Thirty-fourth Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 27 February 2017
Statement by H.E. Mr. Davor Ivo Stier, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
Mr. Secretary General of the UN, Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner, distinguished colleagues,
It is an honor and pleasure for me to address the Human Rights Council on behalf of the Republic of Croatia. As a new member of the Human Rights Council, Croatia will continue to promote the universality and indivisibility of human rights - in order that all human beings effectively benefit from these principles.
I would like to congratulate the President of the Council on the election to this position, as well as to express our support for the independence and integrity of the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and for the work of his Office.
Croatia welcomes the Council's approach towards linkages between peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. Respect for human rights is a precondition for peace and development.
When it comes to numerous crisis situations in the world, we find the lack of accountability especially worrying and call upon all countries to work as a truly international community to combat impunity and bring perpetrators of such horrific crimes to justice. Croatia condemns the violations and abuses of human rights as well as barbaric acts of terrorism and armed conflicts that continue to occur in various parts of the world. Syria and Iraq, DPRK, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar/Burma, South Sudan and Ukraine are but a few countries where serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law are being committed. We have been witnessing large-scale and systematic atrocities committed by groups such as the so-called ISIL, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram among others, which negate all universal values of humanity.
Croatia strongly supports and commends the valuable efforts of the Council’s Special Rapporteurs, Commissions of Inquiry or OHCHR Field Offices in the crises-affected areas, as their work on the ground and follow-up reports, assessments and recommendations help raise awareness of the international community to act in order to prevent further human sufferings and to find effective solution to the crisis.
Building on our experience in peace-building and conflict transformation, Croatia recognizes the importance of persistent confidence building efforts and stands ready to provide its expertise in transition to peace and post-conflict recovery and rehabilitation to the countries that may need it.
The promotion and protection of human rights are of utmost importance to Croatia and we are committed to a comprehensive protection of human rights at national and international level with a conviction that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent, and mutually reinforcing. Croatia attaches special importance to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights form the very foundation of international human rights.
From the start, Croatia has strongly supported the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms and our membership is a valuable opportunity for us to take part in the development and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world.
With the climate in the Council becoming increasingly divisive, there is a need to foster trust among member states, promote dialogue and create a positive atmosphere needed for resolving ever-growing contemporary human rights challenges. In this vein, the essential precondition for achieving a constructive climate in the Council is avoiding isolation, selectivity and one-sided approach to some topics, such as singling out only one country under a separate item on the Council’s agenda.
Croatia will continue to actively support multilateralism and will particularly strive to ensure consensus for adopting resolutions.
Being a UN body for promotion and protection of universal human rights in all UN Member States, the Council’s credibility depends on the quality of mechanisms established to execute its mandate. Therefore, we value Universal Periodic Review as the unique peer review process that reexamines the domestic human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. It brings added value to already existing monitoring mechanisms, particularly by enhancing the follow-up to conclusions of the UN treaty bodies and Special Procedures.
Croatia values the efforts done by UN treaty bodies and the Special Procedures and allow me to stress that Croatia accepted from the very beginning the Standing Invitation to all Thematic Procedures of the Council and we have successfully hosted several visits. Croatia also considers that the activities of all Special Procedure mandate holders should be carried out in the strict compliance with international law and internationally recognized human rights.
Croatia is ready, on the basis of fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination, to tackle all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia and is committed to fully respect the right to freedom of religion and belief. We firmly believe that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, should be respected.
We are convinced that this right should be further strengthened across the world. Today, many ethnic and religious minorities continue to face discrimination, marginalization and exclusion, let alone systematic persecution in some countries that amounts to crimes against humanity.
We have noted with serious concern that the number of attacks on religious minorities around the world is rising. Therefore, as a new member of the Council, Croatia is determined to raise awareness about the violence and persecution of religious minorities, most notably Christians, in countries where religious freedoms are not fully respected.
In this regard, I will attend the side-event which we are co-organizing next week in Geneva, together with the Russian Federation, the Holy See, Lebanon, Spain, Greece, Cyprus…, entitled “Mutual Respect and Peaceful Coexistence as a Condition of Interreligious Peace and Stability: Supporting Christians and Other Communities”.
In addition to this, Croatia will also continue to promote the right to conscientious objection, including in military service and medical profession.
We will also continue to take special care of the promotion and protection of the rights of the children, who are threatened by war conflicts, poverty and all other forms of violence that affect their childhood. Through the implementation of the Child Rights Convention and relevant international laws, standards or provisions related to child protection, Croatia has been at the full pace and enjoyed constant development. There have been a great number of actions developed by the Croatian Government, such as the adoption of the National Strategy for the Rights of Children 2014-2020. In this context, we want to emphasize the right of parents to be involved in the education of their children
Our focus will be as well on other vulnerable social groups, such as: disabled persons, missing persons, people belonging to national minorities, elderly, migrants and unprotected workers, for whom we will strongly continue to advocate equality, dignity, freedom and full respect of human rights. We advocate the decriminalization of homosexuality and dignity of all LGBTI persons in all UN Member States. We will strive to increase efforts to protect the most vulnerable, especially the poor and those without adequate protection, guided by the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable development goals, as Goal 1 calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations to ensure that no one is left behind. Special attention should be dedicated to the empowerment of women and their equal participation and full involvement in all social structures. We also draw the attention to the need for redoubling efforts in the fight against violence towards women and girls. Human rights are at the very heart of the sustainable development goals, and we are convinced that Agenda 2030, which adequately addresses the issues of equality and non-discrimination, will be mainstreamed in the Council’s deliberations.
Furthermore, we will pay special attention to the promotion and protection of family, as the natural and fundamental group unit of the society, in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In the context of the progressive development of human rights, we will be promoting the conviction that human life needs to be respected at all stages. We believe that human dignity is universal and we will support views and initiatives that are enhancing the universal protection of human life. We look forward to deeper cooperation with likeminded countries with a view to possible joint initiatives in the Human Rights Council.
We believe that no state should grant itself the right to take life. Where the death penalty still exists, we call for its use to be progressively restricted.
In the current global situation, characterized by large movements of refugees and migrants, it is of utmost importance for the international community to advocate for zero tolerance to racism and xenophobia in order to ensure the equal treatment and dignity of all human beings. Legislative measures to fight against xenophobia and racism should be based on two important pillars - promotion of tolerance towards refugees and hate crime legislation with sanctions against the perpetrators. During the migration crisis, Croatia treated all migrants in a humane and dignified manner, based on our national and international commitments. Countries need to remain active in sharing good practices in addressing these problems.
Croatia is deeply committed to fostering the rights of refugees and migrants, and upholds the principle of sharing responsibility in order to achieve effective cooperation. In our view, the protection of refugees is both a moral and legal obligation for all United Nations Member States, whereby the principles of humanity, sharing of responsibility and solidarity must be upheld. Croatia aims to ensure that the attention in the migration crises is given to vulnerable people, such as children, pregnant women, as well as victims of trafficking in human beings and torture. Croatia will foster and welcome initiatives and discussions on addressing the root causes of migration, and will keep its proactive stance in resolving those causes in partnership with affected states.
The Council gives us a platform to work on issues of common concern; we should be committed to its success and make it efficient, objective and proactive. The Council needs to be able to address crises at their inception.
In conclusion, allow me to say that we promise to seek consensus and try to unify, not divide, which we believe is now needed more than ever. Only in this way will the Council be able to endure the challenges that lie ahead.
Protection of the dignity of every human being is our common responsibility and we remain committed to this goal. We need to work together to counter any violence perpetrated on any basis and to undertake the active role in addressing global human rights challenges.