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Third Committee of the 53rd General Assembly

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  • Statement by the delegation of the Czech Republic presented by Ms. Nadezda Holikova, on Human Rights Instruments
    New York, October 29, 1998

  • Statement by the Delegation of the Czech Republic presented by Ms. Ivana Schellongova, on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child
    New York, October 22, 1998

  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on International Drug Control
    New York, October 13, 1998

Statement by the delegation of the Czech Republic presented by Ms. Nadezda Holikova, on Human Rights Instruments

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of the Czech Republic is concerned about the level of torture, ill-treatment and other forms of violence as the allowed, accepted or tolerated police or prison administration investigative methods used by the state administration systems of many countries in the world. As all democratic countries it therefore supports all efforts of the society on national, regional and international levels to decrease the occurrence of that phenomena. One of these efforts is the current work of the Open-ended working group of the Commission on Human Rights on a draft optional protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Its seventh session was held in Geneva few weeks ago but, unfortunately, without any substantial progress.

When the first idea of the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture was presented in early 80´s along with the draft Convention itself, Czechoslovak communist government ruling the country on totalitarian principles did not welcome indeed the idea of preventing the torture through the mechanism of independent visits hiding itself beyond the principle of state sovereignty. As every country tolerating non-democratic ways of governing it has also been tolerating the use of violence against detained and imprisoned persons as a mechanism of state investigation. This has changed in early 90´s, when in 1989 the former Czechoslovakia experienced the transition from totalitarian to democratic system of the government.

The Government of the Czech Republic believes that the mechanism of visits to any person or any place under the jurisdiction of the State Party, conduct of investigations, drafting up confidential reports and follow-up recommendations completed in cooperation with the State Party concerned as the preventive measure would lead in the end to evident improvement of the situation in the sphere concerned. That is one of the reasons why the Czech Republic became a State Party to Convention on Prevention of Torture, regional treaty of the Council of Europe, which is based not on reporting duty but namely on investigative visits. It is our belief that similar tool adopted within the UN human rights instruments system would help and increase the cooperation of State Parties and UN specialized agencies and monitoring bodies and would reach the satisfaction of both sides and improve the concerned situation worldwide.

The Czech Republic supports all the guiding principles of the work of the working group: independence, competence and impartiality of persons participating in mentioned investigative visits, confidentiality of the outcomes of visits, constructive dialogue between the monitoring body and the State Party concerned. In this respect we also support the principle of publication of the report of the monitoring body and its visits. No reservations should be for above mentioned principles allowed to the possible Optional Protocol.

Mr. Chairman,

The working group needs after seven more or less successful years of its work much higher attention of responsible UN bodies. We therefore urge through you the Third Committee and the General Assembly to support by all their means the work of the working group by adopting a relevant resolutions urging the Commission to finish its work in a due time. Abolishing the conditions which favour the practices of torture and ill-treatment and prevention of torture must be the main and sole purpose of these efforts.

Thank you for your attention.

Statement by the Delegation of the Czech Republic presented by Ms. Ivana Schellongova, on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child

Mr. Chairman,

Generally speaking, the Convention on the Rights of the Child protects children, in a wide variety of situations. But paradoxically, it also contains the apparently nonsensical clause according to which the age limit for such protection is lowered from eighteen to fifteen years in case a child takes part in armed conflict, that is in a situation which typically leads to endangering or to violation of the rights of the child. Regrettably, the fact that the international community has been so far unable to agree on a higher standard of protection is merely a reflection of the current state of affairs - estimates indicate that 250,000 children below the age of eighteen take part in the more that thirty armed conflicts under way in the world. According to the information of UNICEF, children represent 40 per cent of all victims of armed conflicts. Is it possible that the Third Committee would not be greatly concerned about such a situation?

Mr. Chairman,

in connection with the comprehensive EU statement which the Czech Republic fully endorses, I would like to look into one specific and urgent issue - participation of children in armed conflicts.

There is no doubt about the lasting impact of wartime experience on the child´s life. The wounds, in not only physical, but primarily psychological sense, can never fully heal. There is a whole complex of factors which lead children to take part in armed conflicts. These factors are closely interconnected and cannot be addressed in isolation from each other. Logically, the problem calls for a comprehensive solution: measures adopted in order to seek such solution must offer the child more favourable alternatives for a better life. In another words, when we counter a concrete violation or eliminate a concrete risk situation, we must at the same time make sure that all the other rights of the child, interlocked with the rights that we have just restored, are safeguarded as well. This means, for example, that we must find alternative ways of ensuring the right to food to the child, ensuring the implementation of the right to education and others. In this context I would like to express my appreciation to the NGOs that have at least partly paid off the debt of the international community.

The Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights on a draft optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts has so far, after four sessions, failed to reach a consensus on the text and, more importantly, on crucial issues such as the age limit for participation in armed conflicts.

