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Statement delivered by Minister for Justice at in the Interactive segment 2: "Building the foundations for Human Rights - governance, the rule of law and access to justice" at the High-level Thematic Debate on Human Rights

14.07.2016  17:31

©The Danish Mission to the UN

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Thanks to all the panelists for very intersting contributions to todays discussion. Allow me to contribute with a little more food for thought inspired by the Danish experience.

As the Minister of Justice the rule of law is very close to my heart. It is the fundamental requirement for the full enjoyment of human rights. It provides the framework for the human rights and a tool for assessing right and wrong.  At the same time, the rule of law is the key element of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building.

We are here today to discuss how to build the foundation for human rights. Many of us here represent public institutions – some of us at national level, some at interna-tional level and some from expert organizations among civil society. We all have important roles to play.

One is of course to safeguard the rule of law and human rights as a whole. The other is to do our part in ensuring that our own public institution represents responsible and accountable governance structures.

We must ensure that our societies are rule-based with strong and reliable legal systems, including an accountable judiciary, systems that provide redress, that fight corruption, and that ensures good governance. Experience shows that societies based on the rule of law and the respect for human rights are resilient, peaceful and pros-perous societies.

In Denmark, we place great emphasis on accountability. It is an vital element of the checks and balances of a well-functioning society. The Ombudsman, as an independent public advocate, is an essential supplement to our court system to ensure an accountable governance structure. Charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or violation of rights, the Ombudsman plays a vital part in regulating the exercise of public power.

Civil society and the free media are equally important and indispensable actors in ensuring accountability and transparency in our governance sector. Keeping us on our toes, so to speak. Sometimes by stepping  on our toes.
We remain fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights at all levels. We stand by our inter-national obligations as set out in the international and regional conventions. Especially our National Human Rights Institution, the Danish Human Rights Institute, play a central role in monitoring the human rights implementation in Denmark – by expressing both consenting, dissenting and constructive views. 

Denmark has a high degree of transparency in government affairs and a high level of equality between our citizens - between rich and poor, men and women, young and old. By law as well as by public moral standards, every person must be treated equally. Combined with a low level of corruption, we are known to trust our authorities – and each other. As noted by many foreign visitors our trust in each other extend to the level of leaving sleeping babies in their strollers in the street, while the parents are inside sipping coffee. With all due respect of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of course…

Let me close and invite the other discussants to the floor with a question inspired by the Danish experience:

How do we ensure – when strengthening governance, the rule of law and access to justice – that we build trust among the citizens? 

I thank you.