In Riga, PACE President calls for the ‘anchoring’ of human rights in parliamentary work

Speaking in Riga at the opening of the 5th parliamentary conference on implementing the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights: key role of national parliaments, PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier highlighted that “the only way to succeed in responding to today’s main challenges is to anchor human rights more firmly in our work”.

To reach this goal in practice, President Maury Pasquier pointed out three main avenues for parliamentarians to follow. “First of all, as parliamentarians, we must play an active role in guaranteeing full respect for the European Convention on Human Rights and in preserving what we call our Common European Home. In this context, first and foremost, we have the political responsibility to guarantee that the laws we adopt comply with the standards of the Convention and ensure careful and swift execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Secondly, she mentioned the role of parliamentarians when it comes to negotiating, ratifying and implementing other human rights treaties, giving the example of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and paying tribute to the role played by many PACE members in promoting this important instrument. However, she also reminded participants that the role of parliamentarians does not stop at the ratification process. “The example of the Istanbul Convention is meaningful because it is the first and only international instrument establishing parliamentary involvement in the monitoring procedure, as explicitly foreseen in Article 70 of the Convention. Therefore, our work continues well beyond the ratification process, to make sure that all Conventions are properly implemented on the ground,” she added.

Thirdly, President Maury Pasquier reminded members of their responsibility to promote a wider human rights culture within our societies – which goes hand in hand with working to make the Council of Europe better known among fellow citizens. “Parliamentarians must be models of integrity for others to follow. We must actively promote, every day, with our actions and words, human rights. We must publicly oppose any manifestation of behaviour threatening human rights, including racism, xenophobia, hate speech or sexism, in order to preserve and further reinforce our common European space,” she concluded.

While in Riga, President Liliane Maury Pasquier also met with Latvian high officials, including the President of the Republic, the Foreign Affairs Minister, the two Deputy Speakers of the Saeima and the Chairperson of the Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. During these meetings, she praised Latvia – a member State of the Council of Europe since 1995 – as a strong partner and staunch defender of the core values of the Organisation across the continent.

These meetings were also an opportunity to discuss major political issues on the Parliamentary Assembly’s agenda. In this context, the President underlined the significant role played by the Parliamentary Assembly as a forum for dialogue and co-operation, as well as its role in firmly protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in all member States of the Council of Europe.

The parties also discussed the issue of setting up a joint procedure in cases where a member State violates its statutory obligations or does not respect the Organisation’s fundamental principles and values. President Maury Pasquier underlined the importance for all delegations – including the Latvian delegation – to make their voices heard and to actively participate in the discussions on the next steps towards the establishment of this new procedure.

The 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, the future of the Organisation and the prospects for ratification by Latvia of the Istanbul Convention were also raised during the bilateral meetings.