United Nations

A/50/653


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

20 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 112 (b)


                  HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS
                  INCLUDING ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES FOR IMPROVING
                  THE EFFECTIVE ENJOYMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND
FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

Strengthening of the rule of law

Report of the Secretary-General


I.  INTRODUCTION

1.   At  its forty-ninth  session, the General  Assembly, in  its resolution
49/194,  recalling the  recommendation  of  the  World Conference  on  Human
Rights,  also recalling its own  resolution 48/132 of  20 December 1993, and
taking note of  Commission on  Human Rights  resolution 1994/50  of 4  March
1994, welcomed  the report  of the  Secretary-General (A/49/512), took  note
with interest  of the proposals  submitted in the  report of the  Secretary-
General for strengthening the programme of  advisory services and  technical
assistance of the Centre for  Human Rights in order to comply fully with the
recommendations  of the World  Conference concerning assistance to States in
strengthening  their institutions for  the rule  of law;  expressed its deep
concern at the  scarcity of  means at  the disposal  of the  Centre for  the
fulfilment  of its  tasks; requested  the Secretary-General  to  explore the
possibilities of obtaining assistance from all relevant institutions of  the
United  Nations  system, including  financial  institutions,  and  submit  a
report  to  the General  Assembly on  the  matter  at its  fiftieth session.
Subsequently, the Commission  on Human Rights,  at its  fifty-first session,
in  resolution  1995/54   of  3  March  1995,  recalling  General   Assembly
resolution  49/194, reiterated  the concerns  expressed by the  Assembly and
requested the Secretary-General to  submit a report to the Assembly on means
available  within the United  Nations system  to strengthen  the capacity of
the   Centre  for  Human   Rights  to   provide  assistance   to  States  in
strengthening the rule of law.




95-31987 (E)  301095/...
*9531987*
2.   The report  of the  Secretary-General to  the General  Assembly at  its

forty-ninth  session  on  strengthening  of  the  rule  of  law  (A/49/512),
concluding that the  programme of advisory services and technical assistance
of  the Centre for  Human Rights  was the  most appropriate  and well-suited
mechanism for  support to national  efforts to strengthen  the rule of  law,
contained five  proposals for  enhancing the  capacity of  the programme  of
advisory services  and technical assistance of  the Centre  for Human Rights
to  comply fully with the  recommendations of the  World Conference on Human
Rights concerning assistance to States in the  strengthening of the rule  of
law.  These were:

  (a)  Substantially increased project funding for the programme;

  (b)  An increase in staffing levels of the programme;

  (c)  The identification and securing of funds for financial assistance  to
States for strengthening the rule of law;

  (d)  Continued substantive programme development;

  (e)  Enhanced  system-wide coordination through  the High Commissioner for
Human Rights.

3.    Developments  with  regard  to  each of  these  proposals,  along with
additional recommendations, are provided below.


II.  RESOURCE SHORTAGES

4.  In  his previous report the Secretary-General  noted that, in spite of a
dramatic  increase in  requests  for  assistance  under the  programme,  the
financial  and  human  resources  available  for  its  implementation   have
remained  inadequate. In  1995, this  situation has  continued,  essentially
unchanged.    The  lack of  funds for  financial  and capital  assistance to
States which  are committed  to the  strengthening of  the rule  of law  but
which face economic hardship has also continued.

5.   Therefore,  and  as  stated in  the previous  report of  the Secretary-
General, Member States  must be  encouraged to increase their  contributions
to the  Voluntary  Fund  for Technical  Cooperation in  the  Field of  Human
Rights.   There must  also be an increase in the  number of posts and in the
regular  budget  allocation  for the  advisory  services  programme  if  the
programme is  to respond effectively  to the demands  placed upon  it by the
World Conference  on Human Rights, the  General Assembly,  the Commission on
Human Rights and the Member States.

6.  Efforts were initiated in  1995 to encourage the international community
to  support  the   programme,  including   through  the  appointment  of   a
coordinator for  the Voluntary Fund  with extensive  experience in technical
cooperation,  the organization  of briefings  for donor  countries  and non-
governmental  organizations  on   the  programme,  the  introduction  of   a
comprehensive  programme   of  staff  training  in  the  management  of  the
technical  cooperation  project  cycle   (jointly  with  the   international
training  centre  of  the  International  Labour  Organization  (ILO)),  the
adoption  of new,  standardized and  transparent project  guidelines  (based
upon  the logical framework  approach employed by United Nations development
agencies), and the  standardization of  procedures and policies for  project
planning, monitoring and evaluation.

7.   In addition, in  response to the  request contained  in paragraph  6 of
General  Assembly  resolution A/49/194,  the  High  Commissioner  for  Human
Rights, by a letter  dated 28 August  1995 addressed to all relevant  United
Nations  agencies  and   financial  institutions,  has  sought  to   explore
possibilities  for obtaining  from such  institutions, acting  within  their
mandates,   technical   and   financial   assistance   for  supporting   the
Organization's efforts to promote human rights and the rule of law.

