22.03.2005 General News

Reward democratic states with "democratic dividend"

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Accra, March 22, GNA - States that are firmly rooted on the road to democracy, good governance and respect for human rights need to be rewarded with "democratic dividend", the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr J. Ayikoi Otoo has suggested.

"Such tangible fruits for their efforts will spur others on the road to democracy and respect for the rule of law," he said in an address to the 61st Commission on Human Rights High -Level Segment in Geneva last week.

"We must therefore put money into programmes and activities at the country level that consolidate the democratic and human rights gains in developing countries," he added in the speech released to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday.

Mr Ayikoi Otoo said it was not enough to complain about corruption and resource leakage from poor developing countries. "We need to work collectively to refuse to create safe havens for wealth stolen from poor developing countries, which are often stashed away in banks in the developed world."

Mr Ayikoi Otoo said active steps taken to return such stolen wealth to the people to whom they belonged would be a significant step that would immensely contribute to the realisation of the right to development in the developing countries.

The Minister said it was regrettable that the Commission on Human Rights and the High Commissioner had not been able to operationalise the Right to Development, which was meant to lift people out of poverty.

He said it was the expectation of Ghana that the duty of international cooperation as contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, would be fostered through constructive negotiations to speed up the process of poverty reduction. Mr Ayikoi Otoo called for an integrated strategy to fight the despicable scourge of racism, saying it was an insult to human intelligence and dignity.

The Minister noted that in spite of the achievements made through norm and standard setting by International Human Rights Law, "the full contours of human Rights Law have not yet been fully defined", hence the need for continued work in creating complementary standards to address lacunae in the existing laws.

Mr Ayikoi Otoo said Ghana had drawn appropriate lessons from its recent history and was working hard to strengthen its fledging democracy.

It has held several successful multi-party polls, offered to be reviewed by the African Peer Review Mechanism and established the National Reconciliation Commission to send strong signals to perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Mr Ayikoi Otoo said holding states accountable for human rights obligations, which they had voluntarily assumed, was good for everyone. "The protection of human rights is a shared responsibility for the international community, with practical consequences for how we live together on one global world where the rule of law prevails.

"We have a collective responsibility to build a universal culture of scrupulous respect for human rights and eliminate or minimise the culture of impunity."

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