Monday, 22 September 2008

International Day of Peace

September 21 is the International Day of Peace. It was so proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 36/67, which:
Declares that the International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day...“Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate, in an appropriate manner, the International Day of Peace, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon made the link with human rights, and the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 'We know that human rights are essential to peace', he said in his message to mark the Day. 'Yet too many people around the world still have their rights violated – especially during and after armed conflict. That is why we must ensure that the rights in the Declaration are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.'

On Friday this week, I'll be participating in an international conference on the crime of aggression and the International Criminal Court, which is currently working on making aggression a crime that is punishable within its jurisdiction:

It is astonishing that the big human rights NGOs have decided to stand back from the debate. Amnesty International has said it does not take a position on inclusion of aggression within the jurisdiction of the Court because this is not part of its mandate, which it derives from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (AI Index: IOR 40/015/2007 p. 13, available at: Human Rights Watch says it does not engage with issues about the lawfulness of armed conflict, and is only concerned with behaviour within the conflict ( I think they are dead wrong on this.

I would have put the matter even more strongly than Ban Ki Moon. Not only is peace necessary for the protection of human rights, there is a human right to peace. And it is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which refers to 'peace' in the first sentence of the preamble, and goes on - citing Roosevelt - to declare that 'freedom from fear' has been proclaimeded as the highest aspiration of the common people. Of course, the Universal Declaration also fits within the framework of United Nations law, which outlaws the resort to force (Charter of the United Nations, art. 2(4)). Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires States to prohibit propaganda for war.

1 comment:

Don Ferencz said...

Bill: It was great seeing you (and hearing you) at the recent crime of aggression program in Cleveland. Your comments on the need for taking a stand on aggression couldn't be more welcome. The global community is lucky to have you among those calling for and working for a more rational and humane world order. - Don Ferencz, Oct. 8, 2008