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close this bookWe the Peoples... Millennium Forum - Declaration and Agenda for Action (UN, 2000, 25 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOUR VISION
View the documentTHE CHALLENGES
View the documentA. ERADICATION OF POVERTY: INCLUDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND DEBT CANCELLATION
View the documentB. PEACE, SECURITY, AND DISARMAMENT
View the documentC. FACING THE CHALLENGE OF GLOBALIZATION: EQUITY, JUSTICE AND DIVERSITY
View the documentD. HUMAN RIGHTS
View the documentE. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE ENVIRONMENT
View the documentF. STRENGTHENING AND DEMOCRATIZING THE UNITED NATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

D. HUMAN RIGHTS

Entering the new millennium, the fulfillment of human rights is threatened by numerous challenges. The increasing economic gaps and the unprecedented increase in poverty that are the result of the existing world economic order, constitute the greatest and most unjust violations of human rights: the misery and death of millions of innocent people every year. We are witnessing some of the worst violations of human rights, including the use of food as a weapon, in the context of the armed conflicts and civil wars, which have been erupting with increasing frequency. Moreover, civilians are bearing the brunt of the deployment of weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction in such conflicts. We are also witnessing a resurgence of racism, fascism, xenophobia, homophobia, hate-crimes, ethnocide and genocide, which impact most greatly on indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged or under-represented groups; the resurgence of patriarchy that threatens to erode the gains made by women; the persistence of the worst forms of child labor; the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of massive and systematic violations of human rights; the on-going and deepening process of globalization which undermines internationally recognized human rights, labor rights and environmental standards; the continued insulation from human rights accountability of non-state actors, ranging from transnational corporations and international financial institutions to fundamentalist civil society organizations and criminal syndicates; an upsurge of violence, militarism and armed conflict; the increase and growth of authoritarian regimes; and the fact that human rights defenders continue to be highly vulnerable targets of repression in many areas of the globe.

The Forum urges; Ail governments, the United Nations and civil society: To cooperate in appropriate actions to effectively realize the right to development as a matter of utmost urgency so that the basic needs of all peoples, including indigenous peoples, the disadvantaged and the under-represented, are fulfilled. In this context, the immediate cancellation of poor country debt is imperative.

The United Nations human rights treaty regime, composed of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenants and Conventions, is acknowledged to be one of the three core objectives of the United Nations - Human Rights, Development and Peace. In the 21st century we must make advances on all three fronts simultaneously or we will put our world at great risk.

1. INDIVISIBILITY, INTERDEPENDENCE AND INTER-RELATEDNESS OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The indivisibility, interdependence and inter-relatedness of all human rights have been repeatedly reaffirmed at the level of rhetoric. However, in practice civil and political rights have been given a higher priority than economic, social and cultural rights, often to the detriment of both sets of rights.

The Forum calls on;

The United Nations

· To review its own human rights institutions and practices to achieve balance in the allocation of resources to both sets of rights, and to conclude expeditiously the negotiations on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

· To expeditiously adopt binding international instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples, minorities, older persons and the disabled.

Governments

· NOT to justify neglect of one set of rights over the other; but to ensure that all individual and collective human rights are safeguarded in the pursuit of sustainable development, investment and trade.

Civil society and especially human rights organizations

· To fully appreciate the indivisibility of human rights.

The Forum calls upon The United Nations Agencies: To ensure that governments fulfill their treaty obligations, including their reporting and implementing obligations, providing if necessary, the technical cooperation needed to do so.

2. THE HUMAN RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT

Members states, by consensus, at several United Nations global conferences have reaffirmed the right to development as an inalienable human right and an integral part of fundamental human freedoms. Moreover, development is essential for the realization of the capacities of boys and girls. However, obstacles continue to impede the effective realization of the right to development.

The Forum urges;

All governments, the United Nations and civil society

· To cooperate in appropriate actions to effectively realize the right to development as a matter of utmost urgency so that the basic needs of all peoples, including indigenous peoples, the disadvantaged and the under-represented, are fulfilled. In this context, the immediate cancellation of poor country debt is imperative.

3. UNIVERSAL RATIFICATION, WITHOUT RESERVATIONS

Universal ratification of international human rights treaties, which are the result of already completed international negotiations, is essential if they are truly to provide a common human rights standard for humanity.

Regional and national human rights instruments have a vital contribution to make to strengthening and complementing international human rights standards.

The Forum urges;

The United Nations

· To strengthen its technical cooperation enabling governments to ratify human rights treaties and fulfil their obligations thereunder.

· To ensure that no new international or regional treaties be adopted which contravene existing human rights instruments.

The forum affirms the universality and indivisibility of women’s rights as human rights and calls for an end to all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. The forum recognizes the human rights of all women and girls as an unalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights that must be promoted and realized at ail stages of the life cycle.

Governments

· To fulfil their commitments already made in this regard at the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights and to set specific time frames for reviewing reservations and initiating national processes for considering ratification.

Civil society

· To continue to press governments to ratify and remove reservations and to raise public awareness of the importance of doing so.

4. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION

The Forum is concerned about the hypocrisy of states that fail to incorporate into their national laws the international human rights treaties they have ratified. Moreover, even where national laws exist, implementation leaves much to be desired.

The Forum calls upon;

The United Nations Agencies

· To ensure that governments fulfill their treaty obligations, including their reporting and implementing obligations, providing if necessary, the technical cooperation needed to do so.

Governments

· To effectively incorporate and implement the human rights treaties that they have ratified.

· To eliminate prostitution of boys and girls, and the worst forms of child labor.

Civil society

· To draw attention to failures in implementation, and identify obstacles and ways of overcoming them. Moreover, they are entitled to full protection in doing so.

4. INTERNATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS

The Forum expressed concern about continuing selectivity and double standards in the international enforcement of human rights. The Forum stressed the need for the more effective adherence to international human rights standards, especially by the governments of the permanent members of the Security Council and all other members, as well. At the same time, it is essential for international organizations of trade, finance and investment, as well as transnational corporations to be held fully accountable for their policies and actions that impact on human rights and workers’ rights.

Human rights will not be truly universal unless they are realized for all, including neglected or excluded groups and groups at risk... Economic exploitation, cultural practices and other factors continue to impede the realization of human rights for many and diverse groups.

The Forum insists that;

The United Nations

· Resume its leadership role in spearheading negotiations towards a binding international code of conduct for transnational corporations.

· Ensure that all international organizations are fully compliant with international human rights standards and core labor rights.

· Draft and adopt an international convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities.

· Stop imposing economic sanctions, which deprive people of their basic economic, social, and environmental rights and which make their struggle for survival, as well as for civil and political rights, more difficult.

Governments

· Adopt and implement national policies and laws to effectively protect their peoples from violations of their human rights resulting from the actions of such organizations.

· Support and not repress civil society organizations, particularly human rights defenders and others monitoring violations and working towards redress.

Civil society organizations

· Sensitize governments to their obligation to protect human rights defenders.

4. Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Women and Girls

The goal of ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls also remains unmet. The forum affirms the universality and indivisibility of women’s rights as human rights and calls for an end to all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. The forum recognizes the human rights of all women and girls as an unalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights that must be promoted and realized at all stages of the life cycle.

The forum calls on the United Nations, governments and civil society to recognize and assure equal opportunity and full participation of women in all aspects of society, including leadership, the economy and decision making.

The Forum calls upon;

The United Nations

· To ensure that gender mainstreaming effectively brings women into leadership positions throughout the system and a gender perspective into all its programmes and policies; to provide gender training; and to strengthen its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls.

The Forum urges the United Nations: To forge stronger partnerships and broader cooperation with major groups, including local governments and those sectors that are actively involved in bringing about sustainable development, especially at the local levels. It should also co-ordinate and harmonize the policies and programmes of the various UN agencies and bodies to ensure that duplication is avoided and synergy is achieved.

Governments

· To allocate more resources and create an enabling environment for implementation of their commitments to women’s and girl’s human rights, including promotion of women into decision-making positions, repeal of all discriminatory laws, introduction of effective legislation to prevent violence against women and girls, protection for the full diversity of women, enforcement of legislation promoting women’s and girls’ equality, gathering of sex disaggregated data, and guarantee of women’s and girls’ rights to development, education and health.

Civil society

· To fully incorporate women into leadership at every level and gender perspectives into all its operations; to hold governments accountable for their obligations to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls; and to act as monitors of the implementation of commitments to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.

4. Promoting awareness of and support for asserting human rights

Forum participants reiterated the importance of human rights education in building a culture of human rights and empowering people to claim their rights.

The Forum advocates that;

The United Nations

· Take effective steps to make meaningful its Decade on Human Rights Education (1995-2004). The historic and economic roots of racism must be brought to the attention of the United Nations World Conference on Racism in order to advance the struggle against racism.

· Focus more attention on the protection of human rights of older persons and adopt effective measures for full respect and implementation of their rights.

· Heighten awareness of the human rights of peoples in disputed territories and conflict areas where freedom of speech and movement is severely restricted.

· Agencies should refrain from exploiting the images of victims in conflict areas because this dehumanizes them.

Governments

· Ensure the removal of all obstacles impeding civil society in such activities and advocate human rights education for all.

Civil society

· Continue and strengthen its activities in promoting human rights awareness across all sectors of society.

The Forum urges Governments: To adopt comprehensive, integrated development policies and strive to enable total communities to achieve self-sufficiency and management of local natural resources, achieving sustainability through land use control and through measures that reduce resource-intensive forced consumption.

4. Universal realization of human rights

Human rights will not be truly universal unless they are realized for all, including neglected or excluded groups and groups at risk, notably children, youth, older persons, women, minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, immigrants, the disabled, the mentally ill, the unemployed, the homeless and those subject to discrimination on grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, language, age, nationality, sexual orientation or other grounds. Economic exploitation, cultural practices and other factors continue to impede the realization of human rights for many and diverse groups.

The unequal economic development between countries promotes forced migration to developed countries. The human rights of these economic migrants, especially those labeled as alien or undocumented, are systematically violated without consideration of their significant contribution to the host country economy.

The goal of ending all forms of colonization in the world remains as yet unachieved and the right to self-determination is far from universally realized, especially for peoples living under occupation.

Further, in the context of the right not to be complicit in killings, we call for full legal recognition of the rights of conscientious objectors.

The Forum urges;

The United Nations

· To strengthen the existing international human rights system to ensure full recognition, respect for and realization of human rights for all; and implement all those UN resolutions calling for self-determination and an end to military occupation.

· To protect the rights of people under military occupation.

· To strengthen the monitoring of human rights violations of migrant workers and their families.

· To establish a fair and effective International Criminal Court (ICC).

Governments

· To take all steps, including affirmative action where necessary, to remedy the continuing neglect of people whose human rights are yet unrealized; and move urgently to sign and ratify the ICC treaty.

· To provide effective redress and remedies for the victims of human rights violations, ensuring that the burden of proof does not fall on the victim.

Civil society

· To fortify its advocacy role in pressing for recognition and realization of human rights for all and to encourage all states to sign and ratify promptly the ICC treaty.

The Forum urges Civil Society: To continue challenging the governments and international institutions to adhere to the agenda for sustainable and social development, it should also monitor the way governments are implementing Agenda 21 and the Copenhagen Declaration.