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10-03-2020 | Edited News , COVID-19

COVID-19 Human Rights Council

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  1. Wide shot: exterior, flag alley, Palais des Nations, United Nations Geneva.
  2. Medium shot, panning: Human Rights Council delegates with country name plates in Room XX at UN Geneva.
  3. SOUNDBITE (EN) — President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria): “Yesterday, we held an extended Bureau meeting; so that was with all the Vice-Presidents and the regional coordinators from all the regions as well as with our representative of our host country Switzerland to discuss how to go on against a background of the COVID-19 situation and its implications, as well as some of the worries which some of you have expressed.”
  4. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegates in Room XX, seated, one of whom is taking off his scarf.
  5. SOUNDBITE (EN) — President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria): “The plenary meetings would be moved away from Room XX to the Assembly Hall, which as you know is the biggest room in the building and can take around 2,000 people, which would allow us to space, to allow for adequate space between delegates.”
  6. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegates in Room XX at UN Geneva; they are seated and one of them is smiling broadly.
  7. SOUNDBITE (EN) — President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria): “Any delegate sensing that he or she has the slightest problem in terms of coughing or fever or whatever should stay at home. And people over 65 or 70 should stay at home as well.”
  8. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegate in Room XX at UN Geneva, wearing conference hearing device, looking around the chamber.
  9. SOUNDBITE (EN) — President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria): “Delegations would be asked to be present with no more than two delegates in the plenary room; the empty seats would be used to space out the delegations.”
  10. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegates in Room XX at UN Geneva, seated, wearing conference hearing devices, looking ahead.
  11. SOUNDBITE (EN) — President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria): “All informal meetings would be moved to larger rooms, again with the purpose of allowing for adequate spacing between delegations, and would not allow more than two people per delegation and delegations would be invited to send only the number of people necessary.”
  12. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegates in Room XX at UN Geneva, seated in front of country nameplates.
  13. Medium shot: Human Rights Council delegates in Room XX at UN Geneva, seated at some distance from each other.
  14. Wide shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council, delegates standing and talking, others seated.
  15. Medium shot: showing President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria) speaking into desk microphone at the Assembly Hall at UN Geneva; UN flag and observer shown behind.
  16. Medium shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council; delegates seating or taking seats.
  17. Medium shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council; delegates, one wearing a face mask which has been lowered to reveal his mouth.
  18. Medium shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council; delegates, seated.
  19. Medium shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council; delegates, seated, semi-profile.
  20. Medium shot: Assembly Hall at UN Geneva, temporarily housing the Human Rights Council; delegates, seated.

Human Rights Council settles into new home in response to Coronavirus COVID-19 threat

In accordance with new coronavirus prevention measures proposed in consultation with host country Switzerland, the Human Rights Council on Tuesday adopted a series of precautionary changes so that its work could proceed safely at the UN in Geneva.

The development is also in line with UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s recent appeal “to step up and do everything possible to contain” COVID-19 “without stigmatization and with full respect for human rights”.

Among the new measures is a change in venue for delegates, away from Room XX – famous for its dramatic, multicoloured ceiling sculpture by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló – to the even larger Assembly Hall, also at the Palais des Nations in the Swiss city.

With room for around 2,000 people, the vast hall “will allow for adequate space between delegates” attending the 43rd session of the Council, as its President, Austrian Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, said.

The decision was taken after a meeting on Monday between the Council Bureau “and all the vice-presidents and the regional coordinators from all the regions as well as with our representative of our host country Switzerland to discuss how to go on against a background of the COVID-19 situation and its implications, as well as some of the worries which some of you have expressed”, the Ambassador explained.

It follows a decision taken a week ago to cancel all side events linked to the Council – some 200 in all – and moves to encourage Special Rapporteurs and other speakers to address the forum by video, rather than to attend in person.

Listing the other proposals to be adopted by the Council, Ms. Tichy-Fisslberger added that “any delegate sensing that he or she has the slightest problem in terms of coughing or fever or whatever should stay at home. And people over 65 or 70 should stay at home as well.”

Until the current session ends on 20 March, participants would be asked to be present with no more than two delegates in the plenary room and empty seats “would be used to space out the delegations”.

In addition to asking delegates to follow all sanitary measures proposed by UN Geneva, such as refraining from shaking hands and using hand sanitisers provided, the Council President noted that all  informal meetings would be moved to larger rooms  -“again, with the purpose of allowing for adequate spacing between delegations, and would not allow more than two people per delegation and delegations would be invited to send only the number of people necessary.”


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