This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action confirmed the universality of all human rights and led to historic advances in their promotion and protection. It continues to be a source of inspiration for the EU, to strive for further human rights improvements.
We work both collectively and bilaterally to promote human rights, democracy and good governance in Rwanda. The situation in Rwanda is constantly evolving. Rwanda has made impressive gains, particularly in the areas of economic development and poverty reduction. We applaud the ambition of the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 – to transform Rwanda into a thriving, middle income, regional trade and investment hub.
In doing so, we reinforce the message that human rights and sustainable development go hand in hand. An open, democratic and transparent system will encourage universal respect for human rights. We also commend Rwanda for their engagement with the international community on human rights questions, for example through the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review. We would encourage Rwanda to continue that engagement, including with the mid-term progress review this year and the full review in 2015.
As we continue to support Rwanda’s development, we encourage the Government of Rwanda to wholeheartedly engage with and promote the debate on human rights issues. We see positive examples, like progressive media laws. We urge the Government to continue working towards the principle that human rights should be universal. That includes those in detention, facing trial or advocating for greater political freedoms.
While progress is acknowledged, we see continuing challenges in a number of areas, notably, in obstacles encountered by human rights groups and other NGOs operating in Rwanda, illegal detentions and the registration of political parties. We are concerned about some individual cases, such as the sudden change in leadership of the human rights defender LIPRODHOR and the unresolved murder of an employee of Transparency International in July 2013.
We would like to emphasize that we stand ready to assist the Rwandan Government in addressing these issues, and to develop our dialogue based on mutual respect and shared values.
Twenty years ago, leaders acknowledged that while the significance of regional and national particularities and various backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU and Rwanda share a commitment to advancing the cause of human rights nationally and globally, and we look forward to continue working with the government and people of Rwanda to realise this commitment.
- HE Leoni Cuelenaere, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- HE Peter Fahrenholtz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
- HE Michel Flesch, Ambassador of France
- Maria Håkansson, Chargé d’Affaires, Swedish Embassy
- HE Ben Llewellyn-Jones, High Commissioner, British High Commission
- HE Marc Pecsteen, Ambassador of Belgium
- HE Michael Ryan, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union