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Summary record of the 24th meeting, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Thursday, 22 August 1996 : Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, 48th session.

UN Document Symbol E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/SR.24
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 48th
Type Document

15 p.

Subjects Transnational Corporations, Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Impunity, Poverty, Income Distribution, Economic Gap, Tourism, Persons with Disabilities

Extracted Text

Economic and Social
6 December 1996
Original: FRENCH
Forty-eighth session
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 22 August 1996, at 10 a.m.
Chairman : Mr. EIDE
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
at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum,
to be issued shortly after the end of the session.
page 2
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
(continued ) (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/10, 11, 12 and Corr.1, 13, 14, 15, 31, 32
and 33; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/NGO/9 and 10; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/10, 11 and 13;
Commission on Human Rights decision 1996/104)
1. Mr. SHIOKAWA (International Association of Democratic Lawyers) said he
would speak about the working methods and activities of transnational
corporations and the question of impunity of perpetrators of violations of
human rights. Many Japanese multinational corporations operating in Asian
countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia were violating the human
rights of workers. In Japan itself a considerable number of multinationals
were ignoring Japanese labour customs by practising unjust dismissals
(Continental Bank of Illinois, Kino-Meles-Griot and Reuter-Japan),
discriminatory treatment (Air France) and early retirement (Alitalia).
2. Most large Japanese companies declared openly that the Japanese
Constitution did not apply to the workplace. Activists seeking to defend the
rights of workers were subjected to all forms of discrimination in connection
with wages and to violations of fundamental human rights. By hemming in the
activists, the companies sought to suppress workers' demands and to strengthen
their exploitation of the work force in order to increase profits. The
Government endorsed them by stating that administrative guidance alone was
sufficient to settle such problems. Several court proceedings instituted to
seek redress had recently come to an end after many years with judgements
being pronounced in favour of the complainants. Those judgements should play
a positive role in raising the status of human rights in the work place. It
should be noted, however, that the companies in question were not only failing
to abide by the judgements but were submitting appeals in an attempt to
prolong court proceedings.
3. Mr. WLASIC (Latin American Federation of Associations of Families of
Disappeared Detainees FEDEFAM)
said that to analyse the agenda items under
consideration it was necessary to situate them in the context of economic
globalization and structural adjustment policies, since the decisions and
practices adopted in that context were directly responsible for problems like
extreme poverty, unequal distribution of income and impunity for the
perpetrators of violations of economic, social and cultural rights.
4. With reference to Mr. Guissé's report on impunity for the perpetrators
of human rights violations (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/15), FEDEFAM suggested that the
historical and political analysis it contained should be supplemented by a
study of the legal basis for States' human rights obligations and existing
guarantee mechanisms. In connection with paragraph 87 of the report, FEDEFAM
considered that democracy and the rule of law were just as essential for the
realization of economic, social and cultural rights as for the implementation
of civil and political rights, but that they were unfortunately insufficient
to guarantee their enjoyment. Failure to include economic, social and
cultural rights in national legislation, and hence the impossibility of
invoking them in the courts when they were violated, gave rise to one of the
most widespread forms of impunity (para. 88). He was concerned by the
reference in paragraph 135 to the responsibility of individuals in violations
of economic, social and cultural rights, since at the national level, it was
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generally States that were responsible for such violations. With regard to
the adoption of an optional protocol to the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the approach being considered was
described more clearly in paragraph 126 than in paragraph 142 (c). FEDEFAM
was also in favour of reviewing the missions of the international financial
institutions, proposed in paragraph 127, and the complete rather than partial
cancellation of the foreign debt of all underdeveloped or developing
5. With regard to the suggestion that violations of economic, social and
cultural rights should be declared international crimes, studies should be
expanded to determine the cases in which that would be possible. FEDEFAM also
noted the emphasis placed in the report on corruption, which was becoming
widespread in many Latin American countries and usually went unpunished. It
was concerned at the situation of children who, owing to the economic crisis,
were forced to work.
6. The Sub-Commission should examine ways of implementing the
recommendations contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the
question of human rights and extreme poverty (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13), with a
view to making a more in-depth study of problems connected with extreme
poverty. It noted with satisfaction the many references made by the Special
Rapporteur to the work of NGOs. Referring to the interim report
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/14) of the Special Rapporteur on the relationship between
the enjoyment of human rights and income distribution, he suggested that the
third report should deal more specifically with the effects of structural
adjustment programmes in underdeveloped or developing countries and their
common features.
