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Home arrow newsitems arrow UN Head Ban Ki Moon at CoE World Democracy Forum : - "Listen to the People !"

UN Head Ban Ki Moon at CoE World Democracy Forum : - "Listen to the People !"

Written by ACM
Monday, 08 October 2012
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*Strasbourg/CoE/ACM/- "Foster Democracy around the World", both by "strengthening the ability of citizens to Participate in the decisions affecting their lives", (as UNO's Secretary General said with a vocabulary surprisingly close to "EuroFora"s initial project of +1997-2007+), and by "advancing Development", is a "Focus.. in the coming Years" for the United Nations, which also "ask" from the PanEuropean Organization of Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, the CoE, to "Help all those who face Difficulties" in Democratic Transitions "all over the World", as the International Organization's Head, Ban Ki Moon, stressed in his keynote Speech at the official opening of the 1st World Forum for Democracy organized in Strasbourg, launching a multitude of parallel debates on various topical aspects of Democratic issues, among Government Officials, Politicians, Experts, Civil Society representatives, and simple Citizens, throughout 6 Days all over the City.


By an Historic coincidence, CoE's latest Heads of State/Government Summit in Warsaw on May 2005 decided to focus all the organizations' activities towards Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, (comp. "EuroFora" co-Founder's NewsReports from the spot, publisehd at "TCWeekly"+), while, just a few Months later, on September 2005 at New York, UNO's 60th Anniversary Reform Summit of Heads of State/Government decided to create an International "Human Rights' Council", with its own mechanisms, at nearby Geneva, (comp. "EuroFora"s co-Founder's NewsReports from both these 2 exceptional events in Warsaw and New York, at UNO's HQ).


Indeed, as Ban Ki Moon reminded today in Strasbourg, "in the Millennium Development Declaration adopted on our (UNO's) 60th anniversary (since  9/2005), World leaders resolved to “spare no effort to promote Democracy and the rule of Law", while "United Nations Member States have clearly defined democracy as a universal value".


+ In addition,  "just last month (9/2012) at the UN General Assembly, we carried this idea forward at the 1st-ever High-level meeting on the Rule of Law", putting "this issue at the Top of the Global Agenda", he added.
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+ Meanwhile, "since almost 2 Years, Democracy is demanded in Northern Africa, to the Middle East and well beyond", Ban Ki Moon observed.


Moreover, "the Thirst for (Human) Dignity is Universal and pressing".

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But, as "we have to listen to New and Emerging Democracies – ...we also have to pay attention to Established democracies, where Citizens may feel Disenfranchised", Ban Ki Moon warned, (particularly after the Spanish, Greek, even German and American Popular Movements of exceptionally massive, critical and sometimes controversial or, on the contrary, inventive Demonstrations).
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 - In this regard, "Europe is an inspiring example of what is possible", also because of CoE's ...47 vastly different (Member) countries ...committed to resolving their differences through Dialogue", as he said, (despite the Turkey - Cyprus and Turkey- Greece, Russia - Georgia, Armenia - Azerbaidjan, Kosovo, Transnistria, and other borderline "frozen" conflicts)...


At any case, the essence of the matter obviously is that, "when this body (CoE) was established in 1949, one could barely imagine that Europe – torn apart by War – would be a beacon of Stability, Peace and Prosperity in the World", more than 60 Years ago, he reminded. But, "your (CoE's) founders embraced this bold Ideal. They developed a Vision from the Horrors of War. They shared an unshakeable belief in Human Reason and Dignity. ...They were convinced that People can Change the world for the Better".
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    - Today, "the Critical Challenge facing us" is to "Bridge the Gap between Old models and New realities", as he said. But, precisely, "one of the great strengths of Democracy is that it has the ability to Adapt to new realities", Ban Ki Moon found.
- In particular, "Now the challenge is to Listen to People", UNO's Head stressed.
I.e., "where Governments Fail to live up to their Obligations under International Law, we (UNO) have to remind them to do so", he pointed out.


