THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

PEACE STUDIES BULLETIN Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ) University of Niigata Prefecture THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO PEACE:

AN OPPORTUNITY TO REINFORCE THE LINKAGE BETWEEN THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT Ambassador Christian Guillermet Fernández and Dr. David Fernández Puyana

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PEACE STUDIES BULLETIN 

Peace Studies Association of Japan (PSAJ)


University of Niigata Prefecture


THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION 

ON THE RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO PEACE:

AN OPPORTUNITY TO REINFORCE THE LINKAGE BETWEEN


THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT


Ambassador Christian Guillermet Fernández 

and 

Dr. David Fernández Puyana 


1.1. Introduction; 2. Debate on the right of peoples to peace; 2.1. Historical approach; 2.2. Human Rights Council; 3. Legal approach to the 1984 Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace; 4. Comparative analysis between the Council resolutions on the right of peoples to peace and the Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text; 5. The right to life in peace, human rights and development: an added value; 6. Conclusion; 7. Annex I: Declaration on the right to peace prepared by the Chairperson-Rapporteur.


1. Introduction

The International Day of Peace, also known as the World Peace Day, occurs annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to peace, and, specifically, to the absence of war, and the Secretary-General calls for a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. It is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups and peoples. Costa Rica not only recognizes the International Day of Peace, but was also the sponsor of the 36/67 resolution establishing the Day in 1981 and the resolution 55/282 of 2001 before the General Assembly. 


This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 39/11(1984) on the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace. It follows that the Secretary-General has decided to commemorate this anniversary in the context of the 2014 International Day of Peace. Taking into account that this Declaration is principally devoted to the relations among States and not properly to human rights, the Secretary-General called upon the international community in his countdown message of 13 June 2014 “…to act earlier and more concertedly in the face of human rights violations, which are often the precursors of worse to come”. He added that the “central message for the Day is that humanity’s sustainable progress and the realization of fundamental rights and freedoms depend on peace and security”. 


Since the establishment of the Human Rights Council in 2008 the international community has actively been engaged in the promotion of the right of peoples to peace through the adoption of several resolutions. However, it should be noted that the promotion of the right of peoples to peace within the UN human rights bodies started at the Commission on Human Rights in 2001. Although many of the States have supported the on-going process, some of them have not recognized the existence of the right to peace under international law. In particular, the Western States and associated countries have constantly showed their opposition to this UN process by arguing that this notion is not correctly linked to human rights. The purpose of this paper is firstly to analyze the debate, which held in the General Assembly in 1984, in order to understand how the past disagreements about the existence of this right have strongly influenced in the current work of the Human Rights Council. Additionally, the legal content of the 1984 Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace will be studied. The paper will also analyze the draft Declaration elaborated by the Chairperson-Rapporteur in light of the resolutions on the right of peoples to peace adopted by the Human Rights Council since 2008.  Finally, the notion of the right to life in a context of peace, human rights and development will be proposed as a means to overcome the political differences among all regional groups and to elaborate this notion in the context of the current mandate of the Human Rights Council in the field of human rights. 


2. Debate on the right of peoples to peace

2.1. Historical approach

In a letter of 11 July 1984, Mongolia requested the inclusion in the agenda of the thirty-ninth regular session of the UNGA an item on the right of peoples to peace. They annexed to the letter an explanatory memorandum, which stated that adoption by the Assembly of an appropriate document would make a substantial contribution to the support of the peoples’ struggle to achieve a peaceful life .

In its thirty-ninth session, the UNGA discussed on 12 November 1984 the draft resolution A/39/L.14, as orally revised by Mongolia. 

In general terms, most of the governmental representatives , which took the floor, stated that the right of peoples to peace was “implicitly” recognised by the international community in accordance with the UN Charter. In order to protect and promote this right, they proposed that States should effectively implement and respect the following set of principles contained in Art. 2 of the UN Charter, namely: prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, the prohibition to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, the cooperation among States, the self-determination of peoples and the sovereign equality of States. These delegations also stressed that the respect of the latter principles should help to eliminate the scourge of war, which has brought only death and suffering, and to create a useful tool to fight for peace and against nuclear weapons. In addition, States stated that the disarmament, the limitation of the arms race, the economic and social development of States, the improvement of the quality of life in our planet and the attainment of social progress and justice are vital to promote the right of peoples to peace.  

