UVA Law Logo Mobile

UN Human Rights Treaties

Travaux Préparatoires


Summary record of the 27th meeting, 1st part, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Friday, 20 August 1993 : Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, 45th session.

Extracted Text

Economic and Social
Council Distr.
1 July 1994
Original: FRENCH
Forty-fifth session
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Friday, 20 August 1993, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. AL-KHASAWNEH
later: Mr. YIMER
Consideration of draft resolutions and decisions (continued)
* The summary record of the first part of the meeting appears as
document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/SR.27/Add.1.
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They
should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the
record. They should be sent within one week of the date of this document to
the Official Records Editing Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Any corrections to the records of the public meetings of the
Sub-Commission at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum,
to be issued shortly after the end of the session.
GE.93-14996 (E)
page 2
CONTENTS (continued)
Review of further developments in fields with which the Sub-Commission has
been concerned (continued)
Implications of humanitarian activities for the enjoyment of human rights
Discrimination against indigenous peoples (continued)
page 3
Draft resolutions relating to agenda item 6 (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.17, L,19,
L.23, L.27, L.28, L.30 and L.31)
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.17 (Situation in the Palestinian and
other Arab territories occupied by Israel)
1. The CHAIRMAN read out a draft amendment from Mr. Sachar proposing the
addition of the following text after the last preambular paragraph: "Taking
into account the ongoing process of negotiation between the parties concerned
since the Madrid International Peace Conference and encouraging this process
to speedily reach a lasting settlement on the basis of Security Council
resolutions 242 and 338 and all other relevant United Nations resolutions,".
2. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mrs. Attah and Mrs. Daes acted as
3. A vote was taken by secret ballot.
4. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.17, as amended, was adopted
by 17 votes to 2, with 5 abstentions.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.19 (Situation of human rights in Iraq)
5. Mr. BOSSUYT said that he was to have introduced the draft resolution,
but, as the text had not yet been finalized, consideration of it should be
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.23 (Situation in Myanmar)
6. Consideration of the draft resolution was deferred.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.27 (The situation of human rights in
Sri Lanka)
7. Mr. EIDE, introducing the draft resolution, said that for 10 years the
Sub-Commission had been concerned with the situation in Sri Lanka, formerly a
very peaceful and democratic country, but now prey to violence. He was fully
aware that the situation had become very complicated since the emergence of an
armed opposition group and acknowledged the willingness of the Sri Lanka
Government to cooperate with the Commission on Human Rights. Despite the fact
that paragraph 4 of the draft resolution rightly condemned the use by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of summary executions and other indefensible
practices, the negotiations seemed to him to be so important, in the light the
talks which he had had with the representatives of Sri Lanka who had convinced
him of the Government's goodwill and firm determination to respect human
rights, that he recommended to the Sub-Commission that the draft resolution
should be withdrawn. He requested that the representative of Sri Lanka should
be allowed to make a statement.
page 4
8. Mr. MARAPANA (Sri Lanka) recalled that, at the forty-ninth session of the
Commission on Human Rights in March 1993, the delegation of Sri Lanka had
described the main lines of the programme which the Government had drawn up
for the current year. He was glad that Mr. Eide had proposed that the draft
resolution on Sri Lanka should be withdrawn and he described the situation in
the country with regard in particular to the action taken to establish the
fate of missing persons; a presidential commission to inquire into involuntary
disappearances had been established. The persons responsible for such
disappearances and the perpetrators of other human rights violations were
being prosecuted systematically. Furthermore, the emergency legislation
related to arrest and detention had been revised and a new version had been
promulgated on 17 June 1993. All the emergency legislation had been reviewed
and any provisions judged to be superfluous were now being revoked. The ones
which remained necessary would become law after their adoption in accordance
with the usual legislative procedure.
9. Free elections would be organized in the east and in some regions in the
north of the country. In addition, the question whether the north and east
should become a single administrative unit would be decided by referendum.
Once the elections and the referendum had been held, the Tamils would have
their own elected representatives and the Government would then be able to
negotiate a solution for the remaining problems. It was to be hoped that the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would take part in the negotiations and the
democratic process. The recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances were close to completion and the Government had
decided to accede to the Convention against Torture.
