Summary record of the 44th meeting, held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Monday, 27 February 1995 : Commission on Human Rights, 51st session.
|UN Document Symbol||E/CN.4/1995/SR.44|
|Convention||Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities|
|Document Type||Summary Record|
|Subjects||Displaced Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Women's Rights, Forced Prostitution, Women in Armed Conflicts, Women's Status|
Economic and Social
3 March 1995
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 44th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Monday, 27 February 1995, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. BIN HITAM (Malaysia)
later: Mr. MEGHLAOUI (Algeria)
FURTHER PROMOTION AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS,
INCLUDING THE QUESTION OF THE PROGRAMME AND METHODS OF WORK OF THE COMMISSION:
(a) ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES AND WAYS AND MEANS WITHIN THE UNITED NATIONS
SYSTEM FOR IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVE ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND
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 Commission
at this session will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued
shortly after the end of the session.
(b) NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN
(c) COORDINATING ROLE OF THE CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WITHIN THE
UNITED NATIONS BODIES AND MACHINERY DEALING WITH THE PROMOTION
AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(d) HUMAN RIGHTS, MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS (continued)
ADVISORY SERVICES IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RIGHTS (continued)
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN ANY
PART OF THE WORLD, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT
COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES, INCLUDING:
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS
The meeting was called to order at 3.45 p.m.
FURTHER PROMOTION AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS,
INCLUDING THE QUESTION OF THE PROGRAMME AND METHODS OF WORK OF THE COMMISSION:
(a) ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES AND WAYS AND MEANS WITHIN THE UNITED NATIONS
SYSTEM FOR IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVE ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND
(b) NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF
(c) COORDINATING ROLE OF THE CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WITHIN THE
UNITED NATIONS BODIES AND MACHINERY DEALING WITH THE PROMOTION
AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
(d) HUMAN RIGHTS, MASS EXODUSES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
(agenda item 11) (continued) (E/CN.4/1995/5 and Add.1, 42-45, 46, and Add.1,
48, 49, 50 and Add.1-3, 51, 107, 113 and 147; E/CN.4/1995/NGO/5, 8, 22 and 28)
ADVISORY SERVICES IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RIGHTS (agenda item 21) (continued)
(E/CN.4/1995/85, 87 and Add.1, 88, 89 and Add.1 and 90; E/CN.4/1995/NGO/10;
A/49/635 and Add.1)
1. Mr. Young Sam MA (Republic of Korea) said that recent developments with
regard to human rights arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region included three
United Nations workshops for the purpose of discussing human rights issues and
building a consensus on the subject among the States of the region. The first
workshop had been held at Manila in 1990, the second at Jakarta in 1993 and
the third at Seoul in July 1994.
2. The Seoul workshop, which had been hosted by his Government in
cooperation with the Centre for Human Rights, had agreed that such workshops
should be organized annually, if possible, in order to promote open and free
discussions of human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The
participants had taken note of the need for an evolutionary approach to the
development of a regional human rights arrangement and had recognized the
importance of the continued involvement of the United Nations in that process.
3. The Seoul workshop had also considered the question of national human
rights institutions and their role in the promotion and protection of human
rights in the region. The participants had noted that, in a region as diverse
as the Asia-Pacific region, the implementation of human rights at the national
level was crucial. In that regard, the workshop had welcomed the recent
decisions of several States to establish or to consider the establishment of
national human rights institutions.
4. The workshop had also discussed such topics as national human rights
action plans to be drawn up by each country in order to facilitate,
inter alia, the ratification of international human rights instruments.
Participants had also been advised how the Centre for Human Rights could
enhance its role in the promotion of human rights in the region by providing
more information on the programmes that were available under the Voluntary
Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.
5. His Government would do everything possible to implement the agreements
reached at the workshop which, it hoped, would serve as an important stepping
stone towards the creation of a better human rights environment in the
6. Mr. GOONETILLEKE (Sri Lanka) recalled that, at the Commissionâs
fiftieth session, his delegation had addressed only the positive
aspects of the report of the Representative of the Secretary-General
(E/CN.4/1994/44/Add.1), who had visited Sri Lanka in November 1993. That
approach was to be explained by his Governmentâs commitment to the policy of
cooperation and openness with the human rights mechanisms of the
United Nations and its desire not to obstruct the Representative from
comprehensively addressing the worldwide phenomenon of internally displaced
persons. Furthermore, given its positive policy in respect of internally
displaced persons, his Government welcomed praise as well as criticism.