Other governmental delegations  stated that while peace is an indispensable condition of human survival, it cannot be peace at any price. In addition, peace should be developed in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter and the rights to freedom, to self-determination, to justice and to a decent life.  

Finally, another group of countries  stressed that the right of peoples to peace has no legal basis. In addition, it does not explain how the right to peace might correspond with these principles or fit in with the established and carefully constructed body of law developed from them. The concept of peace is not fully compatible with the concept of which the Charter of the United Nations is based. The Charter indeed proceeds on a substantive notion of peace, not merely a formal concept. 

After that all delegations expressed their positions, the President of the UNGA called for a registered vote. The result was 92  to none and 34 abstentions . Twenty-nine States were absent from the vote  and two countries did not participate . The resolution 39/11 was sponsored by 8 States . 

After the vote, Albania said it had not participated in the vote since it believed the draft did not deal with the main aspects of the problem (i.e. crime of aggression and intervention) and did not mention the two imperialist super-Powers, the USSR and the United States, whose rivalry for hegemony was detrimental to peace and security . 

The delegations of Angola, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lesotho and Saudi Arabia subsequently informed the Secretariat that they had intended to vote in favour of the draft resolution. 


2.2. Legal approach to the 1984 Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace

In the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, we can find in its Preamble six far-reaching axioms, and in particular the following: 1. Reaffirmation that the principal aim of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security; 2. Reaffirmation of the fundamental principles of international law set forth in the Charter of the United Nations; 3. The will and the aspirations of all peoples to eradicate war from the life of mankind and, above all, to avert a world-wide nuclear catastrophe; 4. That life without war serves as the primary international prerequisite for the material well-being, development and progress of countries, and for the full implementation of the rights and fundamental human freedoms proclaimed by the United Nations; 5. That in the nuclear age the establishment of a lasting peace on Earth represents the primary condition for the preservation of human civilization and the survival of mankind and 6. That the maintenance of a peaceful life for peoples is the sacred duty of each State. 

The final statement, which constitutes the passionate culmination of the Preamble to the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, places the fundamental distinction between “Peoples” and “States”. The fate of “Peoples” is squarely described here as dependent on and determined by the policies of States. This places an enormous, responsibility on the shoulders of policy-makers and policy-influencers of the States. 

Taking into account these axioms of the Preamble, the right to peace resolution contains four substantive sections: 1. The solemn proclamation that the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace; 2. The solemn declaration that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each State; 3. The demand that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations; 4. The supplication to all States and all international organizations to do their utmost in implementing the right of peoples to peace.

The solemn proclamation that people of our planet have a “sacred right to peace” is extraordinarily elevated language for an assemblage of government representatives, many of whom are jurists, who in the tradition of Enlightenment usually avoid entering the realm of the sacred. Furthermore, the reference to the population of the United Nations Member States as “the peoples of our planet” shows the human masses as being more than citizens of various countries of the Earth who share a common terrestrial origin. To belong to the same identical planet is recognized as incomparably more significant than to belong to different parts of the planet. 

The solemn declaration that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation, constitutes a fundamental obligation of each State. It asserts a basic, evident, non-transferable obligation of each State to preserve the right of peoples to peace and to foster the exercise of this right to peace by all other government.

In order to achieve the goals of the resolution, each State has to fulfil its own obligations to promote the implementation of the right of peoples to peace. These are incontrovertibly elementary obligations of all UN Member States. The resolution requires above all, a new intensity, a new dedication, a new sense of urgency in the efforts of world governments to end and to settle international strife and war preparations. 

It should be noted that the human rights component, including individual or collective rights, was not properly reflected in the text. This Declaration is principally devoted to the relationship among countries and the condemnation of war.  

