United Nations

A/51/36


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

18 October 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/36
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first 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,
Fifty-first Session, Supplement No. 36 (A/51/36).)


                                   CONTENTS

                                                              Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION ..........................................    1 - 8     4

II.   COOPERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ..........................    9 - 32    6

      A.  Cooperation with Governments ......................   10 - 12    6

      B. Cooperation with United Nations agencies and 
         programmes in support of human rights .............    13 - 20    7

      C. Cooperation with regional forums ..................    21 - 24    9

      D. Cooperation with national institutions ............    25 - 27   10

      E. Cooperation with academic institutions ............    28 - 29   10

      F. Partnership with non-governmental organizations ...    30 - 32   11

III.  GIVING EFFECT TO HUMAN RIGHTS .........................   33 - 50   13

      A. Implementation ....................................    33 - 38   13

      B. Preventive and responsive action ..................    39 - 41   14

      C. Transition to democracy ...........................       42     15

      D. Technical cooperation programme ...................    43 - 47   15

      E. Human rights education ............................    48 - 50   16

IV.   FIELD WORK IN HUMAN RIGHTS ............................   51 - 70   18

      A. Introduction ......................................       51     18

      B. Field activities in progress ......................    52 - 67   18

      C. Field activities in planning ......................    68 - 70   22

 V.   CHALLENGES TO HUMAN RIGHTS ............................   71 - 97   23

      A. Equality and non-discrimination ...................    71 - 90   23

      B. Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions ....    91 - 92   26

      C. Torture ...........................................    93 - 94   27

      D. Enforced disappearances ...........................       95     27

      E. Internally displaced persons ......................    96 - 97   27

  VI.  RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT AS A HUMAN RIGHT ................   98 - 104  29

       A.  Vision for the right to development ..............   98 - 100  29

       B.  Meeting of the High Commissioner with the World 
           Bank and United Nations regional economic
           commissions ......................................  101 - 104  29

 VII.  UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS MACHINERY ................  105 - 117  31

       A.  Commission on Human Rights .......................  108 - 110  31

       B.  Special procedures ...............................  111 - 114  32

       C.  Treaty-based bodies ..............................  115 - 117  33

VIII.  THE HIGH COMMISSIONER/CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ........  118 - 121  34

       A.  Restructuring ....................................  118 - 119  34

       B.  Financing ........................................  120 - 121  34

  IX.  1998:  HUMAN RIGHTS YEAR .............................  122 - 131  36


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   As evidenced by all too many examples of constant threats to and
violations of the basic rights of individuals around the world, the human
rights situation continues to be a daunting challenge for the international
community.  Considerable progress must yet be made in order to secure the
realization of human rights standards and a firmly established human rights
culture.  The ideals that inspired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
are as relevant today as they were nearly half a century ago when the
community of nations pledged to promote universal respect for and observance
of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Bearing this in mind, collective
efforts must be made on the part of all human rights actors to uphold these
aspirations and to implement fully the mechanisms that ensure their effective
realization.

2.   The United Nations human rights programme, under the direction of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is making notable advances
in promoting the objectives of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
(A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III), which serves as a blueprint for action in
the international efforts to promote and protect human rights.  During the
last year, important progress has been made in expanding the ratification of
international human rights instruments, supporting the establishment or
strengthening of human rights national institutions and broadening technical
cooperation projects.  These efforts have yielded positive and concrete
results.

3.   An important feature of the High Commissioner's agenda has been the
strengthening of human rights work in the field.  As Governments increasingly
seek human rights assistance in situ, the United Nations human rights
programme is able to reach out to more people and bring tangible results to
the numerous and urgent needs in this regard.  This serves as further proof of
the spirit of cooperation that more and more symbolizes how human rights are
being addressed today.

4.   Similarly, the High Commissioner has assertively sought to secure that
economic, social and cultural rights, and particularly the right to
development, acquire a higher profile within the framework of United Nations
human rights efforts, in the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
Action, which proclaimed that all human rights are universal, indivisible and
interdependent and interrelated.

5.   During his tenure, the High Commissioner has encouraged Governments and
other human rights actors to attach to the consideration of human rights
greater prominence and stature.  Through dialogue with Member States, through
coordination with the United Nations agencies that support human rights
efforts, through permanent contact with regional forums, academic institutions
and the leadership of the main international financial institutions, the High
Commissioner has sought to ensure that the issue of human rights become a
constant in the thinking and actions of the political and economic forces that
govern or influence events globally.

