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Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations

Statement by H.E. Ambassador A. Mitsialis at the third Committee (Agenda Item 69)

67TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Third Committee (Agenda item 69)
Statement by
Ambassador Anastassis Mitsialis
Permanent Representative of Greece

(New York, November, 2012)

Mr. Chairman,
My delegation aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and, in its national capacity, wishes to make some additional remarks.

Allow me first to commend the valuable work carried out by the special mandate- holders and to thank them for their statements and in-depth reports on various fields of human rights. Their work is essential for the promotion of human rights around the world and I would like to reaffirm our unreserved support to their mission. We also support the work and the role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the independence, impartiality and expertise of the human rights treaty body system.

Greece has always strived for the effective implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and applicable rules and provisions of human rights and humanitarian law, both at national and international level. Beyond being legally binding rules, human rights are the essence of human dignity and as such their respect is a substantial element of our society and the basis of human co-existence. It is obvious these conditions cannot be achieved without sustained efforts on the part of States, international and regional organizations, as well as an active interaction with civil society, which plays an increasingly important role in the promotion of human rights.

There certainly is still much to be done to ensure that tangible improvements can be achieved to alleviate the plight of those in need of international human rights protection; And regional and international cooperation are indispensable to address wide spread abuses of human rights. In this context, we believe that along with the important contribution of the Human Rights Council, the United Nations, in general, and the General Assembly, in particular, play a vital role in dealing with human rights violations and in effectively promoting human rights. 

Greece presented its candidature to the Human Rights Council for the period 2013-2015. If elected, my country will aim at tackling the various challenges by working in a spirit of cooperation, transparency and constructive dialogue with all UN organs and member states, convinced of the merits of a consensus based approach. We have supported the reinforcement of the role of the Human Rights Council as the key intergovernmental body responsible for advancing human rights within the UN system, and for strengthening the UN member-states’ ability to fulfil their human rights obligations effectively. And this, through technical assistance, interregional dialogue and, where appropriate, exchange of know-how best practices.

The promotion of democratic institution-building and the respect of the rule of law as prerequisites for sustainable development, the promotion of freedom of religion or belief and religious tolerance, as well as the protection of religious minorities during armed conflict or social unrest, combat against racial discrimination, xenophobia and racism, together with the empowerment of women and the mainstreaming of the disabilities agenda in the UN system will be our focus during our membership. 

Mr. Chairman,

During the last two years a wind of change has blown in our region. Legitimate aspirations for freedom and democracy have brought down authoritarian regimes, replacing them by democratically elected governments. The “Arab awakening” inherently contains in itself the potential for the advancement of human rights and we strongly encourage these countries to continue their effort toward the achievement of establishing democratic nation-building, in which the human rights of everyone regardless of origin, race, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion will be duly respected and safeguarded.

Full enjoyment of human rights can be gravely affected by the ongoing economic crisis, as is the case in many parts of the world and my country in particular. Increasing inequalities and social exclusion are only some of the negative aspects that we are striving to eradicate in our determined efforts to address this challenge and follow a sustainable path toward economic recovery. At the same time, we spare no effort in protecting the most vulnerable segments of society such as migrants, refugees and persons belonging to minorities.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the promotion and implementation of human rights and fundamental freedoms remains high in both our national and EU foreign policy agenda. My country rejoiced the recent appointment of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis, as the first ever EU Special Representative for human rights and has pledged all its support to his mission. 

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Last Updated Wednesday, 14 November 2012

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