Summary: July 25, 2005: EU Presidency Statement Explanation of Vote on Decision of CHR on Rights and Responsibilities, by the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, ECOSOC adoption of Draft Decision 37 (Human Rights and Human Responsibilities) of the CHR Report, E/2005/23, ECOSOC, General Segment of the 2005 Substantive Session (New York)
The European Union supports the idea that individuals have obligations towards societies. All of our states impose such obligations. But while a state may impose duties or responsibilities on individuals for the purposes of social cohesion, such responsibilities must not interfere with inalienable human rights and must be consistent with relevant international law.
The European Union attaches great importance to the principle that all human rights are universal and inalienable. This is a vital principle. From it derives for example the prohibition of discrimination on religious, racial, ethnic or gender grounds. All human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in every human person. The human person is the central subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and all individuals are entitled to enjoy human rights without interference or qualification by a state.
The European Union therefore rejects the idea contained in the pre-draft declaration that the state can determine which, if any, rights an individual may enjoy in return for the exercise of responsibilities. It is fundamentally inconsistent with the basic concepts of human rights. And it undermines the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and countless other human rights instruments.
Of the twenty-seven states that responded to consultations from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights only two favoured continuing work on the Declaration. And the terms of the CHR Resolution 2000/63 which established the special rapporteur of the sub-commission gave no mandate to elaborate such a draft. As a document which undermines the very foundations of human rights - especially the principles of universality and inalienability, the European Union will call for ECOSOC to revote this resolution and hopes that you will join us in voting against the attempt to restrict human rights and undermine the UN Charter.
Some have made the point that ECOSOC should not interfere in a Decision already taken by CHR since CHR is the relevant expert body on human rights. I would like to remind colleagues that ECOSOC - as the parent body - has not only the right but the duty and a specific mandate to examine the decisions of CHR and, if necessary, to reject resolutions which undermine the fundamental principles of the United Nations.
Mr President, the initiative behind this decision seeks to undermine the very foundations of the UN human rights system. As such the European will vote against the Decision and would urge other members to do the same.