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Basic freedoms Swiss push for female rights at UN

Switzerland wants more women, like these at the Burundi elections, to have a greater say in decision making.


Switzerland has pushed for further measures to protect the rights of women and girls, particularly in the area of early and forced marriages, during a three-week session of the United Nations Humans Rights Council (UNHRC).

The session, which drew to a close on Friday, also included the topics of violence against women and women’s participation in decision making.

“To achieve results, a transformative approach is needed that addresses root social causes such as stereotypes and traditional perceptions and that includes men and boys,” the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The Human Rights Council, which reports directly to the UN General Assembly, examined a wide range of issues, including the fight against terrorism and the plight of migrants. Switzerland pledged to respect human rights and international laws when creating its anti-terrorism measures.

The subject of human rights for migrants was discussed at the HRC for the first time. The issue came onto the agenda in the wake of thousands of migrant deaths crossing perilous sea routes from Africa to Europe.

“Over the years migration flows have become increasingly complex and the types of vulnerability have multiplied as a result,” the foreign ministry said. “Switzerland is committed to coordinated action among all stakeholders to make it possible to develop solutions to better protect the human rights of migrants.”


Switzerland also outlined its concern over the continuing armed conflict in Gaza, Eritrea and Syria.

On Friday the Human Rights Council backed calls for accountability in last year's conflict in Gaza, in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians and six Israeli civilians were killed. The decision has no binding effect, but adds to pressure for war crimes prosecutions before the International Criminal Court.

Israel condemned the move, saying it was one-sided and ignored the fact that Israel is conducting its own investigations into possible wrongdoing.

Forty-one of the council's 47 members, including many European countries, voted in favor of the resolution, which cited a recent UN report concluding that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups may have committed grave crimes during the conflict. The United States voted against the text, saying it was biased against Israel.

In its statement released before the resolution was passed, the Swiss HRC team made this comment on the UN investigation into the situation in Gaza: “Switzerland is deeply concerned by the findings and has called on all parties to the conflict to ensure credible, transparent and independent investigations into alleged violations of international law.”

It also expressed concern about Eritrea and Syria and welcomed the HRC’s decision to mandate the High Commissioner for Human Rights to launch an investigation into events in south Sudan.

Finally, Switzerland pledged to continue its fight against corruption and pay special regard to the victims of corruption.

Switzerland has put its name forward for consideration for a third term as a member of the UNHRC from 2016 to 2018. Elections for UNHRC members will take place in October.

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