2004 News Story

Kingdom speaks on reform at 60th session of Human Rights Commission in Geneva

Addressing the 60th session of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva yesterday, Prince Dr. Torki bin Muhammad bin Saud Al-Kabeer, Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs and Head of the International Organizations Department, reiterated the Kingdom’s stance that its desire to continue reforms arises from the necessities of its society and not in compliance with theories enforced from abroad. "Reforms”, he said, “are not ready-made prescriptions that people can take.” Benefit, however, can be taken from the experience of others as long as these experiences do not contravene the people’s values and do not threaten their national interest. He pointed out that since the 1960s Saudi Arabia’s reform process has been based on developing human resources, including women. Today, of the 4.3 million students in general education, 49 percent are girls; at the secondary and university level, there are more female than male students; and one third of government jobs are held by women, a ratio similar to that in advanced countries.


As for human rights, Prince Dr. Trki commented: “There are still some who try to feed extremism, racism, discrimination and ignore others' positive contributions to secure human rights. They continue to publish misinformation about others and attack their histories, cultures and create wrong images.” He stressed that the Kingdom takes an interest in human rights internationally as well as at home, and voluntarily contributes to the Commission and to other related bodies. Saudi Arabia, he said, has been offering in foreign aid 4 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP), when the UN calls only for 0.7 percent.
Reform and development of human rights, he stressed, can only be brought in an environment of stability, security and peace. The Middle East, however, at present lacks all these elements. Therefore, the priority should be to achieve them by resolving the outstanding issues in the region, which has been suffering from continued Israeli occupation and violation of Palestinian and Syrian human rights, a matter that is currently on the Commission’ s agenda.