United Nations

A/50/36


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

2 November 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session

               REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
                 COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS*















________________________

  *   The present document is  a mimeographed version of  the report of  the
United Nations High  Commissioner for Human  Rights.  The final  report will
be  issued as Official  Records of  the General  Assembly, Fiftieth Session,
Supplement No. 36 (A/50/36).


95-33633 (E)   201195/...
*9533633*
 CONTENTS

Chapter  Paragraphs  Page

  INTRODUCTION ..........................................1 - 43

I.  PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ..............5 - 584

  A.  International cooperation .........................5 - 154

  B.  Ratification of human rights treaties .............16 - 177

  C.  Implementation of human rights ....................18 - 2610

  D.  Dialogue with Governments .........................27 - 3614

  E.  Addressing human rights situations ................37 - 4916

  F.  Technical cooperation .............................50 - 5322

  G.  Education and information .........................54 - 5824

II.  THEMATIC ISSUES .......................................59 - 8726

  A.  The right to development - economic, social and
    cultural rights ...................................59 - 6326

  B.  Equality and non-discrimination ...................64 - 8027

  C.  Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions ....81 - 8232

  D.  Torture ...........................................83 - 8432

  E.  Enforced disappearances ...........................    8533

  F.  Internally displaced persons ......................86 - 8733

III.  UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS MACHINERY .................88 - 10135

  A.  Cooperation and coordination ......................88 - 9035

  B.  Treaty bodies .....................................91 - 9235

  C.  Special procedures ................................93 - 9436

  D.  Adaptation of the machinery .......................95 - 9939

  E.  Resources .........................................100 - 10140

IV.  CONCLUSIONS:  IMPLEMENTING THE VIENNA DECLARATION
  AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION ...............................102 - 10742
INTRODUCTION


1.  The fiftieth anniversary of the United  Nations prompts a reflection  on
the achievement  by the international community,  since 1945, of  one of the
main  purposes  of  the  United Nations,  namely,  to  achieve international
cooperation  in promoting  and  encouraging  respect  for human  rights  and
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction  as to race, sex,  language
or  religion.   It  is an  opportune time  for stocktaking,  particularly in
respect  of  our assets  and  shortcomings,  the  observable  trends in  our
activities and the responses  to be adopted to  the challenges ahead.  Those
questions were on the agenda of  two high-level panel discussions  organized
by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York on 25  October 1995 in
connection with the fiftieth  anniversary:  the  first on the future of  the
human rights  programme of  the United  Nations, and  the second on  women's
rights as human rights.

2.  Further to  the recommendations of the World Conference on Human  Rights
in  its  Vienna Declaration  and  Programme of  Action  1/ and  the  ensuing
establishment of the  Office of the High  Commissioner for Human Rights, the
human rights  programme  of  the  United  Nations  is  undergoing  extensive
transformation  and development.   The  implementation  of human  rights  is
being considered  as one  of the  cornerstones of,  and a  top priority  in,
international  activities and efforts  aimed at  the achievement  of a world
order based on cooperation, stability and  peace.  In view of  the fact that

the promotion  and protection of human  rights depends,  first and foremost,
on  appropriate policies and  structures at  the national  level, the United
Nations  is  increasingly  addressing  human  rights  problems  where   they
actually  occur.   In cooperation  with Governments  concerned,  specialized
agencies,   and   intergovernmental  and   non-governmental   organizations,
technical cooperation  is being  developed and  human rights field  presence
set up.
3.  The call by  the World Conference on Human  Rights for a  United Nations
system-wide approach to human rights issues is increasingly being  reflected
in the activities of its programmes and agencies and in the  recommendations
of  major international  conferences held  recently.   The implementation of
the human rights programme  of the United  Nations is the responsibility  of
the  entire  human  rights  community,  including  Governments,  the  United
Nations  specialized  agencies,  relevant  intergovernmental  organizations,
national  and  academic  institutions,  and non-governmental  organizations.
The integration  and coordination  of efforts  and activities  are the  best
guarantee for the accomplishment of the  objectives set by the international
community  in  this  complex  field.    The  ambitious  human  rights  tasks
entrusted to the United Nations require  a competent and operative machinery
and appropriate human and financial resources.

4.   The  Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action provides the guidelines
for the  United Nations human rights  programme.  The  methods and means  by
which it is being implemented are  reflected throughout the present  report.
However,   detailed  information   concerning   the  ways   in   which   the
recommendations adopted  by the World Conference  on Human  Rights are being
put  into  effect is  also contained  in  other reports  dealing with  human
rights submitted to the General Assembly at its fiftieth session.


 I.  PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS


A.  International cooperation

5.    International  cooperation  is  fundamental  for  the  promotion   and
protection of human  rights.  Cooperation with  all human rights actors  and
better coordination of  human rights  efforts throughout the United  Nations
system are  essential to  improve the  efficiency and  effectiveness of  the
human rights  programme.   The  High  Commissioner has  been vested  by  the
General Assembly  with a  specific responsibility  in this  respect.   Thus,
from the very outset  of his mandate he  has attached primary  importance to
setting  up  a  framework  for  a  close  and  continuous  cooperation  with
Governments,  United Nations  agencies and  programmes, other  international
organizations, national  institutions for  the promotion  and protection  of
human   rights,  and  non-governmental   organizations.  Mutual  support  of
efforts, facilitating of  joint or  coordinated human rights activities  and
the rational use of available resources should lead to better protection  of
all those who need it.

6.    The following  fundamental  presumptions  should  guide  international
cooperation in the  field of human rights:   (a) the  primary responsibility
for  the promotion and  protection of  human rights  rests with Governments;
(b)  the promotion  and  protection of  all  human rights  is  a  legitimate
concern  of the  international community;  (c) the  international  community
should  foster processes  leading towards  a better  implementation of human
rights and the strengthening  of democracy and the  rule of law,  and should
take all necessary measures to prevent human rights  abuses and to eradicate
the gravest  human rights violations; (d)  the international protection  and
promotion of  human rights is  effective only if  based on  the principle of
the  indivisibility and equal  value of  all human  rights -civil, cultural,
economic, political and  social; (e) the interdependence between  democracy,
development  and  respect   for  human  rights,  underlined  by  the   World
Conference  on Human Rights,  offers a  prospect of  harmonious national and
international activity; (f)  the international and regional systems of human
rights protection are complementary and should  support each other; and  (g)

national    institutions,    non-governmental    organizations,     academic
institutions  and  grass-roots  initiatives  should  be  fully  accepted  as
natural human rights advocates and  partners in international cooperation on
human rights.

7.  A key element in the High  Commissioner's mandate is the  responsibility
of engaging  in a  dialogue with  all Governments  with a  view to  securing
respect for  all human rights.   In the framework of  his missions, the High
Commissioner  raises   general  problems  relating   to  the   international
protection of  human rights,  as well as  country-specific issues.   He  has
discussed strengthening national implementation of human rights through  the
preparation  of  national plans  of  action,  the establishment  of national
institutions   such  as   human  rights   commissions  or   ombudsmen,   the
strengthening  of  the  rule of  law,  and  the  promotion  of  human rights
education.   The High Commissioner has  raised issues  relating to economic,
social  and cultural rights, as  well as the right to development, promotion
of the rights  of women,  the status of  minorities, indigenous people,  the
status of  non-citizens, the  legal status of  refugees and  asylum-seekers,
protection of the rights of children  and conformity of national legislation
with international standards.   He has also paid  attention to the need  for
strengthening international cooperation on human  rights and for support for
the United Nations human rights programme.

 8.  The High  Commissioner has undertaken action  with regard to  the human
rights  situation in Chechnya.   During  his meeting  with the  Minister for
Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation at Geneva on 17 January 1995,  the
High Commissioner  reiterated his profound preoccupation  at the reports  of
violations  of human rights  and humanitarian law in Chechnya, characterized
by  a large  number of  civilian victims,  and appealed  once again  for  an
immediate  end to violence  and violations of  human rights  in full respect
for  the Charter of the  United Nations, the Universal  Declaration of Human
Rights and  other international human  rights instruments, and  humanitarian
law.    The  High Commissioner  offered  the cooperation  of  his office  in
connection  with  the  promotion  of  human  rights  and  the  provision  of
technical  assistance  for  the  re-establishment  of  basic  human   rights
infrastructure.  In  a statement on  the situation  of human  rights in  the
Republic of Chechnya  made at the fifty-first  session of the Commission  on
Human  Rights,  2/  the  Chairman  of   the  Commission  invited  the   High
Commissioner  to continue his  dialogue with  the Government  of the Russian
Federation with a view to securing  respect for all human rights.   The High
Commissioner's  representative  visited the  Russian  Federation,  including
Chechnya and Ingushetia, from 20 to  30 May 1995.  The  dialogue of the High
Commissioner  with  the  authorities  of  the  Russian  Federation  and  the
Organization  for  Security   and  Cooperation  in  Europe  concerning   the
modalities of  United Nations involvement in  the process  of restoration of
human rights protection in Chechnya is ongoing.

9.   The  regional intergovernmental  organizations  and the  United Nations
have parallel  objectives with  regard to  the promotion  and protection  of
human  rights. That  is the  basis on  which cooperation between  the United
Nations human  rights programme and  those organizations is being developed.
Experience  gathered   shows  how  helpful   and  mutually  endorsing   such
cooperation  can be.    A framework  for coordination  of  efforts  has been
created  with the  Organization  of  American States,  the  Organization  of
African Unity, the European Union, the  Council of Europe, the  Organization
for  Security and  Cooperation  in  Europe, and  the Council  of  the Baltic
States.    The World  Conference  on  Human  Rights reiterated  the  need to
consider   the  possibility   of  establishing   regional  and   subregional
arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights where they  do
not already exist.  It also recommended that  more resources should be  made
available for strengthening or establishing regional arrangements under  the
technical cooperation  programme  of the  Centre  for  Human Rights  of  the
Secretariat.   The Centre  regularly organizes regional  workshops aimed  at
facilitating efforts  to establish  regional human  rights arrangements  and
institutions.    It   also  provides,  if  required,  direct  technical  and
financial support to existing regional human  rights organizations. 3/   The

High  Commissioner  is continuing  to participate  in discussions  about the
setting up of a regional or subregional human rights arrangement in Asia.

10.   Practical cooperation  with regard  to specific  areas or cases  is of
particular  importance.   The  High  Commissioner is  cooperating  with  the
Organization for  Security  and Cooperation  in Europe  (OSCE), inter  alia,
with regard to the human  rights situation in Chechnya  and is participating
in  the coordinating initiative  of OSCE, the  Office of  the United Nations
High Commissioner  for Refugees (UNHCR)  and the International  Organization
for  Migration  (IOM)  relating  to European  developments.    The  European
Commission has  provided 31 highly qualified  personnel, who  are working as
an integral  part of  the United  Nations human  rights operation in  Rwanda
(see  also para.  40).    The European  Commission has  also agreed  to give
financial  support   to  preventive   human  rights  action   of  the   High
Commissioner in Burundi.  Working agreements  are under discussion with  the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the  Council of Europe and  OSCE.
These are all  good examples of cooperation,  mutual assistance and the most
efficient use of limited resources. 
  11.    As  the  World  Conference   on  Human  Rights  stressed,  national
institutions constitute  an important and  growing infrastructure for  human
rights  promotion  and  protection  world  wide.     Their  impact  on   the
implementation of  human rights is demonstrable  and practical.   The United
Nations  human   rights  programme  encourages  the   setting  up  of   such
institutions.   Through  the technical  cooperation programme,  it  provides
them  with a framework  for cooperation,  exchange of  experience and mutual
support,  as well as  with assistance,  including training  and information.
The  High Commissioner  has recently  established  a  senior adviser  in his
office, who is  already assisting a number  of Governments that have decided
to   create  such   national  institutions.     An   overall  programme  for
strengthening existing national institutions, particularly those which  have
just been set up,  is also being prepared.  The third international workshop
on national  institutions for the promotion  and protection  of human rights
was conducted successfully at Manila in April 1995  at the invitation of the
Government of the Philippines.   Further meetings at the regional level will
take place in the next few months.

