The right to water and sanitation, the right to adequate housing, and the fight against trafficking in human beings: these are the three issues to which Germany has particularly committed itself as a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) over the next three years. The Council, which comprises 47 member states, is the UN’s central forum for human rights issues. Its core tasks are to promote the worldwide dissemination of human rights, to assist states with the implementation of human rights and to advise the UN General Assembly on questions of human rights.
Germany is one of the UN member states that played a key role in the establishment of the Geneva-based council from the very start, and was one of its first members from 2006 to 2009. From the beginning of 2013 until 2015, Germany is now once again a member of the Council. There was considerable support around the world for Germany’s candidature: at the elections in November 2012 in New York, 127 of the 193 UN states voted for the country’s membership. German Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described the outcome as a show of confidence in Germany and a tribute to the country’s stand on human rights. Germany regards the Council as the leading international institution concerned with human rights protection.
Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle believes that a commitment to human rights is a task that concerns all political fields. Priorities of German human rights activities include the protection of champions of human rights, the battle against the death penalty, the protection against discrimination, the upholding of children’s rights and the freedom of religion and belief. Germany has long been committed to the right to water and sanitation. In view of the fact that around 900 million people around the world have no access to clean drinking water and that 2.5 billion have no toilet, Germany intends to pursue this issue with greater intensity in the Human Rights Council. In conjunction with its battle for the right of people to adequate housing, this is intended to strengthen their rights to a dignified standard of living and to hygiene and health. In the fight against human trafficking – an initiative pursued jointly with the Philippines – both countries wish to see international treaties and agreements effectively broadened.