4 November 1998


Press Release
GA/SHC/3495



HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INTRODUCES ANNUAL REPORT, URGING INVESTMENT IN INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAMME

19981104
Special Rapporteur on Elimination of Religious Intolerance, Human Rights in Iraq, and in Democratic Republic of Congo, Present Reports

The international human rights programme offered measurable, lasting moral and financial profits, Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, this morning told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as she introduced the annual report of her Office.

To achieve such profits, the High Commissioner continued, investments must first be made. Efforts at efficiency, which were bearing fruit, would be at risk if resources remained inadequate. The elimination of poverty and social exclusion, possibly the most important human rights objective of the coming century, would also necessitate additional efforts.

The Committee this morning was beginning discussion of human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving enjoyment of human rights, the report of the High Commissioner and reports of special rapporteurs.

Max van der Stoel, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iraq, presenting his report, said the ordinary situation in Iraq was one of widespread, systematic -- indeed systemic -- denial of the basic human rights of the population.

The representative of Iraq said the bulk of the Special Rapporteur's statements were fabrications and part of continuous attempts to discredit the regime in Iraq. The sources of his information were parties hostile to Iraq. Therefore, they could not provide objective information or the basis of realistic conclusions.

Abdelfattah Amor, Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, presenting his report, said he had made urgent appeals regarding cases of religious intolerance in Iran and Sudan. In Iran, two Baha'i persons had been condemned to death because of their religious belief. In Sudan, a student who had converted to Christianity had been arrested and had disappeared.


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Roberto Garreton, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, introduced his preliminary report, saying the human rights situation had not improved significantly. Ethnic conflicts continued, as did persecution of opponents to the Government, he said.

During this morning's discussion, statements were also made by the representatives of Austria, China, Cuba, Germany, India, Japan, Kuwait, Norway, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.

The Third Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue discussion of those human rights matters.


Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to begin consideration of alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives. In addition, the Committee will consider the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. For background information on the more than 20 reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/SHC/3494 issued today.

Statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights

MARY ROBINSON, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was pleased to introduce the annual report of her office, noting it contained information on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration had placed the human person at the centre, saw rights as interrelated and interdependent, and charged each individual and organ of society with the responsibility of achieving respect for human rights through education and progressive action.

The desire for a richer understanding of the Declaration was reflected in a recent request she had accepted to organize commentaries on the Universal Declaration from Islamic perspectives, she said. A key part of that endeavour would be a seminar next week in Geneva. That project would enrich understanding of the universality of human rights, and broaden approaches to the Universal Declaration.

The last 50 years had generated much hope, she said. Yet, the Universal Declaration was still far from reality. The lessons of the past must not be forgotten: lasting solutions would not come only from experts of strong-minded leaders, but demanded the vibrant participation of democratic societies respectful of human rights and inherent human dignity.

The General Assembly's decision to convene, no later than 2001, the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was a welcome recognition of the need to take effective action against racism, she said. It would be the first important human rights event of the next century. The United Nations had been born with the acute understanding of the dangers of racism, which could begin with small acts of exclusion in daily life and build into economic and political insecurity. The Conference could make a significant contribution to the elimination of racism and racial discrimination.

The elimination of poverty and social exclusion may be the most important human rights objective of the coming century, she said. There had been a shocking rise in poverty. The fight against poverty required the effective exercise of many human rights, from access to health, education and employment, to free expression, association and participation in government.


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Development and poverty reduction required determined action at the national level and direct involvement of the persons concerned, she said. At the international level, the joint event held by the Second Committee (Economic and Finance) and Third Committee in mid-October had shown the advantage of a holistic approach to complex issues involving economic and human rights considerations.

The human rights programme offered clear, measurable and lasting profits, not only moral, but also financial, she said. But, to achieve those profits, investments must first be made. Earlier this year, the Commission on Human Rights had adopted a resolution requesting regular budget resources that would cover the mandated efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was a very important resolution. This was a time of decision for the human rights programme. Efforts at efficiency and performance were beginning to bear fruit. Further improvement would be at risk if resources remained inadequate.

In the public eye, human rights was an important part of the work of the United Nations, she said. In the next century, human rights would become even more central to the mission of the Organization. The human rights programme must focus on three main objectives: advocacy, assessment and assistance.

