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Opening speech by Ambassador René Dinesen at OSCE Human Dimension Committee 24 July 2020

24.07.2020  11:35
Opening speech, OSCE Human Dimension Committee 24 July, 2020

Ambassador René Dinesen
“Continuing Relevance of the 1990 Copenhagen Document: Taking Stock and Looking Forward”
Ambassadors, colleagues, distinguished guests,

CPH Document - HDC 2020
30 years ago, Copenhagen was the birthplace of the Copenhagen Document. However, it belongs to all of us. In Copenhagen, we, the participating States, met and put down on paper the conviction that the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms is one of the basic purposes of government. We  acknowledged that democracy is an inherent element of the rule of law and that respect for human rights is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. We agreed to uphold the right to peaceful assembly and introduced far-reaching provisions regarding national minorities. With the aim to help sound democratic processes take root in all of Europe, we also agreed on commitments, procedures and practices to ensure free and fair elections throughout the OSCE area.
With the adoption of the Copenhagen Document, participating States at the same time acknowledged that you cannot have security without the protection of human rights. True security entails not only peaceful relations between states but opportunities and rights for the citizens of these states. A secure nation defends human rights and allows its citizens to express their views freely and participate fully in public debates.
This comprehensive concept of security remains more valid than ever. We cannot allow responses to national threats to undermine respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. As also recently seen, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, all States had to balance between measures to prevent and mitigate the health emergency with the impact of these measures on fundamental freedoms and human rights. In such a situation OSCE’s independent institutions play a crucial role. They are there to remind us, the participating States, about our commitments and to point out when we lose the aforementioned balance.
Civil society also made valuable contributions to the Copenhagen Document and they continue playing a key role when it comes to the implementation of the commitments.
The Copenhagen Document was truly a landmark achievement and a document that remains highly relevant three decades later. The June 1990 Copenhagen Meeting came at a unique time in history when dramatic changes were taking place. The atmosphere was marked by hope for a new Europe, which again fostered the necessary political will to bring about change and progress.
It is questionable as to whether we could muster the same political will today and find consensus on the Copenhagen document, despite it being as relevant as ever. In some places, democratic and human rights have been backsliding over the last years, which is a reminder that progress does not come about automatically. Progress – or even avoiding further backsliding – demands attentive care from our side. We still have a lot of work to do throughout the OSCE-region in strengthening the implementation of the commitments reached 30 years ago. This is our shared responsibility.
I wish you all an interesting and inspiring day.

HDC 2020