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Denmark and URG Launch Friday Exchange


Geneva, 15th February 2016
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the Universal Rights Group on Friday the 12th February 2016 launched a new diplomatic initiative in Geneva and New York: the ‘Friday Exchange.’ The Friday Exchange is a series of quarterly informal policy dialogues (small roundtable discussions) designed to allow States (ambassador level) from all regions to exchange opinions, bridge differences and identify common ground on some of the most difficult and intractable issues facing the Human Rights Council and the wider UN human rights pillar today.  The Friday Exchange aims to provide an informal ‘safe space’ (Chatham House rules) for States to understand each other’s positions, reflect upon obstacles to consensus, and identify practical solutions. In-so-doing, the Exchange will support the work and effectiveness of the Human Rights Council and the wider UN human rights system, drive progress on key human rights questions facing the international community, and promote inter-State and inter-regional understanding and cooperation. Friday Exchange meetings will seek to secure the participation of delegations from each UN region, as well as from different political groups. Within those parameters, efforts are made, for each meeting, to invite those States most implicated by the issue(s) or initiative(s) under discussion. The first meeting of the Friday Exchange, chaired by Danish Permanent Representative, Ambassador Carsten Staur, and with the participation of URG executive Director Marc Limon, was held on Friday the 12th February in Geneva, and focused on how the UN can strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities. Speaking after the event, Ambassador Staur said:  “The situation of religious minorities around the world is never far from the news, and is one of the most pressing and challenging human rights challenges facing the international community today. We hope the Friday Exchange can make a small but important contribution to generating understanding and, through open and inclusive dialogue, help identify common ground and common solutions.”ENDS

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