North-South Centre - European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity



MINISTERIO DOS NEGOCIOS ESTRANGEIROS Secretaria de Estado dos Assuntos Europeus

Intervenção de
S.Exa. a Secretaria de Estado dos Assuntos Europeus
na cerimónia de encerramento do Forum Lisboa 2008

    Fundação Gulbenkian -11 de Novembro 2008

Mr. High Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the Alliance for Civilizations,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Distinguished Members of the North South Center,
Distinguished Members of the Venice Commission,
Distinguished members of Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me say how pleased I am to be here at the Lisbon Forum, representing His Excellency the Prime-Minister Jose Socrates.

I would like to commend the promoters of this session for the remarkable quality of the program and the high level of all participants. The Lisbon Forum has always been an excellent opportunity for sharing good practices and points of view between Europe and other continents. In this regard, I welcome the objective of turning this Forum into a process.

Ladies and gentleman,

I think we all agree that, as we are about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December), the debate which took place these last two days was a very interesting one and provided us with the opportunity to take stock of the progress
achieved and of the challenges that still lay ahead in making "all human rights for all' a reality.

The increasing multicultural nature of our world and the different regional, political or cultural settings are among those challenges.

The Forum, and particularly the theme chosen for the 2008 edition (" The principle of universality of human rights and its implementation at international and regional level'), reminds us the importance of reiterating the universal value of the Declaration at every opportunity. The world may have changed drastically since 1948, but the Universal Declaration still remains the common standard that we should all strive to achieve and implement.

Ladies and gentleman,

As it was stated at the World Conference for Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, "while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms".

This is why Portugal, as a member of the Council of Europe and the European Union, attaches great importance to the progresses that have been made in the field of co-operation and political dialogue between those two Organizations in areas of common interest, particularly on the field of Human Rights.

Therefore, we consider that the Council of Europe, in its capacity as a pan-European organisation whose action goes well beyond EU borders, must continue to playa decisive role in supporting the values that are shared by both organisations, including in the fields of Good Governance, Democracy and Rule of Law.

Ladies and gentleman,

Let me turn now to another issue of great importance to Portugal: the Council of Europe's work in the field of intercultural dialogue. This is in the interest of increased cohesion and of greater mutual understanding, dialogue and co-operation both within European societies and between Europe and the rest of the world.

The specific instruments that have been set up for this purpose are of great significance to Portugal, namely the adoption of the Council of
Europe's "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue" and the multiInstitutional platform between the Council of Europe and several international organisations and UN agencies, like UNESCO..

In this particular field, I would also like to underline that Portugal attaches great importance to the work pursued by the North-South Centre in improving education and information on global interdependence and solidarity, and in developing working relations with all international organisations concerned with global interdependence and intercultural dialogue.

As a member of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations, allow me also to take this opportunity to express my Government's deepest appreciation for the leadership of the UN High Representative for the Alliance for Civilizations in moving forward the Implementation Plan adopted in Madrid and its four pillars - Youth, Media, Education and Migration.

I wouldn't like to bring my intervention to an end before making two very brief remarks

Firstly, to share with you that Portugal is very pleased with the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Alliance of Civilizations and the Council of Europe and we are confident that this instrument will largely contribute to promote the Intercultural Dialogue between Europe and its partners, in particular our neighbouring friends.

Finnaly, I would like to conclude by saying that, only by embracing diversity as a mean of progress and building upon the Universal Rights and Principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can we work together towards the construction of an effective and global culture of peace.

Thank you