10. Referring to draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.22, which had been
adopted at the preceding meeting and contained a denunciation of acts of
terrorism, he condemned the terrorism in his country which was designed to
destroy the democratic fabric of society. The new President of Sri Lanka had
been in office for about a hundred days and the measures already taken to
strengthen the democratic process had the support of the large majority of
Sri Lankans. He assured the Sub-Commission that the Government of Sri Lanka
was determined to pursue a policy of transparency and would continue to keep
United Nations organs informed about the situation in Sri Lanka.
11. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.27 was withdrawn.
12. Mrs. ATTAH thanked the sponsors for withdrawing the draft resolution.
She shared the concern of the members of the mission which had recently
visited Sri Lanka and thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for the measures it
was taking to improve the situation.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.28 (Situation of human rights in
13. Mrs. FORERO, Mr. HATANO, Mr. JOINET and Mr. MAXIM said that they wished
to become sponsors of the draft resolution.
14. Mr. HELLER said that the draft resolution was very important because of
the developments in Guatemala following the restoration of constitutional
order and the designation of Mr. Ramiro de León Carpio, the former Procurator
page 5
for Human Rights, as President of the Republic. The President had already
injected fresh energy into the country's political, economic, social and
cultural life and had also given attention to the specific needs of the
indigenous peoples. It was now to be hoped that the Unidad Revolucionaria
Nacional Guatemalteca would in turn demonstrate the same goodwill and that the
internal armed conflict could thus be brought to an end.
15. The draft resolution had a large number of sponsors - evidence of the
desire to convey a message of support to the new Government. It was in fact
important for the Sub-Commission to state its position clearly and encourage
all those who were fighting for harmony and human rights. In order to improve
the English version of the text, he requested that the penultimate line of the
preamble should be amended to read: "an agreement which will bring the
internal armed conflict to an end and permit the establishment of a firm and
lasting peace".
16. Mrs. CHAVEZ thanked her colleagues in the Sub-Commission who had
sponsored the draft resolution, which she thought was both well balanced and
very positive, making due mention of the developments in Guatemala in recent
months. She commended the President of Guatemala for his commitment to human
rights and expressed the hope that the insurgents would renounce violence and
participate in the democratic process.
17. Mr. JOINET said that he was grateful to everyone involved for the
constructive spirit which they had demonstrated and for the concessions made
to enable what was an important draft resolution to be adopted by consensus.
18. The CHAIRMAN said that he took it that the members of the Sub-Commission
agreed that the draft resolution should be adopted.
19. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.28 was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.30 (The situation in Bosnia and
20. The CHAIRMAN said that, at the request of Mr. Alfonso Martínez, the draft
resolution would be put to a vote.
21. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. Boutkevitch and Mr. Hakim acted as
22. A vote was taken by secret ballot.
23. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.30 was adopted by 22 votes to 1,
with 1 abstention.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.31 (The situation of human rights in
24. Mr. DESPOUY, introducing draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.31, said
that it was designed to improve understanding of the complicated situation in
Haiti and that it gave some idea of the positive development of the situation
towards the restoration of democracy with the support not only of the
page 6
United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), but also of the
Haitian people itself. Two years earlier, the constitutionally elected
President, Fr. Jean Bertrand Aristide, had been removed from power by a
military junta and a stringent embargo had been imposed on the country by OAS.
Many attempts had been made to break the deadlock, but they had been
unsuccessful owing to the intransigence of the de facto authorities. A
welcome should therefore be given to the agreements which had been signed in
New York between President Aristide and the Chief of the armed forces and the
different political parties of Haiti, which provided for a programme of
international cooperation and a series of institutional reforms, including the
professionalization of the armed forces, the establishment of a new police
force and the reform of the judicial system and which should culminate, on
30 October 1993, in the return to the country of the constitutional President
of the Republic. A further agreement had subsequently been signed between the
various political forces represented in Parliament aimed at establishing a
political truce, the normalization of Parliament and the enactment of
fundamental laws for a peaceful transition. Many problems would still have to
be settled, but the first results were encouraging. The negotiations had
provided the first example of direct collaboration between the United Nations
and OAS and the exercise demonstrated that conflicts could be solved by means
of multilateral negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations and with
respect for certain principles, namely, the non-interference and nondeployment
of troops advocated by OAS, and that dictatorship could thus be
overthrown. If the process which had begun in Haiti did indeed culminate in
the return of President Aristide to his country, the whole of Latin America
could be proud of that achievement, for it would show that democracy could
also be established in that region of the world.