12.  The World  Conference on Human Rights  recognized the important role of
non-governmental organizations in the promotion of  all human rights and  in
humanitarian activities at the national, regional and international  levels.
The  active presence  of the  human  rights  constituency, embodied  by non-
governmental  organizations, grass-roots  initiatives and  individuals,  has
become a  prerequisite of efficient  action in  the field  of human  rights.
The  United Nations is  strongly interested  in close  cooperation with non-
governmental  organizations,  as well  as  in  implementation  of its  human
rights   programme   through   non-governmental   organizations,  if   their
potentials so allow. Non-governmental organizations are natural partners  of
the  High Commissioner:  regular meetings  and consultations  with them have
become an important component of his activities.

13.  Collaboration  with academic institutions  is an important tool  in the
implementation of the Vienna Declaration  and Programme of Action.  A number
of such  institutions have  already offered  their cooperation  in preparing
background policy  studies in  important human  rights  areas, for  example,
prevention of human  rights violations, the right to development,  economic,
social  and cultural  rights, the protection of  minorities, compilation and
publicizing  of  the  jurisprudence  of the  treaty  monitoring  bodies, and
information and  documentation.  Academic  institutions have also  expressed
their  readiness to  cooperate actively  in  the  realization of  the United
Nations Decade for Human Rights Education.

14.   To facilitate the very important  work in the area of  human rights of
individuals, groups  and organs  of society,  a proper  legal framework  and
protection should be established.  In  this context, the High  Commissioner,
following up the calls  of the General Assembly  and the Commission on Human
Rights, has appealed to the working group of the Commission on Human  Rights
to complete  as soon  as possible  the draft  declaration on  the right  and

responsibility of individuals, groups and organs  of society to promote  and
protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

15.    Continuous coverage of human rights  issues by the  media is becoming
increasingly  important.   However,  while  grave  human  rights  violations
attract the attention of the media and the  general public, the coverage  of
less spectacular situations which might be  called "silent tragedies" and of
activities aimed at promoting human rights is  not as satisfactory.   Urgent
steps need to be taken in order to improve this situation. 

 B.  Ratification of human rights treaties

16.    Since  1945, a comprehensive body of  human rights standards has been
elaborated in  the framework  of the  United Nations.   In  order to  ensure
respect  for  all  the human  rights  of  each person  in  the  world  on an
impartial, objective and non-selective  basis, the World Conference on Human
Rights  set the  goal of  universal ratification  of the basic  human rights
treaties.   To  achieve this  objective,  the Secretary-General  launched  a
world-wide campaign in September 1994, which is  being continued by the High
Commissioner in  his  contacts  with Governments,  human rights  organs  and
bodies,  national  institutions and  non-governmental  organizations.    The
results  achieved have  been remarkable,  although determined  efforts  must
still  be continued.   The human  rights technical  cooperation programme is
available to  facilitate the  ratification of  human rights  treaties.   The
World  Conference  invited  States   to  consider  limiting  the  extent  of
reservations to  international instruments, to  formulate them as  precisely
and  narrowly as  possible, and  to review  them  regularly  with a  view to
withdrawing them.    Preparations are  under  way  to convene  two  regional
meetings, in Africa and in Asia,  with government representatives to promote
universal  ratification.    Two  studies  dealing,  respectively,  with  the
problem of  reservations and with obstacles  to ratification  have also been
initiated.   The  World Conference  called  for  accession to  the  optional
communications  procedures   under  human   rights  treaties.     The   High
Commissioner, in his dialogue  with Governments, encourages States to comply
with this call.  

17.  The General Assembly, at its forty-ninth session, in resolution  49/178
of 23  December 1994,  again urged States  parties to make  every effort  to
meet their reporting  obligations, and in its  resolution 1995/92 of 8 March
1995, 4/ the Commission  on Human Rights urged States Parties to address, as
a  matter of  priority, at  their scheduled  meetings,  the issue  of States
parties consistently  not complying  with their  reporting obligations.   In
its  resolution 49/145 of  23 December  1994, the  General Assembly welcomed
the  innovatory procedures adopted  by the  Committee on  the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination for reviewing the implementation of the  International
Convention  on the  Elimination of  All  Forms  of Racial  Discrimination in
States whose reports are overdue. 

C.  Implementation of human rights

18.   The  General Assembly,  the  Commission on  Human Rights,  country and
thematic  special rapporteurs, working  groups and  the treaty bodies attach
great importance to strengthening the implementation  of human rights  world
wide.  In keeping with his mandate, the  High Commissioner is determined  to
make his contribution in  this regard.  During his missions to countries and
on  other  occasions,  he  has  stressed   that  although  the  adoption  of
legislation  consistent  with   international  standards  is   of  paramount
importance, it  is still necessary  to apply it  in practice.   Furthermore,
the  cooperation  of Member  States  is  a  precondition  for the  efficient
functioning of  the international human  rights machinery which monitors and
assists in the implementation of the international human rights standards.

19.   The Commission on  Human Rights, at its recent sessions, has been able
to  observe  encouraging  trends.    A  growing  number  of  countries  have
developed a working relationship with the Commission and its mechanisms.   A
number of  countries have improved  their human rights  record.   The end of

apartheid and  the beginning  of democracy  through free  elections are  the
achievements of a human rights process  embodied in the presidency of Nelson
Mandela in  South  Africa. Another  example  of  the world-wide  process  of
transition  to democracy  and respect  for human  rights was  the return  of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, which  was strongly called for by
the General Assembly  and the Commission on Human Rights.  The international
community welcomed  the  release from  house  arrest  of Nobel  Peace  Prize
Laureate Daw  Aung San Suu Kyi.   Resolutions adopted  by the Commission  at
its fifty-first session  under the agenda item concerning advisory  services
in the  field of  human rights  are guiding  the provision of  assistance to
Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Somalia and Togo.

20.  At its fifty-first session,  the Commission on Human  Rights considered
the final report of the Ad  Hoc Working Group of Experts  on southern Africa
5/  and expressed  appreciation for  the  work  accomplished by  the Working
Group  throughout its 28 years  of existence.  The transition from apartheid
to  a multiracial,  multi-ethnic, pluralistic,  democratic system  based  on
universal suffrage throughout  South Africa justified the conclusion of  the
work of the Working Group.   With respect to the  transition to democracy in
South  Africa, the Commission on  Human Rights, in its  resolution 1995/9 of
17  February 1995,  4/  taking note  of  the  final  report of  the  Special
Rapporteur  of  the  Subcommission  on  Prevention  of  Discrimination   and
Protection of Minorities on monitoring the  transition to democracy in South
Africa, 6/  expressed its  appreciation to  the Special  Rapporteur and  its
profound  satisfaction  at  the  entry  into  force  of  South  Africa's new
Constitution on 27 April 1994, the holding of one person/one vote  elections
from 26 to 29 April 1994,  the convening of South Africa's new Parliament on
5  May  1994 and  the  installation on  10  May 1994  of  its  President and
Government of  National Unity.  The  Commission considered  that the mandate
of the  Special Rapporteur had been  successfully concluded,  and decided to
terminate  it.    In  addition,  the   Commission  decided  to  suspend  the
monitoring  activities  of   the  Group  of  Three  established  under   the
International Convention on the Suppression and  Punishment of the Crime  of
Apartheid.

21.    The positive  developments, however, are  accompanied by  the concern
expressed by the  General Assembly and the  Commission on Human Rights  with
regard to  (a) obstacles to the  enjoyment of all  human rights  by all, (b)
serious human rights violations, and  (c) difficult human  rights situations
in  a relatively  large number  of countries.   Resolutions  of those organs
have drawn the attention of Governments, the  United Nations system and  the
general public to those problems and have called  for action with regard  to
extreme  poverty   and   problems   related  to   sustainable   development,
international debt, impunity, racism and xenophobia, discrimination  against
women, ethnic  and religious intolerance, mass  exoduses and refugee  flows,
armed conflicts  and  terrorism,  and  lack of  the  rule  of law  as  major
obstacles to  human rights.   The outcome of  the intensive  work concerning
the right to development,  as well as the strengthening of the  interlinkage
between democracy, development and  human rights, should  provide a  helpful
strategy to meet the  needs in this  respect.  The General Assembly  and the
Commission and its mechanisms have for  many years alerted the international
community  to   such  problems  as   extrajudicial,  summary  or   arbitrary
executions;  torture   and  enforced  disappearance;  arbitrary   detention;
violence  against women,  children  and vulnerable  groups;  and  internally
displaced  persons.   The  Commission has  also  elaborated measures,  which
should  be  applied   with  the  greatest  determination,  to  combat  those
violations  at the national  and international  levels.   At its fifty-first
session, in its consideration of the question of  violations of human rights
and  fundamental  freedoms  in  any  part  of  the  world,  with  particular
reference to  colonial and  other dependent  countries and territories,  the
Commission  expressed  its  concern  about  the  human  rights situation  in
Afghanistan, Burundi,  Cyprus, Cuba, Equatorial  Guinea, Haiti, the  Islamic
Republic  of   Iran,  Iraq,  Myanmar,  the   Papua  New   Guinea  island  of
Bougainville,  the  Republic of  Bosnia  and  Herzegovina, the  Republic  of
Croatia  and the  Federal  Republic of  Yugoslavia (Serbia  and Montenegro),
Rwanda, southern  Lebanon and  the Western Bekaa,  Sudan, Zaire and,  in the

Chairman's statement, Chechnya.   The Commission also considered  violations
of human  rights  in  the occupied  Arab territories,  including  Palestine,
human rights in the  occupied Syrian Golan, and  Israeli settlements in  the
occupied Arab territories, and the situation  in occupied Palestine, as well
as  the  question  of  Western  Sahara.     In  addition,  various  thematic
rapporteurs and working groups, in their  reports to the Commission, pointed
out serious  human  rights  problems  in  a  number of  countries  and  made
recommendations in  this regard.   The  High Commissioner,  in his  dialogue
with  Governments, follows up  on the  recommendations of  all mechanisms of
the Commission with a view to securing respect for all human rights.

22.   A particularly difficult situation  arises when  Governments refuse or
limit their cooperation with  the Commission or  its mechanisms.  This is  a
major obstacle to providing assistance to  Governments and to those  members
of society who need  it.  The General  Assembly at its  forty-ninth session,
in  resolution  49/186  of 23  December  1994,  again urged  all  States  to
cooperate  with  the  Commission  on  Human  Rights  in  the  promotion  and
protection  of  human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms.    Unfortunately,
resolutions  of the General  Assembly and  the Commission  give instances of
non-compliance  with this  recommendation. For  example, in  its  resolution
1995/38 of  3 March 1995,  4/ the Commission  deplored that,  as the Working
Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances  had stressed in its report,
some Governments had never provided substantive replies concerning  enforced
disappearances  alleged to have  occurred in  their countries,  nor acted on
the recommendations  of the  Working Group  concerning them.    In the  same
resolution,  the Commission urged Governments  concerned, particularly those
which  had not yet acted  with regard to communications transmitted to them,
to  intensify their cooperation  with the  Working Group.  (See also General
Assembly resolution 49/193 of 23  December 1994, on the question of enforced
or involuntary disappearances.)  Also, in  resolutions adopted at its fifty-
first  session, the  Commission frequently  stressed its  concern  about the
lack of  or inadequate  cooperation with  the United  Nations machinery,  in
particular with the Commission's mechanisms.   In keeping with his  mandate,
the  High Commissioner  assists  the  Commission, its  mechanisms and  other
relevant parts  of the  United Nations  human rights  machinery, as  well as
Governments, in establishing  and developing mutual working contacts with  a
view  to implementing  relevant Commission resolutions.   In addition, while
undertaking missions to  various countries, the  High Commissioner is paving
the way  for cooperation between Governments  and United  Nations organs and
bodies.   It is  to be  firmly  stressed, however,  that his  presence in  a
country does  not replace missions and  other activities  of other competent
mechanisms, in particular visits by special rapporteurs and  representatives
of the Commission or experts of treaty bodies.

23.   The implementation of human  rights requires  unimpeded cooperation of
individuals and  groups with the United  Nations and  representatives of its
human rights  bodies.   The Commission  on Human  Rights  reiterated in  its
resolution 1995/75 of 8 March 1995, 4/ its  concern at the continued reports
of intimidation  and reprisals against  private individuals  and groups  who
seek such  cooperation. The  General Assembly referred,  in its  resolutions
49/197 and 49/198 of 23 December 1994, to acts  of deprivation of freedom of
people   who  contacted  or   were  seeking   to  communicate  with  special
rapporteurs.   The High Commissioner  pays close attention to  this issue in
all  his  contacts  with  Governments,  as  well  as  with  non-governmental
organizations and other  parts of civil society.  No one must be deprived of
his  or her  freedom  because  of cooperation  with the  United  Nations and
representatives of  its bodies.   The  General Assembly,  in its  resolution
49/178 of  23 December 1994,  recognized the important  role played  by non-
governmental  organizations in  the effective  implementation of  all  human
rights instruments.