6.   The United Nations human rights programme is indeed ambitious and must
be implemented through partnership.  Member States and others are aware of the
various obstacles that have been surmounted to accomplish what thus far has
been achieved.  However, more needs to be done to achieve further progress. 
The High Commissioner is firmly determined to work closely with all partners
in order to ensure these objectives.

7.   It should be recalled that human rights, together with peace and
security, and development, constitute the triad upon which the United Nations
was founded.  Member States should entrust the High Commissioner with
invigorating the human rights programme in order to maintain the strength of
this triad and to preserve the fundamental role envisioned for human rights by
the founders of the United Nations.  This should be carefully reflected upon
as both the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the five-year review on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action draw near.

8.   The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action provides the guidelines
for the United Nations human rights programme.  The methods and means 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 fifty-first session.


II.  COOPERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


9.   The following fundamental principles continue to be the basis of the
High Commissioner's activities aimed at enhancing 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,
including the right to development; (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 for human rights.


A.  Cooperation with Governments

10.  The High Commissioner has continued his dialogue with Governments for
the promotion and protection of human rights, both at United Nations
Headquarters and during country visits.  The main focus of this dialogue is to
achieve concrete results by speaking frankly and openly about human rights
issues and stirring actions necessary to guarantee their enjoyment by all
people.  Encouragement and persuasion have proved to be effective tools that
the High Commissioner can use to achieve results.  While the High
Commissioner's visits to countries are promotional in nature, he takes up
human rights problems encountered at the domestic and international level,
including specific issues relevant to the human rights record of the country
visited.  During his dialogue with Governments, the High Commissioner also
pays particular attention to the cooperation of Governments with the United
Nations human rights programme and its machinery, including treaty-based
bodies and special rapporteurs, as well as other mechanisms of the Commission
on Human Rights.  Perceiving his role as that of a facilitator, the High
Commissioner does not intend to replace any of the existing organs.  On the
contrary, he is paving the way for the visits of the special rapporteurs,
representatives or experts, following up on the recommendations made by human
rights organs and bodies.  The High Commissioner also encourages and
facilitates the ratification of international human rights treaties and
assists Governments in the form of expert advice, technical assistance,
cooperation and development of human rights infrastructures.  In order to
achieve these goals, preparation for the visits embraces not only
consultations with the Government concerned, but also with United Nations
agencies and programmes, human rights machinery, regional organizations and
non-governmental organizations.

11.  Since the last session of the General Assembly, the High Commissioner
has undertaken official visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, Gabon, Indonesia and Tunisia. 1/

12.  From 27 to 30 July 1996, the High Commissioner visited Gabon, where he
met with the President of the country and other senior government officials. 
Topics of discussion included the ratification process, the analysis of
present legislation to ensure that it conforms to international standards, the
actual preparation of reports for the various United Nations human rights
treaty bodies and the development of a comprehensive programme of technical
assistance and cooperation.  The proposed programme of cooperation would
include the provision of training courses for relevant government officials,
police, gendarmerie, the armed forces, parliamentarians and non-governmental
organizations.  More emphasis on follow-up, including the periodic review of
the measures taken as a result of meetings with Governments, such as in the
case with Gabon, will further elevate the role of the High Commissioner's
visits in the promotion and protection of human rights.


         B.  Cooperation with United Nations agencies and programmes in
             support of human rights

13.  At this time, when Member States are considering how to improve the
action of the United Nations, it is vital that United Nations agencies and
programmes enhance their cooperation in the field of human rights and in this
way optimize the results of their efforts.  The High Commissioner's aim is to
facilitate this process through establishing channels of information in the
field of human rights, enhancing exchange of relevant expertise and
undertaking joint projects.  In the framework of the preparations for the
fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration, the High Commissioner
proposes to other agencies and programmes a system-wide concentrated action
for promotion of human rights, aimed at preventing human rights emergencies
from continuing or occurring and assisting countries in transition. 
Consultations should be carried out, inter alia, in the framework of the
Administrative Committee on Coordination to identify means and methods to
achieve such results.

