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Deputy Foreign Minister I. Amanatidis’ welcome address at the conference entitled: “Greece before the international bodies for the protection of human rights”

Monday, 20 February 2017

The protection and promotion of Democracy, Human Rights (HR), and civil liberties constitute the basic principles of the Greek Constitution and are an integral part of our national legislation. Our country attaches primary importance to the defence of human rights and basic freedoms, the safeguarding of democratic institutions, and the functioning of the rule of law. It supports universality, indivisibility, and interdependence between personal and civil rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other.

Greece believes that respecting Human Rights and promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law are interwoven with peace, justice, security, stability, elimination of hunger, and cohesive socio-economic development.

Our country’s foreign policy in the area of promoting HR is based on a philosophy of synergy and cooperation. We believe that a policy based on confidence-building strengthens, in a realistic fashion, the ability of UN Member States to directly and effectively fulfil their obligations as regards HR.

It is the goal of Greece to work in the spirit of collaboration and constructive dialogue, bilaterally as well as in the capacity of an EU member state, with all of the UN bodies and member states. We strongly believe that a policy based on a consensual approach is undoubtedly more realistic and leads to tangible results.

In the field of multilateral diplomacy, within the system of the United Nations, our country displays a firm interest in issues pertaining to Human Rights. It participates actively and constructively in the principal United Nations multilateral fora and successfully cooperates with the entire United Nations security and control apparatus.

It is worth noting that, over the past one and a half years, Greece has successfully undergone three periodic evaluations carried out by UN International Convention Committees, which make up the implementation control apparatus of the International Conventions. Namely:

a) the Committee on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in October 2015,

b) the Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in October 2015,

c) the Committee for the elimination of racial discrimination in April 2016, as well as

d) the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), for which our country was examined, in May 2016, before the Human Rights Council. The Universal Periodic Review constitutes one of the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) main initiatives for the equal evaluation of nations by other UN states regarding the policies they follow pertaining to the enjoyment and protection of Human Rights, based on their international obligations and commitments. It is worth mentioning that, during its last Universal Periodic Review, in May 2016, Greece received a total of 207 Recommendations, accepted 175, and rejected 32.

At this point, however, I would like to stress the especially demanding and extremely important nature of the evaluation process. During the course of the six-hour oral examinations, our country had to achieve a dual goal:

On the one hand to present the most important developments and optimal practices that it has displayed, in recent years, in the protection of Human Rights, and on the other to honestly admit to the difficulties and challenges that it faces, the most fundamental and resonant of these being challenges related to the economic and refugee/immigrant crises.

A difficult undertaking in self-criticism that we achieved thanks not only to the thorough preparation and presentation on the part of the Head of the Greek Delegation, but also to the high-level representation of our country executed by personnel from all of the co-competent Ministries who, through their thorough and horizontal knowledge of the issues, as well as their great passion and personal effort, contributed to our country's successful presentation.

However, the aforementioned success is expected to be completed, to a large extent, with the review of the next four years, in the days before the next evaluations on the part of the UN International Regulatory Bodies, when it is shown that our country proceeded, with determination and diligence, in implementing the majority of the Recommendations which arose as much from the Periodic evaluations conducted by the International Convention Committees as from the Universal Periodic Review.

Consequently, today's Conference is of great importance because it provides the spark for disseminating the Recommendations, for awareness, but also for the desire on the part of the Greek State to implement further measures which will contribute to the protection and enjoyment of Human Rights.

I wish you great success in your endeavours and thank you for your attention.

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