7. Mr. CHERNICHENKO commended the Special Rapporteur on the impunity of
perpetrators of human rights violations for his excellent report. Although he
approved the Rapporteur's suggestion made in paragraph 142 that violations of
economic, social and cultural rights should be declared international crimes,
he pointed out that the expression “international crime” was generally used to
designate the most serious crimes committed by States, rather than by
individuals. In cases where individual responsibility in the violation of
economic, social and cultural rights was established, it would be more
appropriate to speak of “crime considered as such under international law”.
Even if officials were involved, there was a difference between acts committed
by the State and acts committed by individuals acting on behalf of the State.
Paragraph 132 stated that “Until quite recently, only States were subjects of
international law but individuals and groups of individuals can now take legal
action or be summoned before international authorities to answer for their
activities.” There were two schools of thought on the subject one
that States were the only subjects of international law and the other that
international law increasingly applied to individuals. He subscribed to the
former, for to be a subject of international law it was necessary to
participate in intergovernmental relations, which individuals did not do. He
would like to see those two points of view reflected in Mr. Guissé's final
8. Mrs. PARKER (International Educational Development) said that her
organization placed great emphasis on the first of the rights enunciated in
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the
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to selfdetermination.
The implications for the realization of that right of
violations of economic, social and cultural rights constituted one of the most
serious problems faced by the world, especially in the light of the many armed
conflicts provoked by the denial of that right.
9. Occupying Powers frequently seized natural and other resources
contributing to the economic viability of the regions they occupied and
thereby kept their population in poverty. The inhabitants of the Molucca
Islands, which were rich in natural resources, had been granted the right to
in 1949 as the result of roundtable
agreements held in the
Hague under United Nations auspices. Indonesia had invaded the Moluccas
shortly thereafter and had been denying the people their basic rights ever
since. Indonesia was now granting lucrative contracts to a variety of
national and international corporations to exploit local resources, in direct
violation of international law. Similarly, India's failure to grant the
people of Kashmir the right to selfdetermination
promised to them by the
Security Council and the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan had
had dire consequences for all rights of the Kashmiri people owing to the
military occupation. She yielded the floor to another representative of
International Educational Development.
10. Mr. ELORRIOGA (International Educational Development) said that
indigenous people in Latin America encountered severe difficulties in
realizing their economic, social and cultural rights. In many developing
countries, the State's dismantling of mandatory protection systems as a result
of neoliberal
economic policies had had particularly adverse effects on
vulnerable social groups such as Indians, women, children, workers, the
disabled and elderly, homosexuals, migrant workers and religious minorities.
In addition, Governments did not have economic projects that made provision
for the rights and participation of Indian peoples, and met the specific
demands of Indian peoples' with institutionalized repression.
11. In Mexico, and especially in the State of Chiapas, thousands of
indigenous peasants, the poorest in the country, were paying dearly for their
rebellion against the deplorable living conditions in which they were kept by
the Government, which spent approximately US$ 200 million per year on its
military apparatus in that zone one
of the most disadvantaged in the
country. Military expenditures were completely out of proportion to social
expenditure. The continued military presence, which was inconsistent with
the Mexican Government's declarations in favour of a peaceful and negotiated
solution to the conflict in Chiapas, prevented the peasants from travelling
freely, hampered the normal development of agriculture and kept civil society
from having any economic or social control over its territory. The havenots
of Mexican society were still and always had been treated like minors or
delinquents, whereas they were merely claiming their right to live in peace
and dignity. International Educational Development called on the
to take action on their plight.
12. Mr. VITTORI (Pax Christi International) said that a critical review was
needed of the policies that governed economic production, determined the
distribution of wealth and led to exclusion. Economic liberalism, which had
been condemned during the previous century as a system for man's exploitation
by man, was now proving to be a cause of marginalization, exclusion and
concentration of power that escaped democratic control. Paradoxically, the
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more production increased, the more poverty grew, and the gap between rich and
poor was on the rise throughout the planet. Unlike exploitation of the labour
force, the abusive exploitation of natural resources and environmental damage
had been given little attention so far. The World Bank, however, had just
published a report classifying countries according to ecological criteria, in
terms of wealth in the broad sense, defined not only in terms of money and
investment, or income. The new classification was an interesting one, but
needed to be taken even further.