25. Mr. GUISSÉ said that he rather doubted the usefulness of the draft
resolution. Developments in Haiti would depend on the implementation of the
agreements signed between the parties and United Nations supervision would not
have any great effect in that process. He therefore wondered whether it would
not be better to withdraw the draft resolution.
26. Mrs. KSENTINI said that the title of the draft resolution did not fit its
content, since it gave the impression that the human rights situation had not
improved or had even deteriorated in Haiti. She therefore proposed to
substitute the following title: "Situation in Haiti: promotion of the
restoration of the democratic process and national reconstruction". She would
also like to know the membership of the "international civil mission" referred
to in the penultimate preambular paragraph which had put the number of victims
of extrajudicial executions at over 30. In a draft resolution it would be
better to avoid citing figures which were not certain. She also wished to
point out that the date set for the return to Haiti of President Aristide was
30 October 1993 and not 1991 as indicated in paragraph 3. As in the case of
the title of the draft resolution, she suggested that, in paragraph 6, the
words "to examine the situation of human rights in Haiti" should be replaced
by "to monitor developments in Haiti".
27. The CHAIRMAN said that the wrong date pointed out by Mrs. Ksentini in
paragraph 3 appeared only in the French version of the text and that the error
would be corrected. He announced that Mr. Joinet, Mr. Heller and
Mr. Vergne Saboia had become sponsors of the draft resolution.
page 7
28. Mr. HELLER said that he did not believe, as Mr. Guissé appeared to do,
that the draft resolution should be withdrawn. It was the duty of the
international community, through the United Nations, to monitor the
implementation of the agreements and to see that democracy was truly
re-established and human rights effectively respected in Haiti. The
Sub-Commission therefore ought to support the draft resolution, which was on a
topic that numbered among its concerns.
29. Mr. VERGNE SABOIA commended Mr. Despouy on his active participation in
the negotiating process which had been conducted in Haiti in order to put an
end to a situation of great concern to the international community. It was
clear that the international community must make available to Haiti all the
resources needed to ensure its economic reconstruction and eliminate the
extreme poverty which was one of the main causes of its problems and the main
obstacle to the restoration of democracy. It was therefore important for the
Sub-Commission to support the draft resolution.
30. Mr. ALFONSO MARTINEZ said that he shared the views of all those who had
spoken in favour of the draft resolution. It was indeed very important to
monitor developments in Haiti until institutional order had been
re-established there and President Aristide had returned to power.
31. Mr. GUISSÉ said that he was in no way opposed to the draft resolution.
He had suggested that it should be withdrawn simply because the situation in
Haiti was already being monitored by several other organs responsible for
supervising the implementation of the decisions concerning the restoration of
democracy in that country. He thus thought that the draft resolution
duplicated the ones adopted in other bodies. However, he would not press his
32. Mr. JOINET said that he fully understood why Mr. Guissé had proposed
withdrawal, but thought that, if the Sub-Commission was to give its views only
on situations which were not considered by other organs, it would have to
withdraw almost all the draft resolutions which had been submitted.
Furthermore, there was no established rule prohibiting one organ from taking
up a situation already being considered by another. On the contrary, when
other bodies were considering an issue, they should be encouraged to continue
to do so until the desired result was obtained. He therefore fully supported
the draft resolution.
33. Mrs. WARZAZI said that the Commission on Human Rights had always given
very firm instructions to the Sub-Commission on the point at issue,
instructions which the Sub-Commission regularly disobeyed.
34. Mr. DESPOUY said that he was glad that several experts had also sponsored
the draft resolution, demonstrating that they shared his approach to the
matter. In reply to the question put by Mrs. Ksentini, he said that the
international civil mission had been composed of United Nations and OAS
observers and that the figures cited in the preambular paragraph in question
had been taken from the mission's reports, which were reliable. But it might
in fact be useful to state explicitly that it was a United Nations/OAS
mission. He also accepted the two amendments proposed by Mrs. Ksentini
concerning the title of the draft resolution and paragraph 6.
