Commission on Human Rights
Sixty-First Session
- Item 11: Civil and Political Rights -

by H.E. Ambassador Doru Costea
Permanent representative of Romania

Geneva, 31 March 2005

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation has joined the statement delivered by the delegation of Luxemburg on behalf of the European Union and agrees with its contents. I would like nevertheless to share with you some comments related to democracy, as the most comprehensive political framework, in which all human rights can be respected and promoted.

Mr. Chairman,

As you are aware, since 1999, Romania together with other partners has submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and to the General Assembly, a series of resolutions aiming at increasing awareness about the potential of democracy to create the solid foundation for the protection oh human rights.

A draft entitled "Promoting and consolidating democracy" was adopted by this Commission as resolution 2000/47, and subsequently by the United Nations General Assembly as resolution 55/96. Much to the credit of this Commission, a political scientist Tom J. Farer referred to this resolution as follows: "To date, arguably its most important resolution is 2000/47, in which [the Commission goes] beyond its Covenant-created counterpart, the Human Rights Committee, in explicitly associating the electoral participation of "multiple parties" with a free and fair process". Another distinguished political scientist and lawyer, Christian Tomuschat, said about the same resolution that: "after the General Assembly voted resolution 55/96 there is almost nothing left to be done in terms of principles". Likewise, a prominent non-governmental organization, "Freedom House", calls the General Assembly resolution 55/96 a "landmark resolution". A Swedish delegate referred to it as to "the standard resolution on democracy".

Starting from a rich and comprehensive text, and without repeating it, this distinguished body found nevertheless the intellectual resources and political will to go deeper into the substance of the matter and discuss more specific aspects, like for instance the interdependence between democracy and human rights, and the link between democracy and the rule of law. We would like to express our gratitude to the Office of the High Commissioner for organizing the two high quality expert seminars devoted to these topics.

Mr. Chairman,

The debates that have been taken place in this Commission on the subject of democracy have happily broadened the areas of common understanding and of the shared values attached to the notion of democratic governance. We are on the right way. We may continue to expand support for the essential features that describe democracy. We should welcome the recent encouraging developments in countries on all continents where free elections took place for the first time, positive changes were enacted and democratic institutions were strengthened. We should better identify needs and offer support to those governments that are willing to reinforce their democratic institutions.

The Commission on Human Rights may strengthen its message towards other bodies, including the Security Council. My delegation firmly believes that in dealing with conflict situations, the Security Council should base its decisions on a longer-term perspective, which should include the transition from violent conflicts to gradual establishment of genuine democratic institutions. UN peace operations may, from the very beginning, be considered as democracy building up activities. A good illustration is the Security Council Resolution 1546/2004 on Iraq.

The long-term ambitions of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Office of the High- Commissioner should aim at enhancing coherence and coordination and strive to undertake effective operational activities for democratization.

We deem, however, that even in terms of principles more work needs to be done by this Commission in order to enhance legitimacy of the United Nations in promoting democracy. Legitimacy building is needed for a number of reasons.

  • First, United Nations legitimacy is not a static notion and should be continually fostered. It should be construed in a dynamic perspective. This means, among others, new political and material resources. Despite the progress in the advances of democracy all over the world, democratisation is still a fragile process and needs permanent support and adaptation to the current challenges.
  • Secondly, the authority of the United Nations system in general depends, among other things, on the assumption of responsibilities. Its actions for the promotion of democracy are as valid and necessary as they are in the realm of maintaining peace and security or in the codification of international law.
  • Thirdly, legitimacy is needed for a more efficient contribution of the United Nations system to what we call global governance. Indeed, global governance depends not on only on the material expression of global connections, but also on the values that are disseminated, including democracy and human rights, and that help the United Nations to serve its main beneficiaries: the peoples.
  • Fourthly, democracy is a system embraced or encouraged on all continents; it is also an universal aspiration, which enriches the very substance of the existence of our organization.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation believes that the efforts of this Commission to promote the essentials of democracy are praiseworthy. We are very happy to note that in the last report of the Secretary-General entitled "In larger freedom" there is a full chapter on democracy, which recognizes that "the right to choose how they are ruled, and who rules them, must be a birthright of all people, and its universal achievement must be a central objective of an Organization devoted to the cause of larger freedom".

This is why we renew our plea for the support of emerging democracies, by the UN system, with legal technical and financial assistance.

In the same report, the Secretary-General insists on the need to proclaim and implement the rule of law. Our Commission anticipated that need, since consultations on new draft resolution entitled "Democracy and the rule of law" have already started. We are confident that this new text and new focus can only contribute to bridging the gaps between our ways to see democracy and that the Commission will consolidate further its pioneering role in the promotion of democracy.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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