7. However, the Representativeâs current report (E/CN.4/1995/50), contained
certain unfortunate imprecisions which needed correction. For example, in his
analysis of the regional parameters influencing internal developments in
countries, the Representative referred to "The involvement of India in the
internal armed conflict of Sri Lanka" as "exemplary" (para. 27). His
delegation would welcome some clarification as to the meaning of that
8. In paragraph 28, which dealt with protection and assistance concerns,
the report stated that "the situation of displaced indigenous people, in
particular in Colombia, and to a lesser extent in Sri Lanka, was also a
subject of concern". That reference, which had been absent from the
Representativeâs two previous reports, was quite incorrect, since no displaced
indigenous community existed in Sri Lanka. Internal displacement in the
country was not limited to a particular population or group but affected a
cross-section of the Sri Lankan community, which comprised Sinhalese, Tamils
and Muslims. Indeed, nowhere in his report did the Representative refer to
having met any displaced indigenous people.
9. The report contained many other sweeping and baseless remarks, such as
the statement that "displaced Tamil women in Sri Lanka had been raped prior to
their displacement" (para. 30). The ends of justice would have been met if
the report had provided the basis for that finding.
10. The Representativeâs previous report (E/CN.4/1994/44/Add.1) had called
upon the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) to abide by the principles of
humanitarian law, cease further expulsions of Muslims or other ethnic
communities and permit the free exit of Tamils from the areas it controlled.
Paragraph 60 of the current report stated that "United Nations sources have
reported that no new expulsions were reported in 1994". Anyone familiar with
the situation in Sri Lanka would concede that no new expulsions had occurred,
but as a result not of the LTTEâs willingness to abide by humanitarian law but
rather because there were no more Muslims to be expelled from the areas it
11. His delegation had focused on the inaccuracies in the report in good
faith and was well aware that there were numerous areas in which balanced and
positive views had been expressed. He wished to pledge his Governmentâs
continued cooperation to the Representative of the Secretary-General in the
discharge of his mandate.
12. The importance which Sri Lanka attached to the work of the Representative
was shown by the fact that one of the first initiatives taken by the newly
established Government was to study the problem of internal displacement and
to formulate revised policy guidelines. The Government had also provided
information on the follow-up action taken on the specific proposals addressed
to it by the Representative. Since the submission of that response, however,
a number of important developments had taken place in the country. An
agreement on cessation of hostilities, signed between the Government and the
LTTE, had come into force on 8 January 1995. That achievement was a first
step on the road to a durable solution. Several committees, headed by eminent
persons from Canada, Norway and the Netherlands, had been appointed to oversee
the cessation of hostilities. The Government had also pledged US$ 800 million
for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Northern Province, including
the restoration of the electricity supply and the reconstruction of roads,
railways, schools and hospitals.
13. With regard to freedom of opinion and expression, his Government had
proposed a number of constitutional reforms aimed at enshrining the right to
information and correspondence among the cluster of new freedoms. Moreover,
in response to the concern expressed by interested sections of the
international and local non-governmental community about the restrictions
placed on media freedom during the previous administration, media reforms had
also been proposed with the aim of making the media free and open. However,
the legacy inherited by the Government from an era during which the ethics of
journalism and the inviolability of journalists had not been respected could
not be easily overcome. The Governmentâs unequivocal condemnation of the
recent attack on two journalists in suburban Colombo had nevertheless sent a
clear message that it would not condone any attacks on press freedom.
14. In the area of national human rights mechanisms, legislation establishing
a national human rights commission was currently before Parliament. The
commissionâs functions would be to monitor the propriety of executive and
administrative practices and procedures brought to its notice. Its
investigative functions would include inquiries into complaints regarding the
infringement of fundamental rights. It would also exercise advisory functions
in the formulation of legislation and administrative directives and procedures
and would have the power to initiate investigations, including investigations
into alleged violations of human rights by members of terrorist groups.
15. Finally, his delegation welcomed the preliminary report of the Special
Rapporteur on violence against women (E/CN.4/1995/42), which provided a
thorough analysis of the problems involved. His Government would give due
consideration to the recommendations contained in paragraph 315 of the report.
16. Mr. NIKIFOROV (Russian Federation) said that the phenomenon of mass
exoduses and displaced persons had taken on such massive proportions as to
threaten the peace and stability of whole regions. Mass population movements
were closely linked to systematic and gross violations of human rights and
fundamental freedoms, and led to a vicious circle whereby those rights and
freedoms were further violated.
17. Racial, ethnic and religious intolerance had become the scourge of
contemporary society. The policy of fostering the development of indigenous
nations at the expense of the rights and freedom of national minorities, more
specifically Russian-speaking minorities, had resulted in an alarming increase
in the migratory flows into the territory of the Russian Federation. A
further cause of mass exoduses was armed separatism, which condemned peoples
to suffering and disregarded their basic right to live peacefully in their
homes, compelling thousands of them to become refugees in their own country.
