Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

Apr 11, 2012

(Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the occasion of the German candidacy to the U.N. Human Rights Council - check against delivery)

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for being with us tonight !

It is a great pleasure for me to speak to you here in this beautiful Morgan Library, which is, as you know, an iconic place containing an important collection, also including very unique manuscripts from Germany.

Today, however, I would like to talk about Germany’s engagement in the United Nations.

The United Nations stand for a global political approach based on cooperation. To secure peace and protect human rights, we need a strong and efficient United Nations. We need it for a global policy committed to the well-being of mankind. The Human Rights Council is one of the key forums of the United Nations for carrying out this task.

The Human Rights Council not only plays a role in conflict situations where Human Rights are threatened but also serves as the forum for the ongoing development of human rights standards – be it economic, social, cultural, civil or political rights.

Let me give you an example:

In response to an initiative by Germany and Spain, the Human Rights Council laid the foundation for the recognition of the right to water and sanitation.

The object of all our endeavours is not to make sweeping allegations. The object is to provide advice and support so that all states can better fulfil their human rights obligations.

We welcome the fact that the Universal Periodic Review examins the human rights records of all states.

The emphasis lies on “all states”: Rich and developed countries do not have a monopoly on safeguarding human rights. The protection of Human Rights is never complete. Nowhere.

Germany has actively participated in the work of the Human Rights Council from the very beginning. Our constitution and all our political initiatives are rooted in the belief that human dignity and human rights are the basis of every community and of peace and justice in the world.

Germany was one of the first members of the Council from 2006 to 2009. At that time, we were elected by a convincing margin. I would like to thank you again for this expression of your confidence.

It has always been important to us to speak frankly and, at the same time, seek dialogue in order to work hand in hand with our partners to find solutions. Cooperation instead of confrontation is the guideline of our engagement.

The great strength of the Human Rights Council is that it is a forum where states with very different backgrounds and, in some cases, very different concepts of human rights can come together to find answers to the questions arising in a complex and globalized world.

We are grateful to our partners for the many positive experiences we have gained from dialogue.

I am thinking of our cooperation with the Philippines to improve protection for victims of human trafficking. I am thinking of our support for the Maldives’ initiative to address the issue of human rights and climate change. I am thinking of the “Blue Group”, which we co‑founded and within which we have joined forces with Spain, Egypt, Bangladesh, Brazil, Croatia, France, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Uruguay to promote the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Germany will continue its role as a bridge builder in the Human Rights Council.

The extent to which human rights are respected and protected serves as a yardstick for the stability and sustainable development of our societies. Thus, the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals constitutes human rights policy par excellence

Germany is a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council 2013-2015. We are again ready to take on responsibility and help shape the Council so it can discharge its mandate even more effectively, serve as a forum for constructive dialogue and take decisions that will positively and sustainably change the lives of people worldwide.

We accept this challenge and ask for your support in the coming elections to the Human Rights Council.

Thank you for your attention.

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