Advocacy meant insisting on the importance of human rights and ensuring that all relevant organs, institutions and actors, both nationally and internationally, were conscious of their responsibilities, she said. In assessment, the monitoring dialogue with governments was essential to improving performance. In terms of assistance, she said that in a surprisingly large number of instances, assessment led to a real desire to change. The United Nations must be ready to provide help through technical cooperation projects and field presences. Human rights education programmes and development of national institutions were of key importance.

Dialogue with High Commissioner

The representative of Austria asked the High Commissioner what steps had been taken with regard to the number of field presences since the meeting in Oslo. Second, regarding better funding for core activities of human rights programmes, what steps did the High Commissioner recommend for procuring those and where were they needed. Third, regarding the upcoming conference on racism, he asked what steps would be taken next to involve and engage non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide for that conference. Finally, regarding the Vienna Declaration, while national implementation of international human rights standards was most important, the High Commissioner's Office was crucial in taking States further, and in that regard, what would be her role?

The representative of Cuba said he supported the view of the High Commissioner that human rights were indivisible, interdependent and


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interrelated. He asked what her role as a "catalyst" for respect for human rights would be, as well as the role of the United Nations itself in relation to the serious risk of a global crisis. How could the United Nations avoid the consequences of that crisis being a burden to the developing countries, in particular the vulnerable sectors of society? he asked. What would be her role and what additional measures could be provided to implement paragraph 17 of part 2 of the Vienna Declaration?

The representative of Japan said that while the universality of human rights was undeniable, those rights were closely related to culture and other factors of societies. There was a need for careful understanding of such factors before taking action. In that context, how would the High Commissioner look at the action of human rights bodies? Also, regarding the High Commissioner's comments on the need for an increased budget, he said a more efficient use of limited resources was a factor. Also, he was interested in the manner of coordination between the agencies in the field of human rights, particularly in field operations.

The representative of the United Kingdom supported the High Commissioner's call for a rights-based approach to development, for setting situations in context, as well as for empowering people to demand justice as a right. What were the practical implications of that rights-based approach? How would that fit with other traditional approaches of other United Nations offices? Also, what would be the relationship between NGOs and foreign policy-making? What were the recommendations and what steps could the United Nations follow to make better use of NGO contribution?

The representative of the United States said one year ago, the High Commissioner had looked at human rights from a development perspective. This year, she had looked at development from a human rights perspective. That represented an important evolution. While resources should be increased for human rights, his Government was mystified by the implicit assumptions that certain activities should be allocated from regular budgets and others from contributions. Clearly, there should be a mandated budget for human rights. It was important not to lose the clear mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner to protect civil and political rights because while there were numerous agencies attending to other rights, there was only one Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He hoped, with regard to the rights of indigenous peoples, the Declaration could be concluded shortly. Remarking on the incorporation of human rights into peace and security issues, that was a key issue. What could be done to advance peace and security? Clarification was needed on what efforts were being taken to increase resources for the High Commissioner's Office.

The representative of India said that while the High Commissioner had correctly emphasized the importance of implementation at the national level,


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how could the promotion of human rights be achieved in an environment of abject poverty, where millions went hungry, homeless, illiterate, sick? While national endeavours were important, what more could the international community do to that end? He cited the statement previously made by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) -- regarding the decline of contributions from the developed countries -- as "scandalous", and a violation to the commitment to the rights of the child.

The representative of China said the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had adopted a document that was of great significance to the Vienna Declaration. How would the High Commissioner implement those conclusions?

The representative of Norway said catalysts needed necessary ingredients -- capacity, capability, competence, motivation. The High Commissioner's involvement was needed regarding the interaction between business and human rights and the negotiation of a multilateral agreement on investment. Since that agreement was on hold, what role did she see for herself?

The representative of Germany said a gender perspective should be put into the work of High Commissioner. How was the work of the gender team faring?

Ms. ROBINSON, responding to the questions from the floor, said there had been 22 field representatives present at the Oslo meeting. They had identified 68 practical recommendations at that meeting to improve communication, training, resources to do the work and standardization of procedures. There had also been follow-up to that exercise. The work in the field was essential since it allowed a direct interaction with those who had problems.

