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Third Committee of the 55th General Assembly

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  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Martin Palous, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on Agenda Item 114A), Implementation of the Human Rights Instruments

    New York, October 24, 2000

Statement by H.E. Mr. Martin Palous, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic on Agenda Item 114A), Implementation of the Human Rights Instruments

Madam Chairperson, Distinguished Delegates,

Allow me first, Madam Chair, to congratulate you on your election and to express the conviction that under your wise guidance this Committee session will achieve highly positive results. I would also like to congratulate the other members of the Bureau.

The Czech Republic is fully aware of the importance attached to the protection of human rights. It also realizes that in today´s interconnected, globalized world, the problem of human rights violations loses its local character and becomes the concern of all those who subscribe to the internationally accepted norms for their protection.

The Czech Republic respects the historical, spiritual and political differences of the traditions prevailing in different parts of the world. This does not affect, however, our firm resolve and our readiness to defend the principles of universality and indivisibility of human rights, in accordance with our own democratic tradition and respect for the values shared with the other countries of the democratic community of nations. We are making every effort for our policy on this question to be active, open and dynamic.

The Czech Republic is aware of the important role played in this field by the various bodies of the UN system, namely by the Commission on Human Rights and the various mechanisms at its disposal. We believe that thematic and "country-specific" rapporteurs and working groups should be given the opportunity to cooperate as widely as possible, in order to fulfil successfully the tasks entrusted to them by the Commission. Only a general readiness to hear open criticism can lead to a fruitful dialogue resulting in an improvement of the protection of human rights in the world. Following the examples of Canada and Norway, the Czech Republic extended to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, sent a few weeks ago, a standing invitation for thematic rapporteurs and other mechanisms of the Commission. The CR now invites all member states to express a similarly positive attitude, as well as their confidence in the mechanisms of the Commission.

One of the chief priorities of Czech foreign policy in the multilateral field is the participation in the international legislative process, and in the control of the fulfilment of existing commitments.

The Czech Republic has contributed to the drafting of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and it will continue to give full support to its active implementation. We are convinced that the implementation of this declaration will benefit from the resolution adopted at this year´s session of the Human Rights Commission, which created the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders. We welcome with hopeful expectations the appointment of Mrs. Hina Jilani whom we would like to wish much success in her demanding job, assuring her of our full support and cooperation. Our long experience with a totalitarian regime has taught us to appreciate any form of sincerely meant and constructive criticism on the international scene. The Czech Republic puts a special emphasis on the improvement of communications, not only between governments, but also between governmental and non-governmental institutions. We try to defend and to support all those who have to face violations of fundamental rights and freedoms.

We consider as an important step in the international legislative process the finalization and opening for signature of both Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts and on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. President Havel has signed, on behalf of the Czech Republic, the first of these texts on 6 September of this year at the Millenium Summit in New York and in the near future the Czech Republic will start the ratification procedure. We hope to be able to sign and to ratify the second protocol still before the Special Summit on Children which will take place in September 2001, here in New York.

In this context, the Czech Republic would like to express its appreciation for the efforts and results achieved by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Graca Machel, and to comment favourably on the initiative of the Canadian Government, which organized recently in Winnipeg the International Conference on War-Affected Children. The Czech Republic gives its unreserved support to the recommendations contained in the report of Mrs. Machel and of the Winnipeg Conference, hoping that they will be implemented as soon and as widely as possible. The Czech Republic addresses an appeal to all member states for their implementation.

The Czech Republic considers indipensable to complete without delay the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Toture and asks all countries participating in the preparation of the text to intensify their efforts to reach a consensus.

The Czech Republic was among the first UN members having signed, on 10 December 1999, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women. The ratification procedure is now under way and it is very likely that it will be completed before the end of this year.

Separately from the international legislative process, the Czech Republic made, a few days ago, a Declaration under article 14 of the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In this way, the Czech Republic widened for its citizens and other persons under its jurisdiction the field of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by a further international instrument.

An important challenge for the Czech Republic, - requiring an amendment of the Constitution, - is the procedure of ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which the Czech Republic signed in April 1999. Making the International Criminal court fully operational should be an important priority for the whole international community. I have to admit here, however, that the necessary amendments to the Constitution can slow down the whole procedure, at least to some extent, particularly in the Czech Parliament.

Madam Chair, in conclusion let me express our conviction that it is the efficiency and the fairness of international human rights mechanisms that can contribute substantially to the peaceful transformation of the global political architecture, enabling mankind to cope with the challenges it has to face at the beginning of the 21st century. The reform of the UN system, which the world leaders debated here in New York at the Millenium Summit last month, represents the core task in this context. The Czech Republic is clearly committed to providing an active support for it, using its resources and experience to the best of its abilities.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.