Magazine article UN Chronicle

Human Rights Commission Appoints Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries, Considers Religious Freedom, Acts for First Time on Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Human Rights Commission Appoints Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries, Considers Religious Freedom, Acts for First Time on Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka

Article excerpt

Human Rights Commission appoints Special Rapporteur on mercenaries, considers religious freedom, acts for first time on human rights situation in Sri Lanka

The appointment of a new SpecialRapporteur to examine the question of the use of mercenaries as a means to violate human rights and to impede the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, and review of the first global report on the subject of religious freedom were among the actions taken at the forty-third session of the Commission on Human Rights (Geneva, 2 February-13 March).

The Commission, also for the firsttime, acted with regard to the question of human rights in Sri Lanka, calling for full respect for universally accepted rules of humanitarian law, and renunciation of force and violence. A text on the question of human rights in Cyprus was adopted for the first time in the past nine years.

The Commission also terminatedthe mandate of the Special Representative on the situation in Guatemala, while continuing its observation of the situation of human rights in that country, stating its satisfaction that that Government had taken measures to protect human rights.

The 43-member body, a subsidiaryof the Economic and Social Council, adopted a total of 61 resolutions and 11 decisions on matters ranging from alleged human rights violations in certain countries and regions, to rights of particular groups, including migrants, minorities, and children, to realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Chairman's statement: New CommissionChairman Leonid F. Evmenov (Byelorussian SSR), at the session's opening, said the world was composed of States with differing social and economic structures which had to adopt a realistic and multilateral approach in their mutual relations. Differences should not be used as a pretext to exercise a monopoly in regard to the application and interpretation of human rights, nor should they be used for political purposes. The logic of the nuclear age should induce States to seek a solution to all the problems of mankind, primarily by securing life and survival, as well as the future of coming generations, in a spirit of tolerance. Intolerant attitudes in regard to political, economic, spiritual and ideological differences should be condemned as, in fact, they already had been by persons of common sense and by great minds alike.

Outgoing Chairman HectorCharry-Samper (Colombia) on 2 February said: "In a world torn apart by all forms of violence which was causing so much suffering on all the continents and under the most varied political and economical regimes, . . . the Commission on Human Rights appeared as a sort of beacon that dispelled the darkness surrounding violations of human rights.'

It had to give priority to humanitarianconsiderations and was obliged to urge States to respect the commitments that they had freely undertaken when acceding to the international instruments relating to human rights, he said.

It also was called upon to deal withsituations arising from the most serious current conflicts in the face of which the United Nations sometimes seemed powerless. The Commission must endeavour to protect human rights in all situations, without distinction on grounds of race, sex, religion or belief, and must identify as objectively as possible the flagrant and systematic violations of human rights that the international community had gradually codified and developed on the basis of the provisions of the Charter and the relevant declarations and Covenants.

Kurt Herndl, Assistant Secretary-Generalfor Human Rights, told the 43-member body that the world might possibly be at a turning-point in its existence since peoples and their leaders had become more and more convinced that only mutual respect, true human understanding and democracy could ensure human development. In the final analysis, improvement of the human condition--the declared aim of all Governments and of the United Nations--was conceivable only if human rights were observed and if a universal climate of solidarity were established. …

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