Mr. President,

I would like to thank Alice Wairimu Nderitu, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, for her statement. Switzerland takes the opportunity of this meeting to address a key condition for conflict prevention and peace-building: the respect and fulfillment of human rights, which include non-discrimination, freedom of expression, as well as freedom of thought, conscience and religion.    

Social cohesion is built on the cohabitation of opinions, convictions and beliefs. Tolerance is the cement of any inclusive society.

Conversely, intolerance, discrimination, incitement to hatred and violent extremism can divide or even break social bonds. The call for tolerance is therefore a call to fight against discrimination in all its forms, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

This call is rooted in a universal legal framework. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings "are born free and equal in dignity and rights". From this provision derives the prohibition of discrimination enshrined in several international conventions.

Mr. President,

Human rights are a sine qua non for building a lasting peace. They are our bulwark against the dehumanization, inequality and injustice that often lie at the root of violent conflict.

Hence, it's hardly surprising that armed conflicts are spreading around the world at the very time when human rights are losing ground. Impunity for human rights violations is a major risk to peace and security.

A recent study by the Peacebuilding Fund demonstrates once again, on the basis of concrete cases in 45 countries, that human rights and peacebuilding are mutually catalyzing.

The study confirms that focusing on human rights helps to identify and resolve disputes before they erupt into violence; to tackle root causes; and to remedy structural inequalities. It also shows that promoting women's rights and socio-economic needs is a powerful lever for peace. And that empowering women facilitates access to justice for victims of sexual- and gender-based violence. In this respect, the study demonstrates that combating gender-based hate speech is essential to promoting women's participation. Hate speech in general can be a "precursor" to spikes in violence and large-scale human rights violations, according to the study.

Mr. President,

Switzerland strongly condemns all forms of hate speech. In the fight against this phenomenon, respect for human rights, in particular freedom of expression, must be guaranteed. All voices, even the most critical ones, must be able to express themselves. Freedom of expression, like freedom of religion and belief, fosters open and honest debate, the cornerstone of any pluralistic, inclusive and peaceful society. They create a climate of trust, which is essential for conflict prevention. In the same vein, tolerance and respect for the dignity of all human beings, and the protection of minorities, are essential if such a coexistence is to be achieved.

As the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, affirmed before this Council in May 2023: "Full compliance with human rights is the best antidote to inequalities, unaddressed grievances and exclusion."

To act for human rights is to act for peace. So, let's act: By putting an end to all forms of discrimination. By guaranteeing women's participation in decision-making. And, above all, by placing human rights at the heart of peace prevention and peacebuilding.

Thank you.