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September 17, 2014
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Current Concerns  >  2007  >  No 5, 2007  >  The Human Right to Peace [printversion]

The Human Right to Peace

Spanish International Law Experts demand on Extension of the UN-Charter

The Spanish Society for the Advancement of the International Human Rights Law adopted in October 2006 the “Luarca Declaration on the Human Right to Peace”, which represents the result of many meetings of Spanish intellectuals and professors of international law and international relations in the years 2004-2006.

The Association is currently organizing regional meetings in Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Europe and the Arab world. In March 2007 a consultation will take place at the Palais des Nations to coincide with the fourth session of the Human Rights Council. The purpose of these meetings is to take into account the approach of different cultures in relation to the human rights to peace, and to focus on the mutual relationship between peace and human rights.

The international prohibition of aggression contained in article 2, paragraph 4, of the UN Charter may also be viewed from the aspect of a human right to peace. War as an instrument of national policy must be outlawed. Preventive or preemptive wars must never be allowed again. Among the so-called third generation rights, the right to peace is paramount, because, unless humanity enjoys peace, it cannot exercise its first and second generation rights, namely its civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

On 12 November 1984 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 39/11 annexing the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, which reaffirms “that the principal aim of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security” and the “aspirations of all peoples to eradicate war from the life of mankind and, above all, to avert a world-wide nuclear catastrophe”. By virtue of operative paragraph 2, the declaration proclaims “that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each State.” In paragraph 3, the declaration “demands that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.”

The General Assembly declaration has been reaffirmed in countless resolutions, including by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In its resolution 2002/71 of 25 April 2002, the Commission links the right to peace with the right to development, affirms “that all States should promote the establishment, maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security and, to that end, should do their utmost to achieve general and complete disarmament under effective international control, as well as to ensure that the resources released by effective disarmament measures are used for comprehensive development, in particular that of the developing countries” and urges “the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development, with a view to reducing the widening gap between developed and developing countries.”

Below are some of the principal articles contained in the Luarca Declaration.

Prof. Dr. iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas, www.alfreddezayas.com

PART I
ELEMENTS OF THE HUMAN RIGHT TO PEACE

Section A. Rights

[...]

Article 3
Right to human security

Everyone has the right to human security, which shall include inter alia:
a) The right to have the material instruments, means and resources which enable him fully to enjoy a life worthy of human dignity and, to that end, the right to have essential food and drinking water, primary health care, basic clothing and housing and a basic education;
b) The right to enjoy fair conditions of employment and trade union participation, and the right to the protection of the social services, on equal terms for persons having the same occupation or providing the same service.

Article 4
Right to live in safe and healthy environment

Human beings and peoples have the right to live in a private and public environment which is safe and healthy, and to receive protection against acts of unlawful violence, irrespective of whether they are perpetrated by state or non-state actors;

Article 5
Right to disobedience and conscientious objection

Everyone, individually or in a group, has the right to civil disobedience and conscientious objection for peace, which consists in:
a) The right to civil disobedience in respect of activities which involve threats against peace, including peaceful protest and peaceful non-compliance with laws which offend the conscience;
b) The right of the members of any military or security institution to disobey criminal or unjust orders during armed conflicts and to refrain from participating in armed operations, whether international or national, which infringe the principles and norms of International human rights law or International humanitarian law;
c) The right to refrain from participating in - and to denounce publicly - scientific research for the manufacture or development of arms of any kind;
d) The right to acquire the status of conscientious objector in respect of military obligations;
e) The right to object to paying taxes allocated to military expenditure and to object to taking part, in a working or professional capacity, in operations which support armed conflicts or which are contrary to International human rights law or International humanitarian law; [...]

Article 11
Right to disarmament

Individuals and peoples have the right:
a) Not to be regarded as enemies by any State;
b) To the general and transparent disarmament of all States, together and in a coordinated manner, within a reasonable time and under efficient and comprehensive international supervision;
c) To the allocation of the resources freed by disarmament to the economic, social and cultural development of peoples and the fair redistribution of such resources, responding especially to the needs of the poorest countries and to vulnerable groups, in such a way as to put an end to inequality, social exclusion and poverty. [...]

Article 15
Requirements of peace and truthful information

Individuals and peoples have the right to demand that peace actually be achieved, and they may therefore:
a) Require the States to undertake the effective implementation of the joint security system established in the United Nations Charter, and to settle disputes pacifically and, in any event, in full compliance with the rules of International human rights law and International humanitarian law;
b) Denounce any act which threatens or infringes the Human Right to Peace and, to that end, receive objective information related to conflicts;
c) Participate freely and by any peaceful means in political and social activities and initiatives to protect and promote the Human Right to Peace, without disproportionate interference from the public authorities, at local, national and international level.