24.   The  question of  impunity has  acquired a  growing importance.    Two
Special   Rapporteurs   of  the   Subcommission   on   the   Prevention   of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities are  undertaking a study of  the
question  of the  impunity of  violators  of human  rights, both  civil  and
political rights  and cultural,  economic and  social rights.   In 1995  the

Subcommission considered  their progress reports  and requested the  Special
Rapporteurs to submit their final reports at its next session.

25.  Every  year, thousands of letters  and communications are addressed  by
individuals  and non-governmental  organizations to  the  Secretary-General,
the General  Assembly,  the Commission  on  Human  Rights and  other  United
Nations organs, alleging human  rights violations and seeking United Nations
intercession on behalf  of alleged victims.  The  bulk of them are  examined
through  a  procedure involving  the  Commission  on  Human  Rights and  the
Subcommission   on   Prevention   of   Discrimination   and   Protection  of
Minorities  -  pursuant  to  Economic  and  Social Council  resolution  1503
(XLVIII) of 27 May 1970 - which seeks to  identify and respond to systematic
and gross violations of human rights.   Other communications are examined by
treaty-monitoring  bodies, which  can adopt  judicial-like decisions.    The
international jurisprudence  created by  these bodies  is cited by  national
courts and tribunals.

26.     Considerable   progress  has   been  achieved   in  monitoring   the
implementation of the decisions  of the treaty bodies.   The creation by the
Human Rights Committee of the Special Rapporteur for the  follow-up of Views
(final  decisions  on the  merits  of  individual communications)  and other
measures taken  by other treaty  monitoring bodies, as well  as the dialogue
of the High Commissioner with the  Governments concerned, play an  important
role in this regard.
D.  Dialogue with Governments

27.   During his visits  to countries, the High Commissioner discussed human
rights  matters with the highest authorities of Governments, parliaments and
the judiciary  and with  representatives of  minorities, indigenous  people,
religious  and cultural  communities,  national human  rights  institutions,
non-governmental  organizations  and  academic   institutions.    The   High
Commissioner  also raised  issues  concerning areas  which  were  witnessing
particularly difficult human rights problems.   Since the submission of  his
first  report to the  General Assembly,  at its forty-ninth  session, 7/ the
High Commissioner  has  visited Australia,  Burundi  (for  the third  time),
Canada,  Colombia, Costa Rica,  Cuba, India,  Panama, Rwanda  (for the third
time),  Spain and  the United  States. A  brief presentation  of the  visits
which  took place after the  submission of the High Commissioner's report to
the Commission on  Human Rights at  its fifty-first session is  given below.
(The High  Commissioner also  visited  the  Holy See  and Italy  in  October
1995.)

28.  The High  Commissioner's visits to  Burundi and Rwanda, in March  1995,
served  to review  the ongoing  United  Nations  human rights  activities in
those countries (see also paras. 38 and 43 below).

29.   During  his  visit to  Canada, from  21  to 24  March  1995,  the High
Commissioner referred  to the human rights  aspects of  the Canadian foreign
policy  review.   The following  questions, among  others,  were considered:
protection of aboriginal people, including land claims and  self-government;
protection against  discrimination with respect  to race and sex; assistance
programmes  for minorities;  incorporation in  human rights  legislation  of
more explicit reference  to economic, social  and cultural  rights; judicial
control over administrative  decisions; and  differences between  provincial
and federal  legislation in the field  of human rights.  The representatives
of the Government declared the Government's  intention of allocating more of
its  assistance  to  human  rights  activities  and  programmes.    The High
Commissioner  discussed Canada's  support  both to  emergency  human  rights
situations  and  for  preventive  human  rights  action,  including  standby
arrangements.      He   analysed  with   national   institutions,   academic
institutions  and non-governmental  organizations their  involvement  in the
implementation of  the Vienna Declaration and  Programme of  Action.  During
his stay in Canada,  he also discussed issues relating  to the reform of the
international  financial  institutions scheduled  to  be  addressed  at  the
Summit of the Group  of 7 major industrialized countries, which was to  meet
at Halifax in June 1995.

30.   In  his visit  to  Australia, from  25  to  30  April 1994,  the  High
Commissioner discussed the responsibility of state or territory  governments
for  the  implementation of  international  human  rights  instruments;  the
situation of Aboriginals and Torres Strait  islanders; the Native Title Act;
the   continuation   of  policy   aimed   at   adequate   compensation   for
discrimination  and  injustices   against  Aboriginals  in  the  past;   and
differences in  legislation concerning education  within the federal  system
of Australia.  The Australian contribution  to the international  protection
of human  rights was  also discussed,  especially with  respect to  national
institutions,  possible standby  arrangements in  the context  of  emergency
human rights situations and preventive human rights action.
31.   In India, which the High  Commissioner visited from 30 April  to 6 May
1995, consultations focused on the domestic legislative  and policy measures
which were being  taken to solve existing human  rights problems.  The  High
Commissioner raised  such matters  as:  arbitrary and  preventive detention;
the  treatment of detainees, including cases of custodial rape by members of
the police and security forces; cases  of enforced disappearance; failure to
take judicial action against police officers  accused of violations of human
rights; the partial application of the  International Covenant on Civil  and
Political  Rights to  disturbed  areas of  the country;  social inequalities
relating to the  caste system; and policies  adopted to eliminate the  caste
of  untouchable.   He was  familiarized  with  policies intended  to provide
equal  opportunities  for  members of  lower  castes,  tribes  and  minority
communities and to  improve working conditions  for the  extreme poor.   The
Government  informed  the  High  Commissioner  about  the  modification   of
emergency  laws,  in particular  the  Terrorist  and  Disruptive  Activities
(Prevention)  Act, so  as to bring  them into line  with international human
rights standards.   The Government also  declared its  willingness to invite
representatives  of special  procedures  established by  the  Commission  on
Human Rights to  visit the country and  pledged contributions to  the United
Nations  voluntary   funds  in  the  field  of  human  rights.     The  High
Commissioner emphasized the  important role of national institutions in  the
country, and  discussed  the modalities  of cooperation  between the  Indian
institutions  and  the United  Nations  human  rights  programme.   He  paid
particular  attention to the  human rights  situation in  Jammu and Kashmir,
which he  visited from 2 to  4 May.  He  was informed  by representatives of
parties involved about developments.  In Jammu and Kashmir an atmosphere  of
violence  prevailed.   While  it  appeared  that  both  security forces  and
insurgents were involved in human  rights violations, the  High Commissioner
stressed that there was  a specific obligation on the part of the Government
to ensure  the promotion  and protection  of human  rights and  to take  the
necessary  measures to  limit and  punish  abuses  by those  individuals who
should enforce the  law.  The High  Commissioner called on all  protagonists
fully to respect human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. 

32.  In Spain, which the High Commissioner  visited from 16 to 18  May 1995,
consultations   with  the   representatives  of   the   Government  covered:
accession  to international  human rights  treaties  which  Spain was  not a
party  to, for example,  the International  Convention on  the Protection of
the Rights  of All  Migrant Workers and  Members of Their  Families and  the
communication   procedure  under   the  International   Convention  on   the
Elimination of  All Forms  of Racial  Discrimination; implementation  of the
recommendations of treaty bodies and special  procedures; cases relating  to
Spain received by  the Centre for Human  Rights, including alleged cases  of
torture;  criminal   procedure,  including   the  length  of   incommunicado
detention under  the emergency law; impunity;  and problems  relating to the
protection  of  the  human  rights   of  gypsies.  Representatives   of  the
Government  analysed with the High Commissioner possible  forms of increased
participation  by  Spain  in the  United  Nations  human  rights  programme,
through,  inter alia,  support for  emergency operations,  contributions  to
voluntary  funds,  technical  cooperation  projects  in  Latin  America  and
support for the human rights education programmes. 

33.   In the  United States of America,  which he visited from  5 to 11 June
1995, the  High  Commissioner  discussed United  States support  for  United
Nations human rights activities, including  the human rights field operation

in Rwanda.   He  also focused  on:   ratification  by the  United States  of
international human rights  treaties and  their implementation; the need  to
increase the  Government's efforts to  prevent and eliminate  discriminatory
attitudes against persons belonging  to minority groups  and against  women;
revision of  Federal and  state legislation  aimed at  abolishing the  death
penalty  for minors  and restricting  the  number  of offences  carrying the
death  penalty, with  a  view  to  the overall  abolition  of that  penalty;
adoption of measures  to ensure that  previously recognized  American Indian
rights not  be extinguished; the need to  ensure that the  police do not use
violence,  especially  against   persons  belonging  to  ethnic  or   racial
minorities; and measures  aimed at the elimination of discrimination against
women  belonging  to ethnic  minorities.    The  High  Commissioner had  the
opportunity to  analyse the current challenges  to human  rights and various
aspects  of  the  United  Nations  human  rights  programme  with   academic
institutions and non-governmental organizations.

34.   During  his visit  to the  United States,  the High  Commissioner  met
representatives  of  the Organization  of  American  States,  including  the
Inter-American  Commission on  Human Rights,  to explore  possibilities  for
cooperation.    He proposed  that  a  framework  of  cooperation be  defined
shortly that would  cover, inter  alia, human  rights monitoring,  research,
and technical cooperation activities.

35.    In his discussions in  Costa Rica from 11 to  13 June 1995, the  High
Commissioner discussed ratification  of additional instruments in the  field
of human rights; strengthening of the protection of the rights of  detainees
and enhancing  police training; conditions in  prisons; the  need for review
and possible reform  of labour legislation  in order to ensure  that freedom
of  association  is  guaranteed;  implementation of  the  Convention  on the
Rights  of the  Child, in  particular  with  respect to  economic adjustment
policies;  the need to improve  gender equality and the  situation of women;
and State policy aimed at  the solution of problems relating to the issue of
the  large  number  of  illegal  immigrants.    The  High  Commissioner also
discussed the concept of  a regional meeting concerning  the strategy of the
United Nations  Decade for Human Rights  Education and  cooperation with the
Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in San Jose.

36.   In  Panama,  which  he  visited on  14  and  15 June  1995,  the  High
Commissioner  discussed  various  aspects of  strengthening  domestic  human
rights protection,  including the creation  of the  post of ombudsman  and a
commission of  inquiry with respect to  the situation  of indigenous people.
He also raised the question of the ratification of  human rights instruments
which Panama was  not a party to and  delays in the  presentation of reports
to the various treaty  bodies.  The High Commissioner discussed:  reform  of
the  jail system; reports  of torture;  recommendations made as  a result of
the visit by two  members of the Committee  on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights in April 1995 to examine the issue of housing; and the  inconsistency
of  some  provisions of  the  labour  law  with  international human  rights
standards.    The Government  declared  its  readiness  to  invite a  United
Nations mission  to monitor the human  rights of  the indigenous population.
It  also announced its  willingness to  increase its  contribution to United
Nations human rights voluntary funds.  The  possibility of Panama joining  a
subregional  programme  of assistance  to  improve  conditions  in  prisons,
carried out  in cooperation  with the United  Nations Development  Programme
(UNDP) and other bodies, was also considered.


E.  Addressing human rights situations

1.  Preventive and responsive activities

37.   Prevention  of human  rights violations  is an  essential part  of  an
overall  United  Nations  strategy  to  avert   social  disasters.    As   a
consequence  of  the  World  Conference  on   Human  Rights  and  since  the
establishment  of  the post  of  High  Commissioner  for  Human Rights,  the
concept of  prevention has had  a strong impact  on the  entire human rights

programme.     Close   cooperation  between   the  High   Commissioner   and
Governments,  special procedures,  treaty  bodies, relevant  programmes  and
agencies, and non-governmental organizations is a  very useful tool both  in
providing early warning of potential emergencies  and in mitigating or  even
avoiding such  disasters.   The  High  Commissioner  has invited  the  human
rights treaty bodies,  the special rapporteurs and representatives,  experts
and working  groups  established by  the  Commission  on Human  Rights,  the
United Nations programmes  and agencies, and  non-governmental organizations
to call his attention to situations which might need  United Nations action.
The  capacity  of  the  Centre  for  Human  Rights  to  analyse  and  review
information  of  this  kind  has  already  been  enhanced.    The  technical
cooperation  programme  has  been  adapted  and  strengthened  to  meet  the
requirements of preventive activities.

