United Nations-Sponsored World Conferences: Focus on Impact and Follow-Up

By Michael G. Schechter | Go to book overview

3
The United Nations World
Conference on Human Rights:
Evaluation, monitoring, and review
Clarence J. Dias

The road to Vienna

The UN World Conference on Human Rights (UNWCHR) at Vienna (June 1993) ought to have been a truly historic event. After all, it was the first such UN conference in 25 years and only the second in the entire history of the UN. But almost from its very inception, this conference seemed to be the child nobody wanted. The German government, which had initially offered to host the conference in Berlin, quickly withdrew its offer, pleading, of all things, that it could not afford the expenses involved. The UN Human Rights Centre (in Geneva) was entrusted with organizing the conference. But the Centre's reluctance and indecision was evident even a year before the conference. The Department of Public Information of the UN, fresh from its success in launching a publicity campaign to promote the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, had enthusiastically prepared posters, brochures and plans for a UN radio/television campaign for UNWCHR. They were kept waiting for approval from Geneva for months while the Centre dithered, in the process of undergoing a change of leadership. UNESCAP, the agency entrusted with the responsibility of organizing an Asia-Pacific regional preparatory meeting, repeatedly postponed the date for the meeting and finally held it only at the end of March – less than three months before the date for the conference itself.

A series of preparatory committee (PrepCom) meetings, at the UN,

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