Strasbourg (France): UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon warned wealthy European countries today to avoid
using economic woes as an excuse for discrimination and
"In many developed countries, there is growing anxiety
over migration and economic hard times -- anxieties that are
used, increasingly, to justify policies of discrimination and
exclusion," Ban said in a speech to the Council of Europe.
"Human rights are not a menu, from which we can pick and
choose. When it comes to human rights, there should be no
Ban`s speech, ahead of next month`s celebrations for the
60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights,
came before a European meeting tomorrow to discuss integration
of the Roma, Europe`s largest minority.
"Let this be the moment when governments reaffirm their
commitment to the highest human rights standards for all," he
The plight of the Roma was brought into the spotlight in
the summer following a French government crackdown on illegal
camps and high-profile deportations of more than 1,000 Roma
back to Romania and Bulgaria.
Ban also criticised European nations for their failure to
ratify the UN`s Convention on Migrant Workers.
"Twenty years after it was adopted, none of Europe`s
largest and most wealthy powers have signed or ratified it,"
"In some of the world`s most advanced democracies among
nations, that take just pride in their long history of social
progressiveness, migrants are being denied basic human
rights," Ban said.
Ban said European countries needed to set international
standards on human rights and ensure war criminals were
brought to justice.
"Without strong judicial action, we can never end serious
human rights abuses in the east of the Democratic Republic of
Congo, including the use of rape as a weapon of war," he said.
"If national courts cannot deal with such crimes, the
international community, and possibly the ICC (International
Criminal Court, must step in."