President of the Republic of Lithuania President of the Republic of Lithuania

Address by the President at the High-Level Segment of the 46th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

2021-02-22

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to address you at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Let me use this opportunity to express my deepest respect for human rights as a precondition for peace and security.

The very existence of the United Nations is based on the imperative to protect peace, human rights, and justice, to ensure stability and social progress globally. Lithuania finds the Council of Human Rights to be of great importance for enhancing cooperation and promoting human rights. It inspires us to work on protecting human rights, identifying vulnerabilities, and addressing them.

I disagree with those who say that we must focus merely on the implementation of human rights norms. There are too many people now who cannot enjoy their rights because of new challenges or emerging protection gaps. Nobody should be left behind! Human rights are universal, indivisible, and inherent to every human being.

It is, unfortunately, true that we are being routinely confronted with violations of human rights in many places of the world. There are a few words to be said about the current situation in Lithuania’s immediate neighbourhood. More than six months have passed since the fraudulent presidential election in our neighbouring country. All this time security forces have been applying brutal mass violence against peaceful protesters, political opposition, civil society, journalists, and media workers. Such brutalities should be addressed by international organizations. Investigations of the violations of human rights must be carried out. Accountability mechanisms for the human rights violations must be elaborated.

We are also taking note of many recent human rights violations. The poisoning attempt and subsequent incarceration and trial of Alexei Navalny, the politically motivated trial against human rights defender and historian Yury Dmitriev, and many other examples paint a rather grim picture. To this we should also add actions ongoing in the illegally annexed Crimea, in non-government-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, as well as in the occupied Georgia’s regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Lithuania calls to end systematic violations of the international law and to cooperate with the United Nations mechanism.

There are always those who attempt to defend these actions, talking about matters of supposedly purely internal or domestic concern. However, it should be clear there is no way to selectively apply the human rights doctrine. Our duty calls on us to ensure that all victims get effective protection. All perpetrators must be brought to justice.

Let me assure you that Lithuania will always support a strong human rights pillar of the United Nations. We participate eagerly in all the efforts to sustain the freedom of peaceful assembly and association worldwide. In 2014-2015, while acting as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Lithuania had spoken out for media freedom and protection of civilians in armed conflicts. We also promoted the rule of law, as well as gender equality and women empowerment.

Currently my country is running for a seat on the Human Rights Council in 2022-2024. If elected, Lithuania will give attention to the promotion of rights of those most vulnerable: children, people with disabilities, human rights defenders and people living in conflict situations. We will also continue our ongoing activities in the promotion of the rights of women and girls, the safety of journalists, freedoms of expression as well as of assembly and association, freedom of religion and belief, and the inclusion of civil society in the Council’s agenda.

Lithuania will seek that this Council makes a real difference on the ground. We are determined to search for solutions that would be acceptable to all parties involved. To support human rights worldwide, we will also need broad cooperation. The recent decision made by the United States of America to re-join the Council as an observer with the intention to seek full membership is therefore a welcome development.

As the current Chair of the Executive Board of the UNICEF, Lithuania is also keen to work that no child is left behind. Empowering children by ensuring equal access to quality education is the key element of good future for the whole of humanity.

We should also pay close attention to persons with disabilities who often face multiple forms of discrimination. There should be strong efforts to take steps in adjusting our policies and raising awareness. Our main goal is to address the needs of persons with disabilities, achieving their full social integration.

Lithuania will also continue to support human rights defenders, for we strongly believe that their activities are the cornerstone of free and democratic societies. There are too many disturbing instances of killings, death threats and other forms of intimidation against human rights defenders. All Governments should live up to their moral and legal obligation to prevent such crimes.

To protect the rights of the people living in conflict areas, we need viable political solutions addressing the root causes of a specific conflict. The international community has a crucial role to play in mediating, negotiating, and implementing peaceful agreements.

Finally, the biggest challenge, in my opinion, will be to strengthen the rule of law on a global scale. Without it, the human rights regime could always fall prey to dangerous destabilization and erosion. So, let us work together, promote the rule of law, and build a better future for all people around the world!

Thank you!

Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Last updated 2021.02.22 10:21

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