13. Cultural rights were all too often considered as something adorning
economic and social rights, and indigenous populations were merely tolerated,
or maintained for their local colour value. When natural resources were
discovered on or underneath their land and they resisted dispossession,
however, they were subjected to unbridled repression by the authorities and
landowners' militias. To be considered good an indigenous person had to defer
to the predators and become absorbed into the dominant system. Without
cultural rights, however, there could be no realization of economic and social
rights. Cultural rights were the foundation of the identity of individuals,
communities and peoples, and wealth must be shared and cultural values
exchanged if humanity was to survive.
14. Mrs. DAES said that the recommendations in paragraphs 206231
Mr. Despouy's excellent report on human rights and extreme poverty
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13) were very constructive; she hoped they would be
implemented by United Nations treaty bodies and other competent organs. With
regard to the machinery for implementation proposed in paragraph 223, the
should clearly indicate its preference in the resolution it
would be adopting on the topic.
15. She thanked Mr. Bengoa for his superb and welldocumented
report on the
enjoyment of human rights and income distribution (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/14),
whose conclusions she supported. She commended Mr. Guissé for his report on
the question of the impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/15) and said she agreed with most of his views on the
embargo (paras. 7072).
She hoped that Mr. Guissé's next progress report
would pay particular attention to the humanitarian aspects of the embargo and
describe its consequences for the civilian population, and in particular the
vulnerable groups of society. She endorsed the suggestions contained in
paragraph 142 and the recommendations in paragraph 143.
16. Mr, KHOURI (Union of Arab Jurists) stressed the importance of economic,
social and cultural rights and the need for international cooperation to
promote them. The selfish policies of the major Powers unfortunately
militated against such ideas, increasing poverty in the third world and the
gap between rich and poor. Value was placed on profit rather than work, with
negative consequences for human rights. The economic sanctions against
certain countries such as Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Cuba and Iran had adverse
effects on the civilian populations. The embargo against Iraq was amounting
to genocide against the Iraqi people, who were in desperate need. The
international community must not remain silent. Those responsible for the
situation should be punished, and every effort made to lift the embargo and
relieve the suffering of the Iraqi population.
page 6
17. Mr. BEN SCHONVELD (World Organization against Torture OMTC)
said that
economic, social and cultural rights could not be separated from other rights.
He described the consequences of globalism, which forced the developing
countries to make structural adjustments that were indispensable for their
integration. With the development of technology, globalism resulted in
growth and dislocation of production; it also led to
the decline of the State through deregulation and the concentration of large
economic groups.
18. Although globalization had created wealth, the distribution of wealth
was increasingly unequal, which led to violence such as the recent
demonstrations by landless peasants in Brazil or the Jordanian population. It
was not for civil society or the NGOs to play the role of a social palliative
in the face of State failure to reduce the global social fracture. The
prerogatives of the State must be defended and democracy extended, not through
the organization of elections but by the creation of machinery for real
participation in the decisionmaking
process. The collapse of communism had
shown that markets were desirable, but the ultraliberal economic model had
many defects. The realization of human rights was far too important to be
left to the market.
19. Mr. KIRKYACHARIAN (Movement against Racism and for Friendship among
Peoples MRAP),
referring to the various reports submitted under item 8, said
that that of Mr. Guissé (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/15) clearly showed that the
developed countries' wealth would be inconceivable without the fabulous
transfers of wealth and labour from the third world over the centuries. The
only way to correct the imbalance in the modern world was through
The analyses contained in the Secretary-General's report
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/12) provided food for thought about the causes of
violations of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to
development which it described honestly.
20. MRAP welcomed the importance attached in Mr. Despouy's report
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13), to the critique of economic determinism in the name of
a social concept of human development. The economy was nothing more than a
set of social relationships. Mr. Despouy had also, commendably, used personal
testimony in the preparation of his report.
21. Mr. Bengoa's report (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/14) went to the heart of the
subject rather than simply expressing moral indignation at income disparities
and viewing them as a necessity evil to be attenuated with a few humanitarian
efforts based on paternalism and a welfare mentality. MRAP regretted,
however, that the Special Rapporteur had not gone so far as to state in his
conclusions that only through a compensatory inequality would it be possible
to progress towards equal opportunity and disprove the tenets of “social
22. NGO efforts to make people more aware of their opportunities and to
develop a feeling of responsibility among the most disadvantaged constituted
the main driving force likely to induce States to take a few steps in the
direction of justice. Justice, a pure and simple virtue to Aristotle, was in
modern language a human right.
page 7
23. Mrs. HILL (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) said that
she was taking the floor on behalf of the NGO Committee on Development to
speak of the adverse consequences of the globalization of trade and economic
activity. The “triumph of the market” and deregulation had a devastating
impact on a large part of the world's population and generated potential for
conflict and social unrest. They produced tremendous profits not only for
corporations, whose power and influence made them very difficult to control,
but also for the home countries of those corporations and for local business
elites. The end result was violations of human rights, the exploitation of
labour, militarization, and the undermining of internal democratic processes
and cultural practices.
