1993 Session: Human Rights, Social Development

Article excerpt

During its five-week substantive session of 1993 (28 June-30 July, Geneva), the Economic and Social Council adopted more than 100 resolutions and decisions on an entire gamut of issues before it. Among the highlights to be recommended to the General Assembly were: adoption of a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women; launching of the 1994 International Year of the Family; proclamation of 1995 as the UN Year for Tolerance, and 1994-2003 as the third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination; and declaration of 3 May as World Press Freedom Day.

More than 50 Government Ministers and officials of multilateral financial institutions, at the Council's two-day high-level segment (29-30 June), discussed the role of the UN system in promoting social development, including preparations for the World Summit for Social Development, scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1995.

Emergency relief and the continuum from rehabilitation to development were a focus of the coordination segment, convened from 1 to 6 July. The Council agreed that the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator should serve as the humanitarian advocate to ensure that the principles of humanity. neutrality and impartiality are fully taken into account in planning the Organization's responses to complex emergencies and that relief strategies should be compatible with longerterm rehabilitation and development.

Efforts by the UN system to prevent malaria and diarrhoeal cases were also addressed during that segment, and the Council decided that prevention and treatment of those diseases should be included as a major focus of health and development, as the benefits dwarfed the costs involved.

In the wake of its operational activities for development segment (7-9 July), the Council underlined the importance of making early progress on decentralization and delegation of authority in field operations and requested the UN system to devote sufficient resources to the triennial policy review of the Organization's operational activities.

Following is an overview of other selected texts, many of which were recommended for final action by the General Assembly.

HUMAN RIGHTS ...

* Asked for the elaboration of a draft optional protocol to the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and of a draft declaration on "the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms"; and requested annual report on the transition to democracy in South Africa.

* Established a working group to identify obstacies to implementing the 1986 Declaration on the right to Development, and asked for intensified implementation of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

* Approved preparation of a study on the human rights dimensions of population transfer, including the implantation of settlers and settlements, and continued work on a study on the right to a fair trial.

* Requested a report on ways the international Labour Organisation and other UN bodies protect children and other persons exposed to contemporary forms of slavery.

* Approved an expert meeting on international standards concerning the human rights of detained juveniles.

* Asked for appointments of Special Rapporteurs on: human rights and extreme poverty; contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; the right to freedom of opinion; the right to adequate housing; rape and abuse of women and children in the former Yugoslavia; human rights situation in Sudan; and alleged violations by Israel of international law and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

* Extended the mandates of Special Rapporteurs on Cuba, Afghanistan, Haiti, Myanmar and Iraq. …