The recent States’ practices have not been of much help in the direction of strengthening the human rights dimension of this concept. The notion of the right to peace has been explicitly included in seven domestic Constitutions (i.e. Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Japan, Republic of Congo, Peru and Guinea Bissau) . However, these constitutional texts have elaborated this concept by taking into account a conception based only on the relationships between States and without referring to human rights issues, with the exception of Peru . These legal instruments have continued by using the notion of the right to peace in connection with the principles of friendly relations among nations, the peaceful settlement of disputes, the territorial integrity and the prohibition of the threat or use of force.

In addition, there are some regional instruments, which have explicitly recognized the right to peace as a collective right and always in connection to principles contained in Art. 2 of the UN Charter (i.e. African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights , the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration , Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa  and the Ibero-American Convention on Young People’s Rights ). Furthermore, there is an increasing case-law on the right to peace developed by some national Courts . However, the claimants who brought the case to the Court, focused their attention only on the use of force by some specific States in a context of war or conflict. The component of human rights was not properly included. The concept of the right to peace included in both Constitutions and regional instruments, and used in some domestic Courts, is clearly elaborated in light of the “right of peoples to peace”, elaborated by the 1984 Declaration.


2.3. Human Rights Council

Since 2008 the Human Rights Council (hereinafter: HRC) has been working on the “Promotion of the right of peoples to peace” inspired by previous resolutions on this issue approved by the UNGA and the former Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter: CHR), particularly the GA resolution 39/11 of 12 November 1984, entitled “Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace” and the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The Group of Eastern and Western European and Others States continued with its traditional position showed at the CHR.  

In 2008, the HRC reiterated the traditional position, according to which “peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace” , and that preservation and protection of this right constitutes a fundamental obligation of each State (paragraph 2). Therefore, States should direct their policies towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use or threat of use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations (paragraph 5).

The resolution also stresses that peace is a vital requirement for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all (paragraph 3) and that the cleavage that divides human society, between the rich and the poor, and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, peace, security and stability (paragraph 4).

Additionally, the HRC reiterated the OHCHR to convene a workshop on the right of peoples to peace, which was finally held on 15-16 December 2009 in Geneva. In this workshop the current deep division about the existence of the right to peace could be seen even at the academic level. In fact, some well-known legal practitioners who participated at the Workshop on the right of peoples to peace held on 9-10 December 2009 in Geneva stated that the right to peace had never been explicitly formalized into a treaty, including the UN Charter, and that the UN human rights instruments had not given proper expression to this enabling right . 

The opening statement of the workshop was delivered by Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang (Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights). She recalled that peace and human rights were intricately related and that the Charter of the United Nations provided that strengthening universal peace and promoting and encouraging respect for human rights without discrimination were among the main purposes of the organization. She also pointed out that human rights treaties also contained references to the importance of peace as a precondition for the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights, as well as to the impact of respect for human rights on the creation of a peaceful society. She concluded by recalling that “respect for human rights was often more critical in times of conflict, noting that many of the worst human rights violations ... occurred in situations of armed conflict and other forms of violent situations. Accountability for gross human rights violations was a crucial component of human rights and could often be conducive to peace” . 

On 17 June 2010, the HRC adopted resolution 14/3 on the right of peoples to peace, which explicitly requested “the Advisory Committee, in consultation with Member States, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders, to prepare a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace, and to report on the progress thereon to the Council at its seventeenth session" . 

Furthermore, the resolution 14/3 explicitly recognizes the “... the important work being carried out by civil society organizations for the promotion of the right of peoples to peace and the codification of that right" ; recalls “the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace, 1999, and the UNGA resolution 53/25 proclaiming 2001-10 as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the children's of the world;  “calls upon States and relevant United Nations bodies to promote effective implementation of the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace” ; and finally, “supports the need to further promote the realization of the right of peoples to peace" and in that regard requests “the Advisory Committee, in consultation with Member States, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders, to prepare a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace, and to report on the progress thereon to the Council at its seventeenth session" . 

On 17 June 2011, the HRC adopted the resolution 17/16 by which "takes note of the progress report of the HRC Advisory Committee on the right of peoples to peace (A/HRC/17/39), which include more than 40 possible standards for inclusion in the draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace" (paragraph 14); "supports the need to further promote the realization of the right of peoples to peace and, in that regard, requests the Advisory Committee, in consultation with Member States, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders, to present a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace, and to report on progress thereon to the Council at its twentieth session" (paragraph 15); and finally "requests the OHCHR to retransmit the questionnaire prepared by the Advisory Committee in the context of its mandate on the issue of the right of peoples to peace, seeking the views and comments of Member States, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders" (paragraph 16).