Section B. Obligations

Article 16
Obligations for the realisation of the Human Right to Peace

1. The effective and practical realisation of the Human Right to Peace necessarily involves duties and obligations for States, international organisations, civil society, peoples, men and women, corporations and other elements of society and, in general, the whole international community.
2. The fundamental responsibility for preserving peace and protecting the Human Right to Peace lies with the States and also with the United Nations Organisation as a centre which harmonises the concerted efforts of the nations to fulfil the purposes and principles proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
3. States have the obligation to protect human rights, to prevent and cooperate in the prevention of catastrophes, to respond to catastrophes when they occur and to repair the damage caused. They are also required to adopt measures to build and consolidate peace.
4. The United Nations Organisation should be further enabled to prevent violations and protect human rights and human dignity, including the Human Right to Peace, in cases of serious or systematic violations. In particular, it is for the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and other competent bodies to take effective measures to protect human rights from violations which may constitute a danger or threat to international peace and security.
5. Any unilateral military intervention by one or more States, without the authorisation of the Security Council within the framework of the United Nations Charter, is unacceptable, constitutes a serious infringement of the principles and proposals of the Charter and is contrary to the Human Right to Peace.
6. The composition and procedures of the Security Council shall be reviewed so as to ensure the proper representation of the present international community and transparent working methods which recognise the participation of civil society and other elements of the international community.
7. The United Nations system must be fully and effectively involved, through the Peacebuilding Commission, in the preparation of integral strategies for this purpose and in the recovery of the countries concerned once the armed conflicts have ended, ensuring stable sources of financing and effective coordination within the system.

PART II
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DECLARATION

Article 17
Establishment of the Working Group on the Human Right to Peace

1. A Working Group on the Human Right to Peace (hereinafter called „the Working Group“) will be established. It will be composed of ten members who will have the duties set forth in Article 19.
2. The Working Group will be composed of experts from the Member States of the United Nations who will carry out their duties with complete independence and in a personal capacity.
3. The following criteria will be taken into account for their election:
a) The experts shall be of high moral standing, impartiality and integrity, and show evidence of long and appropriate experience in any of the spheres stated in Part I of this Declaration;
b) Equitable geographical distribution and representation of the different forms of civilisation and of the main legal systems of the world;
c) There shall be a balanced gender representation; andd) There may not be two experts from the same State.
4. The members of the Working Group will be chosen by secret ballot at a session of the United Nations General Assembly from a list of candidates proposed by the Member States. The ten candidates who obtain the highest number of votes and a two thirds majority of the States present and voting will be elected. The initial election will take place at the latest three months after the date of adoption of this Declaration.
5. The experts will be elected for four years and may be re-elected only once.6. Half of the Working Group will be renewed every two years.

Article 18
Functions of the Working Group

1. The main function of the Working Group is to promote the observance and implementation of this Declaration. In the exercise of its mandate it has the following powers:
a) To promote worldwide observance and awareness of the Human Right to Peace, acting with discretion, objectivity and independence and adopting an integral approach which takes account of the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of human rights and the overriding need to achieve international social justice;
b) To gather, assemble and respond effectively to any relevant information from States, international organisations and their bodies, civil society organisations, concerned individuals and any other reliable source;
c) To address, when it considers it appropriate, recommendations and appeals to the Member States of the United Nations to adopt appropriate measures for the effective realisation of the Human Right to Peace, in accordance with Part I of this Declaration. The States shall give due consideration to those recommendations and requests;
d) To draw up, on its own initiative or at the request of the General Assembly, the Security Council or the Human Rights Council, the reports it deems necessary in the event of an imminent threat to or serious infringement of the Human Right to Peace, as defined in Part I of this Declaration;
e) To present an annual report of its activities to the General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, in which it will include the recommendations and conclusions itconsiders necessary to the effective promotion and protection of the Human Right to Peace, paying special attention to armed conflicts;
f) To prepare, for the attention of the General Assembly, a proposal for an international convention which will include the Human Right to Peace as well as a mechanism for controlling and monitoring its effective implementation. Both the mechanism to be established in the convention and the Working Group will coordinate their mandates and avoid duplicating their activities;
g) To submit to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court or other competent international criminal court or tribunal any reliable information about any situation in which it appears that crimes which fall within the jurisdiction of the Court or of the international criminal court or tribunal concerned have been committed;
h) To approve by an absolute majority of its members the working methods for the ordinary functioning of the Working Group, which shall include, inter alia, rules governing the appointment of the Bureau and the adoption of its decisions and recommendations.2. The Working Group will have its seat in New York and will hold three ordinary sessions per year, as well as any extraordinary sessions to be determined in accordance with its working methods. The Working Group will have a permanent Secretariat which will be provided by the Secretary General of the United Nations. [...]

The Drafting Committee