24. The NGO Committee on Development had followed with concern the Uruguay
Round of GATT, especially the adoption, in the final GATT agreement, of the
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) clause, which
was regarded, especially in the South, as a new form of colonialization. It
opened the way for corporations and industrialized countries to appropriate
biological resources, indigenous knowledge and human genes in the countries of
the South.
25. The Human Development Report for 1996 showed that the gulf between rich
and poor had grown substantially: 89 countries were worse off than they had
been 10 years before. She welcomed the Working Group on Policy Guidelines for
Structural Adjustment Programmes, and believed that additional steps should be
taken to ensure that transnational corporations had a coherent and legally
enforceable code of conduct. Her organization would support the establishment
of a working group to examine the implications of World Trade Organization
policy and to monitor transnational corporations with regard to their impact
on economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. That
working group would need to have access to WTO's decisionmaking
The human subject must become the foundation of, and an agent in, economic
processes; only in that way could equitable human development be ensured.
26. Mr. FERNANDEZ (World University Service EUM
and International
Organization for the Development of Freedom of Education OIDEL)
said that
the two organizations on behalf of which he was taking the floor had, in
cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Centre for Human
Rights, UNESCO, the Swiss Government, the Ford Foundation and other NGOs,
established the Summer University on Human Rights and the Right to Education
in Geneva. The University's second session in which 36 students representing
28 different nationalities had participated had just come to an end. In the
view of the University, in order to be worthwhile the study of human rights
must include politics, while continuing to accord human dignity a place above
economic and social interests and forces. Although it believed that the study
of economic, social and cultural rights could not be dissociated from that of
the right to development it refused to merge the two. The right to
development was a specific right, having economic, social, cultural and
political aspects. The cultural aspect, in the strong sense of the term, was
essential, and at the heart of culture lay education. Education was first and
foremost a right, one that made possible the enjoyment of many other rights,
and the University studied it from the dual standpoint of rightfreedom
social service, to which every human being was entitled, with special emphasis
on freedom of teaching and academic freedom.
page 8
27. The University in particular wished to highlight the gap between what
was ideal and what was possible, between the pragmatic outlook of the human
rights technician and the political outlook of the participant in
international relations. The 36 students of the University's second session
had attended meetings of the SubCommission
in order to acquire real
experience and an understanding of the unwritten laws of human relations in
politics. At the end of their training, they would be able to use
international mechanisms advisedly and find ways to improve them, and would
also be able to question them and question themselves. In short, they should
ultimately be able to think about what was becoming the cornerstone of
politics in the 21st century, namely, international relations, considered from
the human rights standpoint.
28. Mr. AZHAR (World Federation of Democratic Youth) said he was a member of
the Senate of Pakistan, the leader of the Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM) and
Convener of the MQM Central Coordination
Committee. MQM was the sole
representative party of the Mohajir nation, the largest minority in Pakistan,
and constituted 25 per cent of the population. He briefly recounted his
experience which consisted of incarceration for making a statement in the
Senate condemning the oppression against the Mohajir nation that had begun on
19 June 1992, detention without trial for 22 months, torture during his
imprisonment and the execution of his two nephews. The economic, social and
cultural rights of the Mohajir nation were being systematically and
persistently violated, and instead of seeking a peaceful and democratic
dialogue with the Mohajir nation, the Government of Pakistan was insisting on
a military victory. Arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions,
looting, burning, the rape of Mohajir women and largescale
search operations
had become endemic in the urban centres of Sindh. He appealed to the
to send a followup
mission and a factfinding
mission of the
Special Rapporteur on arbitrary and extrajudicial executions to those towns.
