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H.E President of the Human Rights Council,
, Excellencies Ministers and Senior Officials
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, allow me to congratulate the Government of Slovenia and its Permanent Representative H.E. Ambassador Vojslav Suc on assuming the presidency of the Human Rights Council. I reiterate Egypt's keenness, at the beginning of its second year of Council membership, on cooperating with the Bureau in achieving the principles and purposes of this august body.
Every year, Egypt is keen to share with the Council what it has achieved in strengthening democracy, rule of law, good governance, and furnishing the necessary infrastructure for human rights albeit all the serious challenges that it has faced and continues to face. Egypt completed in a record time the process of institutional building based on a contemporary constitution which is in accordance with international standards in safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms. In less than a month, Egypt will hold presidential elections, the fourth electoral contest in Egypt since the 30th of June revolution. All these elections were and will be held in an environment of fairness, integrity and transparency, and in accordance with effective constitutional guarantees, under the supervision of an independent electoral commission and while being witnessed widely by civil society organizations, media and international and regional organizations.
My keenness to speak before you for the second year in a row signifies the magnitude of attention that Egypt pays to this Council, as it played a key role in its inception, and acted twice as its vice-president, as well as our firm belief and unambiguous commitment towards the noble and universal values of human rights. On the other hand, protection and promotion of human rights are an advanced priority for the Government of Egypt particularly after the 2011 and 2013 revolutions. This is translated, for example, in selecting the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 as years for the rights of youth, women and persons with disabilities consecutively; a token for an orientation that integrates human rights in public policy, and which bases itself on the 2030 agenda's philosophy of "leaving no one behind".
In this context, I am pleased to announce that Egypt will present during the current session, and for the first time, a mid-term voluntary report on its implementation of the accepted recommendations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In this we renew our keenness on fulfilling Egypt's international commitments, and to continuing constructive engagement with the international human rights architecture and mechanisms. This report will be presented at length during the visit of Egypt's Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to Geneva next week.
Allow me also to touch on few highlights since the last High Level Segment. Egypt continues to take important strides at the path of promoting human rights. The national electoral commission assumed its mandate; the law regulating peaceful assembly was amended to become more accommodating; the House of Representatives enacted an amendment to the law of the National Council for Human Rights to ensure further guarantees for the independence and effectiveness of our national human rights institution; and we maintained the active efforts to mainstream human rights in education curricula, the activities of religious institutions and the working methods of law enforcements authorities.
I should not miss to draw your attention to the major progress achieved in Egypt in relation to the right to freedom of religion and belief, either at the level of facilitating access to the right to practice and worship, or consolidating the values of equality, tolerance and discarding hatred in a system-wide comprehensive approach including in the religious, educational and media fields. Diversity and Plurality are inherent characteristics of the cultural and religious fabric of the Egyptian society. These traits provide sources of strength and richness as well as a shield against the preachers of schism, extremism and terrorism that aim at unraveling these solid national foundations of the Egyptian nation.
Egypt has a rich heritage in the field of freedom of press. It hosts independent media outlets and a large number of foreign correspondents from around the world. It is, however, regretful to notice lack of professionalism in the performance of some media outlets, which base their coverage on fabricated sources, for political purposes or in search of scoops. This was the case in BBC last week's report on Egypt, where the girl, who was alleged as forcibly disappeared and tortured, appeared on screens refuting such claims.
Egypt proceeds at a path to success in the area of women's rights. The Egyptian woman year witnessed concrete achievements in promoting empowerment of women and girls in all fields and protecting them from all forms of violence. In addition, The Egyptian State opened new horizons for empowering young people, and engaging them, as well as developing this engagement to include an international dimension presented at the World Youth Forum that Egypt hosted in November 2017 in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The Government of Egypt is also proud of the positive steps undertaken to expand social protection including through a progressive trajectory towards universal health care. We shall continue our efforts to realize economic, social and cultural rights to all citizens albeit the courageous economic reforms currently applied.
