In a reception held reception to mark Human Rights Day with the civil society, Lebanese officials and the international community, ambassador Hugo Shorter has welcomed the new Human Rights Commission. Shorter noted the importance of the upcoming elections to renew Lebanon’s democracy and praised the role of civil society, including a free media, in contributing to a “healthy” democracy, and urged strong partnerships between civil society and government.
On the Human Rights law passed by Parliament in October, he said:
This is a positive step for Lebanon, which after all was one of the nations which drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Key for the Commission’s success will be that it is transparent, that it leads to greater accountability, and that qualified, committed individuals are nominated.
Referencing the elections, Shorter said:
Civil society can put positive pressure on the government, including before and during the elections, which I hope and expect will take place on time next year - with much-needed technical improvements, such as pre-printed ballot papers.” But he also noted that “the government has a duty to allow civil society, and the media, to continue their work unimpeded, in freedom and liberty.
The evening also highlighted the British Embassy’s partnerships with civil society and government on a wide range of Human Rights projects, including on women’s rights; combating torture; promoting civil society; supporting the elections; protecting migrant workers; and helping build a professional police force and army that are better able to fight terrorism.
Concluding his speech, Shorter said:
Let’s not forget that open, inclusive societies are prosperous societies. Almost no significant or sustainable economic or social progress happens without the free exchange of ideas, innovation and experimentation. Similarly, no society can fully reach its potential when half the population – I’m talking about women of course – are not able to participate fully in public life. Because together, we can make each other better.