page 8
35. Mrs. DAES said that she was not sure that the new title proposed by
Mrs. Ksentini was in fact consistent with the content of the draft resolution
or that the draft resolution was in fact concerned with the reconstruction of
36. Mr. ALFONSO MARTINEZ pointed out that paragraph 4 of the draft resolution
did in fact mention the economic reconstruction of the country and the
resources which the international community must make available for the
37. Mr. ANTONIO (Observer for Haiti) said that the Haitian delegation had on
many occasions denounced in the Commission and the Sub-Commission the
systematic violations of the rights of Haitians by the junta and had
emphasized the need for assistance from the international community to enable
Haiti to emerge from the crisis. The agreements signed between
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and General Raoul Cedras were designed to
achieve the establishment of a Government of national unity and the return of
President Aristide to Haiti on 30 October 1993. Those results were the fruit
of the long struggle of the Haitian people against the coup regime. The
Haitian delegation wished above all to pay a tribute to the resistance of the
Haitian people. It also expressed its thanks to the United Nations, to the
Organization of American States, to all the Governments and to all the
non-governmental organizations which had consistently demonstrated their
solidarity with the Haitian people and its legitimate cause and their support
for it in the struggle.
38. The Governor's Island agreements had marked a turning point.
Nevertheless, the repression had not ceased in Haiti and the military junta
and its allies were still murdering people who advocated a return to
legitimacy. The observers of the international civil mission had reported a
sharp increase in summary executions and suspicious deaths since the signing
of the agreements. That was why, while welcoming the results obtained so far,
the Haitian delegation invited the international community to be more vigilant
than ever before in order to ensure that the resolutions adopted and the
agreements signed were actually put into effect. It was in that spirit that
it supported the draft resolution before the Sub-Commission.
39. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.31, as orally amended, was adopted
without a vote.
40. Mr. Yimer took the Chair.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.23/Rev.1 (The situation in Myanmar)
41. Mr. TIN KYAW HLAING (Observer for Myanmar) said that it was
regrettable that several of the paragraphs of draft resolution
E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.23/Rev.1 had been based on unfounded and in many instances
malicious allegations against the Myanmar authorities emanating from sources
outside Myanmar or from terrorist groups based along the country's border.
That was true in particular of paragraph 1 and the preambular paragraph on the
subject of the alleged persecution of members of certain religious faiths.
The Myanmar delegation firmly rejected those allegations.
page 9
42. With regard to the various national racial groups in Myanmar, he said
that, on 12 February 1994, the people of Myanmar had celebrated the
forty-sixth anniversary of Union Day proclaimed in commemoration of the
signing of the Panglong Agreement, under which the various racial groups
making up the Myanmar people had decided in unison to free themselves from the
colonial yoke. The International Year for the World's Indigenous People had
also been celebrated on that occasion. There were eight major national races
in Myanmar which could be subdivided into 135 racial groups whose ancestors
had originated in Asia and had come to settle, long before the beginning of
the Christian era, on the land which today formed the Union of Myanmar. It
was quite wrong to talk about ethnic minorities in Myanmar, since all those
national racial groups were indigenous peoples which had lived in Myanmar for
thousands of years. Prior to and following its accession to political
independence on 4 January 1948, Myanmar had had its share of difficulties
which were largely attributable to its colonial legacy. Two constitutions had
been adopted, but had become inoperative, and a new democratic constitution
was being elaborated at a national convention currently taking place in
Yangon, in which representatives of all the national racial groups were taking
part. None of those groups had ever been subjected to discrimination or
persecution. In fact, together they constituted the very essence of the
country, which drew its strength from them; it was therefore essential for
them to live in unity. All the allegations on that subject came from armed
terrorist groups which did not even have the support of the members of their
own community and thus lacked any authenticity. That was why the Myanmar
delegation believed that the draft resolution on the situation in Myanmar now
before the Sub-Commission did not reflect the situation in Myanmar and was
thus unwarranted and pointless.
43. At the request of Mrs. Ksentini, a vote was taken by secret ballot.
44. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mrs. Ksentini and Mr. Tian Jin acted
as tellers.
45. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.23/Rev.1 was adopted by 17 votes
to 2, with 5 abstentions.
