Human Rights of Minorities: Modern Forms of Slavery Are 'Great Scandal.' (United Nations)

Article excerpt

Slavery, sex tourism and xenophobia were among the broad range of issues addressed by the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its forty-fourth session (3-28 August, Geneva). Racial discrimination, the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, economic, social and cultural rights, the administration of justice and other human rights matters were also on the agenda.

As the principal subsidiary of the Commission on Human Rights, the 26-member Subcommission asked that increased attention be paid to issues related to trafficking in children, child labour and prostitution, children in armed conflicts and commercial or exploitative adoptions.

The Subcommission was gravely concerned over sex tourism and requested the World Tourism Organization to discuss ways of preventing that phenomenon. States should take urgent measures to protect minors from exposure to or involvement in child pornography, it said.

A meeting of experts is to take place in March 1993 on the application of international human rights regulations in cases of youth detention.

The Subcommission recommended that the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights (14-25 June, Vienna) should give priority to the question of discrimination against women. It should also deal with strengthening the protection of human rights during states of emergency, which Governments were invited to limit to situations sufficiently serious and exceptional to justify them.

It invited the Commission on Human Rights to appoint a thematic special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, in light of recent trends in many countries, and supported the launching in 1993 of a Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.

The Commission was further asked to declare that an independent and impartial judiciary and an independent legal profession were essential prerequisites for protection of human rights. Preparation of a new report on practices which had strengthened or weakened the independence of the judiciary was asked.

On human rights and arms trade, the Subcommission called for an in-depth study on the positive impact on the promotion of human rights of a 10 per cent reduction in world armament expenditures. Member States, it declared, should take into account the potentially negative impact of excessive accumulation of arms upon the full realization of human rights. It urged States to incorporate human rights criteria into all international transactions involving the sale or provision of arms or other military materials to other States or groups involved in armed conflict.

Indigenous populations

The Subcommission stressed the importance of the effective participation of indigenous peoples in every aspect of decision-making concerning the International Year for the World's Indigenous Peoples in 1993. A draft universal declaration was to be further elaborated.

A comprehensive analysis of the laws and traditions of indigenous peoples with respect to the definition, ownership and control of cultural property was asked, to be included in a study of international measures to strengthen respect for their cultural property.

It was recommended that members of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe participate in court-ordered mediation to seek a peaceful settlement of the situation regarding relocation of their families, and appealed to the United States to ensure that no further relocations take place.

The Subcommission wanted continued consultations on human rights and extreme poverty, appointing a Special Rapporteur to prepare a study on that issue and another to promote the realization of the rights to adequate housing.

International and financial institutions were urged to take greater account of the adverse impact of their policies of structural adjustment on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, on the basis of recommendations contained in the final report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue. …