- Thus, "I have consistently Urged leaders to stop flouting human rights, and start meeting the legitimate demands of their people : This is my Message to leaders around the world, ....who must Listen to their Citizens, before it is too late", he warned.

- Because,  good "Governance can only evolve through inclusive Dialogue and broad Engagement", and, in this regard, "more fundamentally, our work to promote Human rights and empower People, serves the broader Goal of strengthening the ability of Citizens to Participate in the Decisions affecting their Lives", he said, coming very close to" EuroFora"s original idea, (already published as early as from 1997-2007+).
That's why, as "a local leader of a UN Democracy Fund project said: ....our support is much more than a source of Funding – it is “a source of Pride, of Legitimacy, of convening Power, of Inspiration".


 - "As Tawakkol Karman", (the 2011 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded by the Oslo Committee chaired by CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Yagland, both present in Strasbourg at the 2012 WFD official opening), "I am convinced that all Human Beings must have the Same Fundamental Rights, and the same Liberty to choose their Destiny", Ban Ki Moon stressed.


 - "When I was Student, in Korea, I went out to the Street, together with other People, in order to protest against Dictatorship", he revealed, and, now, "as (UNO's) Secretary General, I stand by all those who, anywhere in the World, revendicate Peacefully their Right to Democracy", he promised.

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- "The UN is taking Practical Actions to promote Democracy around the World", f.ex. by using "our (UNO's) Democracy Fund, the UN Development Programme, UN Women, the UN Peacebuilding Fund, and the UN Secretariat are working with other Partners within and beyond the UN", as he said after meeting with "Community of Democracies"'s SG, Maria Leissner, a 2000-born International gathering of Countries other than COE's France, Germany, England,  Russia,  etc., nor China or Japan, etc., but including f.ex. USA, India, Mexico, Philipines, South Africa, etc., and currently chaired by Mongolia, which prepares a "Best Practices" Global Handbook with Guidelines on Democratic Institutions, as experienced former OSCE's Director for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Steven Wagenseil (USA) said to "EuroFora".

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- But,  "it takes Time to build Democracy", so that "we must join forces to nurture progress until democracy takes a firm root in all countries around the World", Ban Ki Moon ambitiously urged.


- For that purpose, "I have Focused the UN's work in the coming Years on Helping countries make the Transition smoothly from insecurity to Stability, … and from Authoritarianism to Democracy. ....This is a Key plank in my 5-Year action Agenda", officially anounced UNO's Secretary General at the CoE, just a year after initially Highlighting his overall Strategy for the 2011-2016 period shortly after his recent re-election, at the occasion of a July 2011 meeting with Journalists (including "EuroFora") at nearby Geneva, (Comp. "EuroFora"s NewsReports from the spot).
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    In this framework, "CoE is synthesis of a (European) Continent's Transformation", while "the Ambition (for Peace and Stability, Democracy and Human Rights) which had inspired its Founding Fatherrs, has become Today a Motor for Progress everywhere in the World', Ban Ki Moon observed.
    
    - Referring to EU's co-founder Robert Schuman's observation that "CoE was the Laboratory for Tests of European Cooperation", UNO's Head, Ban Ki Moon, went today much "further", by stressing that "CoE is the Laboratory in which can be Tested efforrts for World-wide Cooperations, based on our Common Values and Principles", (as Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights).


    -That's why, the Head of the International Organization launched today a vibrant Call to the PanEuropean Organization of Strasbourg to "make known your ambition and Help those who find Difficulties, so that Democracy becomes a Reality in all Countries of the World" :


- "I ask you (CoE) to Help those who can't yet manage tp fullfil the ambition" of Europe's fathers for Peace/Stability based also on Democracy/HumanRights/Rule of Law. "That's the best way to pay tribute to your (European) Founding Fathers, as well as in order to Build a Better World for all". Therefore, "I count on you, CoE, to become the champion of Democracy" worldwide, and "I call on you to help us move forward as a Global Family – and reach our Shared Goals, UNO's SG stressed in Conclusion.


