Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-02-16-Speech-3-113"

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"Mr President, Commissioners, when this House is called upon to debate human rights it is taking a chance, if you will, that is reinforced by the conditions that prevail when we are called upon to discuss such a crucial issue. The absence of the Council, as well as of the majority of MEPs, shows just how great the divide is between our noble, elevated and worthy formal statements and the concrete reality in terms of our day-to-day policies when it comes to human rights. I believe that, as a beginning, Parliament is called upon to use the opportunity provided by the Geneva session to narrow that divide. It should adopt an approach that is not just a statement of principle but is an acknowledgement of the true situation and possibly even a pledge of support. We must get away from the situation where we are only aware of human rights when they hit the headlines or abuses are being punished. The role of Parliament is to meet the issue of human rights head on, particularly at the level of prevention. In that sense, we need to be able to export a culture based on legality and respect for the law. It seems to me that we have finally reached the end of a long period during which a whole raft of treaties appeared and were duly signed. Nowadays, there are many, perhaps too many, treaties on human rights. If those treaties remain mere expressions, they are no more than useless depositories of people's thoughts. The time has come to move on to a new and crucial phase, namely a phase in which the provisions of the treaties are applied on a daily and binding basis, although we ought not forget that some basic treaties are still to be transposed. I refer to the Rome Conference and the fact that 14 of the 15 Member States of the Union have still not ratified the treaty establishing an International Criminal Court. In my view, we should be evaluating and modifying some of the political instruments we use to measure the status of human rights globally. We have often employed instruments which, at the formal level, make us feel comfortable, but which, in terms of practical results, are totally ineffectual. By that I mean the use, and often abuse, of embargoes during recent years, and the over-cautious application of the clause allowing suspension of the agreements between the European Union and third countries, where there have been human rights violations. In particular, we should be updating the areas where human rights need to be safeguarded. Globalisation could easily come to be regarded as a harmful process. Many countries are currently questioning the principle of the universality of human rights. The belief is widespread that many human rights, including the right to life, contradicted as it is by the death penalty, depend on certain variables, while globalisation, which often has a negative connotation, is in danger of becoming the catch-all for rights, actions and policies everywhere in the world. We should therefore do what is necessary to update the areas in which we can intervene, with renewed strength, to safeguard human rights. In that context I would mention the following: social rights, workers' rights, quality of work, the need to ensure respect, where necessary, for all the criteria laid down by the International Labour Organisation, the right to tolerance and to respect – a right to which all minorities are entitled, particularly within the European Union. I would also mention the right to develop. It is the right of all peoples who, in turn, are the sum of countless individuals each one of whom has the right to develop and to a future that, most importantly, is full of hope and personal growth, within each individual society. All those aspects should be part of a rationale, a discourse and a contribution which the European Union should bring to human rights. I hope that Parliament's participation in the Geneva session turns out to be more than just a token presence and that its representatives do more than just listen to and give evidence. First and foremost they should use the occasion to affirm that we regard the aspects I have just mentioned as central to the identity of the European Union and of the European nation, and that we also uphold the principle of the universality of human rights that transcends time and place. That is what we hope for and is the cordial message that we are sending our governments, even if it goes against their interests."@en1

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