Inter-Governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court

Message by Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament - Sana'a, 10 – 12 January 2004

Democracy and human rights are not the prerogative of any one culture - they are compatible with all faiths and all cultures.
Video Message by Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament

On behalf of the European Parliament first let me say how much I welcome, the initiative by the Republic of Yemen to host, in cooperation and in partnership with the Irish Presidency of the European Union, this Regional Inter-Governmental Conference.

I welcome also that my colleague Mrs Emma Bonino, founder of "No Peace without Justice" is a co-organiser and Speaker at this important Conference.

In tackling questions of Democracy, Human Rights and the role of the International Criminal Court, you are addressing issues of the utmost importance to all of us.

Democracy and human rights are not the prerogative of any one culture - they are compatible with all faiths and all cultures.
I appreciate in particular the pragmatic focus of the Conference, and I hope that your three days of intensive discussion will indeed lead to a landmark Declaration, which can both guide and stimulate you, the governments of the region, to take practical steps to deliver and strengthen governance: - based on the rule of law, transparency and accountability.

These very values are central to the European project, but they are your values too, because they represent the best guarantee for peace, stability and the prosperity of citizens.
Strong institutions of democratic governance do not need 'strong men', they need strong political will.

They need independent judiciaries to guarantee the rule of law.

They need parliamentarianism, freedom of expression and freedom of media to foster accountability and the responsibility of governments to the governed.

They need the development of, as the draft Declaration correctly states, a "vibrant and responsible civil society."
The principles that are set out in the Declaration are worthy of your support.

Subscribing to them is your challenge and, a duty of responsible governments.

I know the path set out will not be an easy one to implement in practice, and therefore the European Union will help and assist with the solidarity you will need.
On behalf of the European Parliament too I endorse wholeheartedly the profile you have given to the International Criminal Court.
The European Parliament has unreservedly and continuously supported the Rome Statute and welcomed the establishment of the ICC in the Hague just over one year ago.

When I visited the ICC in November last, I was deeply impressed by the commitment of the Judges and the Chief Prosector Mr Moreno-Ocampo to implement with conscience and dedication the Statute.

If the ICC is given the wherewithal to carry out its work, there will no longer be any safe refuge for tyranny, no hiding-place for individuals who are suspected of the most serious crimes under international law.
In all of the good work you are doing over these few days, I think special congratulations are due to the United Nations Development Programme and to the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

In their Human Development reports, Arab experts - not foreign experts, - have made the compelling case that the human capabilities of your region, the under-used and potential of women, economic growth, education, the standard of living of your peoples, can be released and liberated by reforming the essence of goverance in the region.

It is my hope that your meeting can become a milestone on your path to reforming the institutions of governance.

I believe that the welfare of your people depends on it.

The dignity and freedom of the Arab people deserve it.