18. Among the still unresolved questions raised in the report of the
Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons
(E/CN.4/1995/50) were the selection and empowerment of an operative organ of
the United Nations system to provide rapid and effective protection for
internally displaced persons, and the elaboration of a code of principles
applicable to such persons. A wide range of issues undoubtedly fell within
the domestic competence of States but the elaboration of common standards
would help to ensure that individual countries regarded the protection of and
assistance to internally displaced persons by the international community as a
supplement to their own efforts rather than as interference in their domestic
19. In that regard, the paragraph in General Assembly resolution 48/135
welcoming the provision of protection and assistance to the internally
displaced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) under specific circumstances was extremely significant.
An experiment in such cooperation was currently under way in the
Russian Federation, and the Russian authorities were ready to develop it
further. In that connection, his Government had been one of the initiators of
a proposal to convene a conference to consider the problems of refugees,
returnees and displaced persons in the CIS countries and neighbouring States,
which was to be held under the auspices of UNHCR not later than in 1996.
20. His delegation supported the renewal of the mandate of the Representative
for a further three-year period. Among the questions requiring the
Representativeâs urgent attention were a strategy for preventing new flows of
internally displaced persons, the role of regional organizations and
associations, strengthening the early-warning mechanism and the adoption of
measures to forestall such flows. In his delegationâs view, the strategy must
include measures to eliminate the consequences of movements of refugees and
displaced persons, and a strengthening of international machinery for the
provision of humanitarian aid in exceptional situations.
21. Throughout its existence, the United Nations had progressively
intensified its efforts to establish machinery in the field of the
encouragement and protection of human rights. That process involved two
closely related stages. The first was that of standard-setting and the
second - which had begun at the end of the 1960s - was the development of
monitoring mechanisms and procedures to ensure the application of those
standards. There were currently 26 special procedures of various kinds which,
together with treaty and other bodies comprised the so-called "human rights
22. The rapid growth of that machinery had, however, been accompanied by a
corresponding growth in internal and external problems. Recognition of the
seriousness of those problems, which were becoming an obstacle to its smooth
functioning, and of the need for action on the part of the Commission, were
apparent in the recommendations adopted at the first meeting of special
rapporteurs, special representatives, experts and chairpersons of working
groups, held in mid-1994.
23. There could be no doubt that one of the basic shortcomings of the human
rights machinery, namely, duplication, resulted from a lack of coordination in
the work of the various procedures, creating problems for both the experts and
Governments, and resulting in an overloading of the Centre for Human Rights
and irrational use of its resources. Coordination of activities or exchanges
of experience and information among the special procedures and treaty bodies
were thus necessary. The constant attempts to restructure and reorganize the
work of the Centre did not facilitate that task. On the other hand, it must
be acknowledged that, in its inconsistent and sporadic activities to determine
who should play that basic coordinating role, the Commission itself had not
promoted the development of close coordination.
24. An encouraging aspect of the Commissionâs work at its current session was
the fact that many draft resolutions were beginning to give a tangible content
to the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a post whose
establishment should lead to an improvement in the functioning of the human
rights machinery. His delegation was confident that the High Commissioner
would take the necessary steps to ensure that that machinery was put to the
most effective use.
25. National institutions had also an important role to play in the
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The international
conference on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human
rights, held in Paris in October 1991, had provided a decisive impetus for the
establishment of such structures in States in which such institutions had not
previously existed, and the Principles relating to the status of national
institutions had proved a useful instrument in that regard. Moreover, the
establishment in 1993 of the Coordinating Committee on national institutions
would help to strengthen the global infrastructure of such institutions and
their role at the national level. A conspicuous example of that role was
provided by the activity of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights of
the Russian Federation, who was acting as a defender of human rights and
freedoms during a tragic period in the countryâs history.
26. On agenda item 21, he said that, although there had been positive
advances in the Centreâs activity in that area, the potential of advisory
services in establishing the bases for a culture of human rights in individual
countries was still far from being fully exploited. One of the crucial
components of advisory services was their preventive and deterrent function in
unstable States. However, it was important not to devote less attention to
those countries that had recently embarked on the road to democratic reforms.
27. The Centre for Human Rights and the Voluntary Fund for Technical
Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights must together devote more energy to
publicizing projects with a view to finding ways and means of implementing
them. Cooperation between the Centre and the United Nations Development
Programme, with regular stocktaking and evaluation of projects, might lead to
fruitful results in that area. Due attention should be paid to the
recommendations of treaty bodies and other mechanisms regarding the need to
provide advisory services to individual countries.
28. Ms. LITHGOW (Australia) said that her Government and the Australian Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission had drawn upon experience in Australia
in responding to requests from other countries, particularly in the Asia and
Pacific region, for advice on establishing independent national human rights
institutions. The establishment of such institutions would continue to
provide momentum towards the development of a regional arrangement for the
promotion and protection of human rights in the Asia and Pacific region, along
the lines of the regional mechanisms already in place in Europe, the Americas
and Africa, which complemented United Nations machinery and national
institutions and provided a valuable mechanism for sharing national
experiences. Her delegation had consistently sponsored General Assembly and
Commission resolutions on regional arrangements for the promotion and
protection of human rights in the Asia and Pacific region, and looked forward
to further cooperation between the Governments and national institutions in
the region and the Centre for Human Rights.
