Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar
A local champion with an international reputation
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10th December - World Human Rights Day European Liberals and Democrats signal top priority for Human Rights
Published on Friday 10th December 2004
Marking what has been dubbed by the UN as World Human Rights Day, Graham Watson, South West Lib Dem MEP and Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, indicated that "improving respect for universal Human Rights - whether from oppression or poverty - is the top priority of our group in the European Parliament and indeed should be for the Parliament as a whole."
"However important the Lisbon Agenda or the ratification of the Constitution to the success of the European project, they cannot compare. José Manuel Barroso should make Human Rights amongst his highest priorities for the coming 5 year term in office. It is simply intolerable that the industrialised world turns a blind eye to the suffering going on around it - whether massacres in Darfur, political prisoners in China or poverty in sub-Saharan Africa," he added.
Whilst some progress has been made through the European Union's commitment to establishing and strengthening democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance, at the same time the situation has worsened in a large number of countries, where human rights continue to be violated as a result of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and social class, and of bad governance, corruption, repression, abuse of power, weak institutions, lack of accountability and armed conflict,
ALDE takes the opportunity of this human rights day to manifest its commitment to continue prioritising human rights and promotion of democracy world-wide: Strengthened efforts are needed to mainstream human rights in the EU external relations activities, to link the coordinate the work of EP's subcommittee on human rights with other committees and interparliamentary delegations and to push for a consistent follow-up to Parliament's resolutions.
Notes to editor:
• Each year on 10th December the international community observes Human Rights Day to celebrate the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948.
• The European Parliament awards its own Sakharov prize for Human Rights on Tuesday 14th December in Strasbourg. This year's prize will be awarded to the Association of Journalists of Belarus.