Regarding the World Conference against Racism, the High Commissioner was examining an outline and a plan of action, which referred to the need for wide consultation. She had already consulted the Council of Europe. There had been allocation of resources, but those would not be accessible until the year 2000. Yet, much had to be done before that. Funding was needed towards the end of this year to prepare well and to carry through the plan of action.

Regarding funding, she said she had emphasised looking for more regular-budget funding because she believed the protection and promotion of human rights was at the heart of the United Nations charter. The fund for treaty bodies, though it conformed to criteria, did not provide the professional services of the rapporteurs. Despite using every means, it was not possible to stretch her Office's resources further.

The other reason for the need for more resources was a very healthy demand for technical cooperation, she said. There had been more than


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200 programmes in capacity building, among other things, undertaken in response to Member States. There were signed memorandums of understanding with Indonesia, China, Morocco, Mongolia, and Azerbaijan, among others, and the requests were stacking up. A total of 36 countries had agreed on a technical framework for assistance for various rights. The way forward was to look at best practices, which would ensure the Paris principles.

Regarding the question about the Vienna Declaration, it had allowed for reinvigoration, with specific targets, in relation to working with NGOs. The Declaration represented a valuable relaunch of the role of her Office.

Regarding the representative of Cuba's question, her Office had identified three areas to work on -- advocacy, assessment, and assistance, which had linkages. In relation to paragraph 17 of the Declaration, she said the review was very important to address future challenges and was of practical value to her Office.

Turning to the points raised by the representative of Japan, she said she agreed that human rights were closely related to other programmes. Efficient use of resources and better coordination were high on her list of priorities. That was also taking place at a country level, and in difficult field work, such as in Kosovo. It was a discussion that had been highlighted at the recent ACC meeting, in which she had taken part.

On the role of the treaty bodies, she said that question had also been raised by other delegates. This year was an important year in looking at the work of the treaty bodies. The Commission had begun a review of those bodies, and there was an academic study of them under way. She would ensure that those reviews would be taken on board and improvements were carried out.

Responding to the point made by the representative of the United Kingdom on a rights-based approach to development, she said the Commission was now looking at practical ways to improve benchmarks in economic and social rights, and other indicators, including the role of the human development report. Next year, that report would have globalization as its theme. It was also looking at issues such as access to nutrition and health care from a human rights perspective.

That also addressed the representative of the United States, who had talked about looking at the development aspect of human rights, she said. It was becoming an increasingly important aspect of human rights work.

Peace and security underlined the preventive role of human rights in conflicts. At the root of conflicts there were often violations of human rights. It was important to address in a holistic way the root causes of conflicts and to take that approach in conflict resolution.


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The representative of India had asked about the international community, she said. She was actively engaged in talking with the wider international family. That was an active discussion, and her Office was determined to have a catalytic role in having a human rights impact assessment in the work of the United Nations.

Responding to the representative of China, she said she, too, had welcomed the important conclusions of the Economic and Social Council meeting. It had reinforced the way in which the United Nations had sought to fulfil the commitments made in Vienna.

Turning to the comments made by the representative of Norway, she said that there was already a wide constituency of human rights. There was a need for a strong alliance, and the role of business and transnational alliances was very important. Businesses had a major role to play in human rights. In some cases they caused violations of human rights, and in many cases they could be important tools for improving human rights. It was important to link business and human rights.

In response to the question by the representative of Germany regarding the gender perspective, she said that the gender issue was a focus of the work of her Office, both within the Office, and in the field. All Special Rapporteurs had been encouraged to have a gender focus in their work, as part of their overall rights-based approach.

Human Rights in Iraq

MAX VAN DER STOEL, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation of Human Rights in Iraq, said the analysis of the legal and political order in Iraq demonstrated beyond doubt that the ordinary situation in Iraq was one of widespread, systematic -- indeed systemic -- and constant denial of the basic human rights of the population. First, the Government of Iraq did not respect the effective protection of the fundamental rights to life and physical integrity. He cited the assassinations this year of two internationally respected religious scholars living in Najaf. The Government of Iraq had denied its involvement, had refused to accept its responsibilities and, to his knowledge, had not conducted any serious investigations into the assassinations.

