Suomen ulkopolitiikan asiakirja-arkisto ja kronologia
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Statement by Mr. Heikki Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, 16 June 1993

Mr. President,

Allow me first of all to express Finland's deep gratitude to the Government and people of Austria for hosting the World Conference on Human Rights.

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the first World Conference held in Teheran 25 years ago human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy have became essential for social progress and well-being in the world. The Declaration has manifested its viability in no uncertain terms. This World Conference has to build on that, it has to reaffirm the achievements, but it also has to agree on a new concrete and forward-looking programme for human rights. While we celebrate advances, much remains to be done. Violations of human rights are a legitimate concern of the international community. Today, no government can escape its responsibility to protect and promote human rights.

Mr. President,

The Conference should endorse and promote the universality established by the Declaration. It has been the source of inspiration and the basis for the United Nations in setting standards, in particular in the two main Covenants. The universality and indivisibility of all human rights, whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural, derive from equal dignity of all human beings - women and men, young and old, persons with or without disabilities alike.

Universal ratification of the international human rights instruments and the will to implement them is necessary. This Conference should urge all governments to make every effort to accede to, to ratify and to fully implement the United Nations human rights instruments.

Furthermore we should pay attention to the large number of reservations, which may erode recognized human rights standards. The States parties should review their reservations with a view to withdrawing them wherever possible.

Human rights should no longer be seen in isolation of any part of the work of the United Nations. Human rights are an integral building block of both basic pillars, which the United Nations rests upon, namely security and economic and social development. Thus, the promotion and protection of human rights must be given priority on the United Nations agenda. Since all human rights are universal, indivisible and interrelated, they must be integrated system-wide within the UN family. In the field of sustainable development and the promotion of the status of women this approach has already yielded encouraging results. We should improve the operational effectiveness of the monitoring system of the United Nations and coordination between the different UN bodies. And above all, we should find a way on how to react more promptly on human rights violations.

Mr. President,

This conference should strengthen human rights education and training programmes, both nationally and internationally. This conference should also strengthen the role of the non-governmental organizations.

Mr. President,

Human rights, democracy and development are closely interrelated. Achieving sustainable political, economic and social development is difficult, if not unthinkable, without democracy and respect for human rights. The protection and promotion of human rights is the national responsibility of each government, irrespective of the development stage of the country.

People have the right to democracy. True democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their political, economic and social order. Democracy also means good governance, more accountable and transparent political leadership and public administration. Free and fair elections are a central element of democracy, as are, inter alia, free press, independent judiciary and administration of justice.

The individual is the center in development. This is the key to the understanding and implemention of the Declaration on the Right to Development. Individual rights and national responsibilities form the foundation for solidarity and a new partnership between the developing and developed world. Development assistance can have sustainable impact only when it supports the objectives and efforts of the co-operating
partners themselves. Increased development co-operation can contribute to more effective promotion of human rights.

Mr. President,

The respect for human rights should be promoted and encouraged as an integral part of the main United Nations functions in maintaining and strengthening peace and security and advancing social and economic development. Lasting peace can not be achieved without respect for human rights. Without peace, on the other hand, violations of human rights appear ever more systematic and serious. We welcome the inclusion of human rights components in the peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building operations and activities of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

The promotion of the respect for the rights of minorities, as well as of indigenous people, plays a major role also in the conflict prevention. Ethnic conflicts are multiplying in many parts of the world, not only endangering the unity and territorial integrity of states but also causing human suffering on an unprecedented scale. The General Assembly adopted last year the Declaration establishing minimum standards relevant to the national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities applicable in every situation. The implementation of this Declaration requires constant vigilance by all.

Mr. President,

The debate on the post of the United Nations High Commissioner stems from the 1960s. Since then, treaty monitoring-systems and other human rights mechanisms have been established. Nevertheless, the functions of the Commissioner should be seen as complementary to these mechanisms without replacing them. The Commissioner should be entrusted with the necessary authority and independence required for the performance of his/her functions under the authority of the General Assembly. I believe that the High Commissioner for Human Rights could play an important role in the system-wide coordination of human rights.

Mr. President,

The existing resources for human rights do not even suffice to cover the present activities and obligations. Nor do they reflect the priority accorded to human rights in the Charter of the United Nations and the demands on human rights activities as mandated by Member States.

United Nations human rights activities as a whole need to be provided with increased resources, primarily from the regular budget and, as appropriate, supplemented by extrabudgetary resources. Particular emphasis in this context has to be given on the resources directly at the disposal of the Center for Human Rights.

Mr. President,

Human rights require a global and national reaffirmation. I believe that this World Conference will be a significant step towards creating and fostering a culture of human rights.

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