JOINT STATEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS
As delivered by Ambassador René Dinesen, Permanent Representation of Denmark to the OSCE, at the closing session of the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, December 7, 2018, Milan, Italy
I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the following 45 participating States: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and my own country, Denmark.
We deliver this statement just a few days before we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a global commitment to recognize and protect the equal dignity, freedom and rights of every human being. This anniversary is a chance for us to celebrate the achievement of the Universal Declaration and to recommit ourselves to defending the rights and freedoms it enshrines wherever and whenever they are threatened.
We have made great strides in advancing human rights over the past seven decades, but regrettably, every day far too many people in the OSCE region are still denied the ability to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms – including freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and association, and of religion or belief. We see the space for civil society rapidly shrinking, and that threats and violence against human rights defenders continue to increase.
There are attempts to silence free media and dissenting voices through restrictive legislation, intimidation, or even violent acts and murder for which those responsible far too often go unpunished. Women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence, while hate crimes are on the rise throughout the region. In this context, we strongly welcome that participating States were able to reach consensus on two Ministerial Council Decisions on Safety of Journalists and Combatting Violence Against Women respectively, which address some of these challenges.
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, whom they love or 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.
We are committed to a world where human rights and fundamental freedoms are protected for all, and to hold ourselves and each other to account.
We pay tribute to all the individuals and civil society organizations who work tirelessly to defend our human rights commitments and to hold governments accountable for their actions. They deserve our recognition, support, protection and deepest respect. We welcome the report and recommendations presented by the participants of the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference 2018, and reaffirm the importance of continued cooperation with and participation of civil society organisations in OSCE activities.
We commend the work of the OSCE autonomous institutions, ODIHR, the HCNM and the RFOM, for their efforts to promote human rights, as essential contributors to comprehensive security. Their work, mandates and institutional independence are essential to the protection and advancement of fundamental freedoms and human rights.
We will continue to fight to ensure that the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are enjoyed throughout the OSCE region, and 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 Italian Chairmanship for its tireless efforts to strengthen the Human Dimension throughout the year.
I would be grateful if you could attach this statement to the journal of today’s meeting.