Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Higgins hails human rights 'honour'

Michael D Higgins has said Ireland's election to the UN Human Rights Council is an honour

Ireland's election on to an international body promoting human rights around the globe is an honour, President Michael D Higgins has said.

He maintained that the country's seat on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council is a responsibility the country will embrace fully.

The president said the move was a strong endorsement of Ireland's reputation internationally and a tribute to its foreign policy and human rights component.

"It is a show of faith, by the UN, both in our human rights infrastructure here at home and our role in the area of international human rights advocacy," said Mr Higgins. "Membership is both an honour and a responsibility which I am confident Ireland will embrace fully.

"It will allow Ireland to play an even more active role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. Given our own complex history we bring uniqueness and a long tradition in the field of human rights protection."

The council is an inter-governmental body within the UN, with 47 states responsible for the promotion and protection of all rights around the globe.

Delivering the Human Rights Commission's annual lecture on International Human Rights Day, Mr Higgins commended all those who have worked in the area.

But he warned Ireland's new Human Rights and Equality Commission will always have unfinished business to deal with, including issues of equality involving gender and minorities.

"The human rights dimension in society is tested by the presence or absence of it as a perspective among decision-shapers, and decision-makers, as much as it is by decisions ultimately taken within a parliament," the president added.

"The search for, agreement on, and vindication of basic rights that are never made conditional on gender, race, ethnicity, capacity or circumstances has to be accepted as part of our contemporary consciousness and our public decision-making."

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