29. On the question of the human rights of people with disabilities, she said
that a major advance in the protection of the human rights of the disabled in
Australia had come with the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Act of
1992, which ensured that people with a disability were entitled to the same
rights and opportunities as other Australian citizens by providing a framework
for the elimination of discrimination in employment, education, the provision
of goods and services, and areas such as access to public buildings.
30. The legislation addressed Australiaâs obligations under the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons and instruments
such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ILO
Convention No. 111 concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and
Occupation. It had already proved very effective in dealing with issues such
as access by the disabled to mainstream government services that the rest of
the community took for granted. Her Government would welcome any opportunity
to improve regional and international cooperation designed further to protect
the rights of the disabled.
31. Her delegation was concerned about the plight of those suffering
discrimination because of their HIV-positive status. Such discrimination
fostered the spread of the virus, making it difficult for individuals to
acknowledge that they were infected and thereby ensure that others were
protected. In communities where rights relating to information, education and
employment were respected, people were in a stronger position to protect
themselves and others from HIV infection. Australia had passed legislation
making it unlawful to discriminate against people infected with HIV/AIDS or
believed to be so infected, and urged Member States to support the
establishment of a joint and co-sponsored United Nations Programme on
32. Another area of discrimination still to receive serious attention within
the United Nations was that of sexual orientation. Discussion of that issue -
though inevitably difficult in view of the diversity of political, cultural
and religious traditions in the international community - was nevertheless
long overdue. Australia had legislation relating to discrimination on the
basis of sexual preference in employment, and urged the United Nations to
enter into a dialogue aimed at ensuring that individuals were not
discriminated against on those grounds.
33. Her delegation was also committed to the elimination of violence against
women, and had been a sponsor of the resolution establishing the post of
Special Rapporteur on that question. It generally supported the
recommendations contained in the Special Rapporteurâs preliminary report
(E/CN.4/1995/42) and encouraged all States to provide comprehensive
information to support her ongoing work. It favoured the presentation by the
Special Rapporteur of her preliminary report to the Fourth World Conference on
Women, as well as her initiative in encouraging the formulation of an optional
protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
34. In 1992, the Australian National Committee on Violence Against Women had
released a national strategy providing objectives in the areas of legislative
reform, enforcement of existing laws, education and access to legal services.
Her Government had commissioned a major inquiry by the Australian Law Reform
Commission into womenâs equality before the law, which had dealt with the
links between access to justice and violence. One major recommendation of the
inquiry was the establishment of a national womenâs justice programme to
address inequality before the law. Her Government had also attempted to
address the issue of gender bias within the legal profession, by providing
funds for the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration to develop a
gender-awareness programme for magistrates and judges.
35. National institutions could play a vital role in all those areas, and
Australia regarded the creation of institutions and machinery to promote the
observance of international human rights standards at international, regional
and domestic levels as a priority.
36. Mr. DOBREV (Bulgaria) said that rationalization of the Commissionâs
agenda and working methods was one of the most effective ways of improving the
functioning of the United Nations human rights machinery. His delegation
therefore regretted the failure of the open-ended working group to reach a
consensus on any of the items submitted for its consideration by the
37. The Commission was a complex body which, over the years, had acquired a
variety of functions. It was first and foremost a political forum but also a
standard-setting body and an organ with para-judicial functions. The
Commission was also, however, a forum for discussing ways and means of
promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and examining cases of gross
violations of human rights. It had thus become an important means of ensuring
adequate transparency in the human rights policies of Governments. Any
attempt to rationalize the overall work of the Commission should preserve that
balance and take into account three principles.
38. First of all, reform should enable the Commission to play an important
role in preventing large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental
freedoms and not merely in registering them. Secondly, the reform of the
Commissionâs agenda should reflect the new political realities in the world.
And, thirdly, reform should increase the transparency of the Commissionâs
39. His delegation was pleased to note that some of the reforms suggested by
the open-ended working group were being implemented during the Commissionâs
current session, including a simplified procedure for the delivery of
statements by dignitaries, the removal of certain outdated items from the
agenda, and the consolidation of several resolutions pertaining to a single
40. The coordination of human rights activities within the United Nations
system was of utmost importance for the effective promotion of human rights
and fundamental freedoms. In that connection, the Centre for Human Rights had
an important role to play as the focal point of all United Nations human
rights activities. The Centre, however, urgently needed assistance in both
budgetary and human resources. Increased resources should therefore be sought
from within existing and future budgets of the Organization and from
extrabudgetary sources. For its part, the Centre should take steps to improve
its administration and management.