Therefore we encourage newly appointed chairperson of the Working Group to maximize her effort in having bilateral consultations with relevant governments before the next meeting of the Working group in February 1999 in accordance with the resolution 76/98 of the Commission on Human Rights.

Mr. Chairman,

We are convinced that the potential decision to set this age limit anywhere below eighteen years would discredit the fair intentions and efforts of the United Nations to protect effectively the rights of the child. Therefore we urge those few governments which have difficulties with the text of the draft optional protocol to review their position and, if possible, to change their attitude in order to enable the constructive finalization of the protocol. At the same time, we encourage the Working Group to meet at the beginning of 1999 provided it will be prepared to focus its considerations on the outcomes made during the intersessional period.

The Czech Republic is now experiencing far-reaching legislative changes and therefore we fully understand how difficult it is to overhaul domestic legislation and, namely, to introduce the new rules into practice. However, we cannot accept the tendencies to adjust international standards to the domestic law of any state. On the contrary, international standards must be taken as a model for adjustment of both the domestic law and the practice.

Mr. Chairman,

the Czech Republic will actively promote and support the creation of an international standard which will become the springboard to changing the international practice. The implementation of this standard will most probably require a comprehensive, long-term effort. However, we wish to reiterate the decision of the Economic and Social Council 1997/281 and hope that the text of the Protocol will be approved during the next session of the General Assembly, at the time of the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, on International Drug Control

Mr. Chairman,

Let me first congratulate you and the other members of the bureau of the 3rd Committee on your election and wish you success in your important work.

Last week, my delegation associated itself with the EU statement made on the agenda items 101 and 102. Therefore, allow me to make only some additional remarks regarding the problem of drug abuse.

Mr. Chairman,

Lately, there have been some positive developments in the global activities regarding the drug production and trafficking. However, the unforgiving statistical figures continue to show us that there are more than 200 million drug users worldwide and that the drug menace continues to threaten individuals, civil societies, governments and law and order. Unfortunately, the advantages and achievements of modern age were often misused by the drug cartels so the illicit production of and trafficking in drugs reached the global level very rapidly. It is sad that we are not able to achieve such rapidity in the important areas of economic and social development.

Since the drug abuse became a global problem, the international cooperation was identified as one of the necessary preconditions when addressing this problem. It is notable that the international community finally fully realizes the depth of the drug abuse problem and addresses it with substantially growing awareness. This year´s United Nations General Assembly Special Session was an excellent example of that process. The documents adopted as a result of the Session - Political Declaration, Declaration on Demand Reduction and Action Plan - represent very sound basis for the future development of the international cooperation. The goals set out by the above documents are very ambitious and it is in our common vital interest to fulfill them.

In general, we can probably consider ourselves a step behind those who profit from the drug production and trade. On the other side, we have powerful tools in our hands: UNDCP as an effective body and common will to achieve victory. However, our good intentions and plans cannot be accomplished and targets cannot be reached without adequate funding. Present global economical situation is not favourable and many states are facing economic crises. As a result, the financial support is minimalized. This situation could not only seriously undermine the future activities and erode the common will to battle the drug scourge but, also set back the effort and achievements already made. The imperative for the international community therefore is not to lose the momentum.

Mr. Chairman,

The Czech Republic is one of those countries which went through the difficult transformation period and are sensitive to the global economic turbulences. Nevertheless, the Government of the Czech Republic continues to pay great attention to the problem of drug abuse. The antidrug policy stems from two pillars - law enforcement and demand reduction.

When considering the possible ways for demand reduction, we have to start with identifying the reasons for the drug abuse followed by eliminating those reasons or helping to cope with them. As for those reasons, there are many of them. People use drugs to flee from the greyness of their everyday life, to escape from their economic and personal problems and to satisfy their unfulfilled needs and dreams. We know that no drug ever can solve any problem, no drug ever can make anybody happy forever. The drug addicts and their families will probably pay a high price for their false illusions in the future. Unfortunately, we are still not able to effectively prevent our fellowmen from becoming drug users. We realize that the way out leads through strengthening the role of family and improvements in the educational system based on the necessary support from highly professional, experienced and dedicated drug prevention experts. These should also be the major players when dealing with one of the most unfortunate cases of the drug abuse - the drug addiction among young people and among the school children. Because of lack of experience, naivety, curiosity or even bad example, drugs have some peculiar attractiveness for them and, as a consequence, make them a very easy target for the drug dealers. The prevention among young population should therefore be one of the priority areas.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, let me turn back to the international cooperation and point out that the fruitful global cooperation can benefit profoundly from the collective regional level activities. The Czech Republic has gained a very good experience from close and successful collaboration with neighbouring countries of Central European region. That could hardly have been possible without substantial and highly commendable assistance provided by UNDCP. The Czech Republic is looking forward to the next review meeting which is to be held in Ljubljana in November this year and we are ready to contribute to its success in the same manner as in the past.

Thank you