29. Mrs. SAYEGH (General Arab Women Federation) said that, while many
countries were experiencing debt crises, unemployment, scarcity of resources
and poverty, the current economic paradigm placed the highest value on
maximization of profits, without regard to human rights, sustainable
development or equal access to resources. Poverty, which affected 20 per cent
of the world's population, had been aggravated by World Bank and International
Monetary Fund policies. When it came to human rights, there could be no
leading countries and no led countries. It was indispensable to establish a
new framework for development addressing the root causes of poverty, whereby
the rights of all were recognized and respected, not only in words but in
30. Although world conferences affirmed that extreme poverty and social
exclusion constituted a violation of human rights, economic warfare under the
United Nations flag was becoming a regular practice. Sanctions under the
guise of fostering democracy and justice added to the suffering of the poor
and vulnerable, while their real aim was not achieved. In Iraq, sanctions had
wiped out the economic and social achievements of years of hard work. If the
purpose of sanctions was to increase suffering and poverty, the goal had been
attained. It was time to put an end to that inhuman and cruel embargo. Her
organization recommended that an optional protocol should be drawn up to bring
to an immediate halt the practice of economic sanctions. She urged the
page 9
Commission and all its bodies to consider the special vulnerabilities of
populations affected by sanctions and seek ways and means of alleviating their
31. Mr. GENEI SHIMOJI (International Progress Organisation) said that
because of its strategic position, Okinawa, the main island in the Japanese
Ryukyu archipelago, had suffered horribly as a result of the battle which had
been fought on its soil at the end of the Second World War, and in which
240,000 people had lost their lives. Although more than 50 years had gone by
since then, 20 per cent of Okinawa’s soil was still occupied by United States
military bases. The United States Army had made the island the hub of its
military presence in the Pacific.
32. In 1995 the “Cornerstone of Peace” had been erected to commemorate the
fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Pacific War and the battle of Okinawa,
since the people had wished to convey the spirit of peace that characterized
Okinawa’s history and culture. The stone, which had been placed high up on
the cliffs where so many civilians had lost their lives, bore the names of all
the people who had died in that tragic battle, including Japanese, Americans
and Koreans.
33. The people of Okinawa hoped that the military installations on their
island which hindered the realization of their economic, social and cultural
rights, would be reduced and eventually eliminated, so that Okinawa could
become a catalyst for world peace. In that spirit, the Okinawa prefecture had
undertaken the establishment of the Institute for Research on World Peace.
34. Mr. ALI KHAN said that agenda item 8 was so vast that each of the
questions it encompassed (right to decent housing, human rights and extreme
poverty, forced expulsions, distribution of income, activities of
transnational corporations and impunity for the perpetrators of human rights
violations) deserved to be the subject of a separate item. Economic, social
and cultural rights were of crucial importance for citizens in general and
minorities in particular. Most of the causes of friction between the majority
and minorities were economic and social in origin. The question was therefore
how to integrate minorities into the economic and social life of the country in
particular by giving them equal access to employment while preserving their
cultural identity when
the economic gap between the majority and the
minorities was so large. Mr. Despouy, Mr. Bengoa and Mr. Guissé had provided
some interesting answers to that question in their respective reports.
35. In that connection, the Vienna Declaration emphasized the
interdependence of all human rights and the need to refrain from giving
priority to civil and political rights at the expense of economic, social and
cultural rights. Failure to do so risked increasing the number of poor
people, of whom there were already 1.5 billion and for whom all the
declarations on economic, social and cultural rights remained a dead letter.
36. On the eve of the International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty,
the Sub-Commission should give high priority to the question of poverty, which
amounted to a denial of human rights. It was imperative to consider the
possibility of prosecuting the perpetrators of human rights violations, who
were at present enjoying impunity.
page 10
37. The international community should help the developing countries combat
poverty, particularly by eliminating protectionism, stimulating capital flows,
removing obstacles to the transfer of technology and fostering durable
38. Mr. PRASAD (Indian Council of Education) said that if poverty were
measured according to UNDP's integrated method, which was based on the concept
of capability poverty and not on traditional income poverty, the situation in
most of the countries of South Asia was disturbing. Economic growth had not
made it possible to meet basic needs of the evergrowing
population, and
Governments had made low budgetary allocations for health, education and
social services. The situation was aggravated by inadequate infrastructures,
bureaucratic control of the economy to the disadvantage of private
entrepreneurship and the inefficiency of largescale
industrial enterprises.
39. Fortunately, the expansion of the agricultural sector had saved the
population from starvation. The modernization of agriculture must be
continued and an industrial and trade revolution embarked upon, in particular
through the liberalization of trade control and financial measures, the
privatization, even partial of Staterun
enterprises, the acceleration of the
pace of technology transfers and the attraction of foreign investment. Such a
policy, favourable to the establishment of multinational corporations, would
undoubtedly be of benefit, but it must be accompanied by measures to reduce
inequalities and promote the economic and social rights of the most
disadvantaged. To that end, the Governments of the region would need the
cooperation and understanding of international financial institutions.
