Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-09-03-Speech-3-156"

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". Where human rights in the world are concerned, the European Union should play a leading role. We are, after all, a community of values and a major economic power, but we are unfortunately leaving something to be desired. The European Union is not lacking in good intentions or policy resolutions. There is, however, a yawning gap between rhetoric and reality. The criticism is mainly aimed at the Member States and concerns incoherence and a lack of decisiveness. The Council recognises the shortcomings and has expressly promised improvements, so far with little noticeable result. Political dialogue with third countries is still optional. As long as economic or strategic interests are paramount to human rights for us, one can continue to enter into dialogue until the cows come home, but obviously little will change. Specific goals must be developed and the governments involved must be called to account. Not only sanctions, but also positive incentives, in particular, can help progress on its way. What are the options for improving the dialogues according to the Council and the Commission? The Council is required to consult Parliament and take its opinions on foreign policy into consideration. Unfortunately, though, this is hardly ever done in practice, something that we in this House, of course, find unacceptable. The European Union's role in the world concerns the European citizens and therefore their representatives. Success or failure outside of the European Union has repercussions for many sectors within the EU. According to my research, there was only one single occasion last year when the Council discussed a human rights resolution from this House. Of all our written questions, not one was answered in time. I welcome the fact that the Council is present in this debate, in the person of Mr Antonione. Let this be the start of a new, constructive and intense relationship. I should like to ask the Commission for a schedule for the long term and a systematic impact assessment of the projects. I should also like to ask the Commission to finalise the internal reforms, intensify staff training and finance in a balanced manner the fight against torture and the rehabilitation of its victims. On our part, we as a parliament may be very active in condemning many human rights violations across the world, but we do not give enough consideration to what comes next. We must organise our work in such a way that we continue to monitor the human rights situations discussed and, if necessary, sound the alarm again. My report also asks for particular attention to be given to freedom of religion and conscience, and to the abuse of religions for political ends. Religions are still being suppressed across the globe. Half of the world's population lives in countries where freedom of religion is restricted. Moreover, it is particularly disturbing that human rights should be violated on a massive scale in the name of religion. Almost half of the violent conflicts in the period under scrutiny have a religious dimension. Over the past decade, religions have been experienced more intensely, but not, unfortunately, only in a peaceful manner. In all major world religions, radicalism is on the rise, something mainly attributable to globalisation. The revolution of global contacts does not immediately lead to more understanding and respect between communities of faith. On the contrary, people feel threatened by what they experience as an encroachment on their own standards and values. Radicalism, too, is the result of dissatisfaction among the masses of young people. Irresponsible leaders exploit these feelings of unrest, sometimes with the help of major financial sources and terrorist networks. Clashes among, and within, religions represent a very serious threat to human rights and world peace, with, moreover, the risk that religious confrontations outside of Europe will have repercussions on our own multi-religious societies. Given the seriousness of the threat, it is of the utmost importance for the European Union to chart the problem and to design a strategy. The President of the Commission, Mr Prodi, has already set the tone for this. What is the opinion of the Commission and the Council? What do they think of the specific recommendations I have made in this respect in my report? Finally, two topics that are also very close to my heart. The objectionable caste system. Worldwide, more than 260 million people suffer discrimination, violence and exploitation on a daily basis, purely by reason of their origin. The European Union should make it policy to promote the abolition of these immoral practices. Children. All over the world, children are being exploited, neglected or exposed to violence. More than 300 000 young people are currently taking active part in armed conflicts. Every three seconds, a child dies of malnutrition. In a fully-fledged EU development policy, the child should occupy centre stage. Finally, modesty does not become the European Union as a community of values and economic power where human rights are concerned. We in Europe should have the nerve to stick our necks out; the victims are eagerly waiting for this."@en1

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