Codification of the Human Right to Peace
Posted on: Monday, February 1, 2010
MADRE and partner organizations signed on to this statement for the Human Rights Council, Session 13. See a full list of organizations that signed the statement »
The Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (SSIHRL) welcomed on 30 October 2006 the adoption of the Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, which was drafted by a Committee of independent experts. It was the culmination of a process of extensive consultations within the Spanish civil society, with the support of the Catalonian Agency for Cooperation to Development.
Following the adoption of the Luarca Declaration, the SSIHRL has developed its four-year World Campaign on the Human Right to Peace in all regions of the world organizing consultations with international civil society on the contents and scope of the human right to peace2. It will be finalized on 9-10 December 2010 when international civil society will meet at the International Congress on the Human Rights to Peace to be held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain3, to discuss inputs received from regional consultations, with a view to adopt a final text of the Universal Declaration of the Human Right to Peace. It will then be submitted to the HR Council, urging its Member States to initiate the official codification of the human right to peace.
On 15 March 2007 the Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace was firstly presented to the fourth session of the HR Council in an oral statement delivered by UNESCO Etxea on behalf of SSIHRL. Since then many parallel meetings have taken place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva during the subsequent sessions of the HR Council4. Written and oral NGO joint statements on this issue were delivered to the Plenary of the Council.
The Charter of the United Nations (1945) recognised in its Preamble that to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, is necessary inter alia “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”. In addition, Article 55 c) stressed that to achieve peace and stability in the world the Organisation shall promote the universal respect for and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions as to race, sex, language or religion.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights5 also recognized that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (paragraph 1 of its Preamble). Moreover, its article 28 states that everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms can be fully realized.
The 2005 World Summit Outcome document decided that the Human Rights Council be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all6. It also stressed its commitment to work towards a security consensus based on the recognition that many threats are interlinked, that development, peace, security and human rights are mutually reinforcing7.
In addition, resolution 60/163 of the General Assembly entitled “Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all” stressed that peace is a vital requirement for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all”8.
When establishing the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly acknowledged that peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of the United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well-being, and recognized that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing9. It follows that the mandate of the HR Council shall include inter alia the promotion and protection of all human rights for all, including the right to development and peace, as a means to strengthen the three United Nations pillars.
Consequently, the HR Council adopted in 2008 and 2009 resolutions entitled “Promotion of the right of peoples to peace”, inspired by previous resolutions on this issue approved by the General Assembly and the former Commission on Human Rights, particularly GA resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984, entitled “Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace”, and the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000).
Both HR Council’s resolutions reiterated traditional positions according to which “peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace”10, and that preservation and protection of this right constitutes a fundamental obligation of each State (paragraph 2). Therefore, States should direct their policies towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use or threat of use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the UN Charter (paragraph 5).
In addition, the 2009 HR Council resolution -with the vote in favor of Latin American, African and Asian countries-11 recognized the individual approach of the right to peace by affirming that “human rights include social, economic and cultural rights and the right to peace, a healthy environment and development, and that development is, in fact, the realization of these rights” (preambular paragraph 15); that, pursuant to article 28 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms can be fully realized (preambular paragraph 17); and that a life without war is the primary international prerequisite for the material well-being, development and progress of countries and for the full implementation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed by the United Nations” (preambular paragraph 19).
Consequently, the HR Council reiterated that “peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of the United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well being” (operative paragraph 5).
Moreover, the HR Council requested the OHCHR to convene an expert workshop on the right of peoples to peace, which was held on 15-16 December 2009 in Geneva. Experts from countries of all regional groups, representatives of States, international organizations and NGO were invited to participate actively into the workshop.
The mandate of the expert workshop on the right of peoples to peace was threefold:
a) To further clarify the content and scope of this right;
b) To propose measures that raise awareness of the importance of realizing this right; and
c) To suggest concrete actions to mobilize States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in the promotion of the right of peoples to peace (operative paragraph 11 of the resolution 11/4).