14.  A growing number of examples prove that inter-agency cooperation brings
shared advantages and contributes to a better output for the United Nations.
Agreements of cooperation, signed between the High Commissioner/Centre for
Human Rights and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United
Nations Volunteers and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), as well as others under preparation, provide an
effective framework for inter-agency cooperation.  The High Commissioner
wishes to acknowledge the vital contributions that are being made for the
cause of human rights by United Nations agencies.  Their input to this report
is also greatly appreciated.

15.  UNICEF is providing valuable assistance in the formation and activities
of coalitions for children, made up of Governments, non-governmental
organizations, the private sector and civil society.  These efforts have
produced concrete actions in terms of legislation reform, establishment of
monitoring mechanisms, dissemination of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, and the inclusion of human rights education in school curricula. 
UNICEF supports the participatory role of families in the protection of
children's rights.  The memorandum of understanding between UNICEF and the
High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights provides a functional framework for
the cooperation between the two institutions, aimed inter alia at the support
for the Committee on the Rights of the Child and activities in the field.

16.  UNESCO focuses its activities in the field of education for human rights
on evaluating and strengthening national policies and plans, developing
educational material and reinforcing specialized networks.  Examples of this
work can be seen in the collaboration with the Socie'te' franc'aise pour le
droit international for the preparation of a document on teaching programmes
and ongoing research in the field of human rights at the higher education
level.  Furthermore, UNESCO Chairs on Human Rights, Democracy and Peace
(presently 19 at universities in Africa, Europe, Arab States and Latin
America) promote an integrated system of research, training and information
activities and facilitate subregional and regional cooperation between
researchers and teachers.  In addition, the Associated Schools Project,
covering over 3,500 schools in nearly 130 countries contribute significantly
to the promotion of international understanding and values protected by human
rights.

17.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
cooperates with the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights in a number of
areas.  Chief among these is the close working relationship between the field
staff, inter alia, in the former Yugoslavia, where UNHCR is providing
information for the human rights reports prepared by the Special Rapporteur. 
Also, in Rwanda, UNHCR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights operate under a memorandum of understanding outlining areas of
cooperation, in particular with respect to monitoring of the situation of
returnees in detention and conditions for return of refugees.  Finally, in
terms of training, UNHCR offered some of its experienced officers to brief
staff of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights on various aspects of
field missions.  This approach was welcomed by the High Commissioner in the
light of his plans to expand the human rights field presence.

18.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) strongly advocates
capacity development for governance.  This offers a natural context for
activities of immediate relevance for human rights.  UNDP projects aim at
strengthening democratic institutions and processes, judicial systems and
parliaments.  Assistance is also provided for developing institutions
specifically concerned with human rights, in which cases UNDP works in
cooperation with the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights.

19.  In the aftermath of the World Conference on Human Rights, the World
Health Organization (WHO) is giving increasing attention to many areas of
human rights as they affect the health sector, a development reflected in the
designation of a senior staff member, at the Assistant Director-General level,
as focal point for human rights.  WHO is now increasingly using the concept of
health security in both the health policy and human rights contexts.  It is
perceived as encompassing the principle of universality in health care, so
that all human beings may live with the knowledge that they can seek health
care which is accessible, affordable, relevant, and of the requisite quality. 
Health security covers all aspects of the right of every individual to the
highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including the right
to food in sufficient quantity and of good quality, the right to decent
housing and to live in environments where known health risks are controlled,
and the right to have access to education and information on health, rights
that are enshrined in the various international treaties.  In due course, WHO
(in conjunction with its many partners) is going to consider to develop
proposals for consideration by the treaty bodies on how the "right to health
security" might be used in reporting on and monitoring the implementation of
article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights and corresponding articles in other treaties.

20.  Powerful and compelling ideas for a reinforced WHO role in the field of
human rights have emanated from two high-level bodies set up in pursuance of
resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly:  the Task Force on Health in
Development and the Global Commission on Women's Health.  WHO is currently
engaged in a concerted effort to take up the challenges posed by the recent
conferences at Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing.  An action plan on human rights
has been developed and will be implemented when resources become available.