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.19 (Situation of human rights in Iraq)
46. Mr. BOSSUYT, speaking on behalf of the sponsors, proposed the addition of
an eleventh preambular paragraph reading: "Noting the FAO/WFP crop and food
supply assessment mission to Iraq of June 1993, which describes the negative
impact of the international embargo on the civilian population, especially the
most vulnerable groups,"; the inclusion between paragraphs 6 and 7 of a new
paragraph reading: "Deplores the continuing victimization of civilians and
obstruction of civilian infrastructure as a result of military actions against
Iraq;"; and the substitution of the words "violations of human rights" for the
word "atrocities" in paragraph 10. He hoped that those changes would meet the
concerns stated by some members of the Sub-Commission.
47. At the request of Mr. Ramadhane, a vote was taken by secret ballot.
page 10
48. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. Heller and Mr. Sachar acted as
49. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.19, as amended, was adopted
by 14 votes to 9, with 2 abstentions.
Draft statement by the Chairman
50. The CHAIRMAN read out the following draft statement:
"Support for the peace process in El Salvador
The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection
of Minorities,
Expresses its profound satisfaction and appreciation to El Salvador
at the significance of the end to the armed conflict for the success of
the peace process and the promotion and protection of human rights;
Emphasizes the importance of the Peace Agreements reached on
16 January 1992 in Chapultepec, Mexico, between the Government of
El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional;
Stresses the need for full compliance with all the pending peace
Emphasizes that, in this process, the effective protection of human
rights calls, inter alia, for the continuation of the strengthening of
the judiciary system and of the Office of the Attorney-General for the
Protection of Human Rights, as well as adaptation of the organization of
the National Civil Police, in accordance with the provisions of the Peace
Agreements and taking into account the recommendations of the Commission
on the Truth;
Reiterates its support for the work being done by the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, his Personal Representative and
members of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (UNOSAL) in
the cause of understanding between the parties, of progress in the
fulfilment of the commitments assumed and in the consolidation of peace;
Reiterates its appeal to all States to contribute to the
consolidation of peace and to support efforts to ensure full respect for
human rights in El Salvador, on the basis of full implementation of and
generous funding for the Peace Agreements, together with the National
Reconstruction Plan."
51. The draft statement by the Chairman on the situation in El Salvador was
adopted without a vote.
page 11
Draft resolutions relating to agenda item 18
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.25 (Freedom of movement and the situation
of migrant workers and their families)
52. The CHAIRMAN announced that Mrs. Daes and Mrs. Forero Ucros wished to
become sponsors of the draft resolution.
53. Mr. GUISSÉ said that, in preambular paragraph 7 of the French version of
the text, the word "modifier" should be replaced by the words "lutter
efficacement contre".
54. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.25, as amended, was adopted without
a vote.
Draft resolutions relating to agenda item 12
Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.29 (Human rights and disability)
55. Mr. DESPOUY said that the title of the Spanish version of the text should
be "Los derechos humanos y las personas con discapacidad" instead of "Los
derechos humanos y la incapacidad". In paragraph 2 of the Spanish text, the
words "hayan hecho" should be replaced by the words "se estan llevando a cabo
dentro de".
56. The CHAIRMAN announced that Mrs. Ksentini, Mr. Alfonso Martínez,
Mr. Ramadhane and Mr. Tian Jin wished to become sponsors of the draft
57. Draft resolution E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/L.29, as amended, was adopted without
a vote.
BEEN CONCERNED (agenda item 4) (continued) (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/2-4, 6-9 and 10
and Corr.1-2; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/NGO/1; A/CONF.157/23)
(agenda item 19) (continued)
58. Mr. Yimer took the Chair.
59. Mr. MIRANDA (Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of
Disappeared Detainees) said that his statement was supported by Service, Peace
and Justice in Latin America. With regard to the impunity of the perpetrators
of human rights violations, the Latin American Federation of Associations of
Relatives of Disappeared Detainees, (FEDEFAM) thought that the failure to
prosecute and punish the guilty parties rendered the distinction between
democracy and authoritarianism daily less clear and discredited democratic
institutions. With a view to making a contribution to the next report on the
topic, FEDEFAM and Service, Peace and Justice in Latin America had the
following criticisms to offer concerning the report by Mr. Joinet and
Mr. Guissé (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/6): it ought to have focused more particularly
on impunity as a State policy rather than on the violations which led to
page 12
impunity. In fact, impunity was in itself a violation of human rights. In
addition, attention should be given to the relation between repressive
policies based in particular on the doctrine of national security which
violated human rights and on State policies which, in the same way, embodied
impunity. Furthermore, the report referred only to the impunity of the
perpetrators of violations of civil and political rights. FEDEFAM and
Service, Peace and Justice in Latin America, like the authors of the report,
would like the study to have two stages, with the second devoted to violations
of economic, social and cultural rights. The second part of the study would
not be limited to corruption, but attention would also be given to the
responsibilities of States in the application of economic policies and to
those of intergovernmental bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank.