On 29 June 2012 the plenary of the HR Council discussed the (third) AC draft declaration on the right to peace. In the general debate representatives of 9 States , 3 International Organisations  and 10 CSO  took the floor. On 5 July 2012 the HR Council took action on draft resolution L.16 (“The promotion of the right to peace”) as orally revised by Cuba on behalf of the co-sponsors. It was adopted by a registered vote of 34 votes in favour , 12 abstentions  and one against .  

On 5 July 2012, the HRC adopted resolution 20/15 on “The promotion of the right to peace”. The resolution established an open-ended working group (hereinafter: OEWG) with the mandate of progressively negotiating a draft UN Declaration on the right to peace on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee, and without prejudging relevant past, present and future views and proposals.

The resolution further decided that the working group shall hold its first session for four working days in 2013, before the twenty-second session of the HR Council (March 2013); and requested the President of the HRC to invite the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee’s drafting group to participate in the first session of the working group. 

The OEWG concluded in its first session that there were some governmental delegations and other stakeholders that recognize the existence of the right to peace. They argued that this right was already recognized by soft-law instruments (such as UNGA res. 39/11 of 1984 entitled, “Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace”). On the other hand, several other delegations stated that a stand-alone “right to peace” does not exist under international law. In their view, peace is not a human right, but a consequence of the full implementation of all human rights .

At its 23rd session (June 2013), the HRC had before it the first progress report of the OEWG. On 7 June 2013 the plenary of the HRC discussed the report of the first session of the OEWG on the draft United Nations Declaration on the right to peace prepared by Mr. Christian Guillermet, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the OEWG. In the general debate, representatives of seven States , two International Organizations  and eight CSOs  took the floor.

Mr. Guillermet stated that our challenge is to address the difficulties in a spirit of cooperation, good faith and transparency in view to reaching an agreement in favor of the promotion and protection of human rights. Persisting in not negotiating or rejecting an initiative because it does not respond to one’s interests or national legal system is not a constructive approach to the matter. Since this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action, it would be contradictory to deny the progressive development of human rights and the need to move toward a better, more just and respectful human rights environment . 

On 13 June 2013, the HRC adopted resolution 23/16 at the initiative of the Community of the Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by 30 votes in favor , 9 against  and 8 abstentions . The HRC “decided that the working group shall hold its second session for five working days in 2014”. It also “requested the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the working group to conduct informal consultations with Governments, regional groups and relevant stakeholders before the second session of the working group”. Finally, it “requested the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the working group to prepare a new text on the basis of the discussions held during the first session of the working group and on the basis of the inter-sessional informal consultations to be held, and to present it prior to the second session of the working group for consideration and further discussion thereat”. 

The second session took place from 30 June to 4 July 2014 in Geneva. At the final meeting of its second session, on 4 July 2014, the OEWG welcomed the participation of the Director of the HRC and Special Procedures Division on behalf of the UN High Commissioner for HR and the President of the HRC; acknowledged the constructive dialogue, broad participation and active engagement of governments, regional and political groups, civil society and relevant stakeholders, and took note of the input received from them and finally welcomed the approach put forward by the Chairperson-Rapporteur.

As stressed, the new approach by the Chairperson-Rapporteur as included in his text (Annex I) was welcomed by the OEWG, which is open to all States, civil society organizations and other stakeholders represented in the United Nations. This approach was accepted by the majority of participants and afterwards, adopted “ad referendum” by all in its final report as the correct way to find the necessary consensus in this difficult topic.


3. Comparative analysis between the Council resolutions on the right of peoples to peace and the Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text

As previously indicated, on 17 July 2012 the HRC adopted resolution 20/15 on the promotion of the right to peace, by which decided “… to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate of progressively negotiating a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee, and without prejudging relevant past, present and future views and proposal”.