C.  Cooperation with regional forums

21.  The intergovernmental regional organizations are important and close
partners of the United Nations human rights programme.  Cooperation with these
organizations is crucial in the planning and implementation of the United
Nations human rights activities.  Working relations have been established with
the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Organization of American States
(OAS), the Commission of the European Communities, the Council of Europe and
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  The High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights continues to facilitate the step-by-step
process of establishing regional human rights machinery in Asia through,
inter alia, the organization of the annual regional workshops and by according
priority to the needs of the countries of the region.  Detailed information in
this regard is contained in the report of the Secretary-General entitled
"Regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights"
(A/51/480).

22.  The High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights provides financial support
to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights under the Voluntary
Fund for Technical Cooperation.  It supported the First Regional Conference of
African National Human Rights Institutions (see also para. 27 below) and, in
cooperation with OAU and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECE), organized a
meeting of high-level government experts in the Africa region concerning
ratification of human rights treaties and reporting on their implementation
(see also para. 117).  The technical cooperation project in the field of human
rights for Burundi is being implemented in cooperation with the observer
mission of OAU in that country.  The High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights
has also cooperated with OAU in the development and implementation of a
training programme on human rights, democracy and the rule of law for heads of
military academies in Africa.  On 21 October 1996, the High Commissioner took
part in the ceremonies for the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of
the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, that took place in
Mauritius.  At this occasion, he held discussions with the OAU representative
and with the Chairman of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights,
and on the ways and means to heighten cooperation and joint projects between
United Nations human rights programmes and the African Commission.

23.  Cooperation with OSCE is being developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in
connection with the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreements, in some of
the countries members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and in Latvia
and Moldova.  It includes training provided by the High Commissioner/Centre
for Human Rights and projects aimed at the establishment of national
capacities in the field of human rights, including national institutions.  The
High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights and OSCE hold consultations on a
regular basis concerning technical cooperation projects and exchange of
information.

24.  The High Commissioner cooperates with the European Commission in the
context of programmes for Rwanda, Burundi and Colombia.  The European
Commission has provided 31 highly qualified personnel, fully equipped, who are
working as an integral part of the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation
in Rwanda and also agreed to provide financial support to the High
Commissioner for his preventive human rights initiatives in Burundi.  The
Commission declared its willingness to make available financial support for
five staff members of the office to be established in Colombia by the High
Commissioner.


D.  Cooperation with national institutions

25.  National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights
have been recognized by the international community as particularly important
in ensuring the implementation of human rights at the national level.  They
are frequently an effective supplement to, and if necessary, corrector of
State organs.  They can also bridge the gap that frequently separates the most
vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals from traditional means of protection.

Therefore, one of the most rapidly expanding areas of activity of the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights is the work being undertaken to create or
strengthen independent national institutions.  They can be one of the most
important mechanisms for safeguarding all human rights, including economic,
social and cultural rights and the right to development.

26.  The World Conference on Human Rights, the General Assembly and the
Commission on Human Rights (in its resolution 1996/50 of 22 April 1996) have
called for assistance to be provided to national institutions.  The interest
of countries in obtaining such advice and assistance is growing rapidly.  It
will therefore be necessary to involve, to a larger extent, external
specialists in the area, and widen cooperation with other United Nations
agencies and programmes to support the national initiatives aimed at
establishing and strengthening national institutions.

27.   Assistance in establishing national institutions in Latvia and Moldova,
the provision of advice concerning legislation to establish national human
rights commissions in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Georgia and Nepal and new projects
to establish institutions in countries such as Papua New Guinea, are some
examples of work currently under way.  Significant support has also been
provided for national institutions cooperating with each other at the regional
level - particularly in Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region.  The High
Commissioner/ Centre for Human Rights assisted the National Commission of
Human Rights and Freedoms of Cameroon in organizing the First Regional
Conference of African National Human Rights Institutions from 5 to 7 February
1996 at Yaounde'.  This was the first regional initiative in the area of
national institutions in Africa and was attended by representatives of
12 national institutions.  A decision was taken to create a Coordinating
Committee of African National Institutions.  Frequently, creation of and
assistance to national institutions is closely coordinated with other agencies
and organizations.


E.  Cooperation with academic institutions

28.  The High Commissioner cooperates closely with academic and research
institutions.  The Technical Cooperation Programme in the field of human
rights increasingly benefits from this cooperation, both institutionally and
by inviting experts to participate in specific projects.  Since the last
report, overall cooperation agreements have been signed with the Strasbourg
International Institute of Human Rights (France) and the Andean Commission of
Jurists (Peru).  An agreement was also signed with the Norwegian Resource Bank
for Democracy and Human Rights, the purpose of which was to create stand-by
human and logistical resources for human rights field activities carried out
by the High Commissioner.

