Human Rights Commission Approves Principles to Protect Rights of Mentally Ill: Asks for Third Decade against Racism

Article excerpt

The Commission on Human Rights, at its forty-seventh session (28 January-8 March, Geneva), covered a wide range of topics, including the rights of mentally-ill persons, environment-related issues, slavery and the sale of children.

In adopting 90 texts--82 resolutions and 8 decisions--the Commission continued its work towards the implementation of teh 1984 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other important global instruments dealing with civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This year, some 80 per cent of its decisions were taken by consensus.

The Commission asked the General Assembly to take steps to launch a Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, to begin in 1993.

It endorsed the draft body of principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and for the improvement of mental health care, to be transmitted through the Economic and Social Council for the Assembly's adoption later in 1991.

Recognizing that all individuals are entitled to live in an environment adequate for their health and well-being, the Commission entrusted Fatma Zohra Ksentini, Special Rapporteur, to prepare a study on human rights and the environment.

In welcoming the adoption in January 1991 of the Bamako Convention banning the import of all forms of hazardous wastes into Africa and controlling their transboudary movement generated in Africa, the Commission reaffirmed that the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products endangered basic human rights, such as teh right to life and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

The Commission also recommended that the Assembly establish a voluntary fund on contemporary forms of slavery. Member States were asked to consider taking action for the protection of children and migrant women against exploitation by prostitution and other slavery-like practices.

The Commission urged States to sign and ratify or accede to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, adopted by the Assembly on 18 December 1990.

Hungary offered to host the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Budapest. An initial Preparatory Committee meeting was set for 9 to 13 September 1991 in Geneva. On 19 February, the Under-Secretary-General for Human Rights was appointed as Secretary-General of that Conference.

The 43-member Commission reviewed specific human rights situations in 13 countries and territories, and dealt with alleged violations in southern Africa, the Middle East and other regions.

Work also proceeded on documents to protect the rights of persons belonging to nationa, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities; indigenous persons; and the rights and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Special Rapporteur

on Kuwait

A Special Rapporteur is to be appointed to examine human rights violations by Iraqi forces in occupied Kuwait. The Commission also asked for another Special Rapporteur to thoroughly study human rights violations committed by the Iraqi Government.

The Commission decided to create a five-member expert working group for a three-year period to investigate cases of arbitrary detentions. For the first time, the UN would have specific mechanisms for investigating such violations.

Citing the disturbingly high numbers of internally displaced persons suffering throughout the world--persons forced to flee their homes and seek shelter and safety in other parts of their own country--the Commission asked Governments and international organizations to intensify their cooperation and assistance in worldwide efforts to address the serious problems and needs resulting from such displacement. An analytical report on the subject should be prepared, taking into account the protection of human rights of those persons. …