Statement of Minister Osman Saleh on Human Rights Day 2015
HE Ambassador Christian Manahl, EU Delegation Head
Excellences attending this event
Ladies and Gentlemen
I feel honoured to make this statement and greatly commend the EU Delegation in Eritrea for arranging this event.
Today marks the 67th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. The post World War period was a good reminder to collectively aspire, hope and establish organs and binding legal instruments to promote human betterment and avoid human suffering and atrocities. The central question however, remains: how better are our citizens today and how far are we from our international obligations? As the response lie on the question itself, let me shed some light about the occasion in line with the Eritrean context.
In the Eritrean Society and indeed, in most other communities, the history of humanity is as old as chiefdoms and beyond. The wisdom of our ancestors that drove us to chart formal instruments and setup institutions should therefore be equally celebrated and this occasion is only the continuation of the unfulfilled aspirations of our citizenries.
The ambitious goals drawn in 1948 and further developed to real commitments in the two big Covenants should not in their self be sufficient to ignore the wisdom of our societies who remain the main protectorate and Steward of those rights.
For us, the denial of our right to independence and self determination following the decolonization of Africa was a clear violation of the bold right to self determination enshrined in the UN Charter and one of utter failure of the UN that we all hoped to safeguard the collective and individual rights. Despite the unjust treatment however, the people of Eritrea waged a long and bitter war to restore independence by adhering to the principle of humanity and international norms during the 30 years long armed struggle that was finally culminated by a de facto independence and a UN monitored Referendum with unprecedented result in favour of independence and high rate of turnover. But again we find ourselves in a similar coercive condition unjustly sanctioned by the UNSC while our territories still remain under occupation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a nation that emanated from the struggle for human rights, Eritrea’s effort and achievements to mainstream human rights in national development within a short span of time is a living testimony to its commitment, as evident in the peace and stability, growth and development of the nation. The human rights implication is manifested in the promotion of equal rights and opportunities sanctioned by national law, improvement of living standards that promote fundamental rights, create equitable growth and sharing of wealth.
The above tenets are thus the objective expression of an emerging Eritrea striving to build a dignified, secure and prosperous life for its people. It is a dividend earned through resilience, sacrifice and industriousness of a people working in unison with a Government that has visionary leadership, pragmatic development approaches and commitment to the interests of the nation and the people. However, challenges and shortcoming in all sectors including in the human rights area, still persist and efforts are made to progressively address them.
While the above hard facts of reality are evident, Eritrea has been politically targeted by coercive, duplicate HCR mechanisms (the SR and the COI) that continue to draw unprofessional conclusions and produce unreliable, unrealistic and unaccounted reports from dubious faceless and nameless sources.
The pretence here is that the coercive approaches are also sustained while Eritrea is seriously engaged in the UPR process. Engagement has also been initiated with the OHCHR where three priority sectors, namely, strengthening the judiciary, persons with disabilities and access to water and sanitation have been identified for technical cooperation. However, the allegations and actions of the SR and COI have been attempting to circumvent and undermine the UPR process and the other engagements. Eritrea rejects the country specific mandates but reiterates its commitment to further strengthen engagement and cooperation on fundamental human right issues.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the international level, we continue to witness the weakness of the mechanisms and monopolization of decisions remains of great concern to many small states. Deviations from the norms of human rights are becoming the norm and not the exception. In several occasions, the international community tried to overcome this weakness but to no avail. The UN Human Rights Council established recently in 2006 seems to be overwhelmed with political decisions. Discussions among member states on items pertaining to country specific mandates have sharply divided the council and are leading to confrontation. The trend is clear and bears no dividend to discharging the lofty objectives the Council is entrusted with.
In conclusion, I would like to seize this opportunity to renew our commitment to engaging the Diplomatic Core and the UN Country Team in Eritrea with a sincere hope that the frank discussions will reflect the reality to the general public and positively influence reports on Eritrea.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s event can thus be used as occasion to reiterate Eritrea’s unreserved commitment to promote, protect and fulfil human rights. Indeed, the effort in the next 3-4 years will focus on consolidating the development gains in general and on human rights in particular. As ever, mainstreaming of fundamental human rights will continue as a core principle.
I thank you!
10 December 2015