The resolution which created the OEWG recalled in its first preambular paragraph “all previous resolutions on the promotion of the right of peoples to peace adopted by … the Human Rights Council, in particular Council resolutions 14/3 of 17 June 2010 and 17/16 of 17 June 2011, in which the Council requested the Advisory Committee, in consultation with Member States, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders, to prepare a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace”. 


Pursuant to the resolutions 14/3  and 17/16 , the HRC calls upon all stakeholders not only to apply some specific measures aimed at preserving the right of peoples to peace, but also to promote other matters which are not directly linked to current mandate on the right to peace trusted to the HRC. In particular, the other topics in which Member States could work without disregarding the current Council mandate on this topic in the line of the previous resolutions are the following: 


1. The importance of peace for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all (Art. 3); 

2. The deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed world and the developing world, which pose a major threat to global prosperity, peace, human rights, security and stability (Art. 4);

3. Peace and security, development and human rights as the pillars of the United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well-being (Art. 5);

4. The elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use or threat of use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations (Art. 6);

5. The establishment, maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security and an international system based on respect for the principles enshrined in the Charter and the promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development and the right of peoples to self-determination (Art. 7);

6. The principles and purposes of the Charter in their relations with all other States, irrespective of their political, economic or social systems or of their size, geographical location or level of economic development (Art. 8);

7. The duty of all States, in accordance with the principles of the Charter, to use peaceful means to settle any dispute to which they are parties and the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, and to settle their disputes as early as possible as an important contribution to the promotion and protection of all human rights of everyone and all peoples (Art. 9);

8. The vital importance of education for peace (Art. 10);

9. The promotion and effective implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (Art. 11);

10. The importance of mutual cooperation, understanding and dialogue in ensuring the promotion and protection of all human rights (Art. 12);


On 24 June 2013, the HRC adopted resolution 23/16 on the promotion of the right to peace, by which requested the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the working group “… to conduct informal consultations with Governments, regional groups and relevant stakeholders before the second session of the working group” (paragraph 3) and “… to prepare a new text on the basis of the discussions held during the first session of the working group and on the basis of the intersessional informal consultations to be held” (paragraph 4). 


The text prepared by the Chairperson-Rapporteur is based on, among others, the following instruments and principles, namely: the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the content of the Council resolutions on the right of peoples to peace and international human rights law. In particular, the Chairperson-Rapporteur included in his text all those principles of international law and human rights elaborated by the HRC in its resolutions on the right of peoples to peace (i.e. Res. 14/3 and 17/16), such as : firstly, the elimination of war as a prerequisite for the realization of human rights, and in particular the right to life ; secondly, the importance of construction of peace and the strengthening of human rights ; thirdly, international cooperation in the field of human rights as a means to create an environment of peace and stability  and fourthly, the obligation of all States to promote peace and human rights .


Additionally, the Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text echoed those other important matters, in which the HRC is absolutely trusted to work in accordance with the resolutions on the right of peoples to peace. In particular, the text makes a clear reference to the following other competent issues trusted to the HRC: 


1. The principles of the Charter of the United Nations, such as the peaceful settlement of disputes, international cooperation and the self-determination of peoples , 

2. The elimination of the threat of war ,

3. The three pillars of the United Nations (i.e. peace, human rights and development) ,

4. The eradication of poverty and promotion of sustained economic growth, sustainable development and global prosperity for all ,

5. The wide diffusion and promotion of education on peace ,

6. The strengthening of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms . 


However, the text introduced some new topics, which were not originally laid down in the Council resolutions on the right of peoples to peace. In particular, the Chairperson-Rapporteur wanted to stress the notion of human dignity as foundation of peace , the role played by women in the construction of peace , the importance of prevention of armed conflict in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter  and the contribution of the HRC towards the prevention of human rights violations and the response to the human rights emergencies . 