38.   The United Nations human  rights presence which was set  up in Burundi
in  1994  provides  an  example of  preventive  action  taken  by  the  High
Commissioner. The  High Commissioner's third visit  to Burundi  in 12 months
took place in March 1995 and followed his  emergency message addressed on 17
February 1995 to the Commission on Human  Rights at its fifty-first  session
calling  for all  the necessary  measures to  prevent the  situation  in the
country from deteriorating. The Commission, in  its resolution 1995/90 of  8
March 1995, 4/ decided  to appoint a special  rapporteur on the situation of
human rights in Burundi.   With the agreement of the Government of  Burundi,
an office of the High Commissioner was established  in Bujumbura on 15  June
1994 to  implement a broad technical  cooperation programme.   The financial
assistance of the European  Commission should allow the deployment of up  to
35 human rights officers.

39.  The  concern of the World Conference  on Human Rights about  widespread
human rights  abuses and  the responsibility  of the  High Commissioner  for
playing an  active role in stopping  human rights  violations throughout the
world  have  opened  a  new  avenue  to  the  United  Nations  human  rights
programme.   Activities developed in this  framework should:  (a) assist all
actors  involved  in  bringing  human  rights  violations  to  an  end;  (b)
facilitate the involvement of the United  Nations human rights machinery  in
the process  of restoring respect  for human rights;  and (c)  provide human
rights assistance to victims of human rights violations.

40.   The High Commissioner continues  to respond  with comprehensive action
to the  aftermath of  the tragic  human rights  violations in  Rwanda.   The
current activities of the human rights field  operation in Rwanda, which are
conducted in  accordance with the  revised operational plan submitted during
the UNDP Round Table Conference on Rwanda on  18 and 19 January 1995,  focus
on monitoring  the  situation and  providing  technical  cooperation in  the
field of human rights.  The human rights  field operation supports the  work
of the  Special Rapporteur  in the  fulfilment of  his mandate and  works in
close cooperation with  the International  Tribunal for Rwanda with  respect
to  investigations  on  genocide.     Through  its  programme  of  technical
cooperation,  the field  operation focuses  attention on  grass-roots  human
rights  development activities,  as well  as  on  the rehabilitation  of the
administration  of  justice.   Currently,  some 115  personnel  are deployed
throughout Rwanda.  The European Commission  has supported the operation  by
providing 31  human rights officers who  have acted as  an integral part  of
the operation.  The High Commissioner  participated in a consolidated appeal
on  Rwanda  organized by  the  Department  of  Humanitarian  Affairs of  the
Secretariat on 20 January  1995.  The human rights field operation has  been
feasible owing  to the voluntary support  provided by a  number of countries
which have responded to the requests of the High Commissioner.

41.    The United  Nations  human  rights  programme  continues its  efforts
relating to human rights  aspects of the  situation in the territory of  the
former  Yugoslavia. Reports of  the Special  Rapporteur on  the human rights
situation in the  former Yugoslavia, whose mandate  is supported by  a human
rights  field operation conducted  by the High Commissioner, were considered
by  the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-first session.  In the light
of   the  request   of  the   Government   for  assistance,   following  the

establishment of the Federation  of Bosnia and Herzegovina  and the terms of
the  December 1994  agreements on  cease-fire and  cessation of hostilities,
the High  Commissioner, after  consultation with  the Secretary-General  and
his Special Representative, took the initiative of convening a meeting on  3
February  1995 to develop,  in close  cooperation with  other United Nations
bodies  operating   in  Bosnia  and  Herzegovina,  a  coordinated  and  more
effective response to human  rights requirements in the  country.  On 1 June
1995  the  High Commissioner  appointed  a  representative  responsible  for
coordination of  the United Nations activities  relating to  human rights in
the countries established on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.   Human
rights training has been  provided by the Centre for Human Rights to  United
Nations  Protection  Force  (UNPROFOR)  personnel.    On  the  basis  of the
Agreement  of  6 August  1995  between  the  Government of  the  Republic of
Croatia  and the United Nations Peace Forces -  UNCRO, human rights officers
from the Centre for Human Rights have headed  the human rights action  teams
deployed in  Krajina.  The High  Commissioner acknowledged  with deep regret
the  resignation of  Mr. Mazowiecki,  who submitted  his last report  on the
situation in  the former Yugoslavia  in August  1995.  Mrs.  Rehn (Finland),
the new Special Rapporteur,  took up her duties at the beginning of October.
In  the  light  of  the  recent  peace  negotiations  concerning  Bosnia and
Herzegovina, the High Commissioner stressed  that human rights constituted a
pillar of  the reconstruction effort  and should become a  building block of
the  foundations of the  new social  structures which would  emerge from the
conflict in  the former  Yugoslavia.   He also  declared his  willingness to
cooperate  closely in the  framework of  the human  rights component  of the
future peace  agreement with  regional organizations,  such as  OSCE or  the
Council  of Europe,  and United Nations  agencies, as well  as with academic
institutions and non-governmental  organizations.  The High Commissioner  is
ready  to contribute to the  joint endeavours in  the areas of coordination,
monitoring,   confidencebuilding   and   technical   cooperation   for   the
establishment   or  strengthening   of  the   judiciary  and   of   national
institutions for the respect of human rights and the rule of law,  providing
support for  human rights  education programmes  and human rights  community
development activities,  and  human rights  training  to  the staff  of  the
military  and  civilian component  of  a  peace  operation.   Following  the
appointment of the new Special Rapporteur,  the High Commissioner decided to
increase  the human rights  staff presence  in Zagreb,  Mostar, Sarajevo and
Skopje.  This will  ensure greater  human  rights  protection capacity  at a
crucial stage of  the political negotiations.   In addition, a dialogue with
the  Government  of  the   Federal  Republic  of   Yugoslavia  (Serbia   and
Montenegro)  has been  initiated  to  establish a  continuous  human  rights
presence throughout the entire territory of the Republic.

42.   Preventive  and responsive  human  rights  field operations  have been
considerably enlarged,  giving the United Nations  human rights programme  a
new dimension.  They require adaptation  of the United Nations  human rights
infrastructure  and adequate  resources, so  that prompt  and  comprehensive
measures can be taken.   Preventive actions can  save lives and  avert human
suffering  and, eventually,  they may well  prove to be  more cost efficient
than reacting after the fact.  In addition to operations in Rwanda,  Burundi
and the former  Yugoslavia, it is  also proposed  to send  two human  rights
officers  to Zaire.   The General  Assembly, in its resolution  49/204 of 23
December 1994,  requested  the Secretary-General  to  seek  ways and  means,
including  through consultations  with the  High Commissioner  and  relevant
regional  organizations, to  establish an  adequate monitoring  presence  in
Kosovo.

 43.  An evaluation of  the human rights field operation in Rwanda and other
similar experiences helps to identify measures necessary to make  operations
of  this  sort  successful and  factors  which  jeopardize them.    Such  an
evaluation makes  the  following  observations  possible:   (a)  the  United
Nations response to human rights emergency  situations should be prompt  and
target-oriented;  (b) the  major  objective of  preventing  violations  from
occurring or of putting  a halt to them  may be accomplished by simultaneous
monitoring of  the  human  rights situation  and strengthening  of  national
capacities in the field of  human rights, confidence-building  measures, and

development of civil society  and a human rights  culture; and (c) effective
early warning requires that the High  Commissioner be informed by the United
Nations   programmes   and   agencies,   Governments  and   non-governmental
organizations  about  situations  which could  lead  to  grave  human rights
violations on a large scale.

44.   Close  cooperation  with  Governments, United  Nations programmes  and
agencies, and intergovernmental  and non-governmental organizations is being
developed to ensure the effectiveness of human rights field  operations.  As
a  result,  logistical  and  human  resources  such  as  human  rights field
officers and  legal experts,  should be available  at short notice  for such
operations.
2.  Assistance to countries in transition to democracy

45.    A  number of  countries  are  in  transition  from  authoritarian  to
democratic  rule, a fact  which opens  the avenue to the  full protection of
human rights. This crucial process requires encouragement and  international
cooperation, as stressed in the Vienna  Declaration and Programme of Action.
The  provision of  assistance aimed at establishing  and strengthening human
rights  infrastructure,  the  rule  of  law  and  democracy  is  a momentous
responsibility of  the  United Nations  and,  in  particular, of  its  human
rights programme.   To ensure  this assistance, emphasis has  been placed on
three  major  objectives:     (a)  elaboration  of  national  human   rights
programmes,  which should  be carried  out  in  cooperation with  the United
Nations; (b) development of  the technical cooperation  programme to respond
to the  needs of countries in  democratic transition;  and (c) strengthening
of the  related  United Nations  infrastructure.    The Voluntary  Fund  for
Technical Cooperation in  the Field of Human  Rights plays an important role
in this respect.  Several periodic  information meetings have been  convened
to  increase  the transparency  of  the  programme.    UNDP  has provided  a
coordinator for the Fund. 3/

46.    In Malawi,  a two-year technical  cooperation programme  based on the
Joint Declaration of Cooperation for the  Development of Programmes for  the
Promotion and  Protection of Human Rights,  signed by  the High Commissioner
and  the Vice-President of  the Republic,  was launched  on 1  January 1995.
The office of the  High Commissioner for Human Rights in Lilongwe, which was
opened  in  mid-November   1994,  assists  in  the  implementation  of  this
programme.

47.  Pursuant to  resolutions of the General Assembly and the Commission  on
Human  Rights, the  office established  by the  Centre for  Human  Rights in
Cambodia in 1994  has the following mandate:   to manage the  implementation
of  a   technical  cooperation  programme,   including  assistance  to   the
Government in  meeting its  obligations under the  human rights  instruments
Cambodia has acceded to; to assist  with the drafting and  implementation of
legislation  for the promotion and protection of human  rights; to assist in
training  persons  responsible   for  the  administration  of  justice;   to
contribute to  the creation  and/or strengthening  of national  institutions
for the promotion and protection of human rights; and to provide support  to
bona fide human rights groups.

48.    In its resolution  49/201 of  23 December 1994, the  General Assembly
requested  the Secretary-General,  through  the High  Commissioner  and  the
Centre  for  Human  Rights,  to  take   appropriate  steps  for  the  urgent
establishment, in  conjunction with  the International  Civilian Mission  to
Haiti, of a special programme of assistance to  the Government and people of
that  country in their  efforts to  ensure the  observance of  human rights.
Appropriate  preparations, especially  with regard  to financial  and  human
resources, have been carried out. An  independent expert has been  appointed
by the  Secretary-General, in  accordance  with Commission  on Human  Rights
resolution 1995/70  of  8  March  1995,  4/  to furnish  assistance  to  the
Government of  Haiti in  the field  of human  rights.   He has undertaken  a
mission to  Canada, Haiti and  the United  States to  gather information  on
ways and means  to strengthen the project  of technical cooperation that  is
under  way.  His  report will  be submitted  to the General  Assembly at its

present session.  The  human rights programme for  Haiti includes support to
the Haitian  National Commission on Truth  and Justice  and training courses
for public officials responsible for human rights matters,  as well as human
rights education for teachers and curriculum developers.

49.    The technical cooperation programme  is also assisting in stabilizing
the protection of human rights,  democratic institutions and the rule of law
in  some  Central  and  Eastern  European   countries  in  transition   from
authoritarian  to democratic rule.   The  programme has  participated in the
implementation  of national  projects  in, for  example,  Poland,  Slovakia,
Romania and the Russian Federation or  have prepared reports following needs
assessment missions to, for example, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.