60. The report stated that NGOs wanted the most serious violations to be
classified as crimes against humanity in order to render them imprescriptible
and to avoid manipulation of the rules of prescription. FEDEFAM and Service,
Peace and Justice in Latin America thought, however, that some human rights
violations were crimes against humanity by their very nature and were not
subject to statutory limitations not only with regard to criminal prosecution
and punishment, but also in all other regards, in particular amnesty. That in
no way mitigated the gravity of the notion of crime against humanity, as the
authors of the report seemed to fear. It was not acceptable, as proposed in
paragraph 88 of the report, to characterize enforced disappearances as
continuing crimes rather than as crimes against humanity in order to evade
prescription, for there was no need expressly to classify as a continuing
crime conduct which was so by its nature; furthermore, by reason of its
gravity, enforced disappearance must as such be regarded as a crime against
61. It was worrying that the report attached so little importance to military
courts, especially since they were one of the main factors in impunity. That
aspect ought to be examined more fully in the next report. The authors also
thought a priori that it was impossible to bring to justice all the
perpetrators of serious violations of human rights and they acknowledged the
existence of absolute impunity and relative impunity. It was inconceivable
that a United Nations document should contain the notion of relative impunity,
for it implied the legitimization of certain reprehensible practices. Lastly,
paragraph 65 of the report gave the impression that only bodies which were not
elected in accordance with the rules of popular participation were able to
take measures contrary to international law. FEDEFAM and Service, Peace and
Justice in Latin America thought that that was not always the case.
62. He hoped that the exchanges of views with NGOs, which he thought very
fruitful, would continue and he assured the Sub-Commission that the
organizations on behalf of which he had just spoken would give their full
cooperation to the Special Rapporteurs in the continuation of their study.
63. Mr. ESHETE (African Association of Education for Development) said that
the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of serious violations of human rights
in the third world and particularly in Africa was due to the silence imposed
by the big international Powers, in particular the United States, with regard
to the situation in certain countries, including Ethiopia. Such impunity was
page 13
also due to the fact that, in some organs such as the Sub-Commission, only
Governments had a say in the matter and that no African NGO had denounced the
human rights violations committed by those Governments.
64. Emperor Haile Selassie, for example, had violated on a mass scale the
right to life of the people of Ethiopia, since he was responsible for the
famine which had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the early 1970s.
Generally speaking, whether they came to power by the will of God or by force
of arms, African leaders believed that their peoples could be disposed of as
they wished and that the country's resources belonged to themselves. Once
they had filled their pockets, they went to live a life of luxury abroad, as
Idi Amin, Siad Barre and Menghistu Haile Mariam had done.
65. Ethiopia had today become a colony of Eritrea. The country was in fact
in the hands of Tigrai-Eritrean guerrillas who had totally dismantled the
country's army, police force and justice system. Those guerrilla forces were
controlled by an ethnic minority and supported by the Western Powers, in
particular the United States. They committed mass violations of human rights
and were engaged in an exercise of ethnic cleansing, of which no one made any
mention and which was aimed mainly at the Amaras.
66. Mrs. MORRIS (Human Rights Advocates), speaking on behalf of Human Rights
Advocates, the Natural Heritage Institute and Pax Christi, congratulated
Mrs. Ksentini on her excellent report on human rights and the environment.
The three organizations supported in particular Mrs. Ksentini's recommendation
that a special rapporteur should be appointed by the Commission on Human
Rights to monitor situations in which environmental problems could lead to
human rights violations.
67. She drew particular attention to the plight of the Ogoni people, which
had always lived in the Niger delta. While the release of Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa,
who had been imprisoned by the Nigerian Government for informing the
international community about the tragic situation of the Ogoni people was
welcome, it still remained for the Government to withdraw all the charges
against him. The Sub-Commission should denounce the attitude of the Nigerian
Government and of the oil companies which had caused serious damage to the
traditional natural environment of the Ogoni.
