Speech by Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Hon'ble Speaker of Lok Sabha, at the 135th IPU Assembly, on "Human Rights abuses as precursors of conflict: Parliaments as early responders"

Speech by Hon’ble Speaker of LokSabha, Smt. SumitraMahajan at the 135th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly,held at Geneva from 23 to 27 October 2016, on “Human Rights abuses as precursors of conflict: Parliaments as early responders” on 24.10.2016

Mr. President and Distinguished Delegates:        
The idea of human rights is rooted in human dignity, which is at the heart of human identity. Human rights are universal, fundamental, equal and non-discriminatory in nature. The purpose of pursuing and establishing civil, political, economic and social rights is to preserve and promote human dignity, in all its dimensions.

Parliament as the supreme law making institution and Parliamentarians as agents of people’s wellbeing play a vital role in protecting and promoting human rights and also in preventing and responding to human rights abuse.   Parliament can also play a pivotal role in taking appropriate measures to target social and economic inequality, disparity and discrimination.

The Indian Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all our citizens which are indeed sacrosanct. Our Parliament has enacted a number of legislations for promoting and protecting human rights, especially those relating to women, children, differently-abled, elderly persons and the poor. We have Human Rights Commissions both at the Centre and State levels for protection of human rights. We also have several Parliamentary Committees and Commissions like the National Commission for Women, for Minorities, for Other Backward Classes etc. to look after and safeguard the interests of people belonging to such groups.

In India, all democratically elected institutions, from the local bodies to the national Parliament, provide ample opportunities to our people to raise matters of concern.  The diverse interests of different sections of our society get due attention in such bodies, which reduces the scope for conflicts.  Our Parliament is committed to   promoting   gender equity in social, economic and political arenas.

Good governance means openness, transparency, accountability, participation and responsiveness to the needs of the people which is essential for promotion and protection of human rights.  Strengthening the grievances redressal mechanisms and making the democratic institutions truly responsive will go a long way in protecting human rights. We must aim at cultivating a culture of respect for human rights at all levels so that a situation of conflict does not arise. An independent and impartial judiciary, free and independent Media, a robust civil society together can act as a vanguard in protecting human rights.

In this age of globalization the success or failure of one country is having a cascading effect on other countries. All nations should endeavor to promote and protect human rights and prevent their violations. However, human right should not become an excuse for outside interference in internal affairs of the sovereign States. We must also remember that rights and duties co-exist together. Full enjoyment of rights tastes sweeter when one performs expected duties in responsible manner.

                 IPU may assist in finding the best practices and experiences learnt about promotion and protection of human rights and share the same with the Member States.

Friends, we are human beings first and therefore it is our duty to preserve human dignity. In conflict situations, love and peace are the first casualties. Crimes against humanity and other gross violations of human rights destroy the fabric of our society. Today terrorism has emerged as the most dangerous and the biggest violation of human rights; it is a crime against humanity. Terrorism has devastating consequences for the enjoyment of the right to life, liberty and physical integrity of victims. In addition to these individual costs, terrorism can destabilize Governments, undermine civil society and threaten peace, security and development. I call upon the international community to join hands and come up with a coherent policy and an effective strategy against terrorism.

 We must understand and explain that the greed for power is often responsible for conflict situations.  Women and children are the worst affected by conflict.  They live in constant grip of fear and their normal life, physical, mental and emotional health is affected, beyond repair, by conflicts.  Children are our legacy for the future. We must protect human rights zealously as the future of our children and that of society depends on it. We must ensure that our children inherit a world full of dignity, love and peace.

Prolonged drought like  situation in any place may lead to numerous deaths caused by hunger but if there is lingering  lust and  hunger for power resulting in drought of love, peace and compassion then it leads to, apart from the  death of human beings, death of humanity itself and that’s very dangerous for  humanity. We must therefore sow love, compassion and peace to reap progress and development with dignity for all.

Thank you.


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