29.  It is a positive development that more and more institutions seek
consultations with the High Commissioner with regard to their research and
educational plans.  This helps to put topical issues for the United Nations
human rights programme on the agenda of researchers and students.  The coming
months will see a number of seminars organized in various regions, focusing on
practical aspects of the international promotion and protection of human
rights.  Cooperation with academic institutions should, however, be further
extended.  Their potential should be more effectively utilized in United
Nations human rights efforts.  This can happen through better exchange of
information, more joint initiatives bringing together human rights
institutions from different regions, comprehensive response of the United
Nations human rights programme to observations and conclusions made by
academia, and, finally, through direct involvement of academic institutions in
the implementation of United Nations human rights projects.  The new branch,
"Research and the Right to Development", of the High Commissioner/Centre for
Human Rights should facilitate those plans.


F.  Partnership with non-governmental organizations

30.  In his previous reports, the High Commissioner has stressed that
partnership with civil society, especially with the non-governmental
organizational community, is fundamental to the human rights programme.  The
restructuring of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights will give even
more impetus to this partnership.  Various organs and bodies recognize that
they would not have been in the position to appropriately cope with their
tasks without data provided by non-governmental organizations.  In its
resolution 1996/22, the Commission on Human Rights once again recognized the
important role played by non-governmental organizations in the effective
implementation of all human rights instruments and encouraged the exchange of
reliable information between treaty bodies and such organizations.  Sessions
of working groups on indigenous populations and on minorities have proved the
importance of creating United Nations forums for debate on important human
rights issues with the participation of non-governmental organizations.

31.  The High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights carries out close
consultations with non-governmental organizations in the context of
programming human rights activities, country visits, meetings of the United
Nations human rights organs, and reaction to human rights violations.  In
Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the offices of the High Commissioner/Centre
for Human Rights work closely with non-governmental organizations on projects
for human rights promotion and education.  Regular discussions are held with
non-governmental organizations in other field offices as well.  The overall
objective, strengthening civil society, is pursued on a country-by-country,
regional, interregional and global basis, through the provision of assistance
to national non-governmental organizations in the form of training courses on
human rights, fellowships and support of appropriate projects developed by
them.  The United Nations human rights programme has been working in
partnership with non-governmental organizations on the development of
materials for training of non-governmental organizations on capacity-building.

32.  The High Commissioner deeply appreciates the attention paid by
non-governmental organizations to the United Nations human rights programme
and the activities of his Office.  Non-governmental organizations organize
meetings or present studies to discuss relevant matters with the High
Commissioner.  The partnership of the United Nations human rights programme
with non-governmental organizations should be further promoted and made more
effective, including through participation in the implementation of technical
cooperation projects.


III.  GIVING EFFECT TO HUMAN RIGHTS


A.  Implementation

33.  The importance placed on strengthening the implementation of human
rights worldwide by the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights,
country and thematic special rapporteurs, working groups and treaty bodies has
never been more clear.  The globalization of human rights as seen by their
growing relevance for overall development trends worldwide, prompts the
international community to perceive making human rights a reality as one of
its primary concerns.  This attitude is strengthened by developments in
countries that have recently chosen the challenging way to sustainable
development through democracy and human rights.  Already these countries are
beginning to enjoy the benefits of this policy in the form of economic
progress, political consolidation, and social stability.  Although the
adoption of legislation consistent with international standards is of utmost
importance, it is the application of law which matters most.

34.  The debate during the fifty-second session of the Commission on Human
Rights has confirmed the overwhelming trend to human rights, democracy and
development in the contemporary world.  Adopted resolutions and decisions
refer to positive developments in the current world human rights record. 
International exchange, promoted and facilitated by human rights organs and
bodies, contributes to efforts made by Governments and civil society.  The
value of the expertise of others, be it international organizations,
Governments, non-governmental organizations or local communities, cannot be
overestimated.

