Swiss minister urges courage to fight for human rights

Cassis addressing the human rights council which opened its 40th session in Geneva on Monday. © Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has called for continued efforts to fight for human rights.

Addressing the opening session of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on Monday, Cassis looked back over the 70-year history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in Paris in 1948.

“It is the task of all of us in this room and outside to fight for rights with courage and determination but also to focus and to speak frankly,” he said, adding that renewed efforts were necessary to defend basic rights.

“We have learnt that nothing is guaranteed for ever and that humankind often falls into the same traps.”

He also mentioned Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak who, he said, were killed last year because of their courage in standing up for freedom of opinion and the respect for others.

Cassis also highlighted the importance of the Swiss city of Geneva in the history of human rights, notably the foundation of the Red Cross in 1863 and the League of Nations in 1920.

He stressed the role of democratic decisions and the rule of law to ensure peace and prosperity.

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