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The Introductory Speech of Martin Palous, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations at the Open Briefing on the Report Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

The Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN Martin Palous has facilitated the Open Briefing on the Report " Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea" Nov 16th 2006 at ECOSOC Chamber and had the following introductory speech.

The Introductory Speech of Martin Palous, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations at the Open Briefing on the Report Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

The UN, New York, 16.11.2006


Madam President, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon!

My name is Martin Palous and I am Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations. It is a rare opportunity, indeed, to see such a distinguished group gathered together and I am glad that I can welcome all of you here today. I would like to thank first of all to Former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel who commissioned the Report to be launched at this meeting, for their presence. I would like to thank also to the law firm DLA Piper, the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the Elie Wisel Foundation for Humanity and the New York Democracy Forum for all their work and efforts that have made possible to put on this event.

Let me start in my short opening remarks by reminding of an anniversary that by coincidence will fall on tomorrow: The seventeenth Anniversary of the Seventeenth November 1989, so called Velvet Revolution that terminated the rule of oppressive totalitarian regime in my country and made us, inhabitants of the " heart of Europe" after the long decades of Babylonian captivity, if I may say so, free again. The message of this event for today is clear and simple: power of powerless, politics and conscience, if I am allowed to use the titles of two most famous essays of Vaclav Havel, the shared responsibility for the respect for human rights in the world, international solidarity.

Two points of explanation why the Czech Republic decided to facilitate this briefing: given our own historical experience, we are convinced that the open, dynamic relationship between various non-state actors and standard mechanisms of international cooperation as embodied by the United Nations is more necessary at the beginning of the 21st century than any time before. We believe that one of the primary obligations of member states today is to contribute concretely to the broadening and deepening of interactions between the activities of NGOs and the United Nations as stipulated by the Summit 2005 Outcome Document (A/60/L1). We believe that in our more and more interconnected and interdependent world it is not enough to pay only occasional lip service to this form of cooperation and that it is the moral imperative of our times to have not only words but also deeds.

Secondly, I would like to remind the words of the United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown at the recent European Union luncheon. He said that "Darfur is the first critical test of the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine; if it fails here, it will be discredited for good." I am afraid that there may be some other cases testing this doctrine today, as we speak, and we should listen carefully to what the report launched today has to say as a strong reminder of this harsh reality.

Now I would like to ask Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, to take the floor and serve as moderator of further proceedings.