41. His Government thus strongly supported the decision of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, in accordance with his mandate to
rationalize and streamline the United Nations human rights machinery, to
examine the Secretariatâs human rights machinery, particularly the Centre for
42. His delegation appreciated the High Commissionerâs firm commitment to the
fulfilment of his mandate, the preventive aspect of which was the most
important. The tragic case of Rwanda was an example of how the post of
High Commissioner for Human Rights could serve as an early-warning mechanism
for gross violations of human rights. To be able to play a preventive
function, however, the High Commissioner needed to have an independent
information-gathering system. Member States should therefore give urgent
consideration to the possibility of voting additional budgetary resources in
the General Assembly to enable the High Commissioner to discharge his mandate
fully and effectively.
43. Mr. Meghlaoui (Algeria), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.
44. Mr. HAREL (France), speaking also on behalf of the European Union and of
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, said that
the programme of advisory services and technical assistance, which represented
an important part of the work of the Centre for Human Rights and the High
Commissioner for Human Rights, was vital to the building of democracies and
the prevention of human rights violations.
45. The promotion and protection of human rights provided the basic
foundation for development, the ultimate goal of which was the dignity and
well-being of the individual. Achieving that goal required a transparent and
democratic structure, effective management of public affairs and primacy of
the rule of law.
46. Advisory services could be used to prevent the outbreak of conflict. In
the case of Rwanda, the international community had failed to realize in time
the gravity of the situation in the country. The decision of the High
Commissioner to send emergency advisory assistance to neighbouring Burundi had
thus been appropriate.
47. Advisory services were also needed after conflicts had been resolved,
when countries were in the process of rebuilding democratic institutions and
holding elections. Such assistance helped restore respect for human rights,
as in the case of Cambodia. Advisory services could also help States manage
the reintegration of returnees.
48. There was also a need for advisory services in conjunction with the work
of United Nations peace-keeping forces. All peace-keeping operations should
include a human rights component and make full use of the advisory services
49. Recourse to advisory services and technical assistance did not in any way
relieve States of their obligation to promote and protect human rights.
Advisory services and technical assistance should never take the place of
United Nations monitoring and investigation activities.
50. It was not possible to achieve economic development and political
stability without effective enjoyment of human rights. In fact, any action in
favour of human rights was ultimately in the service of global development.
The countries he was representing thus firmly rejected the argument that human
rights activities had the effect of draining potential resources from the
sphere of development.
51. The countries he was representing endorsed the high priority accorded by
the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General to the
programme of advisory services and technical assistance. The World Conference
on Human Rights had recommended that that programme be strengthened, including
an increase in the allocation of regular budget resources. The programme must
be developed to meet the ever-increasing demands for services. Experienced
staff must be hired and outside expertise should be used more effectively.
The Centre for Human Rights must carry out thorough assessments before
proposing and implementing any particular project.
52. A clear distinction must be made between advisory services, financed from
the regular budget, and technical assistance, financed by the Voluntary Fund
for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. The regular budget
should be structured to finance all basic activities such as training,
seminars, fellowships and the advisory services of experts. Despite the
substantial increase in regular budget funding, however, the Voluntary Fund
would still have to cover activities which would normally be funded from the
53. The countries he was representing appreciated the work of the Fundâs
recently appointed Board of Trustees. The Board had helped improve the
management of the Fund, as demonstrated by the increased transparency of the
information transmitted to donors and beneficiaries. In that connection, it
would be useful for the Board to hold more information meetings which, as in
the past, would be open to all States.
54. No one had yet been named to replace the previous Fund Coordinator, who
had left the post in May 1994. The Board of Trustees needed a Coordinator in
order to fulfil its mandate effectively. It was regrettable that the Boardâs
recommendations did not always receive adequate follow-up.
55. Voluntary contributions, the majority of which were provided by European
Union members, had reached a near-record high in 1994. Yet there were still
not enough resources to meet the growing demands for services. The Centre for
Human Rights must continue to examine the role of advisory services and
endeavour to collaborate even more closely with United Nations organs and
56. Mr. ENDO (Japan) said that the World Summit for Social Development and
the Fourth World Conference on Women would assist in achieving an equal
partnership between women and men.
57. His Government attached great importance to womenâs rights and welfare.
In 1985, Japan had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women and, two years later, it had adopted a national
plan of action in line with the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the
Advancement of Women. While it had made some progress in promoting the cause
of womenâs rights, particularly in the area of de jure equality, there were
still certain difficult obstacles to be overcome.
58. Violence against women was not a new issue. Past incidents must be faced
with honesty and directness. Efforts must be made to change social and
cultural behaviour patterns, with particular emphasis on everyday life. Women
were particularly vulnerable in times of social turmoil and they were often
victims in situations involving conflict. In that connection, he appreciated
the work of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, who had provided
an assessment of current situations along with recommendations for action.
59. His Government had conducted in 1993 a study on the issue of "comfort
women". It had repeatedly expressed its profound and sincere remorse and
apologies to all those women who had suffered the immeasurable pain and
incurable physical and psychological wounds associated with that experience.