F.  Technical cooperation

50.   One  of  the important  responsibilities of  the High  Commissioner is
providing,  through  the  Centre for  Human  Rights  and  other  appropriate
institutions, advisory  services and technical  and financial assistance  at
the request  of the  State concerned  and, where  appropriate, the  regional
human  rights  organizations,  with  a   view  to  supporting   actions  and
programmes  in  the  field  of  human  rights.    The  technical cooperation
programme, through  its multidimensional character,  has an essential  place
in  the  promotion  and protection  of  human  rights,  as  well  as in  the
prevention of  human  rights violations.    The  World Conference  on  Human
Rights emphasized  the importance  of developing  and building  institutions
relating  to human  rights, strengthening  a pluralistic  civil society  and
protecting groups which have been rendered vulnerable.

51.  The technical cooperation programme  aims, in particular, at  providing
assistance  relating to:   (a)  preparation and  implementation  of national
plans  of action; (b)  constitutional reforms  and review  of legislation in
line with  international human rights standards; (c) development of national
structures  which have a  direct impact  on the overall  observance of human
rights,  including  building up  of  national  human  rights and  democratic
institutions  and strengthening the  rule of  law and  the administration of
justice; (d)  human rights  aspects of  elections and  participation in  the
conduct of public affairs; (e) training  of members of relevant professions,
such  as   judges,  barristers,   teachers,  police   officers  and   prison
administrators; (f) broad-based education and  public information activities
aimed at promoting respect for human  rights; (g) ratification or  accession
to international  human  rights instruments  and the  fulfilment of  States'
reporting  obligations;   (h)  non-governmental   organizations  and   civil
society;  (i) information  and documentation  projects; (j)  regional  human
rights organizations; and (k) training of international civil servants.

52.   The  technical  cooperation programme  currently includes  41  ongoing
projects and 17 pipeline  projects in different regions  of the world.   The
World Conference  on Human Rights stressed  the need  for strengthening this
programme, inter alia,  through increasing its resources.  Contributions  to
the Voluntary Fund for Technical  Cooperation in the Field  of Human Rights,
which supplement  the  regular  budget,  represent an  investment  in  human
rights, democracy  and development world wide,  one of  the best investments
the international community can make.

53.  A vision of a new and enhanced partnership with recipient  Governments,
relevant  human rights  institutions  and non-governmental  organizations in
the  implementation  of   the  technical  cooperation  programme  has   been
developed.    The  partnership   with  non-governmental  organizations   and
academic institutions is expected to make the programme more effective.   

G.  Education and information

54.  Creating a  universal culture of  human rights is an essential  element
in  a long-term  strategy to ensure respect  for human rights.   It is vital
for the  encouragement of  harmonious intercommunity  relations, for  mutual

tolerance and understanding and, finally, for  peace.  The World  Conference
on Human Rights  recommended that States  should develop specific programmes
and  strategies  for  ensuring  the   widest  human  rights   education  and
dissemination of public information, taking particular account  of the human
rights needs of women.

55.   Following  the recommendation  of  the  World Conference,  the General
Assembly,  in its  resolution 49/184  of  23  December 1994,  proclaimed the
United  Nations Decade for  Human Rights  Education, 1995-2004.   The Decade
should  promote and streamline  activities of the international community in
the  field  of  human rights  education.   The  Assembly requested  the High
Commissioner for Human Rights to coordinate  the implementation of the  Plan
of  Action  for  the  Decade.  8/   A  detailed  description  of   the  High
Commissioner's  activities in  promoting  the  Decade is  contained  in  his
report  on the  subject to  the General  Assembly's fiftieth  session.   The
Centre  for   Human  Rights,   in  cooperation   with  the   United  Nations
Educational,  Scientific  and  Cultural  Organizations  (UNESCO)  and  other
relevant  agencies  and  bodies,  is  assisting  Member  States  to  develop
specific  programmes  and strategies,  at  the  international  and  national
levels, for  ensuring human rights education for all.   The establishment of
national committees for the Decade is to be strongly encouraged.

56.   Information  on human  rights  and  their international  and  domestic
systems  of protection  must be  disseminated  among  the general  public if
society  as a  whole is  to benefit  from respect  for  those rights.   Both
traditional techniques and modern technologies should  be used to that  end.
The Centre  for Human Rights  continues to be  an important  partner in this
process.    Its  programme  of  publications,  including  easily  accessible
information on how anyone can  act to protect his or  her own rights  or the
rights of  others, assists Governments,  national human rights  institutions
and  non-governmental organizations.    The overall  human  rights  database
under preparation  in the Centre will  be made accessible  to all those  who
need  information   on  human   rights  and  United  Nations   human  rights
activities.   The High  Commissioner,  in accordance  with General  Assembly
resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993,  coordinates human rights information
programmes within the United Nations system.

57.   Human rights training is  required for the  personnel involved in  the
increasing number of  United Nations field operations.  The Centre for Human
Rights  offers courses,  information  and special  training  materials.   In
particular,  material is being  developed for  the human  rights training of
international  civil servants  involved in  peace-keeping, humanitarian  and
relief operations.

58.  The human rights publications programme carried  out by the Centre  for
Human Rights takes an important place  in educational activities.   Priority
has been  given to publications for  use in  technical cooperation projects,
such as specialized manuals for the training of police, lawyers and  judges,
election  officials and  social workers.   Emphasis has also  been placed on
the  publication of  Fact Sheets  focusing on  priority issues, such  as the
protection of  indigenous populations,  the rights  of the  child and  child
exploitation.     Cooperation  with  other   United  Nations  agencies   and
programmes  should  provide  new  possibilities  in   this  area  through  a
coordinated  use  of  resources.    Contacts   with  the  media  have   been
intensified  in close cooperation  with the Department of Public Information
of  the Secretariat  and  particularly with  the United  Nations Information
Service at Geneva and United Nations  information offices world wide.  Steps
have  been taken to produce a periodical  publication containing information
about activities of the Centre for Human Rights and human rights  activities
systemwide.

II.  THEMATIC ISSUES


                A.  The right to development - economic, social and
                    cultural rights

59.  The World Conference on  Human Rights set out the  vision of supporting
democracy,  development and  human  rights through  increased  international
cooperation.  It stressed the importance  of the effective implementation of
the right to development  and of economic, social  and cultural rights.  The
High Commissioner is specifically charged with promoting and protecting  the
realization of the right to development  and enhancing support from relevant
bodies  of the  United  Nations  system for  this purpose.   His  mandate is
placed firmly  within the  perspective of  the interdependent,  interrelated
and  indivisible nature  of all  human rights.   The  High  Commissioner has
undertaken the formulation  of a strategy in  this area which will  include:
(a)  identification,  in  cooperation  with  the  agencies,  treaty  bodies,
especially  the Committee  on  Economic,  Social  and Cultural  Rights,  and
experts of the Subcommission on Prevention of  Discrimination and Protection
of  Minorities,  of  ways  to  improve   implementation  of  the  right   to
development  and  economic, social  and  cultural  rights,  including  human
rights  aspects  of a  lasting solution  to  the debt  crisis of  developing
countries;   (b)  consideration   of  the   application  of   findings   and
recommendations of  the  Working Group  on  the  Right to  Development;  (c)
promotion of  the right  to development  and economic,  social and  cultural
rights  at the  national  level, including  pilot projects;  (d) identifying
further social  and economic  indicators which  should facilitate  assessing
the  progressive realization  of economic,  social and  cultural  rights and
addressing violations  of those  rights; (e) preparation  of procedures  for
communications  regarding   economic,  social   and  cultural   rights;  (f)
identification  of the international  action necessary  to promote the right
to development; (g)  cooperation with  international/regional financial  and
development organizations  and with the  regional economic commissions;  and
(h)  involvement   of   non-governmental   organizations   and   grass-roots
organizations active in  development and human  rights in the implementation
of  the Declaration  on the  Right to  Development,  adopted by  the General
Assembly in resolution 41/28  of 4 December 1986.   The strategy relating to
the right to development  and economic, social and cultural rights is  being
developed in  the context of  the Secretary-General's Agenda for Development
and recent  international conferences,  in particular  the World  Summit for
Social Development and  the Fourth World Conference on  Women.  In order  to
strengthen the dialogue  between human rights non-governmental organizations
and  those active in  development, the  High Commissioner  together with the
Executive Secretary of  the Economic Commission  for Europe, convened during
the fifty-first session of the Commission on Human  Rights a meeting of non-
governmental organizations  from both groups  to discuss the  implementation
of the right to development from their perspectives.

60.  The World  Conference of Human Rights called on regional  organizations
and   prominent  international   and   regional  finance   and   development
institutions to assess the  impact of their  policies and programmes on  the
enjoyment of human rights.   The Commission  on Human Rights, at its  fifty-
first  session, in resolution 1995/13 of 24 February  1995, 4/ requested the
Secretary-General to  recommend  ways and  means  to  carry out  a  dialogue
between  creditor  and  debtor countries  and  to  submit a  report  to  the
Commission  at  its  fifty-second  session.  In  the  same  resolution,  the
Commission  also  affirmed   that  the  process  of  consultations   already
initiated  by  the Secretary-General,  in  accordance  with  its  resolution
1994/11,  should lead to  the convening  of high-level  meetings at regional
and  world  levels.   It  requested  the  Secretary-General  to establish  a
programme unit  within  the Centre  for Human  Rights for  the promotion  of
economic,  social and cultural  rights, in  particular those  related to the
debt burden of developing countries and  the implementation of the  right to
development.  This request  is being taken into  account in the framework of
the restructuring of the Centre.

61.    In  its  resolution  1995/13, the  Commission  on  Human Rights  also
requested the  international financial  institutions to report  periodically
to the General Assembly  and the Economic and  Social Council on  the social
repercussions of  their policies on the  full enjoyment  of economic, social
and cultural rights in the developing countries.  In its resolution  1995/15
of 24  February 1995, 4/ the  Commission requested  the Secretary-General to

invite the international financial institutions to continue considering  the
possibility  of  organizing  an  expert  seminar   on  the  role  of   those
institutions in the  realization of  economic, social  and cultural  rights.
The  seminar is under  preparation.   The High  Commissioner is continuously
emphasizing  that  protecting  economic,  social  and  cultural  rights   is
particularly important  during periods of  structural adjustment and  during
transitions to market economies.   Too often, basic rights such as the right
to health, food, shelter and education  receive insufficient protection  and
the victims are frequently women and children.

62.  In the  context of the reform of  the Bretton Woods institutions, which
was discussed  during the  Summit  of the  Group of  7 major  industrialized
countries, held  at Halifax,  Canada, in  June 1995,  the High  Commissioner
raised  the issue  of  the role  of the  World  Bank and  the  International
Monetary Fund  in the field  of human rights  with the  Foreign Ministers of
the   G-7  countries,  as  well  as  with  the  President  of  the  European
Commission.  He stressed, inter alia,  the role the international  financial
institutions should play with respect to social programmes.

63.   The  results of  the  dialogue  established within  the Administrative
Committee  on Coordination  (ACC) concerning  development of  indicators  of
progress in human rights  and assessment of the impact of the strategies and
policies of  the various  agencies and  programmes on  the enjoyment of  all
human  rights  will  play  an  important  role  in  promoting  the right  to
development and  economic,  social and  cultural  rights.   In  addition,  a
senior-level meeting  of experts will be  convened by  the High Commissioner
to evaluate results achieved in the implementation of those rights.


B.  Equality and non-discrimination

              1.  Elimination of racial discrimination, xenophobia
                  and intolerance

64.   The World  Conference on  Human Rights  considered the  elimination of
racism  and   racial  discrimination   as  a  primary   objective  for   the
international  community and  a world-wide promotion programme  in the field
of  human   rights.      The  effective   elimination  of   racism,   racial
discrimination,  xenophobia,  "ethnic  cleansing" and  religious  and  other
forms of intolerance requires concerted efforts by  the entire international
community:    Governments,  United  Nations  programmes  and  agencies,  and
regional and non-governmental  organizations. International norms and  rules
provide  a  useful   tool  for  preventing  and  combating   discrimination.
National legislation  should  be  guided  by  them.    However,  legislation
against racial discrimination alone is not  enough to prevent violations  of
human rights  in this  area.   The international  community should  focus on
further  implementation  of  the  relevant  human  rights  instruments   and
declarations, as  well  as the  recommendations  of  the treaty  bodies  and
special  procedures.  A periodical comprehensive review  of measures adopted
to give effect to them is required.

