyond.
International Geneva provides unique place for partnership-building on cross-sectorial issues. This is a place where international organizations, governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector closely collaborate; where diverse expertise from all fields is gathered and consolidated; and where ideas flourish and are put into action. Geneva’s ecosystem includes Permanent Missions of 181 Member States, the headquarters of over 40 international organizations, 750 non-governmental organizations, a large private sector, academia, think tanks and other actors.
Home to the UN Human Rights Council and the Forum on Minority Issues, the Palais des Nations serves as a neutral meeting ground for elaboration of international norms on the rights of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities as well as their review, including through the Universal Periodic Review, also taking place in Geneva.
This event is being held at a very timely moment. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Next year the international community will mark the 30th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of Person Belonging to National, or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. These anniversaries provide an opportunity to reflect, take stock and evaluate the progress in the implementation of these important declarations. Moreover, we convene this event ahead of the 14th session of the Forum on Minority Issues, which will be devoted to conflict prevention in the context of protection of human rights of minorities.
I am convinced that today’s discussion will forge new synergies and build bridges between the United Nations organizations in Geneva and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on various cross-sectorial issues related to the effective participation of minorities in economic life, which helps in reducing poverty and preventing tensions.
Multi-stakeholder and cross-sectorial partnerships is a key element in implementing our shared blueprint – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In committing to its implementation, UN Member States recognized that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals should be met for all nations and for all segments of society. Furthermore, they endeavoured to reach those who are furthest behind, such as minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees.
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how interdependent and interconnected the world is. There can be no social stability and lasting peace in societies where certain groups are marginalized and excluded. This is what the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is all about – to achieve socio-economic progress and curb inequalities everywhere while ensuring that no single person is left behind.
I wish you a fruitful and impactful discussion.