Natisni vsebino

Speech at the reception marking Human Rights Day

15.12.1999 16:38
Category: work and news, speeches

 Mr President

High Representatives of the legislature, judiciary and executive

Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and High Representatives of foreign countries

High Representatives of the Churches, Universities and the Sciences

Representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations and the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sincere greetings to all of you who have accepted the invitation totoday’s meeting on International Human Rights Day. We are marking thisimportant day for the very last time in a century that has borne thescars of two world wars and the inhuman acts related to them and tovarious forms of totalitarianism. Efforts towards the respecting ofhuman rights have developed appreciably in the second half of thiscentury, but we are still faced with many challenges. The mereproclamation of rights does not automatically lead to their beingexercised. Thus, in addition to the proper environment of a democraticstate based on the rule of law and the numerous mechanisms whichprotect and ensure the exercising of acknowledged rights, we needpersonal commitment and sensitivity from those responsible for makingdecisions in cases involving the rights of the individual. Inparticular those in authority, who act, with the help of the power ofthe state, in relation to the weaker party - the person, the individual- must be aware that efforts towards the respecting and exercising ofhuman rights is a never-ending task.

The institution of Human Rights Ombudsman in Slovenia is five yearsold. Over the course of these five years we have addressed the problemsof many people and offered them assistance. At the same time, throughour warnings, proposals and recommendations, we have contributed to animprovement in the position of the individual in many areas. I feelentirely justified in underlining these achievements with satisfaction.At the same time I feel that it is my duty to thank all those people inpositions of responsibility - and thanks God there are a good number ofthem - who have with special commitment contributed to the eliminationof shortcomings and to the more consistent respecting of human rights.Our satisfaction on the occasion of this little jubilee cannot,unfortunately, be total. Though it is true that brutal and systematicviolations of fundamental human rights do not occur in Slovenia, we arewitness to numerous problems in the exercising of human rights whichderive more than anything else from the poor functioning of the state.The main problem, to which our attention is even drawn by othercountries, remains the large backlogs in court and administrativeprocedures and the related inefficiency of state bodies. It is right toexpect that the representatives of all three branches of authority willsucceed in determining and carrying out priority tasks on behalf ofcitizens, for we cannot and should not reconcile ourselves to theexisting state of affairs!

Critical words may seem inappropriate on this festive occasion, but Ibelieve that the purpose and importance of Human Rights Day lies inasking ourselves whether in our everyday work we demonstrate a suitablecommitment to these important issues.

We shall continue to devote particular attention in our work to theexercising of the rights of society’s most sensitive groups. As wecelebrate the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights ofthe Child, I would like to place special emphasis on the fullexercising of the human rights of every one of these, the weakest ofour fellow human beings. This is something to which we are bound tothis by the recently ratified European Convention on the Exercise ofChildren’s Rights. I am happy to be able to mention, among the manypositive changes we have encouraged through our work over the last fiveyears, the foundation of a maintenance fund, which is even now becomingfully operational.

If our attitude to children reveals society’s attitude to its future,our attitude to and care for older people reflects its culture. TheInternational Year of the Elderly is therefore above all an opportunityand incentive for us to enable older people security and broadpossibilities for the realisation of their personal expectations.

Our reflection on the respecting of the rights of our fellow humanbeings must not overlook the deprived, the weak and the vulnerableamong us. Efforts to improve the situation of the disabled, of refugeesand other foreigners, and of all who are ‘different’ in one way oranother, should be reflected, not by lofty words, but by committedaction.

Ladies and gentlemen, as the Christmas time approaches and we stand atthe threshold of a new year and new Millennium, allow me to wish youpeace, happiness and health, and much courage, success and personalsatisfaction in your work!

    Ivan Bizjak, Ombudsman

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