I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union understands the purpose of this resolution in recognising the diversity of the world and that all cultures and civilizations share a common set of universal values. Amongst such shared values, is the universal recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom justice and peace in the world. Also, as stated in this resolution, all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.
Hence, the European Union would like to see this resolution as an expression of commitment from its main sponsors to the fact that no culture, belief, religion or doctrine may stand above the human rights and fundamental freedoms of each and every individual, including the right to life, freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, freedom of religion or belief which includes the right to change religion or belief, as well as the right not to be discriminated on any grounds.
Cultural diversity implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms. As proclaimed by the UNESCO Declaration on cultural diversity which is welcomed by the present resolution, no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope. Anything else would be an unacceptable attempt at cultural relativism of human rights.
While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the utmost duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals.
The EU further welcomes the entry into force of the Convention on the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions that recognises that cultural diversity presupposes the recognition of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures, including the cultures of persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples.
The European Union has actively engaged in the discussions regarding this draft resolution. We have presented concrete proposals aimed at bringing the text in line with international human rights instruments and we are satisfied that the sponsors were, in the end, willing to accommodate our proposals.
We therefore acknowledge the sponsors willingness to delete a reference to documents issued during the recent ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Teheran in Pp 9, as well as quotes of those documents in other parts of the text. Considering that this event was held outside the UN framework and pertains only to a group of States, the EU does not consider that its outcomes have any bearing on States outside the Non-Aligned Movement.
The EU supports the aims of the resolution in reference to advancing the promotion of cultural human rights. We appreciate the sponsors efforts to streamline the text and to accommodate some of our most pressing concerns and we recognise, as a significant improvement, the stressing of the need to freely use the media and new information and communication technologies.
Based on the above reasons and understanding of the text, the EU now finds itself in a position to join consensus on the adoption of draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.39.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilization and Association Process.