Natisni vsebino

Address at the presentation of the publication “Equal Opportunities in Slovenian Diplomacy”

06.01.2010 15:06
Category: speeches

Esteemed Minister, Your Excellencies, honoured guests and co-authors of the publication Equal Opportunities in Slovenian Diplomacy,  

As I have already mentioned in the foreword, this project is an exceptional project, such as are rare in Slovenia.  It is probably not difficult to identify what is positive in the environment, but unfortunately we do not practice this. It is difficult, too, to discover what is wrong from employees, in such a way that their answers provide a basis for positive changes.  It is not just a matter of criticizing superiors and the system, it is targeted search for solutions to improve the functioning of a particular body. It is true that there are various models of business and other excellence, studying the atmosphere of a particular working environment but, as a rule, their methodology does not enable an insight into the very personal thinking and needs of individual employees.  The conclusions of an empirical survey on Slovenian diplomats will soon be revealed to you if you take a look at this publication.  

It will be interesting to follow the destiny of this project. Will anything change? For the better or worse? For whom? When will changes occur? And what I believe is very important: will any other state authority pluck up the courage openly to examine the answers of their employees? I am sure that the experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be willing to assist them.    

On this occasion, I would like to emphasise that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Human Rights Ombudsman of the RS have more points in common than would appear at first sight. Human rights is a topic discussed by numerous international organisations in which Slovenia participates as a signatory of conventions or as a donor of knowledge and resources. Reporting to the UN Human Rights Council awaits us this year, while in 2009 we organized a high profile international conference on children’s rights and protection against violence. We also cooperate in solving the initiatives of individuals, not least because the employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also entitled to approach the Human Rights Ombudsman of the RS.

And there is another issue I cannot bypass. The Human Rights Ombudsman is not an authoritative political function, even though some politicians would like their views on certain topics to be endorsed by or imposed on the actual Ombudsman. Also in our country. Nevertheless, issues of human rights in some foreign countries cannot pass me by as Ombudsman. Not long ago, there was an attempt to kill the Ombudsman of Papua New Guinea; the parliaments of some European countries attempt to replace or silence their Ombudsmen.  

The first Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Sergej Kovaljov, a recipient of the Sakharov award by the European Parliament, was replaced after one year for being merciless in his criticism of the war in Chechnya; and there was an attempt to incapacitate the Ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan, in spite of him being accused of being a dissident and fighter for independence. We must speak out about human rights and defend them, even when it is not wanted.
 I will therefore conclude my speech with thoughts of those individuals who have died defending human rights, who have been tortured, humiliated or who have been forced to leave their homes and countries. I trust that diplomats, in particular those of you who have been or will be the representatives of Slovenia abroad, will avail yourselves of the opportunities offered for the defence of human rights.

Dr Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik, MD,
Human Rights Ombudsman

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