Human Rights Council 19th Session United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Introduction of Annual Report 2011

Madam President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,

2011 was a year critical for human rights. It was a year of substantial challenges to human rights linked to the global economic, climate, energy and food crises, famine in the Horn of Africa, armed conflict, racism and xenophobia, and lingering poverty. It was also a year when we witnessed the mobilization of civil society contesting repressive power structures and failed forms of governance, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. In some countries, legitimate demands for freedom, equality and justice were met with extreme violence and repression. The escalation of violence in Syria is of utmost concern. The international community has an urgent responsibility to act to bring an end to the heavy loss of life in Syria. In other countries, new avenues to advance human rights opened. With these opportunities came challenges as we are seeing in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain and Yemen.

Today I will highlight some of the key issues in my annual report.