However, with regard to the legal aspects of the issue, all claims relating to
the Second World War, including those concerning "comfort women", had been
dealt with in good faith in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations
and other relevant international agreements. Moreover, former "comfort women"
had no legal grounds under international law for claiming compensation from
the Japanese State.
60. In a statement delivered in August 1994, the Prime Minister of Japan had
expressed his sincere apologies and remorse with regard to the sufferings of
the "comfort women". In that connection, he had announced the Peace,
Friendship and Exchange initiative, designed to promote mutual understanding
with the countries and regions concerned, to help face the past directly and
to transmit information about it to future generations. The initiative, which
would begin in 1995, would support historical research and would also
establish exchange programmes and, possibly, a historical-document centre.
61. The Prime Minister had also expressed the desire to find a way for all
Japanese people to participate in the process of apology and remorse. As a
step in that direction, establishment of the Asian peace and friendship fund
for women was currently under consideration.
62. His Government was keenly aware of the importance of international
cooperation and intended to place even greater emphasis on economic
cooperation in areas relating to the advancement of women.
63. Mr. ZHANG Yishan (China) said that rationalization of the work of the
Commission on Human Rights had become a matter of general concern. The
informal open-ended working group on the issue had allowed delegations to
exchange views and it had been generally acknowledged that the Commission was
in need of a comprehensive reform. Reclustering agenda items was only part of
the process. Provided that delegations worked together in a spirit of good
will and compromise, his delegation was sure that consensus could be reached
on all issues relating to the reform.
64. At the meeting of the open-ended working group in September 1994, his
delegation had made a number of suggestions, including streamlining the
agenda, giving equal treatment to the two categories of human rights, reducing
the Commissionâs workload, standardizing the participation of non-governmental
organizations and eliminating selectivity.
65. The composition of the Commission was still not a rational one and did
not conform to the principle of equitable geographical distribution. That
matter should be placed on the agenda as soon as possible. Two suggestions in
that regard were worthy of consideration: a proportional increase in the
members from underrepresented regions and expansion of the Commissionâs
membership to include all the Member States of the United Nations.
66. Thematic rapporteurs and working groups had done a great deal to promote
and protect human rights. In some cases, however, working groups were acting
beyond the scope of their mandate; they were refusing to give serious
consideration to replies from Governments, failing to respect sovereign
judicial decisions, and reaching hasty decisions. Such methods cast doubts on
the impartiality of those working groups.
67. Thematic rapporteurs and working groups played an important role in
monitoring the implementation of human rights instruments and channelling
communications between the Commission and Governments. His delegation hoped
that they would live up to the trust placed in them by the members of the
Commission and carry out their work in an impartial and objective manner. In
his delegationâs view, it would be appropriate to elaborate a set of rules and
regulations governing the working methods of rapporteurs and working groups, a
task that could be integrated into the efforts to reform the Commissionâs
68. The Centre for Human Rights had already held three human rights workshops
in the Asia and Pacific region, which had facilitated cooperation among the
countries concerned. Such activities were useful and should be encouraged.
69. States were responsible for promoting and protecting the human rights of
their citizens and national institutions were essential to that task.
Nevertheless, the type of human rights institution varied from country to
country depending on its particular circumstances. In China, human rights
institutions were not subsumed under one single entity; instead, a network of
structures ensured the promotion and protection of human rights. The National
Commission for Ethnic Minority Affairs was responsible for human rights issues
involving minorities. Government Communications Offices handled human rights
complaints and special divisions monitored the activities of Government
officials. Civil and judicial committees on human rights issues existed at
various levels within the Peopleâs Congress.
70. As China achieved greater economic development and strengthened its
democratic institutions, the human rights network would play an increasingly
important role in the promotion and protection of human rights, helping to
maintain social harmony and stability.
71. Mr. MIRCEA (Romania) said that the Principles relating to the status of
national institutions, contained in the annex to General Assembly
resolution 48/134, were valuable because they provided the basic framework for
the establishment and operation of such institutions.
72. The Secretary-General had submitted to the Commission a report concerning
possible forms of participation by national institutions in United Nations
meetings dealing with human rights. That issue could not be easily resolved
and it was, perhaps, even premature to raise it. Moreover, the
recommendations contained in the Secretary-Generalâs report would not
necessarily lead to a consensus solution.
73. The most effective action at that juncture would be to promote the
development of national institutions, which should be designed in response to
the problems and conditions specific to the country concerned. The Commission
and the Centre for Human Rights should continue helping national institutions
by providing technical assistance. In that connection it should be borne in
mind that the basic role of national institutions and non-governmental
organizations was to help resolve rapidly and efficiently, and in cooperation
with Government institutions, concrete problems in the field of human rights.