40. Mr. ABDELNAK (African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters)
said that the management and development of community resources, respect for
individual rights and peaceful coexistence among populations had traditionally
been achieved by mechanisms making use of local human, material and cultural
resources. Those mechanisms must be strengthened if conflicts brought about
by exaggerated loyalty to a cultural or religious group were to be prevented.
In that spirit, international institutions should be urged to provide more
support for small development projects that emphasized endogenous capacities
and fostered social and economic progress.
41. Mrs. IDLEBERG (African Commission of Health and Human Rights Promoters)
said that racism constituted an attack on the social and cultural rights of
minority communities. In the United States, many places of worship, churches,
mosques and synagogues, the foundation of the social and religious life of
some minorities, had been burned down. Rather than actively seeking the
perpetrators, the federal authorities and police had gone so far as to imply
that the fires had been set by members of the congregations. That attitude
confirmed, if need be, the statement of Mr. Glele Ahanzano, Special Rapporteur
of the Commission on contemporary forms of racism, on the persistence of
structural and insidious racism in United States society. Governments must
therefore recognize those new forms of racism and take effective measures to
put an end to them.
42. Mr. ARNOTT (War Resisters International) said that tourism seriously
undermined the economic, social and cultural rights of the people in the host
countries. Tourist projects provided a motive for authoritarian Governments
to confiscate land, forcibly evict entire communities and coerce people into
page 11
unpaid labour on tourist projects. It threatened the cultural identity of
local populations and reduced the possibilities of genuinely endogenous
development. It was a major drain on the land, water, energy and other
resources of a country, with impacts reaching far into the future. More
seriously, young women and children were forced into prostitution for sex
tourism, which was a major factor in the proliferation of HIV/AIDS.
43. Several organizations and conferences had developed guidelines for
tourism that respected the cultural, social and economic makeup
and the
environment of the host countries. They included the World Tourism
Organization, UNESCO, the World Commission on Culture and Development and the
Conference on Sustainable Tourism. Unfortunately, those guidelines had
remained a dead letter. The SubCommission
should therefore express its
concern about the human rights violations associated with tourism; ask the
to prepare a report on the human rights dimensions of
tourism for its fortyninth
session; request the Commission on Human Rights,
at its fiftythird
session, to give attention to the question by asking its
country and thematic rapporteurs to include information on the human rights
dimensions of tourism in their reports and decide to consider the question of
the human rights dimensions of tourism at its following session under the
agenda item “The new international economic order and the promotion of human
44. Mr. SAFI (World Muslim Congress) said that Mr. Jalil Andrabi who, the
previous year, had informed the members of the SubCommission
of human rights
violations that the occupying Power, India, was committing in Kashmir, lay
dead in his grave because the international community had failed to take
measures to protect him from the Indian occupying forces.
45. One year later, the fundamental rights of the population continued to be
systematically flouted, in violation of a series of international instruments:
looting, destruction of religious shrines, torture, rape, inhuman and
degrading treatment of prisoners, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial
executions, with adverse effects on its economic and social situation. The
Indian occupation forces were now organizing sham elections
aimed at legitimizing Indian occupation and preventing the people of Jammu and
Kashmir from exercising their right to selfdetermination.
46. Mrs. GIRMA (African Association of Education for Development ASAFED)
said that the realization of economic, social and cultural rights on the
African continent could become a reality only in the context of the promotion
of development. Many countries had had structural adjustment programmes
imposed on them in a uniform manner, without consideration being given to the
fact that each country was a specific case. Moreover, privatization in some
countries was a pretext for putting all commercial activities into the hands
of a single ethnic group. That had led the SubCommission,
resolution 1992/29, to urge the international financial institutions to take
greater account of the adverse impact of their policies and programmes of
structural adjustment on the realization of economic, social and cultural
47. Maintenance of peace and respect for civil rights were of fundamental
importance if civil society was to promote economic, social and cultural
rights. Some Governments continued to ignore the interdependence and
page 12
indivisibility of human rights, whereas a society could not function
effectively unless professional associations were independent of both the
Government and the opposition. Professional associations and cultural
organizations provided
they were able to act freely were
the main actors
that could effectively improve economic, social and cultural rights, because
they represented various segments of society that were at the receiving end of
the policies being implemented.