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+ NOBEL 2011 Peace Prise Winner  Karman :

Need for Effective Global Mechanism on Human Rights

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    UNO Head's main message to CoE's 1st World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg was consideradbly developed further by the young NOBEL 2011 Peace Prize Winner, Ms Tawakkol Karman from Yemen, who was invited by CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland (also Chairman of the Oslo Nobel Peace Prize committee), to speak at the International gathering's Plenary, opening session :


    - Genuine Human Rights and True Democracy are not synonymous to Non--interference by the International Community, stressed from the outset Karman, regretting the fact that still, these core-values, "lack of Effective Implementation Mechanisms",


as she rightfully denounced at the CoE (where f.ex. Hundreds of Condemnations for particularly serious Human Rights' Violations, such as Torture, Enforced Disappearances, Murders, Arbitrary Oppression of Freedoms of Expression and/or Association, Demonstration, Religion, etc. by Turkish Authorities for more than 15 Years : 1996-2012, has not yet managed to solve such grave problems and stop such serious violations until today, giving a Bad Example particulmarlmy to Newer COE members)...


    => In consequence, the Nobel 2011 Peace Prize Winner launched a call for "UNO to become able to Act, as the main Key in frong of this Challenge Today", (as she said, speaking through a Translator from the Arab language), so that "Governments who Oppress their People must face UNO Institution's measures, in order to ensure Human Rights' respect.


    - That's why,  International Human Rights' Legal Texts "should become really Binding" in the foreseeable Future, so that we could turn Globalisation also into a "Positive" development, as Karman urged at CoE's World Democracy Forum, (before giving, later-on at the CoE, her card to "EuroFora", with a smile to excuse herself for prefering to speak to the Press in Arab language, even if she appeared to understand well enough English too)...

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+ However, "Democracy is not just a matter of giving People a Voice … it (also) advances Development", UNO's Head added, later-on in his keynote address to CoE's 1st WFD.


- F.ex., "the democratic ideal demands that Mothers in South Sudan have the same chances of survival as Mothers in Sweden, where virtually all maternal Deaths are prevented". But, in fact, "the sad reality is 1 South Sudanese woman in 7 will never live to see her baby", he denounced in Strasbourg, (where CoE's Social Charter's monitoring has already revealed, since a long time, that the ratio of Mother/Infant Mortality at Birth was 6 or 7 times Higher in predominantly Kurdish areas than in the rest of Turkey, as "EuroFora" found on the basis of official Statistics)..

 - Indeed, often,it's surprisingly more easy to find Money for Elections than for Food, criticized afterwards, the experienced former Prime Minister of Haiti, Gerard Latortue. But the latter is at least equally important for real Democracy's success, he observed.


- Thus, "Escape from Poverty", as UNO helped, at anothert case, f.ex. "Koreans" in the Past, as Ban Ki Moon reminded, "is also an element of Democracy", because it aims to give  "a Same Chance for all to build a Better Future".


- "That is why it is so Critical to achieve the Millennium Development Goals", on eradicating at least extreme Poverty's tragical, unacceptable and dangerous phenomena, on which "there has been progress since the Goals were adopted a dozen Years ago", "but", nevertheless, in morst cases, as f.ex. "for the Mothers of South Sudan and countless others around the World, we have to Press for Urgent Action", Ban Ki Moon warned.

    - Currently, "we (UNO) are Racing to Achieve the MDGs by 2015", ..."and we are laying the Groundwork for the Period after that", UNO's Head observed, pointing at "a top-level panel" that he established in order "to lead our effort, ..co-chaired by British Prime Minister Cameron, Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf and Indonesian President Yudhoyono, which includes also Nobel 2011 Peace Prize Tawakkol Karman, etc., and due to act according to a "Participatory approach", by "seeking the views of development Experts and ordinary Citizens around the World".

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(../..)

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(NDLR : "Draftnews", as already sent, earlier, to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version may be published asap).

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  imag0573_400

    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
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    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

----------------------------------

Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

      ***     
 
     (Draft due to be updated).
 
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