35.  However, as in previous years, the Commission continued to express its
concern about (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.  Again, the Commission in its
resolutions drew the attention of Governments, the United Nations system and
the general public to these issues.  The Commission called for action with
regard to impunity; racism and xenophobia; discrimination against women;
ethnic and religious intolerance; mass exoduses and refugee flows; armed
conflicts and terrorism and the lack of the rule of law as major obstacles to
human rights.  The Commission continued to alert the international community
to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; torture and enforced
disappearance; arbitrary detention; violence against women, children and
vulnerable groups; the problem of internally displaced persons, extreme
poverty and problems related to sustainable development, international debt,
etc.  Under the agenda item related to 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, Nigeria, 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, the Sudan and Zaire.  Furthermore, the
Commission adopted the Chairman's statements on the situation of human rights
in Colombia, Liberia, East Timor and the Republic of Chechnya of the Russian
Federation.  Under agenda item 4, the Commission 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 under agenda item 9 the situation in occupied Palestine
and the question of Western Sahara.  In addition, various thematic procedures,
in their reports to the Commission, pointed out serious human rights problems
in a number of countries and made recommendations in that regard.

36.  Concern continues to be expressed by the Commission on Human Rights when
Governments either deny or fail to lend their full cooperation to the
Commission or its mechanisms.  Similarly, the Commission expressed concern in
its resolution 1996/70 of 23 April 1996 with regard to continued reports of
intimidation and reprisals against private individuals and groups who seek
such cooperation.  The High Commissioner shares those concerns.

37.  Many human rights activists raise the problem of infringements upon
their personal security and freedom of action.  In this context, the High
Commissioner supports endeavours aimed at the finalization of 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.  The Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution
1996/81 of 23 April 1996, urged an open-ended working group to make every
effort to complete work on this draft declaration.

38.  The High Commissioner raises issues related to the implementation of
human rights in his dialogue with Governments, stressing the need for
consideration of the recommendations adopted by the Commission and made by its
mechanisms.  It is to be pointed out that in many cases the response of
Governments indicates their willingness to react constructively to the voice
of the international community.  The High Commissioner regrets that his
appeals do not always bring expected results.  In keeping with his mandate and
guided by his responsibility to promote and protect human rights for everyone,
the High Commissioner will continue to take up particular cases and, if
appropriate, use direct contact with Governments, and other relevant parties,
in order to obtain concrete results.


B.  Preventive and responsive action

39.  The development of means which would prevent human rights violations
takes a prominent place among priorities of the United Nations human rights
programme.  These two objectives, namely, stopping gross violations of human
rights, including providing means for relief and redress, on the one hand, and
averting the threat of such violations and thus sparing people from suffering,
on the other, are being pursued by similar methods.  The potential of these
means can thus be used in a flexible manner.

40.  The international community has strongly advocated that preventive
measures should be at the heart of human rights activities.  Through training,
assistance in national programmes and monitoring, much can be achieved to
prevent difficult human rights situations from degenerating into catastrophic
situations.  Strengthening preventive human rights activities is wise not only
in human terms but also in economic terms.  By way of example:  the annual
cost of the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda was equivalent to the
expenses for the activities of a single day of the United Nations Assistance
Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).

41.  The High Commissioner emphasizes the need for greater accountability for
human rights violations as an indispensable dimension of preventive strategy. 
It is encouraging to note that settlements of crises increasingly include
recommendations related to human rights and the responsibility of the
perpetrators for their violations.  The Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and
Herzegovina was a recent example.  Rejection of impunity, an establishment of
truth commissions and of a permanent international penal jurisdiction, should
not only respond to the common sense of justice, but are examples of measures
which would contribute to the reduction of violations of human rights.  A
permanent international criminal court would be a missing link in
international law.


C.  Transition to democracy

42.  The United Nations human rights programme is continuing to assist
countries in transition to democracy, the great majority of which are among
the beneficiaries of the technical cooperation programme.  An example of the
work being done in this area can be seen in the transition process in Malawi
where an office of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights was
established in January 1995.  Through this local representation, the technical
cooperation programme assists the Government and provides ongoing advice and
assistance aimed at building national capacities to promote and protect human
rights.  Earlier in 1996, the Office provided key assistance to the
Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights and Democracy, enabling it to
adopt Malawi's first ever Human Rights National Plan of Action.  The Office
also recently provided human rights training for police, military and prisons
personnel.  A number of other States in the subregion have also requested
technical assistance in the field of human rights.  The technical assistance
and advisory services have also been provided to the countries in transition
from Eastern and Central Europe.  The Office is working in close cooperation
with UNDP not only in Malawi but also in the entire region.


