‘There can be no human rights-free zone’

Three questions for Markus Löning, the Commissioner for Human Rights Policy of the Federal Government, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10th

Mr Löning, the protection of human rights is considered a core concern of German foreign policy. What are the principles of German human rights policy?

In international relations Germany is working to create viable conditions to prevent oppression, arbitrariness and exploitation. There can be no ‘human rights-free zone’, whether in foreign policy, security policy or in any other policy area. Human rights are indivisible. Every human being has these rights, regardless of origin, age, sex, religion, skin colour or other differences.

Can you give specific examples of German human rights policy having achieved a noticeable change?

In July 2010 the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised the human right to clean drinking water and sanitation. This goes back to a joint German-Spanish initiative. In this way Germany has made an important contribution to reducing considerable suffering: 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water; 2.5 million people lack toilet facilities. Every year children miss over 400 million school days because of diarrhoeal diseases. Millions of children and young people thus lose the opportunity for education and a path out of poverty.

The United Nations has again elected Germany to a seat on the Human Rights Council for the period from 2013 to 2015. What goals has Germany set itself for its participation?

The Federal Government will give economic and social human rights the same attention as political and civic rights. Only those who live without fear of hunger, thirst and illness can really live in freedom and responsibility. And the government will consistently continue its commitment to the rights of children in armed conflicts. This has also been one of the priorities of the German membership in the UN Security Council.

International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2012



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