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Third Committee of the 57th General Assembly

Statement by H.E. Mr. Alexander Slaby, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 57th Session of the General Assembly, Third Committee, on Agenda Item109b: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the


  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Alexander Slaby, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 57th Session of the General Assembly, Third Committee, on Agenda Item109b: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: "Consideration of Proposals on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities"
    New York, 5 November, 2002


  • 57th Session of the General Assembly, Third Committee, Statement on Agenda Item 109a, Human Rights Instruments, "Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment"
    New York, 31 October 2002


Statement by H.E. Mr. Alexander Slaby, Permanent Represetative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 57th Session of the General Assembly, Third Committee on Agenda Item 109 b : Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
New York, 5 November 2002

Consideration of Proposals on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities

Mr. Chairman,

The Government of the Czech Republic shares the view with many other members of the international community that only such society which enables all its members regardless of abilities to fully participate in daily life and the society´s decision making can call itself humanistic and civilized one. Not only protection of the disadvantaged but also the patience and efforts of others to accept their ways of expression and their views on different aspects and functions of the social system is what matters here. Not only paternalistic protection of well-being of our disadvantaged fellow citizens but the full realization of their human rights on the equal basis with anybody else should be the aim. With the exception of age it is hard to imagine any other aspect of our social determination in which we are all equal than the possibility to become - mostly suddenly and unprepared - "a person with disability". This is the prisma through which we all should view and feel the question of equal opportunities.

Our Government wishes to be fair and open-minded and, at the same time, admits that we still have a long way to go. In 1998 we formulated our National Plan on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities based on the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and we have already started the implementation of ideas of the supplement to these Rules presented so eloquently by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Social Development Mr. Bengt Lindqvist at the 40th session of the Commission earlier this year. As a member of the CSocD the Czech Republic will support the efforts to get this supplement adopted and globally recognized as soon as possible.

We fully identify ourselves with the position of the European Union, expressed e.g. recently in its statement of 30 October 2002, and agree with many other participants of the first session of the Ad Hoc Committee successfully held two months ago that proposals for a comprehensive and integral international convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities should be considered. Comprehensive legally binding instrument with a monitoring mechanism might help the Governments to speed up their capacity building and the improvement of legal system to guarantee full enjoyment of human rights to those individuals who - temporarily or permanently - belong to the group of persons with disabilities. Such an instrument would reflect needs of the world community of the 21st century.

At the same time we are aware of enormous obstacles we would face during our struggle to harmonize the protection of human rights of persons with mental disabilities with their own health protection and with that of people from their closest environment. An appropriate balance between human rights and fundamental freedoms and civil responsibilities should always be the two side of the same coin. Thus, an effort to convert that fragile balance into legal language would be a very sensitive task. And moreover, even after finding the ideal and completely satisfactory language, the States Parties of the new legal instrument may need years and even decades to turn that language into life. However, we are determined to start the process hoping to achieve good results as soon as possible. The very first step that awaits us is the adoption by the General Assembly of the agreed framework for our future work in the Ad Hoc Committee. The Czech Republic, being strongly convinced this framework would give birth to a good instrument for promotion of humanity and justice, through our nomination for the vice-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, to facilitate efforts and contributions in the process within and on behalf of the Eastern European Countries.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for your attention.


Statement of the Delegation of the Czech Republic to the Third Committee of the 57th UN General Assembly on Agenda Item 109a: Human Rights Instruments
New York, October 31, 2002

Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Mr. Chairman,

Few rights are so well covered by the international human rights law as the right to be free from torture. An absolute ban on torture can be found in most instruments adopted over the last fifty years, ranging from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There even exists a special convention on this issue. All these instruments prohibit their States Parties from using of tolerating torture under all circumstances, without any exception. However, despite these precautions torture continues to occur in all parts of the world.

There are two basic lessons to be learned from this development: first, torture will not be eliminated solely by prohibition, monitoring and ex-post investigation; and second, isolated action at the national level is not effective enough. These two concerns have led us to elaborate an Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Its twin policies of international cooperation and prevention can pave the way for gradual improvement of the overall conditions and social climate, so that eventually no room is left for torture.

We have spent too much time and money negotiating this protocol. We have repeatedly stressed that its focus is not on condemnation or investigation, but solely on prevention. On the basis of our own experience, we have expressed our sincere conviction that the Optional Protocol will be a very practical contribution to the prevention of torture. We have made every effort to take into account all comments while preserving the purposes and objectives of the instrument.

Mr. Chairman,

It is generally known that torture causes enormous suffering and destroys the very essence of human existence - human dignity. In this respect there can be no compromises, financial or other. Nobody here, I suppose, would compromise on his or her own dignity. So why we should do so in the case of other human beings, of people potentially vulnerable to torture?

By adopting the Optional Protocol at this session we will take a huge step forward towards total elimination of torture. While we may not be happy with every single paragraph in this instrument, we should never lose sight of the core issue: the need to give a clear signal that we do care about the dignity of vulnerable people and are committed to protecting them from torture.

Thank you.