In conclusion, the Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text not only takes into consideration Art. 2 of the UN Charter, but also condemns openly war and armed conflict in the line of the 1984 Declaration as follows:


“Inviting solemnly all stakeholders to guide themselves in their activities by recognizing the supreme importance of practicing tolerance, dialogue, cooperation and solidarity among all stakeholders as a means to promote world peace through human rights and to end, reduce and prevent progressively war and armed violence…”


4. The right to life in peace, human rights and development: an added value

The maintenance of international peace and security is the most important goal of the United Nations in accordance with Art. 1.1 . Chapter VII grants the Security Council extensive powers in this field. The conditions to use these powers remain very vague, mainly due to the very broad notions used in Art. 39 . The Security Council enjoys considerable discretion in the determination whether a threat to the peace, a breach of peace, or an act of discretion exists . Although the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has recognized the Council’s broad discretion, it has also emphasized that it is not unlimited .


Unlike the Security Council, the HRC is not the competent body to deal with matters linked to the maintenance of international peace and security in the world. In accordance with Art. 1 of the UN Charter, the purpose of the United Nations - in particular, the Security Council and subsidiary the General Assembly-, is “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace”. 


In accordance with the resolution 60/251, the HRC is trusted to work in some of the purposes and principles contained in the UN Charter (i.e. friendly relations among nations, self-determination of peoples, international cooperation and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all) , but never on matters related to breach of peace, the use or threat of force or the crime of aggression. 


The HRC is exclusively focused on those who truly suffer in a conflict: human beings and peoples. It is a forum for dialogue, not confrontation, which always works by and for the victims. In accordance to its Preamble of the above-mentioned resolution, development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. However, the UNGA clearly decided that the Council should address situations of gross and systematic violations of human rights and also contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies. Additionally, in accordance with the operative section of the resolution, the mandate of the HRC is to promote and protect human rights, but not directly peace. Therefore, peace should be elaborated in light of some fundamental human right, which has already been recognised by the international community as a whole, such as the right to life. It follows that the Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text is exclusively focused on human rights and never on issues related to the maintenance of international peace and security in the line of the Chapter VI  or VII  of the UN Charter.   


The Human Rights Committee has issued two General Comments interpreting the content of Art. 6 on the right to life contained in the ICCPR. Both comments focus on the duty of States to prevent mass violence such as war and emphasize the duty of States to adopt positive measures to protect the right to life . 

In the first of these General Comments, adopted on 27 July 1982 (16th session), the Committee pointed out that: “… every effort they make to avert the danger of war, especially thermonuclear war, and to strengthen international peace and security would constitute the most important condition and guarantee for the safeguarding of the right to life...” . In its second General Comment, adopted on 2 November 1984 (23rd session), the Committee, after expressing its concern by the toll of human life taken by conventional weapons in armed conflicts, noted that: “... the very existence and gravity of this threat (nuclear weapons) generates a climate of suspicion and fear between States, which is in itself antagonistic to the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the International Covenants on Human Rights” . 

The right to life in peace is more linked to human rights than the so called right to peace in both its individual and collective dimension. It follows that the linkage between the right to life and peace could be much more acceptable for all countries. Therefore, instead of re-creating new rights without the necessary consensus or unanimity, the international community should progressively elaborate existing and already consolidated rights in international law in the line of the Commonwealth experience. As indicated previously, the linkage between the right to life and peace was unanimously recognised in Art. 1 of the Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace as follows: “Every nation and every human being, regardless of race, conscience, language or sex, has the inherent right to life in peace”.


The added value of the new Declaration is not only to recall again the linkage between the right to life and peace, but also to elaborate the right to life in connection to peace, including also human rights and development, which has not still elaborated in international law. The United Nations does not need to re-invent the wheel, but only to strengthen the right to life linked to peace, human rights and development. Therefore, the recognition of the right to life and the affirmation of the right to live in peace, human rights and development are intended to ensure that the authorities take measures to guarantee that life may be lived in a natural and dignified manner and that the individual has every possible means for this purpose. 


The elaboration of the right to life in this direction would help to further develop the right of everyone to live in a context in which the three pillars of the United Nations is fully respected. In fact, the right to life in peace is a holistic concept which goes beyond the strict absence of armed conflicts. It is also positive, since it is linked to the eradication of structural violence as a result of the economic and social inequalities in the world and to the effective respect for all human rights without discrimination. 