D.  Technical cooperation programme

43.  The technical cooperation programme in the field of human rights,
democracy and the rule of law is a fundamental part of the United Nations
human rights programme.  It offers constitutional and legislative assistance;
human rights support to parliaments; human rights training for United Nations
peacekeepers; assistance in strengthening the administration of justice
(including human rights training for the legal profession, police and prison
officials); assistance for the establishment of independent, effective
national human rights institutions; assistance for the conduct of free and
fair elections; and support to non-governmental organizations and civil
society.  A full account of the programme and its various components can be
found in the relevant report of the Secretary-General to the Commission on
Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/90).

44.  Comprehensive review of the activities of the programme has enabled the
High Commissioner to develop the following policy orientation:  the programme
should focus on countries or regions in transition to democracy; priority
consideration should be given to requests for cooperation with respect to
programmes that strengthen national capacities for the promotion and
protection of human rights as well as programmes addressing mandates emanating
from the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action and United Nations legislative
bodies, such as the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights,
national plans of action, and national institutions; priority is also given to
technical cooperation projects responding to the needs of less developed
countries.

45.  The rate at which new requests for assistance are being received from
Member States indicates that the technical cooperation programme will continue
to expand.  The programme must be strengthened still further to enable it to
meet the challenges of such growth.  Important efforts were made during 1996
to improve the management of the programme, including training of staff and
dialogue with all programme partners.  Special efforts have been made to fully
realize the High Commissioner's commitment to economic, social and cultural
rights and the right to development and to integrate a gender perspective. 
Expertise and assistance of the United Nations agencies and human rights
bodies can be of great support in these areas.

46.  Funding for the technical cooperation programme is provided under the
regular budget of the United Nations with additional financial support being
provided by the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human
Rights (established in 1987 pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution
1987/38 of 10 March 1987 and Economic and Social Council decision 1987/147 of
29 May 1987).  The Voluntary Fund has to date received more than
$18 million in pledges and contributions.  It should also be noted that
specific projects are occasionally funded and/or co-funded by other agencies
and programmes of the United Nations system.  Steps have been taken to ensure
efficient management of the resources - of the Voluntary Fund.  Additional
information on the management of the Fund, including the development of strict
and transparent project management rules, can be found in the aforementioned
report of the Secretary-General.

47.  In accordance with his mandate to consolidate and coordinate system-wide
efforts for the provision of human rights technical assistance, the High
Commissioner regularly consults with the United Nations agencies and
programmes involved in technical cooperation activities - including financial
institutions such as the World Bank and development agencies such as UNDP.  It
should be stressed that the integration of human rights - including the right
to development - into the full range of United Nations technical cooperation
activities, offers the best means of ensuring a climate, at the national
level, in which human rights can be respected and protected.  The High
Commissioner will facilitate this integration process.


E.  Human rights education

48.  By resolution 49/184 of 23 December 1994, the General Assembly
proclaimed the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004). 
It welcomed the Plan of Action for the Decade submitted by the
Secretary-General (A/49/261-E/1994/110/Add.1, annex) and requested the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights, in cooperation with UNESCO, to
coordinate the implementation of the Plan of Action.

49.  The progress made towards the fulfilment of each of the components of
the Plan (assessment of needs and formulation of strategies; building and
strengthening human rights education programmes at the international,
regional, national and local levels; developing and coordinating the
development of human rights education materials; strengthening the role of the
mass media; and promoting the global dissemination of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights) is illustrated in detail in the note by the
Secretary-General transmitting the preliminary reports of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the Plan of Action
for the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (A/51/506), presented
pursuant to General Assembly resolution 50/177 of 22 December 1995.

50.  The Decade for Human Rights Education is a challenging undertaking for
all the members of the international community.  The insufficient human and
financial resources constitute a major obstacle to the implementation of the
Plan of Action.  The full implementation of the Plan of Action and the success
of this Decade will require a stronger commitment on the part of the
international community and the availability of more human and financial
resources to support efforts towards global human rights education.