65.   Human rights education and  the creation of a climate of tolerance and
understanding between  different communities can  have a significant  impact
on combating  discrimination.   This purpose  should guide  the drafting  of
relevant curricula at  all levels of education.  It needs to be perceived by
all  members  of  society  that  different  cultures constitute  the  common
heritage of  all.  In  addition, cultural multiplicity  should be  seen as a
means of  enriching human values  and strengthening  human rights  standards
and not as an opposition to the universality of those rights.

66.     Institutional   arrangements   which   could   enhance   inter-group
understanding  should be  promoted.   Experience  with  existing  "community
relations  commissions"  has   proved  that  they  can  contribute  to   the
prevention of  conflicts and, if  required, can  have a  positive impact  on
their   resolution.     The  involvement   of  vulnerable   groups  in  such
institutional  arrangements  might  facilitate  their  work  and  make  them

operative and effective structures.

67.   The Third  Decade to  Combat Racism  and Racial  Discrimination, 1993-
2002, provides  the framework for  international activities  with regard  to
the elimination of racism and racial  discrimination.  The revised Programme
of Action  for the  Third Decade,  adopted by  the General  Assembly at  its
forty-ninth session,  in resolution 49/146 of  23 December  1994, guides the
international  community in  this crucial  area.    The Commission  on Human
Rights, in  its resolution 1995/11  of 24  February 1995,  4/ requested  the
Secretary-General to  publish and distribute as  soon as  possible the model
legislation  on  racism  and  racial  discrimination  for  the  guidance  of
Governments.  On 8 August 1995, the Committee  on the Elimination of  Racial
Discrimination and  the Subcommission  on the  Prevention of  Discrimination
and Protection  of Minorities held a  joint meeting,  with the participation
of  the  Special Rapporteur  of  the  Commission  on  contemporary forms  of
racism, racial discrimination,  xenophobia and related intolerance, for  the
purpose of reinforcing  their action and cooperation in the framework of the
Third Decade.

68.   The  activities  of the  United  Nations  Year  for  Tolerance,  1995,
proclaimed  by the  General Assembly  in  resolution  48/126 of  20 December
1993, for  which  UNESCO is  the  lead  organization, should  be  thoroughly
evaluated.  The conclusions  will help to  guide future activities aimed  at
developing a human rights culture.


2.  Women

69.  High priority is attached in the United Nations human rights  programme
to the equal status  and human rights of  women, whose integration  into the
mainstream of  United Nations system-wide activities  was called  for by the
World Conference on Human Rights.   Since the outset of his tenure, the High
Commissioner has associated himself with this  approach.  Issues which  have
attracted  particular attention are:   (a)  obstacles to  the realization of
the human rights of women; (b)  elimination of gender-based violence against
women in  public and private life;  (c) traditional  practices affecting the
health of women and girl children;  (d) cooperation and coordination between
relevant United Nations organs and bodies,  in particular with the  Division
for the Advancement  of Women of the Secretariat; (e) reflection of problems
related  to the  human  rights  of  women in  the  reporting guidelines  and
procedures  of various human  rights treaty bodies  - under  the auspices of
the High Commissioner,  an expert group  organized by the  Centre for  Human
Rights and  the United  Nations Development Fund  for Women  to help  define
such guidelines  and procedures  held its  first meeting at  Geneva in  July
1995; (f) including the equal status and rights  of women in the  mainstream
of  the   Centre's  activities   (including  the   programme  of   technical
cooperation and  publications)  and  the establishment  of a  related  focal
point in  the Centre;  and (g)  coordinating activities  related to  women's
rights system wide, with  the aim, inter alia,  of developing a strategy for
ensuring the  provision of  more comprehensive  information system-wide  and
for greater media coverage on  women's issues, in close cooperation with the
Department of Public Information.

70.   The equal status and rights of women were also  one of the keynotes of
the Fourth  World Conference on Women:  Action for Equality, Development and
Peace, held at Beijing  in September 1995.   The High Commissioner submitted
an  analysis of the  preparatory documents  for the  Beijing Conference from
the point of view of international human rights  standards to the Secretary-
General and the  organizing committee of the  Conference.  The Platform  for
Action  adopted  at  Beijing reaffirmed  the  fundamental  value of  women's
rights.  In stressing the need for  equal status and protection of women, it
contributes significantly to the United Nations  human rights programme.  On
25 October 1995, a  panel discussion on the  topic "Women's rights  as human
rights"  was held in New  York, in which eminent  specialists and high-level
representatives of  the international  community participated  (see para.  1
above).  At this  discussion, it was stressed,  inter alia, that  the Vienna

Declaration and  Programme of  Action and  the Beijing  Platform for  Action
coincide and thus call for coordinated and coherent efforts.

71.  Violence against  women constitutes one  of the major obstacles to  the
enjoyment  by women  of their  human rights and  fundamental freedoms.   The
Commission on Human Rights,  in its resolution 1995/85  of 8 March  1995, 4/
condemned all  acts of  gender-based violence  against women  and emphasized
the duty of Governments to refrain from  engaging in violence against  women
and  to exercise due  diligence to  prevent, investigate  and, in accordance
with  national legislation,  punish acts  of  violence  against women.   The
Commission  stressed  the  recommendation  of  the  Special  Rapporteur   on
violence against women that States should  implement the Declaration on  the
Elimination  of  Violence  against  Women  contained  in  General   Assembly
resolution 48/104  of 20  December 1993.   In  its resolution  1995/86 of  8
March  1995, 4/  the Commission  encouraged  the efforts  made by  the  High
Commissioner with a view  to coordinating United  Nations activities dealing
with violations of  the human rights  of women.  Following  a recommendation
of  the Commission, the High  Commissioner placed the  question of the human
rights  of women  on the  agendas of  the  meetings of  special rapporteurs,
representatives and experts, and of the chairpersons' treaty bodies.

72.  Problems relating  to the equal  status and  rights of women should  be
systematically analysed  by Governments and non-governmental  organizations.
Attention should be paid, inter alia,  to the impact of  economic adjustment
or transitional policies on the rights of women.


3.  Children

73.  The World Conference on Human Rights  stressed the importance of  major
national  and  international  efforts aimed  at  promoting  respect  for the
child's  rights to  survival, protection  and  development.   Promotion  and
protection  of  the  rights of  the  child at  the  international level  are
characterized by  a  dynamic which,  if  continued,  should allow  for  real
progress in the protection  of children.  The programme adopted by the  High
Commissioner,  who has proclaimed the protection of the  rights of the child
as  one  of his  priorities,  has  the following  objectives:    (a)  better
coordination  of United Nations  efforts, inter alia, in  the framework of a
working agreement  between the United  Nations Children's  Fund (UNICEF) and
the Centre  for Human  Rights; (b)  strengthening of  the Centre's  capacity
with regard  to the rights of the  child, with a view, inter alia, to better
support  for the  Committee  on the  Rights of  the  Child;  (c) system-wide
cooperation towards  achieving the  objectives  established in  the Plan  of
Action for Implementing  the World Declaration  on the  Survival, Protection
and Development  of Children in  the 1990s, 9/  adopted by  the World Summit
for  Children held  in New  York  in  September 1990;  and (d)  establishing
working cooperation between the Centre and relevant organizations  concerned
with the protection of  children traumatized by war.  The High  Commissioner
appealed  to  Governments  for implementation  of  the  programme,  which he
prepared in collaboration with the Committee on the Rights of the Child  and
UNICEF to support the Committee's work. 

74.   Efforts  have been  made to  achieve better  coordination  between the
activities of the  Special Rapporteur of the  Commission on Human Rights  on
the  sale  of  children,  child  prostitution  and  child  pornography,  the
Committee on  the Rights  of the  Child, the  Working Group on  Contemporary
Forms of  Slavery of the Subcommission  on Prevention  of Discrimination and
Protection  of Minorities,  UNICEF  and  other  United  Nations  bodies  and
agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations.   The endeavours of the
International  Labour Organization  (ILO) to  protect working  children  and
abolish   child  labour   have   received  additional   impetus   with   the
establishment of the Interdepartmental Project on  the Elimination of  Child
Labour  (INTERDEP) and  the International  Programme on  the Elimination  of
Child  Labour (IPEC).   INTERDEP concentrates  on promoting  policies on the
abolition  of child labour  and the  protection of  working children through
regional seminars, awareness-raising and research  on the nature  and extent

of  the problem and  possible approaches  to alleviating it.   Through IPEC,
this work  was translated  into action  projects at  the local  and national
levels.   In  these activities,  ILO  collaborates with  other international
bodies, particularly UNICEF  and the Committee on  the Rights of the  Child.
10/    Close collaboration  has also  been achieved  between the  Centre for
Human Rights and  UNICEF in  providing support to  the expert preparing  the
study on the situation of  children affected by armed conflicts, pursuant to
General Assembly resolution 49/209 of 23 December 1994.

75.    The High  Commissioner  gives  importance to  promoting  inter-agency
cooperation  also in  implementing the  recommendations of  the Committee on
the Rights of the Child.   He convened a meeting on  15 June 1995  at Geneva
to discuss assistance  to States in implementing Committee  recommendations.
Members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, representatives of  the
Crime  Prevention and  Criminal Justice  Branch  of  the Secretariat  and of
UNICEF, UNDP,  UNHCR, ILO, UNESCO and  the World  Health Organization (WHO),
and the non-governmental organization coordinator in  Geneva for the  rights
of the child discussed a  wide range of issues, including the best ways  for
each of them to contribute to the  implementation of the recommendations  of
the Committee,  how those  contributions could  be coordinated  and how  the
Committee could formulate its recommendations  in order to facilitate action
by  the various  agencies.   Members  of  the Committee  identified priority
areas  for  technical  cooperation  projects,  such  as  building   national
institutions designed  to promote and monitor  the rights of  the child, law
reform,  education and training.  In addition, the  steps taken to implement
past recommendations in  specific countries were  reviewed.   The importance
of the  subjects discussed  and the  progress made  at the  meeting led  the
participants to recommend that similar meetings  be organized in the future.
The High  Commissioner will be organizing  such meetings  in connection with
each session of the Committee.

76.  Two  open-ended working groups established  by the Commission on  Human
Rights in 1994 to draft optional protocols to  the Convention on the  Rights
of the  Child, concerning  the  prevention and  eradication of  the sale  of
children, child prostitution  and child pornography  and the  involvement of
children in armed conflicts, continue their work.


4.  Minorities

77.    Unsolved problems  relating  to  national  or  ethnic, religious  and
linguistic  minorities   are  widely   recognized  as  a  major   source  of
international  and  internal  conflicts  involving  widespread human  rights
violations.    The international  community,  including  Governments,  human
rights organs and treaty bodies, as well as non-governmental  organizations,
is taking a number of initiatives  to protect effectively persons  belonging
to  minorities.   The  General Assembly,  in  its  resolution  49/192 of  23
December  1994,  and the  Commission  on  Human  Rights,  in its  resolution
1995/24 of 3 March 1995,  4/ focused on giving effect to the Declaration  on
the  Rights  of Persons  Belonging  to  National  or  Ethnic, Religious  and
Linguistic Minorities,  which was  adopted by  the General  Assembly in  its
resolution  47/135  of 18  December 1992.    In  its resolution  49/192, the
Assembly called upon the High Commissioner  to promote, within his  mandate,
implementation  of  the  principles contained  in  the  Declaration  and  to
continue  to  engage in  a  dialogue  with  Governments  concerned for  that
purpose.   In  his contacts  with  Governments,  the High  Commissioner  has
referred to issues relating to minorities  as a complex human rights problem
and appealed for government policies which  would respond to the  legitimate
expectations of all people living in a country and would enable everyone  to
live in security with respect for his or her rights. 

78.   The  Working Group  on  minorities, established  by the  Commission on
Human  Rights  on  the  proposal  of  the  Subcommission  on  Prevention  of
Discrimination and  Protection of Minorities, met  for the  first time, from
28 August to 1  September 1995, with the mandate of reviewing the  promotion
and practical  realization  of the  Declaration  on  the Rights  of  Persons

Belonging  to National  or Ethnic,  Religious and Linguistic  Minorities, of
examining  possible solutions  to problems  involving minorities,  including
the  promotion  of mutual  understanding  between  and among  minorities and
Governments,  and of  proposing  further  measures  for  the  protection  of
persons  belonging to  minorities.   The  session  was attended  by numerous
observers  for   Governments,  specialized   agencies  and  non-governmental
organizations.   Both the High Commissioner  and the  Working Group declared
their  willingness  to  cooperate  closely  with  each  other  within  their
respective mandates.