5. Conclusions

The human rights component of the 1984 Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, including individual or collective rights, was not properly reflected in the text. This Declaration is principally devoted to the relationship among countries and the condemnation of war. The recent States’ practices have not been of much help in the direction of strengthening the human rights dimension of this concept. In addition, there are some regional instruments, which have explicitly recognized the right to peace as a collective right and always in connection to principles contained in Art. 2 of the UN Charter. The concept of the right to peace included in both Constitutions and regional instruments, and used in some domestic Courts, is clearly elaborated in light of the “right of peoples to peace”, elaborated by the 1984 Declaration.

The Chairperson-Rapporteur’s text has been elaborated in light of the Council resolutions 14/3 and 17/16 on the promotion of the right of peoples to peace. In particular, the text has made clear references to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the elimination of the threat of war, the three pillars of the United Nations, the eradication of poverty and promotion of sustainable development, education on peace and the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. In addition, the text introduced some new topics, which were not included in the resolutions on the right of peoples to peace, such as the notion of human dignity as foundation of peace, the role played by women in the construction of peace, the importance of prevention of armed conflict and the contribution of the HRC towards the prevention of human rights violations.

Since this year will mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 39/11 (1984) on the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, the HRC should take advantage of this opportunity by including the human rights perspective to this notion in the line of the UN Secretary-General’s message. 


In order to advance in this process, the HRC should analyse and eventually update the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace in the context of resolution 60/251, which clearly specify the objectives and purposes of the HRC in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In accordance with the previous resolution, the HRC is not competent to work directly on international peace and security, the threat or the use of force. It follows that peace should be elaborated in light of some fundamental human right, which has already been recognised by the international community as a whole, such as the right to life.  


The elaboration of the right to live in a context of human rights, peace and development will surely contribute to the strengthening of international cooperation and multilateralism and will also influence the current objectives of the United Nations as a fundamental step towards the promotion of peace, tolerance, friendship and brotherhood among all peoples.


Annex I


New text by the Chair-Rapporteur presented on 

24 June 2014 to the working group in accordance 

with Human Rights Council resolution 23/16


[United Nations Declaration on the right to peace]


Preamble

The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,


Guided also by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations,


Recalling the determination of the peoples of the United Nations to live together in peace with one another as good neighbors in order to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to take appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace,


Recalling that the friendly relations among nations are based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and international cooperation to solve international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,


Recalling also that the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, 


Recalling that disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind,


Recalling in particular that everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be fully realized,


Recalling that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action stated that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and that all human rights must be treated in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis, 


Recalling that peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of the United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well-being, and recognizing that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing,


Recalling the world commitment to eradicate poverty and promote sustained economic growth, sustainable development and global prosperity for all,


Recalling that the full and complete development of a country, the welfare of the world and the cause of peace require the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields,


Recalling the importance of prevention of armed conflict in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and the commitment to promote a culture of prevention of armed conflict as a means of effectively addressing the interconnected security and development challenges faced by peoples throughout the world, 


Recalling that the Human Rights Council shall contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies,


Recalling also that the wide diffusion of culture, and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfil in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern,


Recalling the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, which proclaimed that everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training,


Recalling the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which recognized that culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on, among others, the full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms,


Inviting solemnly all stakeholders to guide themselves in their activities by recognizing the supreme importance of practicing tolerance, dialogue, cooperation and solidarity among all stakeholders as a means to promote world peace through human rights and to end, reduce and prevent progressively war and armed violence, in particular, by observing the following:


Article 1

Everyone is entitled to the promotion, protection and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to life, in a context in which all human rights, peace and development are fully implemented. 


Article 2

States should enhance the principles of freedom from fear and want, equality and non-discrimination and justice and rule of law as a means to build peace within societies. In this regard, States should undertake measures to bring about, maintain and enhance conditions of peace, particularly to benefit people in need in situations of humanitarian crises.


Article 3

States, the United Nations including its specialized agencies, as well as other interested international, regional, national and local organizations and civil society, should adopt all possible actions with the purpose of implementing, strengthening and elaborating this Declaration, including the establishment and enhancement of national institutions and related infrastructures.


Article 4

The provisions included in this Declaration shall be interpreted in light of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international instruments ratified by countries.