Natisni vsebino

Speech at the reception marking Human Rights Day

15.12.2001 16:34
Category: work and news, speeches

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests,

We have gathered today in this representative facility to turn ourthoughts briefly to an event that occurred on this day more than fiftyyears ago, and to consider the influence that it still has on thepresent moment. As we all know, it was on this day that the UnitedNations adopted the General Declaration on Human Rights. The adoptionof such a document was absolutely necessary for those times, as isnecessary today to uphold the Declaration as well as other documents,international and national, that build on the General Declaration, i.e.the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights andFundamental Freedoms, the European Social Charter, the Convention onthe Rights of the Child, as well as other documents that provide ageneral framework for a better life of people.

The awareness that we need an international commitment to respect humanrights was generated by the second world war, a period that wascharacterized by the opinion that the life of an individual functionedonly as a means of promoting "great historical" goals: national,ideological, religious and others. It is essential for a society torealize the importance of social and national development objectives,and it is important for the state also to have a vision of development.Without it the state does nothing but run from one daily problem toanother. The development visions and objectives in each society must,however, provide for every individual, equal and different. In them,each person must be able to find his/her own opportunity. The safety ofa society must be the synonym for the freedom of an individual.Societies that do not recognize the co-dependence between the commonsociety goals and the goals of every individual, that do not matchfreedom with safety will, after years or decades, be faced with openingmass graves and counting the bones of those whose lives were consideredunnecessary or even dangerous for certain higher goals at a givenmoment in the past. The adoption of the Declaration on Human Rights wasaimed at preventing catastrophes caused by the unawareness ofco-dependence between the rights of the society and the rights of anindividual. The events over the last fifty years show, unfortunately,that this awareness has not yet been completely absorbed.

At this time Slovenians celebrate not only global events but alsonational ones: ten years have elapsed this year since we started livingin our own state. Its creation was linked with many wishes andexpectations, both common and individual ones. These expectations werefocused mostly on political rights: political freedom, the freedom ofassembly based on common ideological or political beliefs, amulti-party political system. And this is also what we got; the fear ofpolitics is a matter of the past.

Unfortunately, however, we have unnecessarily also lost too manyeconomic and social rights. Unemployment as a consequence of illegaldismissals, housing problems caused by a poor housing policy, increasedinequality and poverty that are not the consequence of not working butrather of an individual's inappropriate social or geographicalposition, intolerance towards the others and towards the different,time-consuming judicial proceedings – these are just a few of thenegative consequences caused by a development process that was poorlythought through. We may say that the political fear from the previoussystem was replaced by an existential fear in the new system.

This points to areas that we need to address in the future in order tomake each individual and the society as a whole feel safe and free. Inaddition to political rights the development visions must give roomalso to economic, social and cultural rights that will ensure humandignity to each and everyone of us.


 Matjaž Hanžek
Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia

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