The 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights


Item 11:
Civil and Political Rights
Geneva, 4th of April 2001

Mr. Chairman,

Let me once again express my appreciation for the hard and competent work you do as chairman of this session and my satisfaction to be part of your team.

Mr. Chairman,

Romania associated itself to the statement made by the Presidency of the European Union and fully shares the views therein contained. My intervention under item 11 on our agenda will focus on the issue of democracy, which gains well-deserved attention in our deliberations and action.

The Commission on Human Rights as other United Nations bodies, should reflect the changes that are taking place throughout the world, take stock of the lessons learned and do its utmost in order to promote, maintain and consolidate democratization trends. A democratic way of life, one that imbues all institutions, mechanisms, mentalities of all actors in the society is, after all, a profound synthesis of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights we are all striving for.

That was the meaning of our resolution entitled "Promoting and consolidating democracy" which sets out fundamental requirements for a democratic government. Romania is grateful to all Member States and Observers to the Commission of Human Rights who supported the resolution. This Commission deserves the whole credit for this important step forward in enhancing awareness on how important democracy is in the permanent endeavours of Governments to improve the standards of life and dignity of people.

Indeed, over the past years, democratization has made considerable advances as many nations have asserted their freedom and recognized democracy as the form of governance that best meets their aspirations. Establishing and strengthening democracy is an outgoing process that demands continuous efforts. Among its priorities, achieving good governance and bringing the state closer to citizens, meeting the prosperity expectations of the population, adjusting legal systems and reinforcing the rule of law, promoting and protecting relentlessly human rights, solving societal tensions and fostering social cohesion, are highly placed among them.

An additional challenge to us all comes from the all-encompassing process of globalization and interdependence that requires fast adaptation to the dynamic of emerging new realities. The human development implies, in the era of globalized economy, comprehensive education, from the technological dimension to a new self-awareness of the human dignity and uniqueness. A qualitative shift in the involvement of major actors is also required, and we should know to reconsider continually the role and responsibilities of the civil society.

Mr. Chairman,

Romania welcomes with great satisfaction a series of fora on democracy that have taken place in the world since the fifty-sixth session of our Commission.

The Ministerial Conference held in Warsaw between 26-27 June 2000, in its Declaration, recognized "the universality of democratic values". The participants agreed to respect and uphold a number of "core democratic principles and practices".

Latter on, the United Nations General Assembly built upon the text adopted by this Commission as resolution 2000/47 and adopted, by an impressive majority, the resolution 55/96, also entitled "Promoting and consolidating democracy". We are confident that the text will remain for some time in future a valuable point of reference and a useful benchmark in ascertaining progress of democratic developments in our countries.

Another document that deserves our full appreciation is the Bamako Declaration resulted from the Symposium on the Practices of Democracy, Rights and Freedoms in the French-speaking community, in which Romania took an active part. This Declaration also contains valuable commitments aiming at consolidating the rule of law, encouraging the holding of free, credible and transparent elections, building a calm political life, promoting an internalized democratic culture and full respect for human rights.

In 2000, the contribution of the African continent to the debate on democracy was indeed remarkable, if we add to the event hosted by Mali, the Fourth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies held in Cotonou, Benin, between 4-6 December 2000, whose topic was "Peace, Security, Democracy and Development". The political document adopted there reasserts and builds upon many of the recommendations adopted by the previous Conferences. I would limit myself to a reference to the main provisions on the follow-up mechanism, which calls for a list of objectives for democratization programs, a list of indicators, as well as regional frameworks for democratization projects and other action oriented measures.

With your permission, my delegation would like to underline its own modest contribution to the debate of democracy at regional level. In partnership with UNDP, the Romanian Government organized, a Regional seminar on "Factors of success and failure of the democratic process in South Eastern Europe" in Sinaia, between 6 and 7 October 2000. We believe that, nowadays, no region is more illustrative of the potential that democracy have in building peaceful and development oriented societies, and, at the same time, of the risk involved where there is a lack of democracy. Allow me to quote from one of the participants who, in pondering how the past of the region impinged upon its democratic development, concluded "Democracy may find inspiration in the past of every country, but it is the expression and the achievement of some universal rights".

To the rich range of conclusions that these fora arrive at, we should add conclusions that come from the United Nations system itself. The very prestigious and already indispensable Human Development Report 2000 is fully convincing in its attempt to "define democracy by human rights". I would like to mention the four features identified as crucial elements of democracy as based on human rights:

  • holding free and fair elections contributes to the fulfilment of the right to political participation.
  • allowing free and independent media contributes to the fulfilment of the right to freedom of expression, thought and conscience.
  • separating powers among branches of government helps protect citizens from abuses of their civil and political rights.
  • encouraging an open civil society contributes to the fulfilment of the rights to peaceful assembly and association.

We believe that the Commission on Human Rights should find in these assertions a full recognition not only for its current role, but also for an enhanced profile in the future.

Another valuable description of the responsibility of the United Nations in this realm, is the report of the Secretary General, presented at the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly on item entitled "Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies". The report acknowledges that democracy has taken root as a universal norm and practice at national and local level. At the same time it suggests that democratization will continue to require debate, adaptation and review.

Mr. Chairman,

Between September 1997 and December 2000, Romania held the presidency-in-office of the Conference of the New or Restored Democracies. We take pride in being part of a fundamentally positive process, which continues to expand both at conceptual and practical level.

We are aware that democratization is not irreversible. That is why we have to build upon resolutions adopted here on democracy and strengthen the profile of the Commission in democratization related activities.

This is not only an option, but also a duty, inasmuch as democracy does not work automatically. Democracy is not immune to laxism. For instance, questions of equitable distribution of wealth receive apparently less attention than thirty, forty years ago.

Democracy has to be continually reinvented and protected. It has to be defended in local, national and international settings. The Commission on Human Rights and other bodies of the United Nations have the authority to play their roles as honest brokers in promoting it. We need to continue an action-oriented debate on new concrete steps to sustain and strengthen the power of democracy. Starting from this assumption, Romania appeals to all Members States for support of a new resolution aiming at stimulating dialogue on the concrete ways and means to promote and consolidate democracy.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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