Equally disturbing were the reports alleging mass executions in prisons, he said. He noted that cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments such as amputations and other unusual punishments, which had been decreed in 1994, remained in force, despite their incompatibility with the prohibition of torture. Iraqi authorities had argued that those forms of punishment were exceptional measures needed to deter crime, and that they had not been imposed for some time. According to the Rapporteur's information, however, such punishments were still being imposed, without due process and by persons with


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no judicial or similar competence. The existence of such a law was in itself a serious violation of human rights, he added.

The Special Rapporteur also cited the more than 150,000 persons of Kurdish origin who had been evicted from the oil-rich regions, where the policy of "Arabization" continued. That number did not include the problem of more than 200,000 internally displaced persons in the rest of the country, mainly in the southern regions of Iraq. The regime was a totalitarian one that admitted no opposition, demanded subordination and total conformity and meted out the harshest punishments to those even suspected of defying it. Further, the Government had decided to give priority to its policy of intransigence rather than to give priority to providing food and health care for all persons in Iraq. As a direct result, the Iraqi population had experienced widespread suffering.

That Government had refused for five years to cooperate with the United Nations on the "oil-for-food" resolutions, which would have long ago provided substantially increased resources to assist special affected persons. It had also failed to ensure the end of the sanctions -- and consequently also the end for the need for the "oil-for-food" programmes. Yet, there were numerous indications that resources available to the Government had been used to rebuild military forces and undertake the construction of numerous new and elaborate palaces for the President of Iraq. In concluding, he said his greatest concern today was that the international community had become accustomed to the horrendous situation of human rights in Iraq.

MOHAMMED AL-HUMAIMIDI (Iraq) said he had listened to the presentation and studied the report. The bulk of the Special Rapporteur's statement had been a repetition of allegations and fabrications which he had become accustomed to repeating, and were irrelevant to human rights. They were part of continuous attempts to discredit the regime in Iraq. The sources from which the Rapporteur had obtained his information for his report were certain parties that were hostile to Iraq and had a vested interest in discrediting Iraq. They therefore lacked credibility and could in no way be the basis for objective information or truthful or realistic conclusions.

He said the Special Rapporteur had dealt with alleged extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention and cruel or inhuman punishment. He said he would respond only to specific instances that had been cited by the Special Rapporteur, not the general accusations he had made because they had been illusory and were fabrications.

Referring to the so-called prison cleansing campaign, he said the Special Rapporteur had grossly exaggerated the numbers. The murderers who had been executed had been tried under the law, with all legal guarantees. Under the harsh conditions suffered by Iraqi people because of the cruel economic embargo, the Government of Iraq would not compromise on elements that


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undermined security, and would punish those who undermined the safety and stability of society.

As for the so-called political assassinations of clerics, for which the Special Rapporteur had blamed the Government of Iraq, the criminals who were responsible had been seen on Iraqi television, and had made full confessions of their crimes. The Special Rapporteur had referred to the arrest of a well-known journalist. In fact, that journalist was not under arrest, and could be contacted by anyone.

He said the cruel punishments referred to in the report, which had been imposed for a certain period in the past, had been totally discontinued. The Special Rapporteur should have scrutinized the information that was given to him, if he did not want to be a party to lies.

Regarding the right to food and health care, he said the Special Rapporteur had concluded that Iraq was responsible for the condition of its people, because the Government administered the "oil-for-food" programme. The Government of Iraq, since the beginning of the embargo, had sought with all its means and resources to spare the people of Iraq, especially the children, from the adverse effects of the embargo.

He said claims of discrimination in carrying out the "oil-for-food" programme, had no basis in reality. The supply card regime for giving out food was just, integrated and comprehensive, as attested to by all United Nations agencies operating in Iraq. Its implementation was followed by a large number of United Nations observers, who had not noticed any discrimination: they would have pointed it out, but they had made no negative comments.

He said it was clear beyond doubt that the Special Rapporteur had departed from the guidelines of his mandate. There was deliberate abuse on the part of the Special Rapporteur. He had even used his mandate as a pulpit for calling for a change of the legitimate Government of Iraq. That represented a flagrant violation of the right of the Iraqi people to self-determination.