8.   While replies  from the  relevant agencies are still  pending, and thus
cannot be included in  this report, the matter is being followed up  closely
as one  element of  a greater  effort to  enhance system-wide  coordination,
under  the High Commissioner  for Human  Rights, towards  assistance for the
strengthening of the  protection of human rights under  the rule of law,  as
described in the following section.


                   III.  ENHANCED COORDINATION THROUGH THE HIGH
                         COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

9.   By its resolution 48/141 of 2O December  1993, the General Assembly has
entrusted  the  High  Commissioner  for  Human  Rights   with,  inter  alia,
providing,  through  the  Centre for  Human  Rights  and  other  appropriate
institutions, advisory  services and technical  and financial assistance  in
the  field of human  rights; coordinating  relevant United Nations education
and public  information programmes in the  field of  human rights; enhancing
international  cooperation for  the promotion  and protection  of all  human
rights;  coordinating  human  rights  protection  and  promotion  activities
throughout   the    United   Nations   system;   rationalizing,    adapting,
strengthening  and streamlining  United Nations  machinery  in the  field of
human rights  with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness; and
overall supervision of the Centre for Human Rights.

10.   Thus, as indicated  in the previous  report of  the Secretary-General,
ultimate   authority   and   responsibility   for   the   coordination   and
implementation of  this programme,  as carried  out through  the Centre  for
Human Rights, rests with the High  Commissioner, under the overall authority
of  the Secretary-General.   As  other actors  in the  United Nations system
begin to undertake national assistance programmes  in areas which touch upon
human rights and  the rule of  law, it becomes  increasingly important  that
due attention be given to the coordinating and substantive role of the  High
Commissioner and the Centre for Human Rights, in  order to ensure that  such
activities  will not be  duplicative and  that the  substantive expertise of
the Centre  for  Human Rights  be  fully  incorporated into  such  programme
activities.

11.   To these ends,  the expertise  of the  Centre and  its capacities  for
technical cooperation, conducting needs assessments  in the fields  of human
rights,  democracy and  the  rule  of  law, and  its  related activities  in
support of the development of national plans of action should be taken  into
account in  all  related activities  of the  Organization, including  peace-
keeping operations, electoral support  and development programmes.  The High
Commissioner,  with the assistance  of the  Centre, remains  the focal point
for coordinating system-wide  attention for human rights, democracy and  the
rule of law and  this role should be  enhanced in  order to ensure that  all
such activities  are based upon the  universal human  rights standards which
form the foundations of the Centre's work.

12.  In  recognition of this, the High  Commissioner has initiated a  series
of consultations  and contacts  with other  entities of  the United  Nations
system, with a view  to enhancing inter-agency  coordination and cooperation
in  providing assistance  for the  strengthening of  the rule  of law.    In
addition to the High Commissioner's exploratory communications noted  above,
a  number   of  additional  measures  have   been  initiated   by  the  High
Commissioner  including meetings  with  executive heads  of  United  Nations
agencies and programmes on matters of  policy and coordination; meetings and
working-level  contacts with  agencies and  programmes on  thematic  issues;
field-level meetings in connection with various human rights field  missions
and projects; and the conclusion of  memoranda of understanding with various
agencies and programmes.


IV.  CAPITAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS

13.    As noted above  and in the  previous report of the Secretary-General,

the limited amount of funding available  under the programme is insufficient
even  for  meeting   the  needs  of  requesting  Governments  for  technical
cooperation activities  in  the  field  of  human  rights.    As  such,  the
programme has been unable  to provide any  substantial financial  assistance
to  meet  capital  assistance  needs which  have  a  direct  impact  on  the
realization  of human  rights and  the maintenance  of  the  rule of  law in
countries  which  are  committed  to  these  ends  but  which  face economic
hardship due to economic problems, crisis or transition.

14.   Traditionally, many individual donor  countries have  been hesitant to
make direct  contributions  to  countries seeking  to improve  the  physical
conditions  of prisons, to  equip police  with means for  the non-lethal and
differentiated  use  of force,  to  renovate  and  equip  courtrooms, or  to
contribute to  start-up costs  for new national  human rights  institutions.
Nevertheless, financial  and material  assistance for these needs  remain as
important  as technical assistance  if Governments  are to  be successful in
their efforts  to ensure the protection  of human rights  under the rule  of
law.   While, for  example, the  value of  training prison  guards in  human
rights  standards  and techniques  and providing  expert  assistance in  the
drafting  of  humane  prison  regulations  remain  clear priorities  of  the
programme, such inputs  lose substantial  potential for  positive impact  if
the guards, however well trained, and  the regulations, however humane,  are
set  in  the  context  of  substandard  facilities  and  inhumane   physical
conditions.

