19th EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Arab Spring and Human Rights
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19th EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting
Bandar Seri Begawan/ Brunei Darussalam, 26 April 2012
Statement by H.E. Mr. Wolfgang Waldner, State Secretary for European and International Affairs of Austria, on Arab Spring and Human Rights
At the outset, let me take this opportunity to thank the Sultanate of Brunei for hosting this 19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial.
The Middle East has long been occupying a prominent place on the global political agenda, equally affecting European and Asian security interests. Today, I would like to make five points focussing on the interplay between the so-called Arab Spring and human rights that apply well beyond the Arab region.
- Since early 2011, the uprising in the Arab world has brought about a dramatic change in the political landscape. Protesters taking to the streets of Tunis, Cairo or Tripoli were claiming a life in freedom and dignity and demanding full respect of their rights. They continue to do so rightfully in Syria and other places in the region. People are looking for new ways of political participation. It is our common responsibility to make sure that these legitimate demands are fulfilled.
- Despite the progress achieved in the transformation process the human rights situation remains volatile. We must use this opportunity to work with our Arab partners towards full respect of human rights on all levels in the future.
- There can be no successful political transition without an inclusive approach encompassing all components of society, regardless of race, gender or religion. Women and youth have been acting at the forefront of the protest movement. While the transition is still in process, women see themselves more and more being left out. Women must be part of the political decision-making process. They must be granted equal rights and full access to education, justice, health and other sectors of society.
- We are concerned about the rising violence against religious minorities. We therefore must work together with the new authorities in order to effectively protect their rights and prevent that they emerge even weaker from the transition than they were before.
- In order to guarantee freedom, dignity and stability for the people in the Arab world, the new authorities have to abide by the rule of law.
- Austria regards the rule of law as the overarching principle of democracy and supports all countries in transition in their efforts to build sustainable democratic institutions.