68. In Tibet, the increasingly intensive exploitation of the country's
natural resources by the Chinese Government was causing soil erosion and
flooding and threatening the survival of a number of animal species. The way
in which the Chinese Government treated nuclear wastes in Tibet was a further
source of serious concern. The very survival of the Tibetan people was
threatened by the exploitation of the natural resources of the country and by
the establishment of settlers there.
69. In order to protect the victims of environmental abuse, 120 academics
from all parts of the world had met in May 1993 to study the links between
human rights, the environment and sustainable development. They requested the
Sub-Commission to clarify the notion of environmental human rights, to define
clearly the nature of environmental rights and their place within human rights
doctrine, to explain the inextricable link between protection of the
environment and protection of human rights, to define the responsibilities of
page 14
international development agencies and other financial institutions with
regard to the evaluation of the social consequences of development projects,
to define the mechanisms by which victims could seek redress for harm
suffered, to modify bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in order to
protect environmental rights, and to expand the scope and applicability of the
various dispute settlement mechanisms.
70. The organizations which she represented strongly supported
Mrs. Ksentini's recommendation that a meeting of experts should be convened to
study the question of human rights and the environment.
71. Mrs. GOTTLICHER (International Educational Development) said that one of
the greatest problems of humanitarian aid in the former Yugoslavia was the
deliberate obstruction of humanitarian corridors. The Yugoslav army planned
by such action to diminish the defensive capabilities of encircled towns or
regions and to convince the local Croat population that their only chance of
survival was to flee. That was what had happened in several towns, for
example, Ilok, Slunj, Saborsko and Pakrac. The Pakrac hospital had been
almost completely destroyed by artillery fire and a Red Cross convoy heading
for Pakrac in order to evacuate wounded patients who had hidden in the
hospital basement had come under heavy fire from the Yugoslav army. During
the seige of Vukovar, the Yugoslav army had allowed neither food or medicine
to enter the town. Only 112 seriously wounded patients had been evacuated
from the hospital, in extremely difficult conditions. One hundred and fifty
other seriously wounded who had remained in the hospital basement had been
killed after the fall of the town. The international community had a duty to
take concrete measures to protect the humanitarian convoys, especially in
Bosnia and Herzegovina.
72. Mrs. BOUVIER (Minority Rights Group) said that one of the most effective
ways to repress a community was to deny its members the exercise of their
economic and social rights on an equal footing with other population groups.
In Tibet, workers were being dismissed and replaced by incoming Chinese
settlers. New graduates from Chinese universities immediately found
employment; Tibetan students did not and they had protested against that
discrimination. The Chinese occupation of Tibet had disrupted the country's
economy. All land, resources and economic activities had been collectivized
and were run by a political party centred in Beijing. There was talk of
modernization and rapid growth in Tibet, but it was a fact, for example, that
the Chinese owned 12,000 private businesses against only 300 owned by
Tibetans. In those circumstances, how could the Chinese authorities claim
that only 3 per cent of the population of the region was Chinese? In fact,
Chinese were being encouraged to travel and invest in Tibet in accordance with
the new principle that anyone who invested possessed what he created and
benefited from what he did.
73. Tibetans were not able to take advantage of that policy, since they were
subject to a number of discriminatory measures. For example, they were
forbidden to trade in certain products. All of Tibet's natural resources and
minerals were exploited by Chinese and shipped off to China. Unlike the
Chinese, any Tibetans who wished to engage in business had no backing, no
protection and no security. They were totally sidelined when it came to
page 15
employment or participation in public affairs and decision-making. The
Sub-Commission must make a close examination of China's economic, social and
cultural policies in Tibet.
74. Mr. PEREZ CASAS (International League for the Rights and Liberation of
Peoples) said that relations between the developed and the developing
countries, especially the countries of Latin America, were still characterized
by a serious imbalance in the terms of trade. The deterioration in the
economy and in living conditions was the cause of the people's resistance
movements which had risen up against social regression in various countries.
Military dictatorships had taken it upon themselves to carry out the
transition to a model imposed by the big transnational corporations. The
dictatorial and corrupt regimes of Latin America had borrowed money which,
with very few exceptions, had been wasted.