5.  Indigenous people

79.  In the  Vienna Declaration and Programme  of Action, the  international
community reaffirmed  its commitment  to the  economic, social and  cultural
well-being  of  indigenous people  and  their  enjoyment  of  the fruits  of
sustainable  development.   However,  the protection  of  indigenous  people
should not be guided only by  legal obligations resulting from international
standards.   It is the responsibility  of the  whole international community
to create universal  understanding that protection of indigenous people also
means  maintenance   of  the  irreplaceable,   diversified  human   culture.
Violation of the rights  of indigenous people  most frequently  impoverishes
the  overall  heritage  of  mankind  as   well.  The  General  Assembly,  in
resolution 48/163  of 21 December  1993, proclaimed the International Decade
of  the World's  Indigenous People,  1995-2004.    The Department  of Public
Information  of the Secretariat,  in cooperation  with the  Centre for Human
Rights, has published  a newsletter containing basic information  concerning
the  Decade.   The Assistant  Secretary-General  for  Human Rights  has been
vested  with  the  responsibility  of  coordinating  implementation  of  the
Decade.

80.    The  Commission  on  Human  Rights,  following  the  request  by  the
Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of  Minorities,
decided in  its resolution 1995/32 of 3 March 1995, 4/ to establish an open-
ended,  inter-sessional working group  to elaborate  a draft  declaration on
the rights of indigenous peoples.


C.  Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

81.  The eradication of extrajudicial, summary  or arbitrary executions is a
matter of the  highest priority in  the protection of human rights.   In its
resolution 1995/73 of 8  March 1995, 4/ the  Commission on Human Rights once
again strongly condemned the practice of  such executions and demanded  that
all Governments ensure that  it be brought to an end.  The obligation of all
Governments  to conduct  exhaustive and  impartial investigations  into  all
alleged extrajudicial, summary  and arbitrary executions, to identify and to
bring to  justice those responsible, to  grant adequate  compensation to the
victims  or their  families and to  adopt all necessary  measures to prevent
the  recurrence  of such  executions  should  be  considered  of the  utmost
importance  in the  context of  the protection  of the  fundamental right to
life.    The  Commission  urged  the  Special  Rapporteur on  extrajudicial,
summary  or  arbitrary  executions  to  draw   the  attention  of  the  High
Commissioner to  situations of particularly serious  concern or where  early
action might prevent further deterioration.

82.   The Commission  expressed its  concern  that a  number of  Governments
mentioned  in the report  of the  Special Rapporteur 11/ had  not replied to
allegations and reports transmitted  to them by the Special Rapporteur.   It
decided  that the mandate  of the Special Rapporteur  should be extended for
three years.


D.  Torture

83.  Torture remains  one of the most  atrocious and shameful  violations of

human dignity.   The call of  the World  Conference on Human Rights  for its
eradication is not  only a political  guideline but,  first and foremost,  a
fundamental moral  imperative.  Human rights  organs and  treaty bodies have
undertaken  numerous steps to implement the recommendation  contained in the
Vienna  Declaration and Programme  of Action.   However,  torture and cruel,
inhuman  or degrading treatment  or punishment  are still  tolerated in many
parts of the world.   Full support should  be given by Governments, relevant
United Nations  organs and  bodies, and  international and  non-governmental
organizations to the specific measures outlined  by the Commission on  Human
Rights in  its resolutions  1994/37 of  4 March 1994  12/ and  1995/37 of  3
March 1995, 4/ with  a view to  preventing or combating torture, as  well as
assisting  victims   of  torture.     The  High   Commissioner  is  actively
encouraging increased  contributions to  the United  Nations Voluntary  Fund
for Victims  of Torture, which  is the main  vehicle for  providing concrete
assistance to  victims of torture  and their families.   While carrying  out
his dialogue with Governments, the High  Commissioner has also been  raising
other problems, including  universal ratification of the Convention  against
Torture  and Other  Cruel, Inhuman  or  Degrading Treatment  or  Punishment,
contained in General Assembly resolution 39/46 of  10 December 1984, as well
as  the expeditious adoption  of the  Optional Protocol  to that Convention.
States  should   abrogate  legislation   leading  to   impunity  for   those
responsible  for grave  violations of  human  rights,  such as  torture, and
prosecute such violations.

84.    Special  attention  is  being  given  to  ensuring  respect  for  and
implementation of the Principles  of Medical Ethics relevant to the role  of
health personnel,  particularly physicians, in  the protection of  prisoners
and  detainees  against  torture  and  other  cruel,  inhuman  or  degrading
treatment or punishment  contained in General  Assembly resolution 37/194 of
18  December  1982.     In   cooperation  with   WHO  and   non-governmental
organizations,  the Centre for Human  Rights is taking steps  to ensure that
principles of medical ethics are made familiar to physicians and persons  in
other relevant professions.


E.  Enforced disappearances

85.    The World  Conference on  Human  Rights expressed  concern about  the
increase  in  enforced  disappearances  in   various  parts  of  the  world,
particularly  as  a  consequence of  large-scale  internal  conflicts.   The
Commission on Human  Rights, in its resolution 1995/38  of 3 March 1995,  4/
expressed  its deep  concern at  the increase  and spread  of  the practice.
Governments should  respond promptly  and positively  to the  appeal of  the
Commission to put  an end to it.   Acts of enforced disappearance should  be
classified  as  offenses  under  criminal  law  punishable  by   appropriate
penalties which  take into account their  extreme seriousness.   The Working
Group  on Enforced  or  Involuntary Disappearances  helps prevent  or combat
this practice.   To that end,  Governments concerned  should intensify their
cooperation with  the Working Group and  take action  on the recommendations
it addresses  to them.   The  technical cooperation  programme is  available
with regard to reform of legislation and training in this respect.


F.  Internally displaced persons

86.   International  and internal  conflicts, grave  human rights violations
including  discrimination  and   mass  expulsions  -  famine  and   economic
disasters are  sources of a rapidly  growing number  of internally displaced
persons and refugees world wide.  A lasting solution to these phenomena  can
be achieved  only  through the  elimination  of  their causes,  which  often
consist in the violation of human rights.

87.  The High Commissioner, in cooperation  with the relevant United Nations
programmes and  agencies, in particular  UNHCR, and regional  organizations,
as well  as with the representative  of the  Secretary-General on internally
displaced persons, is considering steps to be taken  in order to create  the

framework for continued protection of the  human rights of displaced persons
and refugees.  Attention is being paid  in particular to:   (a) ensuring  an
international  human rights  presence  in countries  with  large  internally
displaced/refugee  populations,  especially  in locations  where  there  are
concerns  for the protection of displaced persons, for example, in camps and
at returnee  sites; (b) dispatching human  rights field  officers to collect
information, ascertain protection needs, monitor the situation, provide  the
Secretary-General's   representative   with  information   and   disseminate
knowledge of  human rights; (c) elaboration of guidelines on  how to monitor
and report on the human rights  situation specifically of displaced  persons
and to  include  displacement-related human  rights  law  in manuals  to  be
prepared  for   field  staff;  (d)   support  for  the   Secretary-General's
representative in  his efforts, especially with  regard to  his missions and
follow-up  to his  recommendations; (e)  inter-agency coordination  both  at
Headquarters  and  in  the  field;  (f)  increasing  human  rights  training
activities  for staff  of  humanitarian and  peace-keeping  operations;  (g)
human  rights training  activities, specifically  with regard  to  displaced
persons, for community leaders and  members of the armed  forces and police;
and (h) the  participation of non-governmental organizations with  expertise
in human rights assistance to displaced persons.
III.  UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS MACHINERY


A.  Cooperation and coordination

88.   Pursuant to General  Assembly resolution 48/141  of 20 December  1993,
and in line with  the Vienna Declaration and  Programme of Action,  the High
Commissioner for  Human Rights is  responsible for system-wide  coordination
of activities  aimed at  the promotion and  protection of human  rights.   A
permanent dialogue with the United Nations  programmes and agencies has been
established to maintain systematic exchanges of information, experience  and
expertise.

89.   The  High  Commissioner  undertakes initiatives  aimed  at  concluding
working  agreements  or  memoranda  of  understanding  with  programmes  and
agencies.   These define  the framework  for cooperation  at the operational
level.   In 1994  a joint  work programme was signed  between the Centre for
Human  Rights and UNICEF, and in 1995 memoranda of understanding were signed
with  UNESCO and  with the  United Nations  Volunteers programme.   The High
Commissioner   is  assisted  by   the  Centre   for  Human   Rights  in  his
responsibilities  of coordination  within  the  United Nations  system.    A
system  of  continuous intra-institutional  consultations  and  exchange  of
information at the working level is being established within the Centre  for
Human Rights  to prepare substantive input  in selected  areas, for example,
development, children and education.

90.   The  coordination of  human  rights  activities throughout  the United
Nations  system  was  the  subject  of  debate  in  the  framework  of   the
coordination segment  of the Economic and  Social Council  (26-30 June 1995)
which had on  its agenda coordinated follow-up  by the United Nations system
and implementation  of the  results of  the major international  conferences
organized by the United Nations in the  economic, social and related fields.
The  same topic was considered by  ACC during its  autumn 1995 session.  The
High Commissioner presented his views and proposals to those meetings.


 B.  Treaty bodies

91.   The treaty  bodies, based on  six human rights  conventions, have  not
only become  effective structures  monitoring the compliance by  States with
the human  rights obligations resulting from  those treaties:   their impact
in the  field of  human rights goes  far beyond this  function and  extends,
inter  alia,  to  clarification  of  the   content  of  human  rights;   the
functioning  of  the human  rights machinery,  including  early warning  and
preventive measures;  cooperation of  Governments with  the United  Nations;
protection  of  individuals in  the  framework  of  optional  communications

procedures;  and human  rights education.  The treaty bodies  are confronted
with serious  problems related to overdue  reports and to  a backlog in  the
consideration of reports.  Subsidiary  procedures, which have been developed
by  some treaty bodies,  in the  first case, and additional  sessions in the
second  could  be  helpful  in  coping  with  these  problems.    The  World
Conference on Human Rights and, subsequently,  the General Assembly and  the
Commission on Human Rights called  for steps aimed at reducing the reporting
burden  on   States,  including   by  cross-referencing   in  the   reports,
elimination  of overlapping  in the  reporting  obligations to  the  various
treaty  bodies and  to  ILO, and  consideration  of the  utility  of  single
comprehensive reports.   Those recommendations require careful attention  by
the competent organs and bodies.

 92.  These and other issues, including the  integration of various elements
of  the human  rights machinery,  secretariat support  and  computerization,
financing  of treaty  bodies, monitoring of  the human rights  of women, the
role  of  non-governmental  organizations,   and  public  information,  were
discussed during  the  6th meeting  of  persons  chairing the  human  rights
treaty  bodies,  held  at  Geneva  from  18  to  22  September  1995.    The
chairpersons stressed, inter  alia, the need  for urgent steps  to ensure  a
substantial  increase in  the  specialized  staff  assigned to  service  the
committees.   The  treaty bodies  are  continuing  to elaborate  new working
methods  which enable them  not only  to carry out  their original functions
but also to react  to current and  evolving needs with, for example,  ad hoc
reports in  emergency  situations  and  field missions.    The  chairpersons
emphasized two important objectives that have shaped the work of the  treaty
bodies in recent  years, namely, increased interaction and participation  of
the  specialized  agencies  and  non-governmental  organizations,  and   the
establishment of closer links between  the findings of treaty bodies and the
technical cooperation programme.  In his statement  to the meeting, the High
Commissioner  reassured  the  chairpersons  that  he  perceived  it  as  his
responsibility  to  facilitate  the activities  of  the  treaty  bodies  and
contribute to the follow-up of their recommendations.   On 19 June 1995, the
SecretaryGeneral met  the chairpersons  of the  treaty bodies  together with
the High Commissioner.


