The Netherlands Consulate General in Miami, United States

Minister Frans Timmermans Addresses UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva

The Netherlands believes strongly in human rights for all people, a fact Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, reinforced during the 22nd session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

During a speech on Feb. 25, Mr. Timmermans said the Netherlands’ believes that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and that human rights are universal.

“Justice implies that the loss of freedom for some can never be made right by a greater good shared by others,” he said.

He explained the Dutch vision of universal human rights, and the role played by the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, which opened its doors last year.

The Netherlands believes in the need for a strong and effective international system for human rights, and Mr. Timmermans acknowledged the world has more work to do on this topic.

“[A]s long as violations continue, it is clear we are not effective enough,” he said. “We have to do more, we owe it to those suffering from terrible violations right now, such as in Syria, North Korea and elsewhere.”

He called on the UN to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, citing the fact that more than 70,000 people have been killed. “The bloodshed must stop,” he said.

Mr. Timmermans also spelled out the Netherlands’ three priorities for a human rights strategy, still under development: non-government organizations and human rights defenders; women’s rights; and equal rights for homosexuals.

“I really believe in this, we can set each other free by respecting the choice we make of who we want to be, what we want to believe, where we want to stand,” he said.

Read the full text of Mr. Timmermans’ speech.