Minister Bushati participates in the 28th regular session of the Human Rights Council

In the framework of the accession of the Republic of Albania to the HRC for the period 2015-2017, Minister Bushati took part in the political debate in the 28th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), which is conducting proceedings in Geneva.

Albania remains committed to the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights, freedom of expression and supports the integration of human rights in all United Nations policies.

In the Ministers speech during the high level segment debate, Minister Bushati praised the contribution and values ​​of the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and presented Albania’s commitment for protecting, promoting and respecting these rights everywhere in the world. As members of the HRC, Minister Bushati focused on Albania’s objectives for respecting minority rights, rule of law, fight against corruption and the commitment to reduce gender inequality and promote the protection of children's rights, in accordance with international commitments.

In his speech, Minister Bushati emphasized the strength of Albania’s religious harmony, as an encouraging model and one that Pope Francis praised during his visit in Tirana. Referring to the phenomenon of violence in the name of faith, Minister Bushati acknowledged that religious freedom should never be used as a pretext for action against the fundamental freedom and dignity of people.

During his stay in Geneva, Minister Bushati held a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, Mr. Ramtane Lamamra. During the meeting both Ministers discussed the further intensification of bilateral cooperation and encouraged an exchange of visits between the two countries, current developments in their countries and regions and shared views on common security challenges. Minister Lamamra invited Minister Bushati to an official visit to Algeria.

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Statement by H.E.Mr. Ditmir Bushati, on the 28th regular session of the Human Rights Council

 

Mr. President,

High Commissioner,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to address the Human Rights Council today, and a privilege to do so as the Foreign Minister of one of its newest members. I would like to thank all who supported Albania’s candidacy. Membership in the Human Rights Council is for my country recognition of the long path it has travelled towards realizing the principles of freedom, human rights and democracy, basic principles that 25 years ago seemed impossible.

Therefore, sitting in the Council is a strong incentive for us to firmly continue on this path, building an open and democratic society.

Today, Albania speaks the language of the conventions on human rights, when it speaks about the protection of life and the abolition of the death penalty, the freedom of expression and the right to information, private and family life, due process of law, the prohibition of discrimination, of torture, of slavery and forced labour, and many other fundamental human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me say a few words about our priorities during Albania’s membership in the Council.

Albania stands strongly for the abolition of the death penalty. But while the majority of states oppose capital punishment and the global trend continues to move in this direction, there are some worrying setbacks. Our objective remains to achieve a global understanding to put a final end to the unjust practice of death penalty. In this regard, Albania considers that the first step to be taken is the removal of capital punishment against juvenile offenders.

The promotion and protection of children’s rights is another of our key priorities. Nelson Mandela used to say that “[t]here can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Yet, we live in times where children battle with poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy, violence and abuse, exploitation and neglect, barriers to practicing their own culture, and so much more. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and its especially devastating effects on children, should serve as a wakeup call to us all, and a reminder of the long way we still have to go, as an international community, where the rights of the child are at stake.

Gender equality is another priority of the Albanian Government. Our aim is to strengthen institutional and legal mechanisms; to empower women, economically and socially; and to increase their political and public role in decision making processes. These steps are crucial to put a stop to violence against women and to end discrimination in all its forms. My Government has introduced gender quotas to ensure participation and representation of women in politics. We have also adopted regulation embedding gender-responsive budgeting in all central and local government budgets.

At the same time, my Government is committed to promote and protect the rights of the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, including children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, as well as marginalized groups, such as the Roma. We are committed to improve the legal and institutional framework and policies for the respect and protection of minority rights, be they in the spheres of political, economic, social, cultural and religious life, in accordance with our international obligations.

The same holds true for the protection of national minorities, who can be a trusted tool for building bridges of friendship between neighbouring countries. Indeed, Albania attaches great importance to good relations, tolerance, cooperation, coexistence and understanding with national minorities.

Mr. President,

Good governance built upon a partnership between a government and its citizens is vital for all democratic societies. It involves far more than the power of the State or the strength of its political will. Governments are more efficient and effective when people are free to express their opinions or grievances, to organize themselves and to hold the authorities to account. In this regard, civil society organizations and human rights defenders are important partners in our efforts to build inclusive, resilient and flourishing societies.

Albania underwent the first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2009 and the second in 2014. For us, it was an opportunity to present the actions taken to improve the human rights situation in Albania and to share best practices. The process was especially significant both with regard to the technical aspects of implementing the recommendations, but also in political terms, by strengthening the commitment of the Albanian Government to the promotion and protection of human rights. The recommendations put forward by various States during the interactive dialogue that takes place in this very room, have become an integral part of the daily work of our institutions, as we strive to improve on human rights standards. In this regard, we also pledged to a mid-term follow-up reporting.

As a Council member, Albania will do its utmost to promote the UPR mechanism, as an opportunity for all States to declare actions taken to improve the human rights situation in their countries and to fulfill their obligations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The value of coexistence and religious harmony has been entrenched into the Albanian soul for a very long time. What nowadays in many countries seems like an impossible project to achieve, has been successfully practiced in our country. I believe it places us in a position where we can provide a valuable contribution to the work of this Council.

During his September visit to Albania, Pope Francis said: “May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman.”

It is an evocative observation when faced with the barbarities committed by ISIL in the name of religion. It is also a reminder that in our fight against this evil, we do not lose sight of that which is most important to us: respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

My country was one of the first to join the international response against ISIL. We cosponsored UN Security Council Resolution 2178 in 2014, and last week, in our capacity as Chairmanship-in-Office of the South-East European Cooperation Process, we took the initiative for the adoption of a declaration at the ministerial level condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Mr. President,

Albania firmly believes in the Human Rights Council and its ability to cope with emergency situations of violations of human rights throughout the world. The systematic gross violations of human rights in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea show no relenting. The bleak and rapidly deteriorating situation in Libya should have this Council’s complete attention. And I cannot but pause on the situation in Ukraine as well, where a series of agreements and ceasefires have been interspersed with acts of violence that have often targeted innocent civilians.

We do not have the luxury to let these appalling situations turn into agenda items, year after year.

Excellencies,

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, a touchstone of liberties that has inspired countless documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, human rights are neither protected, nor promoted by just statements and commitments. They also require concrete actions and functioning institutions and mechanisms.

In our view, the Human Rights Council – with its constant encouragement and steadfast upholding of the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world – is one of the most important bodies of the United Nations.

Let me reiterate once again that Albania stands resolute in adhering to the values of the Council and pledges its commitment to actively participate in the Human Rights Council, to engage in result-oriented initiatives and to uphold human rights standards.

I thank the Council.

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