15.  Thus, in order to meet the concerns of the General  Assembly, which has
specifically  stated in its  resolutions on  the subject  that the programme
should  be  able  to  provide  both  technical  and  capital  assistance  to
Governments,  additional  funding  would  be  required  to  address  capital
assistance needs  for human rights  and the rule  of law,  such as financial
and material support for the physical  improvement of prisons; for  start-up
costs, equipment and materials for new  institutions or the strengthening of
existing  ones,  including   judiciaries,  human   rights  commissions   and
ombudsmen's  offices; for equipping  and strengthening  law schools; for the
development  of   independent  mass  media;   for  staffing  and   equipping
democratically elected parliaments;  for legal resources; and for any  other
institutions necessary for the good functioning of the rule of law.

16.   Accordingly,  consideration  should be  given to  ways  and means  for
capital  support to  be  made  available to  States as  a complement  to the
Centre's  technical   cooperation  programme.     Such   support  might   be
facilitated by,  inter alia, the  substantial supplementing of the Voluntary
Fund  for  Technical  Cooperation  in  the   Field  of  Human  Rights;   the
establishment of a  separate, complementary fund  for capital  assistance in
the  field   of  human  rights;  or   encouraging  increased  support   from
development  agencies and funds and financial institutions for financial and
capital assistance for human rights and the rule of law.    Such issues will
be explored  further in the  High Commissioner's  ongoing consultations with
his partners in the United Nations system.


V.  PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT

17.   As  the repository  within the  United Nations  system for  cumulative
institutional expertise in human  rights and the elements of the rule of law
from the  international perspective,  the Centre  for Human  Rights plays  a
vital and  central role in the  development of United  Nations efforts aimed
at the  strengthening of the  rule of  law in Member States.  In addition to
the provision  of human  rights technical  cooperation to  Member States  in
cooperation with  other United  Nations agencies and programmes,  the Centre
is  also  involved  in   the  dissemination  of   information  essential  to
strengthening  the rule of  law through  the development  and publication of
printed technical  cooperation tools  such as manuals,  handbooks and  model
programmes.

18.  The programme has endeavoured,  within available resources, to  develop

the substance and methodology  of each of its components in order to respond
more  effectively to  the  needs of  requesting States  as  well as  of  the
Centre's  partners in the  United Nations  system.   Accordingly, the Centre
has carried out careful  and sustained programme  development activities  in
support  of a  number of  components, including  police training,  electoral
assistance, national  institution support, training  for the military, and a
number  of others.  Programme  development  meetings have  been convened  in
Geneva with  expert representation  from each  of the  world's regions,  and
manuals and handbooks have been prepared in six programme  areas.  Materials
on  human rights and  elections, on  human rights and social  work, on human
rights and pre-trial  detention, on human rights reporting obligations under
international instruments,  and on national  human rights institutions  have
already been published and the Centre  has completed preparation of a manual
on  human rights  and law  enforcement. Additional  manuals currently  under
preparation include human rights and the  military, human rights in prisons,
human  rights teaching in primary and secondary schools, human rights in the
administration of  justice  (for  judges  and  lawyers),  human  rights  and
national NGOs, and human rights monitoring.

 19.   As  the Centre  continues, in  response to  successive  Commission on
Human  Rights  resolutions,  to  take   measures  to  ensure  that  projects
implemented under the programme are well prepared,  additional and dedicated
resources should be made available to support further programme  development
activities so that plans for the  development of the remaining components of
the programme  may be  implemented.   Such programme  development activities
allow the  Centre to  improve the quality  of its  own assistance  projects,
while  at the same time  providing an opportunity to disseminate more widely
the   substance  of  the   Centre's  programmes,  for  example  manuals  and
handbooks.   In addition, it should  be noted that  the development of  such
materials increases  the resource efficiency  of the  programme by obviating
the  need  for the  ad  hoc production  of  materials  with  each successive
project.   Furthermore,  these  programme development  activities,  and  the
materials  which  result from  them,    provide  an  objective and  publicly
accessible record  of the  unbiased and  universal content  of the  Centre's
assistance activities, which has the effect  of increasing confidence in the
programme  while  maximizing its  utility  and  providing  a  means for  its
crucial and continuous improvement.


VI.  CONCLUSIONS

20.  The  High Commissioner for  Human Rights,  with the  assistance of  the
Centre for Human Rights, remains the focal point for United Nations  efforts
to  assist States  in  the strengthening  of the  rule  of law.    Enhancing
system-wide  efforts to this  end will  require the  sustained commitment of
all relevant actors towards increased cooperation  under the guidance of the
High  Commissioner,  increased resources  for  both  technical  and  capital
assistance, and continued substantive programme development.

21.    The  extent  to which  the  international community  responds  to the
imperatives  described  in  this report  will largely  determine  the future
success of  United Nations  efforts to  strengthen the  protection of  human
rights under  the rule  of law.   The  importance of  such efforts  has been
nowhere  more clearly  stated than  in  the  Universal Declaration  of Human
Rights itself which, in 1948, proclaimed:

  "Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have  recourse,
as a last resort,  to rebellion against tyranny  and oppression, that  human
rights should be protected by the rule of law".


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