48. In countries like Ethiopia, where leaders of society were harassed,
imprisoned and forced into exile, there could be no hope of promoting
economic, social and cultural rights. The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade
Unions had recently been banned, and the President of the Ethiopian Teachers'
Association had been arrested in May 1996. Yet professional associations, by
their very nature, reflected the multiethnic and multi-confessional nature of
the country, because what brought them together was not their ethnic or
religious origin but their profession. ASAFED therefore appealed to the
to look into the cases of people unjustly imprisoned for
defending economic, social and cultural rights.
49. It was obvious that development was impossible in a civil war context.
For that reason, in countries where conflicts were deteriorating, everything
possible should be done to establish a dialogue between the parties concerned
without which all previous efforts to promote development would prove to be
pointless. She hoped that the SubCommission
would bring ASAFED's concerns
about the situation of certain African countries to the Commission's
50. Mr. NABI FAI (International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations)
said that, while the universality of economic, social and cultural rights had
been recognized theoretically, their realization remained an elusive goal.
The concept of international solidarity and cooperation was completely
forgotten when the question of economic development arose, and countries were
told to solve their own economic problems.
51. The right to development remained illusory for peoples under foreign
occupation. In addition to never having been able to exercise their right to
the people of Kashmir were also being deprived of their
most basic economic, social and cultural rights. Thousands of people had been
killed by the Indian armed forces and the economy of Kashmir was a shambles.
Deforestation had assumed vast proportions, and the psychophysical
rehabilitation of the people as well as the economic reconstruction of the
region would take years. Referring to article 22 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and article 1, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the
United Nations, he appealed to the international community not to be oblivious
of the right to development of the communities trapped in such situations. A
sincere effort to bring about the peaceful settlement of disputes in such
areas could be the first necessary step in the protection of their human
rights, including the right to development.
52. Mrs. DEGENER (Disabled Peoples' International) said that the issue of
disability was closely connected with poverty. Disabled people belonged to
the poorest of the poor in most countries, and the vast majority of the
500 million disabled persons in the world lived in developing countries. They
were excluded from the mainstream of society and often deprived of everything
page 13
that non-disabled persons took for granted: liberty, social and political
life, work, education and privacy. With the growing economic recession,
disabled persons' economic, social and cultural rights were increasingly
neglected and violated, and many were forced to work in “sheltered workshops”
for a token salary with no workrelated
rights, such as unionization, and to
live in institutions.
53. Although the income of disabled persons was declining, they were
increasingly regarded as too costly for society. As a result, there was
recourse to “euthanasia” laws in order to find a biological solution to a
social and economic problem. While bioethicists were beginning to question
disabled people's right to life, medical practitioners were acting by
withholding medical treatment from some disabled patients.
54. Disabled Peoples' International recommended that disabled persons should
be recognized as a distinct group in Mr. Bengoa's next report on the
relationship between the enjoyment of human rights, in particular economic,
social and cultural rights, and income distribution, and in Mr. Guissé's
report on the question of the impunity of perpetrators of human rights
violations. It also welcomed the innovative approach adopted by Mr. Despouy
in his report on human rights and extreme poverty (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13), and
supported the recommendation that the concept of basic needs should be given a
much broader meaning than that of food needs, but believed that the special
needs of disabled people must also be taken into account. As long as the
concept of basic needs was understood only in relation to nondisabled
persons, the economic, social and cultural rights of the disabled would always
be considered a luxury.
55. His organization recommended that the SubCommission
should invite
Mr. Lindqvist, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Disability, who was
preparing a study on the Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities, to participate in its next session.
Mr. Lindqvist should be asked to report on the implementation of the Standard
Rules and help develop indicators for measuring forms of poverty.
56. Mrs. RUERTA de FURTER (International Federation of University Women)
said that her organization appreciated Mr. Despouy's thorough and meticulous
approach to the question of human rights and extreme poverty reflected in his
report. Certain paragraphs of the report were particularly interesting, in
particular those that revealed how far extreme poverty prevented the exercise
of the most basic civil and political rights, that women and children were
particularly affected by poverty (paras. 37, 42 and 44) and that equality
between men and women would never be achieved unless basic human needs were
met (para. 47).
57. Her organization hoped that the Special Rapporteur would be able to
contribute to the standardization of ways of measuring poverty by preparing
qualitative and quantitative indicators that took into account the situation
of women, who were the main victims of extreme poverty.