In line with these priorities, Egypt's diplomacy is keen to express these aforementioned interests inside the Human Rights Council. As in the March session of every year, Egypt will present its initiative on "right to work" and the relevant fundamental challenges this issue poses for young people around the world. Egypt is also among the main sponsors of the resolution on youth and human rights presented annually in June. In light of Egypt's current presidency of the G-77 and China as well as the advanced priority dedicated to the full and effective implementation of agenda 2030 for sustainable development, Egypt will upscale its efforts in support of an equitable attention to be paid to economic, social and cultural rights, and allocating the resources necessary to this end.
Emanating from this open-minded approach and our commitment to continue to work constructively in the field of human rights, and in line with Egypt's voluntary pledges announced during the elections to this Council's membership, Egypt engages positively with the international human rights system. It has one of the highest response rates to international petition mechanisms and it has invited 6 mandate holders to conduct visits, with dates being currently agreed upon. Egypt is also pleased with the cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the framework of a comprehensive program for capacity building and technical cooperation, as well as the current training organized on drafting national periodic reports to Treaty Bodies.
These highlights that were and will be attained at the path of consolidating a modern and sustainable democratic State in Egypt should not distract us from the unprecedented grave challenges faced by Egypt in particular and its regional neighborhoods in general. The sinful hand of terrorism continues to reap souls and assault human lives. It did not mercy worshippers in their mosques and churches, and continues its pathetic attempts to exhaust the economy and compromise the unity and cohesion of the Egyptian nation. As I speak today, Egypt's heroic law enforcement officials continue conducting a comprehensive campaign to uproot terrorism from North East Sinai, within a framework of a comprehensive strategy that complies to full respect to human rights in its endeavor to materially and intellectually annihilate terrorism, and to intercept its sources of internal and external arming and funding.
In light of the suffering that Egypt endured from these evils, and coinciding with the horrific atrocities committed by these diabolic organizations and groups in our region and around the world, Egypt will continue to promote its initiative on the effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights, which tackles the repercussions of terrorism on rights to life, liberty, personal security and enjoyment of all human rights, as well as the necessity of complying to comprehensive and genuine international cooperation in combating this perilous plague. This is the same initiative endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly for the first time last November, and it resonates with the leading role that Egypt plays vis-à-vis the issues of combating international terrorism, including during its chairmanship of the Counter Terrorism Committee of the Security Council in 2016 and 2017. This comes as a reflection to H.E. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s call to consider protection against terrorism as a fundamental human right.
The Arab and Muslim worlds, as well as our mother African continent are experiencing a critical stage of threats and dangers that deprive many of their citizens from enjoying human rights and living in security and prosperity. At the heart of these challenges exist the forces of havoc that aim at obliterating the foundations of nation State and replacing it with a swamp of extremism, sectarianism and chaos. These ominous endeavors and the narrow-minded foreign interventions associated with them had a definite role in the metamorphosis of the basis of nation State and, subsequently, wide scale conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia. Meanwhile, we remain deeply concerned with the recurrent plight that Ruhyinga Muslims face in Myanmar. Egypt, inside and outside the Human Rights Council, will support any genuine effort aimed at relieving the suffering of these nations and stopping the painful tragedies they endure.
It is unconceivable to tackle the regional challenges without drawing attention to the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, where the situation is growing more complicated, thus leaving the Palestinian people as victims to more violations, and disallowing Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to self-determination and establishing an Independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Mr. President…Ladies and Gentlemen,
In relation to the cruel humanitarian consequences resulting from crises and conflicts, Egypt attaches particular attention to the international efforts to combat racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia and incitement to discrimination and violence including against refugees and migrants. I am hopeful that the current negotiations by the international community on the two new global compacts on refugees and migration can open the door for more protection for these persons who were on many occasions forced to leave their homes, and face freighting woes which may end up in open prisons falsely labeled as "reception centers".
In conclusion, and at the shadows of these precarious moments currently undergone by the international community, as well as the new and diverse sources of threats to human rights, Egypt looks forward to the Human Rights Council to continue to deliver its message based on constructive dialogue, international cooperation and non-politicization or polarization, and in a manner that contributes to building mutual trust and international solidarity that are both indispensable for confronting these international common perils.
This Council achieved a lot during the course of its twelve years of work, and Egypt shall robustly defend the foundations and constants that allowed it to accomplish this.
I thank you, Mr. President.