Geneva parliament sets up human rights commission

The Geneva parliament has decided to set up a permanent human rights commission. It's the first of its kind in Switzerland.

This content was published on September 22, 2000 minutes

The commission will ensure that all Geneva institutions are run in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will also take an interest in human rights in Switzerland and abroad.

Parliamentarians unanimously accepted the proposition of their colleague, the liberal Michel Halpérin. The reasoning behind the commission is to spend more time debating human rights issues rather than discussing them superficially during plenary sessions.

"The parliamentarians also believe that it is only natural for Geneva, with its presence on the international scene, to take an interest in human rights", said Halpérin. "However our aim is not to give lessons, but to understand."

There is, however, some disagreement on how to define human rights. Civil and political rights are accepted by all, but some of the parliamentarians would also like to see social, economic and cultural rights included in the definition.

According to Michel Halpérin, "part of the commission's work will be to define its role and its definition of human rights. Then we can decide if our canton is committed to them."

swissinfo with agencies

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