58. Mrs. SPALDING (International Association of Educators for World Peace)
said that the realization of economic, social and cultural rights required the
mobilization of a myriad of actors, whether individuals or associations or
professional, business, artistic, intellectual and athletic organizations.
page 14
The informative tools submitted by the Special Rapporteurs under item 8 were
invaluable to activisteducators
for peace. It was gratifying to note in that
connection that Mr. Despouy had included the issues of health and disability
in his final report on extreme poverty, and that Mr. Sacher's final report on
the right to adequate housing (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/12) was most timely, given
the recent United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). The
statistical excellence of Mr. Bengoa's provisional report was particularly
welcome. At a time of restructuring and transition within the United Nations
Secretariat, the principle of a peoplecentred
approach, mentioned in
the SecretaryGeneral's
report on transnational corporations
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/12) was also applicable within the United Nations itself.
59. As essential as it was to hear reports of human rights violations, it
was also important to involve individuals, organizations and Governments in
the process of realizing all the rights laid down in the Universal Declaration
and the two Covenants, in order to make the principles defended by the
a reality.
60. Mr. ZOLLER (International Service for Human Rights) recalled that the
had been one of the first bodies to show that it was not
possible to promote one category of rights and ignore the other. Although the
principle of the indivisibility, interdependence and equality of rights had
been recognized, rights continued to be treated unequally. In that context,
the studies prepared by Mr. Türk, Mr. Eide and Mr. Bengoa on the realization
of economic, social and cultural rights were valuable working tools. On
another matter, the SubCommission
had been discussing the question of the
international economic order for 20 or so years. It was obvious that there
were connections between economic systems and violations of human rights and
that income distribution, both among States and within each State, was unequal
and that unbridled capitalism merely aggravated those disparities. In that
connection, Mr. Guissé's proposal that the question of impunity should be
linked to the cancellation of debt deserved careful consideration.
61. The question of the right to development was just as important, and it
was commendable that the Commission had been able to reach a consensus on the
establishment of a new working group on the right to development, the recent
visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the international financial
institutions and the preparations for a meeting of experts on the question.
That meeting was so important that it was unacceptable for it to be
politicized or appropriated by certain groups. That was why, like many other
NGOs, the International Service for Human Rights did not believe that the
United Nations meeting of experts planned for November 1996 could be held in
Tunisia. The seminar should not be used to mask the serious human rights
violations being committed in that country.
62. Mr. ROMAZZOTTI (International Movement ATD Fourth World) said that
Mr. Despouy's final report on human rights and extreme poverty
(E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/13) represented a major event in the International Year for
the Eradication of Poverty. The Special Rapporteur should be commended for
actually listening to persons living in extreme poverty and for having not
only analysed the relationship between human rights and extreme poverty from a
new standpoint but also compared his knowledge as an eminent lawyer with the
information provided by the very poor themselves. That was the first time
that the very poor had been consulted on their view of human rights, and as
page 15
the Special Rapporteur himself had confirmed, their contribution had enabled
him to make headway in his analysis of human rights and their indivisibility
and had been a crucial factor in helping him to understand the impact of
extreme poverty on human rights. Hence the very poor had heard it reaffirmed
that extreme poverty undermined all human rights and were not, therefore,
responsible for their plight.
63. His organization and the individuals and families living in extreme
poverty were pleased to see that the Special Rapporteur's recommendations
stressed the need for a partnership between the United Nations and the very
poor. In that context, his organization hoped that the SubCommission
see to it that the human rights aspect of extreme poverty was kept at the
centre of the discussions throughout the International Decade for the
Eradication of Poverty and would give effect to Mr. Despouy's recommendations.
Like the 20 or so other NGOs which had signed the joint NGO Fourth World
Committee statement, the International Movement ATD Fourth World hoped that
the SubCommission
would ask for Mr. Despouy's report to be issued in all the
official languages and distributed as widely as possible, in both
international and governmental circles and among individuals and small
associations working with the very poor in the field.
64. Mr. QUAYES (Observer for Bangladesh), speaking in exercise of the right
of reply under agenda item 11, summarized recent events in connection with the
disappearance of a Mrs. Chakma, whose case had been mentioned at the previous
meeting by an NGO. The Government had formally constituted a threemember
committee to look into the case and possibly identify the persons responsible.
The committee would submit its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs within
30 days and had been asked to suggest legal steps in that regard so that such
incidents could be prevented in the future.
65. The initiative of the Bangladesh authorities in writing to the Chairman
of the SubCommission
and providing information concerning the case reflected
the value that Bangladesh attached to transparency. He would keep the
informed of the findings of the committee as soon as the report
was made available.
The meeting rose at 1.15 p.m.