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Holy See to OSCE: Freedom of Expression Is a Right, But It Should Be Exercised With Responsibility

Range of themes covered in statement to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

The Holy See is affirming the right to freedom to expression, while at the same time reminding that all human rights come with “corresponding  responsibilities  and  duties.”

This was one of the variety of topics touched on Thursday by the Holy See’s permanent representative at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk.

He also spoke about tolerance and non-discrimination, particularly regarding religious tolerance. He further addressed the rights of women.

Here is the statement, which was given at the 1089th Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, regarding presentations by the chairpersons of the Security Committee, the Economic and Environmental Committee, and the Human Dimension Committee.

The statement is provided by Vatican Radio

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Mister Chairman!

The  Holy  See  congratulates  Ambassadors  Cristian  Istrate,  Andreas  Papadakis  and  Katja Pehrman on their appointment as the Chairs of the three Committees of the Permanent  Council and thanks them for outlining the course of our work this year. I wish to assure my  colleagues  of  the  support  of  the  Holy  See’s  Delegation  which,  in  accordance  with  its  specific nature, will seek to contribute constructively to the work of the three Committees.

In  terms  of  the  non-military  aspects  of  security  dealt  with  by  the  Security  Committee, the Holy See values the efforts of the OSCE in strengthening co -ordination and  coherence  in  addressing  transnational  threats,  including  the  fight  against  terrorism,  youth  radicalization,  cross-border  drug  trading  and  in  furthering  measures  in  the  area  of  cyber  security, including through the development of CBMs. Likewise, we support the efforts to  address the scourge of  trafficking in human beings and its links to migration, as well as its  wide security-related challenges.  All these issues have inherent  value as a contribution to  the protection of the rights of human beings.

The Holy See also appreciates the choice of environmental concerns, climate, labour  migration, water governance and disaster risk reduction as the major topics of the Economic  and  Environmental  Committee,  also  because  these  issues  are  closely  connected  and  interrelated. Therefore, we are pleased to see that the topic for this year’s  OSCE Economic  and Environmental Forum  is “Strengthening stability and security through co-operation on  good  governance.”  All  these  topics  are  ultimately  very  important  to  sustainable  development, security and human rights in the OSCE area.

Moreover, my Delegation would like to see further attention given to the question of  the  responsible use of resources and their distribution, and to combatting their uncontrolled  use in a headlong race for profit. We hope that this work will contribute towards putting an end, as quickly as possible, to social and economic exclusions in the OSCE region. Regarding  the  Human  Dimension  Committee,  my  Delegation  expresses  its  readiness  to  offer  its  contribution  in  pursuing  common  goals  and  in  fulfilling  the  consensually-agreed  commitments  of  the  Organization.  We  should  not  try  to  deal  with  everything, as such an approach would most likely end in achieving little or even nothing.

Moreover,  my  Delegation  is  confident  that  the  Human  Dimension  Committee  will  remain the principal forum where the meetings on human dimension are prepared, and will  ensure that their agenda reflects the agreed views of all the participating States. In  this  context,  my  Delegation  commends  the  initiatives  planned  in  the  field  of  freedom  of  expression  and  of  the  media,  and  in  considering  how  to  ensure  access  to  independent  information  in  times  of  crisis.  As  with  all  human  rights,  the  freedom  of  expression  is  a  right  with  corresponding  responsibilities  and  duties.  In  this  respect,  it  is  important  to  underline  that  every  person,  especially  if  she  or  he  is  a  media  professional,  should exercise responsibly her/his freedom of expression.

A focus on Education Rights of National Minorities and on the participation of Roma  and Sinti in public life is also welcomed by my Delegation. Such emphasis will hopefully  further the full inclusion  of those groups into the life of societies and be a logical follow-up  to a previous event and commitments. We are very glad that tolerance and non-discrimination are among the priorities of  the third dimension. In this perspective, we agree that there is a  need to enhance discussion  about ways of combating discrimination, racism, xenophobia and intolerance  – especially in  light of the current migration crisis. There is a need to deal with policies and strategies in  order  to  address  root  causes  of  intolerance  and  discrimination,  according  to  the  commitments of participating States.

With specific regard to religious intolerance, my Delegation considers that all forms  of  religious  intolerance  and  discrimination  need  to  be  carefully  identified  and  addressed,  avoiding any improper selectivity or hierarchical partiality. In this context, the promotion of  the  OSCE  commitments  on  working  to  stop  intolerance  and  discrimination  based  on  religious grounds remain a priority and the Holy See eagerly awaits the appointment of the  remaining two CiO PRs on Intolerance and Discrimination, and their active participation in  both the PC and the HDC.

We  commend  the  Chairmanship’s  focus  on  ending  discrimination  against  women.  The Holy See firmly believes that any  ideology or social policy, any culture that subjugates  women, that relegates them to second class, or “less than human”, is in no way tolerable.  Therefore, my Delegation continues to support those commitments based on, and aimed at,  a  true  and  authentic  equality  between  women  and  men,  which  still  needs  to  be  carefully  implemented.

Finally,  we  are  confident  that  the  outcome  of  the  Human  Dimension  Committee  meetings  will  help  us  to  better  understand  the  requirements  and  the  challenges  of  the  implementation  of  the  human  dimension  commitments  as  well  as  to  prepare,  in  a  proper  way, the relevant decisions for the next Ministerial Council.

In conclusion, Mister Chairman, my Delegation renews its best wishes and support to  the three Committee Chairs, as well as its readiness to contribute constructively to the work  of the Committees this year.

Thank you, Mister Chairman!

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