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Opening remarks by the President of the Human Rights Council for the high-level panel discussion to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

25 February 2013

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted 20 years ago constitutes a momentous step of the international community in the struggle for the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We should not forget the historical context in which the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action were adopted. In 1993 the international community was riding on the crest of a wave of freedom, democracy and change, which emerged from the cold war era, particularly democratic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe and the end of apartheid in South Africa. These historic events generated so called the “Spirit of Vienna” which made possible a great success of the World Conference on Human Rights.

In VDPA, for the first time it was agreed at international level that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. It was also then that the international community recognized that specific human rights situations in different regions of the world could be subject of its legitimate concerns. Moreover, the full obligation of states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect these rights and freedoms was underscored.

Yet, despite respectable progress achieved in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights, including the ever growing number of ratifications of human rights instruments, continued attention and enhanced efforts of all stakeholders are still necessary in order to fully implement the recommendations of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action twenty years after its adoption.

In that respect I sincerely hope that this panel will not only constitute an opportunity to evaluate a progress made for the last 20 years, but will also give us a clear guidance on how to build upon the achievements of the VDPA in the future.