Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Human rights in the world 2009 and EU policy on the matter

Delivered in Plenary - 15th December 2010

Madam President,

I congratulate the rapporteur, Laima Andrikienė, for her balanced and sensible approach to this report.

My group, the ECR, is fully committed to promoting fundamental human rights throughout the world. However, we also recognise that human rights often need to be balanced with realpolitik. Why else would the EU be developing a strategic partnership with China, whose government shows scant regard for freedoms we consider to be essential? Equally, the EU has a moral duty to provide development and humanitarian aid to developing countries, even those with a lamentable human rights record, such as Pakistan where women and religious minorities in particular suffer from institutionalised discrimination.

I am nevertheless pleased that this report highlights countries that have been of particular concern to me during my career Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Zimbabwe and North Korea. The issue of impunity in Russia for human rights offenders is rightly also raised. The central theme running through this report is that democracy, human rights and economic freedom go hand in hand.

However, I do have doubts when this Parliament invokes international law in condemning certain distasteful practices, when the legal basis for this is far from clear. I notice, for instance that, in a Parliament resolution to be debated tomorrow, caning in Malaysia has been declared as clearly against international law, when such a statement is legally questionable. We must stick to the facts to remain credible as an institution.