Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Vice President of the Republic of Botswana at the Commemoration of the 60th Aniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Gaborone

source: Republic of Botswana (16/12/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 41 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen

1. On the 10th December 1948, three years after the formation of the United Nations, the General Assembly of this global body adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, this day is commemorated annually as Human Rights Day.

2. This day brings us together to celebrate this landmark instrument; to rededicate ourselves to the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter, but most importantly, to ensure that this declaration continues to provide a framework for respect for fundamental human rights, rule of law and justice.

3. You will recall that the United Nations Charter enjoins us as the people of the world, right at its preamble: "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of the human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."

4. Quite appropriately the theme for this year is Dignity And Justice For All of Us. It is a theme that demands of us as Member States, on a day like this one, individually and collectively, to reflect on how much progress has been made in global efforts to build a more just and equitable world order.

5. It is also a time to reaffirm our commitment to the promotion of the fundamental principles of human rights, dignity, and freedom for all to ensure that the declaration is a living reality for all people.

6. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights embodies the aspirations of humanity for a better life characterized by enduring peace, freedom and equality.

7. Botswana reaffirms its commitment to the ideals and purposes of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this respect we have been working hard over the years to ensure that our relevant domestic legislation and institutions reflect the spirit of this important instrument. We are determined to contribute to the promotion of respect for human rights at home and abroad. In doing so we are conscious of the need for international cooperation in this regard. It is for this reason that Botswana is a State Party to key United Nations and African Union human rights instruments too numerous to mention in this brief statement.

8. Botswana is fully committed to implementing the international human rights instruments we have signed. We have made significant progress in various areas of human rights promotion. For instance, we have amended a number of legal instruments such as the Citizenship Act, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the Deeds and Registry Act to do away with all provisions that discriminated against women.

9. We are implementing the National Plan of action for Children 2006 - 2016 to promote children's human rights in areas of education, health, child protection.

10. Government is also in the process of domesticating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

11. Several safety nets are in place to address the social and economic rights of the most vulnerable groups in our society. For example, there is the Revised National Policy on Destitute Persons, the Short Term Plan of Action for Orphans, the Remote Area Development Programme, the Patients on Home Based Care, and the Economic Promotion Fund to mention but a few. All these efforts are premised on our conviction that there cannot be enjoyment of human rights and dignity in the midst of poverty.

12. I want to emphasize that Botswana's commitment to the principles and ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is deeply engrained in our long standing democratic culture which enjoys the unflinching devotion of the political leadership of the country. It is not something we do because we are compelled by the international instruments, it is because as a nation we inherently and strongly so, believe in it.

13. It must be acknowledged however, that as a young country, Botswana has diverse challenges and capacity constraints that hamper our efforts to fully implement and report to the relevant treaty bodies. We will therefore continue to need the support of our development partners in this area.

14. Ladies and Gentlemen, before I conclude, let me caution that we cannot be content with the enjoyment of human rights at home while some part of humanity abroad are denied the same. This is a challenge to us all. It is therefore imperative that we continue to make concerted efforts without any fear or favour to address these challenges at national, regional and international levels.

15. Let me end by once again calling on each and every one of us, to do our best to live up to the high expectations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have to continuously work hard to achieve our goals for a world of peace and security, prosperity, freedom, "Dignity and Justice for All of Us." I thank you for your attention.

No comments: