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Thank you, Mr. President,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia* , Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
With the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in 1993, all States reaffirmed that human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The VDPA calls upon States not to create a hierarchy of rights or to use cultural particularities or the status of development to justify human rights violations. These fundamental principles of the international human rights system – which all States have signed up to – are still of utmost relevance today. We are concerned when they are misunderstood or called into question
The VDPA stipulates that “[...] while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights.” This clearly demonstrates that human rights must not be an afterthought, but a prerequisite for sustainable development. Particularly upholding the rule of law, good governance and strong and independent institutions, as well as a vibrant civil society are crucial factors for a country’s sustainable development. Civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights complement and reinforce each other.
These principles are also clearly set out in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and envisages a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination. In this regard, the EU and its Member States play a key role in ensuring that no-one is left behind, wherever people live and regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation and gender identity, migration status or other factors. This approach includes addressing the multiple discriminations faced by vulnerable people and marginalized groups*.
The European Union is committed to upholding the universality of human rights and rejects the use of cultural relativism as a pretext to divert from the standards the international community has set itself in the VDPA, the UDHR, the Human Rights Covenants and other human rights treaties.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action declares that ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings’. The European Union has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to fight discrimination in all its aspects and will continue to strongly oppose any form of discrimination and violence.
I thank you.
*North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
*Para 16 of European Consensus on Development that relates to the rights-based approach to development