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Social rights are fundamental human rights

Addressing the Interparliamentary Conference on the European Social Charter in Turin, the President of the Italian delegation to PACE, Michele Nicoletti (Italy, SOC) warned that the real danger today were internal fears and divisions and not external threats. "We need a deep and profound unity. Freedom is our real strength, dignity our best achievement. It was the Council of Europe who created a common European home. It therefore bears a historical responsibility to saveguard this unity. It has to be an instrument of peace and justice, and social rights must be at its heart," he said.

"Each and every member state is responsible for the human rights of each and every individual in its territory and it doesn't matter how the individual came to be there. We have to defend the unity and indivisibility of human rights, including social rights as well as sound procedures to protect them," he concluded stressing the importance of the collective complaint procedure.

"Migration is not a new challenge, but public anxiety is now at a high," Gabriella Battaini, Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General stressed. "And while, today, the migration debate might be dominated by questions of quotas and borders, tomorrow it will be about whether or not there are enough jobs to go around; or school places; housing; access to healthcare and social security. Populists and xenophobes are in their element: telling citizens that newcomers will take their jobs and their homes, stirring up resentment and jealousy towards foreigners. It is therefore more important than ever that we, by contrast, pursue the policies and approaches that will help our societies hang together," she concluded.

Silvia Eloisa Bonet (Andorra, SOC), PACE rapporteur on the Turin process stressed that "Social rights are fundamental human rights. Only the enjoyment of socio-economic rights, and social inclusion, allows people to fully enjoy their civil and political rights." Calling for increased parliamentary action, she recalled that parliamentarians play a crucial role in setting political agendas and achieving political commitment to social rights for all, whilst reassuring citizens that this does not represent a threat to their well-being. "We are amongst the main players in building truly inclusive societies," she concluded.