BADER MOHAMMED AL-AWADI (Kuwait) thanked the Special Rapporteur for his praiseworthy efforts in presenting his report, which was characterized by impartiality and objectivity. The question of human rights was particularly important for Kuwait. Under its Constitution, every citizen had equal rights and was entitled to justice and the rule of law. The Kuwaiti people continued to suffer because of the hesitation of the Iraqi Government to liberate Kuwaiti and other detainees.

Since the liberation of Kuwait, the international community had constantly called on Iraq to release the prisoners it had taken took during its occupation of Kuwait, she said. Iraq should also provide information on


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those persons, and give access to prisons to representatives of international humanitarian organizations. Iraq had shown no inclination to comply with those calls.

She said her country would do what it could to guarantee the release of those prisoners. The Special Rapporteur had shown that conditions in Iraq had deteriorated. The continuing deterioration was a source of pain and sadness and a flagrant violation of human dignity and of international humanitarian law. She was pleased by the adoption by the Security Council of resolutions 1111 and 1185. If the Iraqi Government had not waited five years to accept the "oil-for-food" agreement, it would have been possible to spare millions of innocent people the prolonged suffering they had had to bear.

ENGELBERT THEUERMANN (Austria) said there had been a reference to a high number of detainees. Were those figures illustrative of the total number of detainees, and was there additional information about the total? he asked. Second, on the reported assassinations of the clerics, he was interested in knowing whether there had been any feed-back from the Government, aside from what the representative of Iraq had just stated. He asked what were the reasons behind the discriminatory allocation of food rations and behind the increase in the quota of medical supplies to Baghdad. He also asked whether more information was available on the punishment of amputation.

SETH WINNICK (United States) quoted Joseph Stalin -- one death is a tragedy and a million is a statistic. The situation could not be allowed to continue unnoticed. He also asked what response the Government of Iraq had given regarding the alleged assassinations of religious leaders. What response had been given to the so-called clean out of the prisons? Had any evidence of fair trials been submitted by the Government of Iraq. Regarding the call made by the representative of Iraq for the Special Rapporteur to focus on facts, he said the answer to that was simple. The Special Rapporteur needed to be allowed to visit Iraq, and the Government should answer the allegations that had been made.

The Special Rapporteur said that the Government of Iraq had refused any cooperation with him, and that also applied to the question of the assassinations of the clerics. Those incidents had, in fact, been preceded by earlier assassinations. He called on the Government of Iraq to allow human rights monitors in to the country, even if they did not want to let them in. That would be an appropriate way to see whether he or the Government of Iraq was correct. However, the Government of Iraq had failed to allow even that.

He said it was difficult to asses the number of political prisoners, but anyone who was even suspected of having unfriendly feelings for the regime could be arrested or could pay with his life. He noted that the representative of Iraq had not denied that the executions had taken place -- perhaps there were differences in the definitions of murderers and criminals.


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Responding to the question on allocation of food rations, he said the regime seemed to wish to be in control of the population and any population movements. He was at a loss to explain why more medical supplies were going to Baghdad. In fact, there were other ways in which Baghdad was advantaged.

Regarding amputations, he said that procedure had been resumed. The representative of Iraq had not said that the decree to allow such a procedure had been withdrawn. He hoped that the Government of Iraq, even if it continued to refuse him access, would be willing at least to answer his letters and requests for information.

Elimination of Religious Intolerance

ABDELFATTAH AMOR, Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance, said his report covered government decisions and reviewed incidents that were not compatible with the relevant conventions and established norms regarding freedom of religion. He had sent 64 communications to 46 States and there had been numerous answers.

In connection with cases in Iran and Sudan, he said he had made urgent appeals. In Iran, two Baha'i persons had been condemned to death because of their religious belief. He called on the Government of Iran to reconsider its attitude to the Baha'i faith in the spirit of freedom of religion and belief in keeping with international norms. The State should take a position of constants, not variables. Each individual and minority, by virtue of rights endowed, were worthy of respect and protection. With regard to Sudan, a student who had converted to Christianity had been arrested and had disappeared. He said the freedom of religion entailed freedom to change religion, the right to life, physical integrity, freedom to manifest one's own religion and freedom of worship.