75. The dominant economic groups and the big industrial countries had used
the pretext of easing the debt burden to impose structural adjustment policies
through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. That was
producing enormous profits for the big transnational corporations (for
example, the Union de Banques Suisses had just announced that, in the first
half of 1993, its profits had increased by 89 per cent over the first half of
1992), as well as insuperable economic and social problems for the developing
countries (bankruptcy of national enterprises which had fallen victim to the
free trade preached by GATT, price liberalization, wage freezes, reduction of
public expenditure especially in education, and privatization of State
enterprises). The World Bank had recently gone so far as to propose the
privatization of health services in order to improve the health situation! A
new political model which might be described as Fujimorist had thus been
recruited to the service of such policies in Latin America.
76. Haiti provided a further and tragic example of the consequences for human
rights in Latin America and the Caribbean of the policies pursued by the
transnational Powers. The removal of President Aristide and the conditions
imposed for his return were due in large part to the powerful United States
economic interests in Haiti.
77. Economic progress ought to go hand in hand with decent wages and reduced
working hours and with a new balance between income from capital and income
from work. Accordingly, citizens must be given a genuine role in the taking
of decisions which concerned them, international financial institutions must
undergo profound change to make them more democratic and the right of peoples
to take the decisions concerning themselves and their resources must be fully
recognized. The General Assembly of the United Nations must immediately adopt
a resolution classifying as international crimes violations of the right to
development and the economic, social and cultural rights of peoples.
78. Mrs. ZALABATA (Centre Europe-Tiers Monde), speaking on behalf of the
peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, said that the Arhuaca
people shared that territory with the Kogi and Arzario peoples, which shared
the same world view linking the struggle for survival closely to love of the
land. For those peoples, the Sierra Nevada was a sacred land which they
page 16
regarded as the heart of the world. Colombia had 82 indigenous peoples, each
different, but all bound together by the struggle for their common rights.
They wanted to continue living on the land handed down to them by their
ancestors and to preserve their identity. She stressed the importance of
ancestral beliefs in the land, from which the Indians held that they
originated and drew their substance. She denounced the theft and destruction
of that land. Attempts to destroy it dated back 500 years, when the invaders
had arrived with their own systems of thought and law and their own religion.
The process of destruction was continuing: on 28 November 1990, the
three senior chiefs of the Arhuaca people, Luís Napoleón Torres,
Angel María Torres and Hughes Chaparro, had been kidnapped, tortured and
murdered. Those acts had been attributed to members of the Colombian army.
The military justice system had refused to name the guilty parties, who
enjoyed total impunity. On 13 April 1993, Gregorio Nieves, a member of the
Arzario community, had also been murdered by soldiers. In addition, on
16 December 1991 at Huellas in Cauca department, 20 other persons had been
murdered; the national police were alleged to be responsible. Despite those
irreparable losses, the indigenous peoples would continue to fight for their
79. The year 1993 was the International Year for the World's Indigenous
People. That was too short a period to heal the wounds of 500 years of
massacres, humiliation and exploitation. The General Assembly of the
United Nations should declare a decade for indigenous people so that it would
be possible to lay genuinely new foundations for peaceful and harmonious
co-existence between indigenous peoples and other peoples and cultures. She
drew attention to the draft declaration on indigenous people which was
intended to mark the end of genocide, ethnocide and racial discrimination.
The declaration set out fundamental rights for the physical and cultural
survival of indigenous people: the right to land, natural resources and
water, but also recognition of and respect for their world view, their
cultures, languages, legal systems, medicine and customs and traditions. For
indigenous peoples, the declaration was an absolute necessity in view of the
massacres and ethnocide which had taken place. She also requested that the
religious orders established on the land of indigenous peoples should depart,
for all the peoples had their own religion and their own way of thinking.
Lastly, she asserted the right to be different and the right to have
differences respected. She appealed to the Sub-Commission, for the sake of
the right to life and the right to peace, to monitor the situation of human
rights in Colombia, in particular the situation of indigenous peoples.
80. Mrs. WARZAZI said that she was not opposed in any way to statements being
made in the Sub-Commission by NGOs, but, with reference to an earlier
statement by the organization on behalf of which Mrs. Zalabata had just
spoken, she could not accept that an NGO should criticize her position with
respect to a vote once the vote had taken place. She thought that NGOs should
behave correctly with regard to the Sub-Commission and Mr. Yimer and
Mrs. Palley shared that view.
81. The CHAIRMAN reminded participants of the need for punctiliousness during
the debates in the Sub-Commission.