Joint Statement on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
As delivered by the Deputy Head of Mission of the Permanent Representation of Denmark to the OSCE, Fenja Yamaguchi-Fasting
at the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council Closing Plenary Session
December 6, 2019
I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the following 46 participating States: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and my own country Denmark.
In 1989, a number of historic events – including the Baltic Way, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution – contributed to shaping the OSCE region as we know it today. These events did not only bring democracy to millions. They also proved that a strong, pluralistic and vibrant civil society exercising their individual human rights and fundamental freedoms can be a catalyst of peaceful change, sometimes against incredible odds.
We have made great strides in advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms over the past 30 years. And yet, still today, we see that the fight is not over. Discrimination excludes too many from our societies. The space for civil society and independent media is rapidly shrinking. And threats and violence against human rights defenders are on the rise.
At the same time, the world has never been more interconnected, including through digital technologies. The impact of human rights violations and abuses in one part of our region can have serious repercussions in another. Human rights violations and abuses as well as restrictions on civil society can affect us all, no matter where we live. Respect for human rights within states is essential to lasting security among states.
We will continue to speak out when human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated or abused. Whether it is human rights defenders facing reprisals for their selfless work, or persons being targeted for who they are, for whom they love or for what they believe or say. We will challenge stereotypes and prejudice, combat myths with facts, and speak out against discrimination and intolerance whenever and against whomever they occur.
Civil society is the conscience of our societies, a source of ideas, and a key component for an open and inclusive dialogue. This is a cornerstone of democracy. We are therefore committed to a world where people are free to associate and assemble, speak their mind, believe or not to believe and hold their governments to account without reprisals. We pay tribute to the individuals and civil society organizations who work tirelessly to defend our human rights commitments. They deserve our recognition, protection and support.
We commend the work of the OSCE autonomous institutions, ODIHR, the RFOM and the HCNM, for their efforts to promote and protect human rights, as essential contributors to comprehensive security and strong democracies. Their work, mandates and institutional independence are essential to the protection and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We will continue to fight to ensure that the implementation of OSCE principles and commitments is at the forefront of our work in this organisation.
In closing, we also would like to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to the Slovak Chairmanship for its tireless efforts to strengthen the Human Dimension throughout the past year.
I would be grateful if you could attach this statement to the journal of today’s meeting.