Opening remarks by Mr Federico Villegas, President of the Human Rights Council, at the fourth intersessional meeting for dialogue and cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


18 January 2022


18 January 2022 (10 am – 12 p.m. CET)

Excellencies, Distinguished panellists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend my best wishes for the new year and welcome you to the fourth intersessional meeting for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I congratulate my distinguished colleague and friend, H.E. Mr. Lansana Alison Gberie, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone, on his appointment as Chair of this meeting. Ambassador, I look forward to a productive and successful meeting under your able leadership.

I would also like to welcome and thank for their respective contributions the Honourable Prime Minister of Peru, H.E. Ms Mirtha Esther Vásquez Chuquilín, and United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Nada Al-Nashif.

My welcome also extends to the distinguished panellists and Council members and observers joining us online. We look forward to the contribution of your rich experience and expertise to the discussion.

Globally, as we continue to face the dramatic setbacks triggered by Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting - focusing on SDGs 5 and 17 - is timely in generating a discussion on how we can achieve a truly sustainable recovery over time. In order to do so, we must move from temporary measures to longer term investments anchored in a human rights perspective, while advancing gender equality and strengthening partnerships with the aim of a social contract for inclusive development and sustainability based in human rights.

Over 2021, in numerous reports, dialogues, debates and resolutions, the Human Rights Council highlighted how the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and reversed progress towards realizing the SDGs generally, thereby causing greatest harm to the already vulnerable and marginalised. The Council frequently examined the Pandemic’s disproportionate negative impact on the human rights of women and girls and emphasized the importance of actively pursuing gender equality, including gender equal socioeconomic response and recovery efforts. Similarly, in 2021, many reports, dialogues, debates and resolutions stressed the importance effective international cooperation and partnerships in responding to Covid-19 and the Pandemic’s socio-economic consequences.

The programme of work for the Council in 2022 already foresees numerous reports and discussions related to recovery from the Pandemic. With rising inequalities, increasing poverty, the undermining of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the slowing or even a backward trend in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Human Rights Council has important contributions to make to building back better and renewing the social contract, leaving no one behind.

The Council has regularly called on States to ensure that national and international Pandemic response and recovery efforts include a human rights perspective. The importance of placing human rights at the front and centre of those efforts is already crystal clear. As the Council pursues its deliberations on dealing with the consequences of COVID-19, I hope that we will all be attentive to ensuring that our deliberations and decisions contribute to practical actions to protect human rights, reinvigorate the 2030 Agenda.

I wish you a productive dialogue and look forward to the summary report and its recommendations.

Thank you.