Natisni vsebino

Speech by the Ombudsman at the reception marking HR Day and the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of HR

15.12.1998 16:42
Category: work and news, speeches

Excellencies, guests, ladies and gentlemen,

May I offer a very warm greeting to all of you who responded positively to the invitation to today's meeting, which marks international Human Rights Day. This year's celebration of Human Rights Day carries a particular solemnity in the wider international community, for on 10th December it will be 50 years since the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration represents a recognition and confirmation of the equality of all members of the human family - be they great or small, rich or poor - deriving from their dignity, regardless of their place of birth, position, skin colour, sex, language, creed or political orientation. The Declaration is the foundation for numerous acts and mechanisms which have been adopted and established in the second half of the twentieth century on the global and regional levels. The respect and protection of human rights have during this time undergone a marked development, although there are today still cases of barbarism which would shame the human conscience. Indeed we have been witness even in the close vicinity of Slovenia to the kind of acts which prove that the Declaration might remain merely redundant words on paper. And it is these acts which caution us that respect of human rights must at all times be in the forefront of the efforts of those who bear responsibility in all countries, including Slovenia. The mere declaration of rights alone does not lead to their fulfilment. For this, much else is needed, from the appropriate environment of a democratic state based on the rule of law, to the numerous mechanisms which protect and ensure the fulfilment of guaranteed rights.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents an opportunity to take a more thorough look at how far human rights are respected and observed in our country. The general assessments of the respect of basic human rights and freedoms in Slovenia are good. Yet this does not mean that we are free from individual injustices and that there are not numerous problems which run counter to the provisions of binding international legal acts and the provisions of the Slovenian Constitution. In my annual report for 1997 I draw attention to certain problems for the third year running. I therefore call on representatives of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power - whom I wish to thank on this occasion for their cooperation to date in solving the problems which have been presented to me by individuals affected by these problems - I call on them once again to join in even more committed endeavours towards tackling unresolved issues in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our Constitution and the international acts which bind us. Human rights cannot wait!

A commitment to the respect of human rights has contributed enormously to the recognition and establishing of Slovenia, while observance of signed international obligations remains one of the fundamental conditions for our intended participation in international integration. I would therefore like to take this most agreeable opportunity to offer a special greeting to the high representatives of numerous countries. I am convinced that our cooperation in the area of respect and protection of human rights will continue to strengthen and intensify in the future.

In every society, including Slovenia, there exists a whole range of factors which can and must contribute to the improvement of conditions in the area of human rights. In first place comes the state, or rather the three branches of power, and research, educational and social institutions. Here I have strong hopes that Slovenia will soon succeed in setting up a national programme of education for human rights. An important role in establishing human rights is played by the media, which must function autonomously in a plural environment. The role of the media is not simply in providing information, but also in directing attention and developing people's sensitivity to the subject of human rights.

One other very important factor in the fulfilment and development of human rights, and in educating people in this area, is of course the civil society, organised into various groups, associations and other formal and informal organisations. I hope that in the future the civil society in Slovenia will become more active, for it is extremely important that the widest spectrum of those involved in the civil society continuously draw the attention of the public and the state to the problems which arise in the area of human rights in our society and which they encounter in their work. I would also like to take this opportunity, therefore, to offer a greeting to the high representatives of the church, the universities and sciences, as well as to representatives of non-governmental organisations which are striving to secure respect and observance of human rights, and to representatives of the media. The cooperation of all these different fields and institutions in safeguarding human rights is indispensable.

I hope that here in this pleasant atmosphere you will be able to exchange some words on these important issues, and strengthen the foundations for even more effective mutual cooperation in resolving the problems we encounter from day to day.

And since the festive season is approaching, may I wish you all a very happy Christmas holiday and every good fortune, success and satisfaction in the coming year.

    Ivan Bizjak, Human Rights Ombudsman

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