The SSIHRL actively collaborated with the OHCHR and the sponsors of the resolution in the organization of the workshop, and encouraged the active participation of other NGOs. It also submitted six working papers to the workshop.
The expert workshop on the right of peoples to peace concluded that on the basis of studies and latest developments of doctrine and civil society, it could be identified the contents and scope of the human right to peace as an emerging right. Consequently, the expert workshop recommended that the HR Council establish an open-ended working group (representatives of States), with the task of initiating the official codification of the human right to peace. Civil society representatives shall be invited to participate actively in the working group. A report by the High Commissioner on the outcome of the expert workshop shall be submitted to the HR Council at its fourteenth session (June 2010).
We support the relevance of the human right to peace as stated in the Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace of 30 October 2006, since it emphasizes that both collective (peoples) and individual dimensions of peace are equally important. This assumption leads to the emerging human right to peace whose holders are both peoples and individuals.
The Advisory Committee’s recommendation 3/5, adopted on 7 August 2009 and entitled “Promotion of the Right of Peoples to Peace”, proposed to the HR Council that Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez be designated "to prepare an initial working paper on the need to initiate a study with the purpose, inter alia, to: a) further clarify the content and scope of this right; b) propose measures to raise awareness of the importance of realising this right; and c) suggest concrete actions to mobilise States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in the promotion of the right of peoples to peace”.
The working paper will be submitted to the consideration of the Advisory Committee at its fifth session (August 2010). Furthermore, the expert shall take duly into account "the conclusions and recommendations that may be reached in the Workshop on this issue referred to in operative paragraph 11 of Council resolution 11/4".
1. We invite the HR Council to consider the conclusions and recommendations of the expert workshop on the right of peoples to peace, particularly those related to the establishment within the HR Council of an Open-Ended Working Group on the codification of the human right to peace.
2. The Working Group should endeavour to:
a) Consider the human right to peace as a means to foster the right to self determination of peoples and all human rights, including the right to development.3. We also invite the HR Council to authorize the Advisory Committee’s expert's study. In particular, the expert should be asked to identify the elements which will contribute to the elaboration of a draft Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, and further to formulate guidelines, criteria, standards and principles aimed at promoting and protecting this right.
b) Recognize the relationship between human right to peace and the right to life, integrity, liberty and security of the person; the need to protect victims of uncontrolled weapons of mass destruction in armed conflict; and the exercise of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to enhance the social justice, equity, gender equality and the elimination of extreme poverty since it will make possible the solidarity, peace and friendly relations among all nations, races, ethnicities or religions.
c) Stress solidarity rights and peace education, and the construction of democratic, interactive and egalitarian multiculturalism, as well as the promotion of dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions, constitute as a means to achieve the human right to peace and to discourage the arms race.
d) Affirm the realization of the human right to peace as contained in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, the 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration, the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, the Declaration on the development of societies to live in peace, the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, the Charter of the Organization of American States, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Asian Human Rights Charter, the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights, the Arab Human Rights Charter and the Charter of the Organization of Islamic Conference.
e) Take into account the Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, adopted by the Spanish civil society in 2006, and the results of the Global Campaign for the Human Right to Peace, which the SSIHRL is carrying out with the support of UNESCO Etxea since 2007 in all regions of the world and in the international organizations. In particular, the reports of the meetings of experts organized by the SSIHRL in the five regions of the world and the regional declarations on the human right to peace adopted by experts of civil society in La Plata, Yaoundé, Bangkok, Johannesburg, Sarajevo, Alexandria and Havana. Furthermore, it should take into account joint written and oral statements on the content and scope of the human right to peace that have been submitted by the SSIHRL with the support of more than 200 NGO from around the world to the successive sessions of the HR Council (see www.aedidh.org).; and
f) Further recognize the need to enhance gender mainstreaming in the field of peace-building as requested by the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women of 1995 and to promote women’s participation at all levels of decision-making on peace, disarmament and security issues, as provided for in Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).