C.  Special procedures

93.   The  World Conference  on  Human Rights  underlined the  importance of
preserving and strengthening the system of special procedures,  rapporteurs,
experts  and working groups and  of providing them with  the necessary human
and financial  resources.  The number  of special  procedures established by
the Commission  on Human Rights amounts  today to 14 thematic procedures and
12 procedures  relating to country  situations, while the  Secretary-General
has  appointed  15 special  representatives dealing  also with  human rights
matters.  The  second   annual  meeting  of  special  rapporteurs,   special
representatives of the Secretary-General and  chairmen of the Working Groups
took  place  at Geneva  from  29  to  31 May  1995.    The  meeting  adopted
recommendations concerning,  inter alia, the  principle of the  independence
and   impartiality  of   participants  as   experts;  means   allowing   the
participants  to  follow   procedures  respecting  the  principle  of   "due
process"; the  need  for cooperation  between  the  United Nations  agencies
acting  in  the  field and  human  rights  special  procedures;  cooperation
between the holders of country-specific and  thematic mandates; a system  of
information-flow  between  the  participants  and  other  actors   involved;
consideration  of the  participants'  reports  by  the Commission  on  Human
Rights; the human rights  of women; and the  scarcity of resources  allotted
for the participants' activities.

94.  In his  statement to the meeting,  the High Commissioner stressed that,
in keeping  with their  respective mandates,  the functions  of the  special
procedures  and those  entrusted to  him  were naturally  complementary  and
mutually reinforcing.   The work  of the  special procedures  was among  the
most tangible in terms both of fact-finding and advice and assistance.   The
participants invited  the High Commissioner to  continue and  to develop his

practice  of  encouraging  cooperation  by  Governments  with  participants'
mandates.
D.  Adaptation of the machinery

95.   The  strengthening and adaptation  of the United  Nations human rights
machinery to current  and future needs was perceived by the World Conference
on  Human Rights  as a  prerequisite  for the  implementation of  the United
Nations human rights programme.  This  is a multidimensional and  continuing
process in the  framework of which  reforms relating to  specific organs  or
procedures are  placed against the background  of the  overall adaptation of
the United Nations human  rights machinery.  The process should be based  on
an  interlinkage  between  structural  reform,  a  plan  of  action  for the
implementation of  the Vienna Declaration and  Programme of  Action, and the
provision of adequate human and financial resources.

96.  In line  with the Vienna Declaration  and Programme of Action, measures
are being taken to make the human rights  machinery:  (a) more effective and
cost  efficient; (b)  able to  act swiftly  and to  respond appropriately to
human rights situations; (c) stronger, through international cooperation  in
the field  of  human  rights, based  on  mutual  confidence;  and  (d)  more
transparent and understandable to the outside world. 

97.  The mandate of the  High Commissioner includes specific  responsibility
for the  reform of  the  United Nations  machinery  in  the field  of  human
rights.  The  adjustment of a given organ  or body to  the new needs remains
the primary  responsibility of  the organ  or body  in question.   The  High
Commissioner  assists and  facilitates human  rights  organs and  bodies  in
their  endeavours,  analysing  the  existing  United  Nations  human  rights
machinery  with a view to  working out proposals  for its overall adaptation
and  undertaking  measures   to  strengthen  the  implementation  of   their
recommendations and decisions.

98.   In keeping with his mandate with regard to  the overall supervision of
the Centre for Human  Rights and following  the recommendations made by  the
Office for Inspections and Investigations, after  a review of the  programme
and  administrative  practices  of  the  Centre   in  June  1994,  the  High
Commissioner has initiated a  process to consider how the programme of  work
and the organization of  the Centre could be best structured to achieve  the
Centre's  objectives.   The  results  of  this  process  will contribute  to
strengthening the  functional  framework  for  integrated  and  consolidated
activities of the secretariat  in the field of human rights.  The  following
approach has been adopted:  (a) first step  (mid-March 1995) - a  discussion
at the  level of  the Centre's secretariat  assessed its  experience in  the
implementation  of   the  human  rights   programme,  identified  gaps   and
weaknesses  in existing working  methods and  changes needed  to address the
issues  raised in  the June  1994 review; simultaneously,  consideration has
been given  to basic  themes under which  the mandates of  the human  rights
programme as  reflected in the Vienna  Declaration and  Programme of Action,
the  High Commissioner's  mandate and  the  specific  mandates given  to the
Centre by policy-making  organs could be organized; (b) second step - based,
inter alia, on the information and ideas so generated  - a detailed study is
being  carried out  by  an  external consultant  on  how best  to adapt  the
structure  of the secretariat  to the  priorities of  the Vienna Declaration
and  Programme  of  Action  and  to  respond  to  the  gaps  and  weaknesses
identified, inter alia,  in the June 1994 review; (c) third step - after the
review  of  recommendations,  a  new  structure  of  the  Centre  should  be
implemented.   In addition to  the above, steps  have already  been taken to
strengthen  the  administrative  services  of  the  Centre  and  to  provide
training to staff in administration and management.  The time-frame for  the
restructuring exercise is mid-March to the end of 1995.

 99.   The creation within  the Centre for  Human Rights of  a human  rights
database,  organizing  the  flow  of  information  and  documentation,  will
substantially enhance  and  support the  work  of  human rights  organs  and
treaty   bodies,  facilitate   access  of   Governments  to   human   rights
information, and advance overall cooperation in the field of human rights. 


E.  Resources

100.  The World  Conference on Human Rights  expressed its concern about the
growing disparity  between the  United Nations human  rights activities  and
the resources  available to carry  them out.   The increase of  the share of
the human rights programme in the  overall proposed United Nations programme
budget to  about 1.8  per cent is an  important step to address  this issue.
However,  the  disparity is  growing  and  the  continuous  increase of  the
workload of the Centre  for Human Rights is  placing ever greater demands on
its  resources.    The present  report  and other  reports  on human  rights
activities  submitted  to  the  General  Assembly  at  its  fiftieth session
unmistakably reflect  this process.  Furthermore, the  General Assembly,  in
establishing  the  post  of  High  Commissioner  for  Human  Rights  in  its
resolution 48/141  of 20 December 1993, requested that appropriate resources
be provided to enable the High Commissioner to fulfil his mandate.

101.   It is evident  that adequate human,  financial and material resources
are necessary  in order  to  carry  out, in  full and  on time,  the  United
Nations  mandates established in the  field of human rights.   While tribute
should be paid to  those countries that make contributions to the  voluntary
human rights  funds,  and all  countries should  be urged  to contribute  to
them, it is important  that the resources  provided from the regular  budget
of the  United Nations  for the  human  rights programme  correspond to  the
expanding mandates of the High Commissioner for Human  Rights and the Centre
for Human Rights.

IV.  CONCLUSIONS:  IMPLEMENTING THE VIENNA DECLARATION
     AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION                         


102.  The Vienna  Declaration and Programme of Action is a reaffirmation  of
the solemn commitment of all States to promote  and protect all human rights
and  fundamental  freedoms.    Since  its  adoption, in  June  1993,  it has
acquired   practical  strength   and  effectiveness   through   continuously
increasing international cooperation.  The World Conference on Human  Rights
has shaped a new  vision of the promotion and protection of human rights and
fundamental  freedoms.   The organs of  the United Nations  system now place
their human  rights activities  well within  the perspective  of the  Vienna
Declaration  and  have  resolved   on  specific  actions   to  achieve   its
objectives.    Governments  have repeatedly  stated  the  relevance  of  the
Declaration   to  national   needs  and   the  importance   of   cooperating
internationally within its framework.  Nationally and internationally,  non-
governmental organizations have  been inspired by  the Declaration  and many
of  them  report adopting  new  methods  and  initiating  new activities  to
achieve its objectives.

103.    The  Vienna  Declaration  and   Programme  of  Action  provides  the
foundation for the High Commissioner's activities.   Its strong reference to
international cooperation  guides the  High Commissioner's  approach to  the
promotion  and protection of  human rights.   His  dialogue with Governments
with  a view to enhancing respect  for human rights involves a wide range of
activities including action  to bring violations  to an end  and to  prevent
the outbreak  of  serious violations.    Prevention  has become  central  to
international  human  rights  preoccupation as  the  international community
sees  years  of  development  efforts destroyed  overnight  by  outbreaks of
serious  violations and  the generation  of refugees,  internally  displaced
persons and mass exoduses.   The High Commissioner  avails himself of  every
opportunity to  use diplomacy  to obtain  results on  specific matters  and,
when  circumstances  require, he  also  uses the  many  other tools  at  his
disposal, including  the provision  of human  rights technical  cooperation.
In  coordinated efforts aimed  at implementation  of the  Vienna Declaration
and Programme of Action primary emphasis  is being placed on:  strengthening
of the United Nations  human rights machinery and  its adaptation to the new
challenges,  including  human  rights  field  operations  and  follow-up  of
recommendations and decisions of human  rights organs and bodies; assistance

to  vulnerable groups; enhancement of various forms of activities undertaken
by Governments  and civil society to  promote and protect  human rights; and
strengthening   of   cooperation  among   all   actors   involved   in   the
implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

104.   Under the impact  of the Vienna  Declaration and  Programme of Action
and the  mandate entrusted to  the High  Commissioner for Human  Rights, the
United   Nations  human   rights   programme  is   undergoing   a   profound
transformation at both  the substantive and organizational levels.   Future-
oriented  decisions  adopted by  the World  Conference require  a continuous
adaptation of  the programme to current and emerging needs.  The development
of human  rights field presence  appears to be  one of  the major challenges
and most promising perspectives  in this context.  Target-oriented and  with
adequate  organizational  and  logistical  support,  these  operations   may
contribute  decisively  to  the prevention  of human  rights  violations, to
ending continuous  violations, to  the  durable and  peaceful resolution  of
conflicts, and to  the creation of conditions for the development of nations
and individuals.  Taking full  advantage of this new opportunity demands the
coordinated efforts of the United Nations system.

 105.    The  interlinkage  of  human  rights,  democracy  and  development,
proclaimed  by the Vienna  Declaration and  Programme of  Action, requires a
comprehensive and  integrated approach  to the promotion  and protection  of
human rights.   The  High Commissioner  has  adopted this  approach both  in
relation   to  Governments   and   in  his   activities   of   international
coordination, in particular within the United Nations system.  In order  for
their promotion and protection to be  effective, human rights must  permeate
the activities of  all international agencies  so that each, within  its own
mandate, can make its own important  contribution to this common  objective.
This  is  especially true  with  regard  to  the  right  to development  and
economic, social and cultural rights.

106.  One of the important objectives of  the United Nations in establishing
the post of High  Commissioner for Human Rights was to ensure more effective
coordination  of  the  numerous  activities  in   favour  of  human   rights
throughout the  system and  to increase  the efficiency  and strengthen  the
impact of the United Nations human rights machinery.  The High  Commissioner
does  not  seek to  replace existing  organs, bodies  or procedures,  but to
strengthen them and better coordinate their activities. 

107.  The success  of the activities of  the human rights  programme and  of
the  High  Commissioner in  the  future will  depend  upon  the  support and
understanding  of  the  international  community  and  on  the   cooperation
received  from  Governments, international  organizations,  non-governmental
organizations and people throughout the world.   This must include  adequate
human   and  financial  resources  for  the  implementation  of  the  Vienna
Declaration   and  Programme   of  Action,   the  activities   of  the  High
Commissioner and  the Centre for  Human Rights.   That support  will help in
responding to the hopes and expectations  generated by the World  Conference
on Human Rights and  the establishment of the post of High Commissioner  for
Human Rights  and in promoting international  peace and  security and better
standards  of life  in  larger  freedom as  embodied in  the Charter  of the
United Nations.


Notes

  1/   See Report  of the  World Conference  on Human Rights,  Vienna, 14-25
June 1993 (A/CONF.157/24 (Part I)), chap. III.

  2/  Official  Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1995, Supplement
No. 4 (E/1995/23-E/CN.4/1995/176), para. 594.

  3/  See E/CN.4/1995/89.

  4/    See  Official Records  of  the Economic  and  Social Council,  1995,

Supplement No. 4 (E/1995/23-E/CN.4/1995/176).

  5/  E/CN.4/1995/23.

  6/  E/CN.4/1995/24.

  7/    Official  Records  of  the  General  Assembly, Forty-ninth  Session,
Supplement No. 36 (A/49/36).

  8/  A/49/261/Add.1, annex.

  9/  See A/45/625, annex.

   10/  See also A/49/326.

  11/  E/CN.4/1995/61.

  12/   See Official  Records  of  the Economic  and Social  Council,  1994,
Supplement No. 4 (E/1994/24-E/CN.4/1994/132).


-----


 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org