Thank you, Mr. President, for convening a debate on this important topic.
Latvia aligns itself with the statement on behalf of the European Union.
Current issues in world affairs affirm the relevance and increased interdependence of all three pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, human rights, and development. As we all advance with the implementation of the bold 2030 Agenda, we must constantly keep in mind that the sustainable development goals will not be achieved without full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Human rights are also central to maintaining international peace and security, especially in conflict prevention and early warning of potential conflicts. Latvia strongly believes that human rights must lie at the heart of the UN work - as a goal in itself and across all the UN decisions and actions.
The UN has tremendously advanced human rights through its human rights bodies and instruments. This year we mark a special anniversary - fifty years since the adoption of the human rights covenants which are the bedrock of all basic rights. Alongside with another nations Latvia has demonstrated its commitment in the field of human rights by undertaking a broad range of international obligations, including by acceding to the major UN human rights instruments. Their implementation and the protection of human rights is an indispensable part of Latvian Government’s policies.
Latvia is proud to be a member and the current Vice President of the Human Rights Council. Ten years after the establishment of the Council it still serves as the main body responsible for the promotion of the indivisibility and universality of human rights around the globe. We must ensure that it is able to respond to violations and challenges in an effective and timely manner. Membership enables Latvia to further advance its human rights priority areas – gender equality, freedom of expression both online and offline, and participation of civil society.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, human rights treaty bodies and special procedures are an important part of the UN human rights architecture. Therefore it is crucial to preserve their independence and expertise. Latvia will continue to encourage all States to issue a standing invitation to UN special procedures mandate holders and to ensure genuine cooperation with them.
A few weeks ago Latvia underwent the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. It has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for self-assessment and evaluation of progress, as well as for setting new domestic goals for the continuous improvements in the field. Although Latvia has made many human rights achievements since restoration of the independence in 1990, there is always a room for further improvements. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law will strongly remain at the centre of Latvia’s domestic and foreign policies.
To conclude, let me emphasize that the right foundations for the promotion and protection of human rights are there. We just have to fully respect our commitment to implement them, so no one is left behind.