74. Another topic that should be considered in the framework of sub-item (a)
of agenda item 11 was that of tolerance, which had already formed the subject
of two important resolutions, namely General Assembly resolution 48/126
proclaiming 1995 to be the United Nations Year for Tolerance and
resolution 49/213 containing the main recommendations concerning the Year.
The Commission and Sub-Commission should make a substantial contribution to
that effort, notably in the preparation of the declaration of principles and
programme of action scheduled for adoption by the General Assembly at its
fifty-first session as a follow-up document to the Year. The principle of
tolerance, which was enshrined in the preamble to the Charter of the
United Nations and had been vigorously reaffirmed at the World Conference on
Human Rights, was eminently suited to codification.
75. All the relevant bodies of the United Nations system should be mobilized
to contribute to the documentation that would be submitted to the
General Assembly at its fifty-first session. It would also be useful if the
Centre for Human Rights were to hold a workshop or a technical meeting of
experts on the subject later in 1995. Building on the results of those
efforts, the Commission would then be in a position to adopt a substantive
resolution as its contribution to the United Nations Year for Tolerance.
76. Mr. NATWAR SINGH (India), having described the progress made in India
towards securing the human rights of women, said it was not easy to talk about
the topic in general terms, because the status of women cut across
socio-economic, cultural and religious lines and depended upon the group to
which the women belonged. However, women had always enjoyed high status in
India. There was no prejudice against women rising to the top in any field.
The Indian National Congress had had three women Presidents even before
independence, and the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, symbolized the
strength of women in modern Indian society. Since independence, numerous laws
had been enacted to protect women against discrimination and such evils as
child marriage, dowry and rape. Laws relating to marriage, divorce,
succession, inheritance, maintenance, custody of children and adoption had
been dramatically reformed.
77. Despite the traditional role and significant presence of women in public
life in India, however, there had been a need to strengthen their economic and
social status in the underdeveloped economy which India had inherited at the
time of independence. Initiatives had had to be taken for positive
discrimination in favour of women. Budget outlays for women-related issues
had increased, particularly for education, health care and employment. As a
result, life expectancy for women had doubled in the past 40 years, female
literacy had risen to almost 40 per cent in 1991 as against less than
25 per cent in 1981, the enrolment of girls in primary school had increased
eightfold since 1950, and the number of women employed in the organized sector
had doubled over the past 20 years.
78. Special provisions had been enacted to fight crime against women. For
example, if a women died in unnatural circumstances within seven years of
marriage and there was a history of that woman having been ill-treated by her
husband or his family in order to extract a dowry, the death would be
considered as a dowry death and criminal proceedings could be instituted.
Similarly, if a woman was treated cruelly by her husband or his family, it was
regarded as an offence, cruelty being defined as conduct which might drive a
woman to suicide. Stringent provisions had been introduced to put a halt to
rape in police custody; in such cases, the minimum sentence had been increased
from 7 years to 10. In all such crimes against women, the burden of proof
had, broadly speaking, been shifted on to the accused.
79. Special programmes had been started to inform women of their legal
rights. Family courts had been set up in which women could avail themselves
of the assistance of trained counsellors in resolving disputes and obtaining
maintenance payments without delay.
80. It was regrettable that the delegation of Pakistan should have abused yet
another agenda item to raise a political and territorial matter. Driven by
its unceasing compulsion to lower the level of debate in the Commission, it
had alleged that there had been a mass exodus of people from the Indian state
of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The fact
of the matter was that there had been human rights violations in Jammu and
Kashmir, but that they had been committed by terrorists who had been aided and
abetted by Pakistan. That had resulted in an exodus of nearly 300,000 people
from the valley - not to Pakistan, but to Jammu and other parts of India.
81. Mr. BHUIYAN (Bangladesh) said that some way had to be found of
substantially reducing the huge amount of paperwork to be processed by the
Centre for Human Rights. One way would be to have an arrangement for
checking the credentials of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the
prima facie veracity of communications. Another would be to require a clear
indication in a communication as to whether the available means of legal
redress had been exhausted. That would make it possible to focus on
communications of genuine substance.
82. The Centre should set up its own data bank in which all communications,
the responses of Governments and the decisions of the Working Group on
Situations and the Sub-Commission could be stored. That would help eliminate
communications of a repetitive nature and those which had previously been
disposed of by the Sub-Commission.
83. With regard to the documents produced by the Centre, his delegation had
already brought to the attention of the Commission certain irregularities
concerning which the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights had
subsequently provided clarification. His Government would like to reiterate,
however, that the Centre must not decide issues on its own or pass on
unauthorized information, even for in-house consumption within the
United Nations system. When a communication in that regard was received from
a Government or regional group, the Centre must address the matter with
priority, provide the necessary information or clarification to the respective
Government or group and take any follow-up action required. His Government
looked forward to receiving an official reply to its communication to the
Centre in which, it hoped, details would also be forthcoming.
