Promoting a culture of demand for human rights in Albania is key

Tuesday, 12 December, 2017

Tuesday 12, December 2017- To commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, People’s Advocate holds its annual conference on human rights in partnership with UN agencies. This office, is the first independent national human rights institution in Albania with the competence to play a public oversight role over any violation of human rights by the public administration.

The focus of the conference was the human rights of children, women and people on the move, in the context of the SDGs and EU accession agendas. The various speakers at the Conference pointed out the need for political support to the People’s Advocate; availability of sufficient budgets and resources to carry out its role; increased visibility and outreach to the most excluded and vulnerable groups; stronger data management systems; solid capacities to handle cases and provide remedies for violations of children’s and women’s rights.

Ms. Erinda Ballanca, People’s Advocate in her opening remarks highlighted: “It often happens that in the name of the law, human rights are violated. Pursuant to provisions on paper, many times hopes are crushed, family economies destroyed, aspirations lynched, and dreams crumbled. This is because there may be a hundred ways to interpret the law, whether in letter or in spirit, pursuant to documents, strategies, and so on. Lost in the paragraphs, in a pedantic race that sometimes masks the corruption, one may forget a fundamental issue: The only way to interpret legislation is by using the goal as the paramount consideration, namely the interest of the citizens. And here the People’s Advocate comes into play, for the interests of a person, in as much as it is legitimate, must be protected and guaranteed, however costly for the majority or however unpopular this may be.”

Mr. Brian Williams, the UN Resident Coordinator noted: “The People’s Advocate is an independent human rights institution whose work is critical for human rights promotion in Albania, and consequently for the nation’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  On issues ranging from advocating for the human rights of children and women, to inclusion of Roma and Egyptian communities, to promoting respect for disabled people or those identifying as LGBTI, and to ensuring environmental protection, the People’s Advocate needs to be able to engage with Parliament and give advice to the Government.  The full UN family has a coordinated approach to support the People’s Advocate.”

The conference was greeted by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms. Vasilika Hysi, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Senida Mesi, and the Ambassadors of the US Mr. Donald Lu, the Head of the EU delegation to Albania Romana Vlahutin and featured other speakers from the Parliament of Albania, Government, UN Agencies in Albania, civil society, and academia.