Press Releases

External Affairs Minister’s Statement at the High Level Segment of the 46th Session of Human Rights Council

February 23, 2021

Madam President,

At the outset, I congratulate you on your election as the President of the Council, which is a reflection of the role of Fiji in global human rights discourse. I assure you of my Delegation’s full cooperation.

Madam President,

2. India has always played an active role in global promotion and protection of human rights. Our strong commitment to the welfare of entire humanity, inspired by our civilisational ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ or "the World is one family” has provided the very foundation on which our constitutional and legal framework of human rights has been built.

3. Our approach, Madam President, is based on our own experience as an inclusive and pluralistic society and a vibrant democracy. Our Constitution has enshrined basic human rights as Fundamental rights, guaranteeing civil and political rights, stipulating provisions for progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights. These continue to evolve through legislation by Parliament, progressive interpretation of laws by the judiciary and active participation of civil society and citizens.

Madam President,

4. Our approach to the UN Human Rights Council is guided by our spirit of engagement, dialogue and consultation.

5. We believe that equal emphasis should be placed on both promotion and protection of human rights. Both are best pursued through dialogue, consultation and cooperation amongst States as well as technical assistance and capacity building. We also believe that achievement of sustainable development goals will contribute to realisation and enjoyment of basic human rights.

6. As a member of the Human Rights Council, we remain committed to work together with fellow members of the Council to achieve consensus.

7. We believe that violation of and gaps in implementation of human rights should be addressed in a fair and just manner, with objectivity, non-selectivity, transparency and with due respect to the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and national sovereignty.

8. As the Human Rights Council completes 15 years since its establishment, it is time for us to assess its achievements, reflect on its failures and deliberate on the ways to strengthen and reform it so as to enable it to achieve the objectives for which it has been set up. India, as always, is ready to contribute in this endeavour.

Madam President,

9. The human rights agenda continues to face severe challenges, most of all from terrorism. The perennial concerns remain equally strong, be it global inequities or armed conflicts. The ongoing pandemic has complicated the situation in many geographies. There is a need for us to come together to overcome these challenges. At the same time, multilateral institutions and mechanisms need to be reformed to be able to deal with these effectively.

Madam President,

10. Terrorism continues to be one of the gravest threats to humankind. It is a crime against humanity and violates the most fundamental human right - namely ‘the Right to Life’. As a long-standing victim, India has been in the forefront of the global action against terrorism. This is possible only when there is a clear realisation, including in bodies dealing with human rights, that terrorism can never be justified, nor its perpetrators ever equated with its victims. We presented, last month, at the UNSC, an 8-point Action Plan to deal with the scourge of terrorism. We will continue to work together with members of the UNSC and other States to ensure implementation of our Action Plan.

11. India’s abiding commitment to promotion and protection of basic human rights has been manifest in our strategy to deal with COVID 19 pandemic. By giving direct food support to 800 million Indians and financial support to 400 million, many of them women, we ensured that basic needs were very effectively addressed even during the lockdown. And as we addressed the health front at home, we responded to the world in equal measure. We provided essential medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries to assist them in this fight. In the same spirit, India has pledged to use its vaccine manufacturing capacity to make vaccines accessible and affordable to all. From Bangladesh to Brazil and from Morocco to Fiji, the pharmacy of the world is today supplying millions of vaccine doses to more than 70 countries.

Madam President,

12. Guided by my Government’s vision of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, that is "working together for inclusive development for all and securing the trust of all”, we have undertaken unprecedented steps, aimed at economic and social transformation of India. The revolutionary initiatives undertaken by the Government include the world’s largest financial inclusion scheme, which covers 417 million aspirational Indians; free health insurance coverage to 500 million; provision of 150 million homes to the underprivileged; loans at concessional rates to 140 million needy Indians for promoting entrepreneurship, out of which 76% of the beneficiaries are women; 50 million free gas connections to deserving women belonging to rural households; construction of 110 million toilets in the last 5 years and bringing tap water connection to every household in the country by 2024. All these steps have contributed immensely in enjoyment of basic human rights by our people.

13. Let me conclude by reiterating that we remain steadfast in our commitment to take all the possible steps to ensure fullest enjoyment of basic human rights of our people, including inclusive and sustainable development. India is building a better and fairer society at home; it is also contributing to a better and fairer world.

14. I thank you, Madam President, for giving me the floor and I wish you success in presiding over the Council.