Apart from activities of communication, he had made site visits including to the United States, he said. A report of that visit would be published. Last week, he had concluded a visit to Viet Nam, a report of which would be submitted in 1999. Requests that he might visit Turkey, Israel and the Russian Federation had received no response.

He said the time had come to make a change in the title of his appointment, so that instead of being Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance, it would be "Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief". The current title discouraged communication and made dialogue difficult, while the proposed change would make the work positive. The reinforcement efforts called for at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights required better protection and more independence for special rapporteurs, and, consequently increased resources. Additional efforts were needed to rationalize and coordinate work, without jeopardizing freedom of judgement. In that framework, he could produce an annual special United


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Nations report on human rights, covering all States, their positive characteristics and other phenomena.

Increased attention should be paid to the status of women with regard to religion, including policies ascribed to religion, he said. The Taliban's reduction of women and was an affront to the wisdom of God. It was high time to use appropriate means to take up the issue of sex. Freedom of religion should not be used as an alibi. While no society and religion were without extremism, the tolerance of extremism was the tolerance of the intolerable. Thus, States and the international community should condemn extremism without ambiguity and without yielding until it was condemned by history.

Mr. THEUERMANN (Austria) asked what kind of study would be undertaken on extremism and the minimum standards of rules of conduct. He also asked to what extent would such rules be different from other international rules and what was the crucial role of education regarding problems of religious intolerance. Did the Special Rapporteur intend to use the proposed material for primary and secondary schools? How far had the project progressed and how did he propose to use that compendium at a later stage? he asked.

Mr. WINNICK (United States), referring to the death sentences on the Baha'i persons in Iran, asked if any intervention had been made by the Special Rapporteur that would indicate that those Baha'is would not be executed for their religious beliefs.

AHMET S. ARDA (Turkey) said Turkish authorities would inform the Office of the High Commissioner that, in principle, they had agreed to invite the Special Rapporteur to visit Turkey in 1999.

Responding to questions and comments from the floor, Mr. AMOR, the Special Rapporteur, said he had for some years examined the question of how to interpret extremism so as to achieve a certain number of rules of conduct for States. If existing rules addressed them, they did not cover all the phenomena. Thus, the purpose of the study was to determine minimum rules of conduct.

Education was more important for preventing intolerance than managing the problems, he said. Education made a person what he or she was. He said the educational system, especially schools at the primary and secondary levels, taught a form of indifference to others, often hostility. That pattern was reflected in certain text books and programmes. There existed a general hymn to hatred and intolerance of others due to different religions.

The Special Rapporteur said dozens of States had responded, and answers had been voluminous. The answers had not been sufficiently looked into, but with financial support from Norway they would be. The proposed compendium would be useful, a working instrument, with regard to States' legislation, and it could be kept up to date to evaluate incidents in various States.


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The two Baha'i persons had been condemned to death due to their religious beliefs, he said. The Government of Iran had maintained a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. Those two persons had appealed. The case was in judicial process and an amnesty was possible. He hoped the Government of Iran, a country which had inherited a great civilization of subtlety and nuance, would not go to that extreme.

The Special Rapporteur said he would seek to cooperate with Turkey.

Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

ROBERTO GARRETON, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, introduced his preliminary report, saying the situation of human rights in that country had not shown significant progress. There were still ethnic conflicts, and there were persecutions of opponents of the Government.

The democratic process that had been started in 1990 had not been resumed, he said. The draft constitution did not satisfy the majority of the people. The unjustified war that had been started in the east had resulted in an increase in ethnic detentions. In the east there was a climate of terror and widespread abuse.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not cooperated with him, he said, but there had recently been a positive change. The Government had recently recognized the work of the Special Rapporteur regarding the prosecution of criminals, and he hoped that recognition would lead to further cooperation. He wanted to emphasize that his work was to help the people of the country, and that he had no other code than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His mission was only to ensure that human rights were being implemented in the country.

He said nothing was more important than that violators of human rights be brought to justice, no matter what their nationality and he called for human rights abuses to be addressed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also stressed that the Government must move to restore democracy with the full participation of all sectors.

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