84. Mr. SIDAHMED (Sudan) said that the United Nations programme of advisory
services, whose original purpose had been to help developing countries to
achieve full realization of human rights, had unfortunately been misused by
some major Powers to exert political pressure on third-world countries, in
disregard of the established legal and constitutional structures in those
countries and the extremely difficult economic conditions they had to face in
the aftermath of long periods of colonial exploitation.
85. The US$ 13 million allocated to finance the activities of the advisory
services since the beginning of the programme in 1988 showed just how
inadequate the United Nations efforts had been, especially since only part of
that amount was financed from the United Nations regular budget, the rest
coming from the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human
Rights, despite the Fundâs critical financial situation.
86. The fact that there were two sources of allocations would result in
administrative difficulties in the future and might well lead to favouritism
in awarding funds. His own country was a case in point. Sudan had been
requesting assistance from the Centre since 1991, but to no avail. That led
his delegation to conclude that the Centre for Human Rights had applied a
selective approach in providing advisory services and technical assistance.
87. The picture given in the Secretary-Generalâs report (E/CN.4/1995/89)
regarding the level and scope of advisory and technical services was
incomplete, because the report did not explain why certain requests by States
had gone unanswered or indicated any efforts being made within the Centre to
strengthen the Technical Cooperation Branch or clarify the standards under
which services were provided.
88. In the view of his delegation, it was important to establish clear
standards for awarding services: complete and prompt consideration must be
given to applications by States; the details of such requests must be studied
carefully with the State concerned; no model or standard should be imposed on
States, and the social and political conditions of the applicant State must be
taken into account; and no political considerations should be applied or
connection made with any politically motivated resolutions adopted against the
applicant State by the Commission on Human Rights.
89. The current attempts to link the awarding of advisory and technical
services to cooperation with non-governmental organizations was yet another
example of the politicization of such services. His delegation was dismayed
that a State could be forced to deal with a non-governmental organization
whose sole purpose was to destroy the social and traditional cultures
prevalent therein for thousands of years, while national NGOs that were closer
to the reality of life in the third-world countries were completely ignored.
QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS IN ANY PART
OF THE WORLD, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT
COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES, INCLUDING:
(a) QUESTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CYPRUS (agenda item 12) (continued)
Statement on Chechnya
90. The CHAIRMAN said that a statement had been agreed upon by the Commission
and all its regional groups concerning the situation of human rights in the
Republic of Chechnya. He then read out the following statement:
"The Commission on Human Rights considers with concern the
situation of human rights in the Republic of Chechnya. Expressing its
deep concern over the disproportionate use of force by the Russian armed
forces, it deplores the grave violations of human rights before and after
the beginning of the present crisis, as well as of international
humanitarian law and the continuation of these violations.
The Commission expresses its deep preoccupation with the continued
fighting and notes that a lasting cease-fire is not being carried out on
the ground. The Commission strongly deplores the high number of victims
and the suffering inflicted on the civilian population who are subjected
to the effects of armed confrontation and on displaced persons. It also
deplores the serious destruction of installations and infrastructure used
by civilians. It condemns all violations or attacks on human rights and
international humanitarian law and calls for all those who have committed
violations of human rights against individuals to be brought to justice.
The Commission on Human Rights calls urgently for an immediate
cessation of the fighting and of violations of human rights and to hold a
dialogue without delay with the aim of achieving a peaceful solution to
the crisis, with respect for the territorial integrity and the
Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as a guarantee of human
rights, the restoration of constitutional order and the organization of
free and fair elections in the Republic of Chechnya. The Commission
calls for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and for the unhindered
delivery of humanitarian aid to all groups of the civilian population in
need and free access to all areas of the region of the Chechen crisis for
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and all other
humanitarian organizations active in the region.
The Commission on Human Rights supports the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in its efforts to seek a
durable solution, with respect for human rights. In this connection, the
Commission welcomes the decision adopted on 3 February 1995 by the
Permanent Council of the OSCE after the report from the Personal
Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the Republic of
Chechnya and urges the Russian Federation to cooperate constructively to
further efforts within the framework of the OSCE.
The Commission on Human Rights calls for all those who have been
detained during the crisis to be treated in conformity with international
humanitarian law and for the ICRC to be permitted to have access to them,
in order to verify the conditions of their detention and treatment. To
help provide aid to the victims, the Commission asks the Russian
authorities to facilitate the activity of humanitarian and human rights
The Commission on Human Rights requests the High Commissioner for
Human Rights to continue a dialogue with the Russian Government in the
implementation of his mandate with a view to securing respect for all
human rights and to pursue his contacts with the Chairman-in-Office of
The Commission on Human Rights will continue to follow the
development of the situation in the Republic of Chechnya and requests the
Secretary-General to report on the situation of human rights in the
Republic of Chechnya during its fifty-second session under the
appropriate item of its agenda."
The meeting rose at 5.55 p.m.