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Promoting Democracy and Human Rights

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Europe) 4:34 pm, 13th October 2008

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. The fact is that democracy and human rights are an issue that is never over. As well as the countries that are often pointed out as the worst examples regarding a lack of democratic institutions and the infringement of human rights, there are many that are perhaps in between—in a state of transition—and where, when progress is made, things happen that put it back. I am afraid that human rights and democracy are not an issue on which we can tick the box and say, "Job done". This is a continuing engagement that will task the minds of all of us here today, and of generations to come.

Mention was made of other organisations. The Council of Europe, in the UN vein, produces human rights norms for the whole of Europe. As I said earlier, more than any other actor it has succeeded in eradicating the death penalty in Europe. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe is another important part of Europe's human rights architecture, particularly in its election monitoring. The European Court of Human Rights, by giving individuals the power to petition the Court directly, holds Governments directly to account, but it is increasingly becoming the victim of its own success. As its case load has grown, so have the delays in making judgments. That problem must be addressed.

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