                      IV.  FIELD WORK IN HUMAN RIGHTS


                              A.  Introduction

51.  Human rights field presence, either in the form of field operations or
field offices, is one of the major innovations in the implementation of the
human rights programme in recent years.  There is a variety of forms in which
field presence is manifested, ranging from one professional staff office, such
as in Malawi, to an operation in Rwanda involving more than 120 staff.  In
some countries, the human rights presence has been established as an
autonomous project, in others it supports a broader United Nations involvement
as in the case of the human rights programme for Abkhazia, Georgia.  In some
cases the operations integrate assistance and monitoring functions, whereas in
others they are mandated exclusively in the area of technical assistance. 
This flexibility of the human rights field presence is one of its strongest
assets.  The experience already gathered proves that the effective
implementation of human rights is greatly facilitated by activities in situ. 
Therefore, the programme has moved a long way from the time when human rights
problems were dealt with exclusively in meeting rooms and from behind desks in
Geneva and New York, to addressing them in the areas where they occur. 
Whereas in 1992 there were no human rights field activities, the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights now carries out eight of them.  In
addition, others, including Abkhazia, Georgia, and Colombia, are under
preparation.  More staff is deployed in the field than in New York or Geneva. 
It can be said that the United Nations human rights programme has gained a new
dimension, one which will be an important part of its future. 
 

                       B.  Field activities in progress

               1.  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Federal Republic
                   of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of
                   Macedonia

52.  The High Commissioner supported the peace process in Bosnia and
Herzegovina through the implementation of a three-point programme, presented
during the Peace Implementing Conference in London, on 8 and 9 December 1995,
which includes:  (a) training for international personnel:  officers of the
International Police Task Force (IPTF) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, officers of
the United Nations civilian police in the region of Eastern Slavonia in
Croatia; and OSCE human rights monitors who were to be deployed to Bosnia and
Herzegovina; (b) assisting the High Representative, who is responsible for
civilian aspects of the peace implementation, with a limited number of human
rights experts who, inter alia, provide legal expertise regarding universal
international human rights law and its relationship to European legal
instruments and, ensure that cases of human rights violations are presented to
appropriate international authorities, as well as provide advice on the
drafting guidelines for human-rights and election monitors; and (c) continuing
support to the work of the Special Rapporteur and the expert in charge of the
special process dealing with missing persons in the former Yugoslavia.

53.  The High Commissioner visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 6 to 11 May 1996.  During this time, he
met with the heads of State, prime ministers and other high-level State
authorities, as well as with the representatives of various international
organizations active in the field, non-governmental organizations and academic
institutions. The High Commissioner reviewed the performance of the United
Nations human rights field presence in the cities of Sarajevo, Banja Luka
(Bosnia and Herzegovina), Zagreb, Vukovar (eastern Slavonia), Belgrade and
Skopje.

54.  Since November 1995, the Special Rapporteur, Mrs. Elisabeth Rehn, has
conducted numerous missions to the territory of the former Yugoslavia.  The
Special Rapporteur presented a comprehensive report on the situation in the
countries of the region to the Commission on Human Rights on 14 March 1996 and
a special report on human rights and the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina
on 17 July 1996.  An update on overall human rights developments will be
submitted to the General Assembly in November 1996.  
 
55.  Mr. Manfred Nowak, expert member of the Working Group on Enforced and
Involuntary Disappearances, in his report to the Commission in March 1996
(E/CN.4/1996/36), emphasized the problem of mass graves in Bosnia and
Herzegovina and called upon the parties and the international community to
intensify efforts to clarify the fate of the missing using every possible
means, including exhumations of mortal remains where necessary.  This proposal
was endorsed by the Commission in its resolution 1996/30 of 19 April 1996. 
Limited resources have been provided to the Expert for the development of an
ante-mortem database, to provide information necessary to facilitate the
identification of bodies exhumed from mass graves.  Resources have also been
received for a short-term United Nations resident team of forensic experts,
and for a project to retrieve mortal remains in the area of Srebrenica, which
was carried out following an initiative of the Special Rapporteur.  


                                  2.  Burundi

56.  The implementation of the project to establish a 35 staff member
observer mission in Burundi encountered financial difficulties.  However,
owing to voluntary contributions, particularly that of the European
Commission, the High Commissioner was able to deploy five human rights
observers in the Human Rights Field Operation in Burundi as of 19 April 1996. 
The observers are continuing to gather testimony and information on
allegations concerning incidents, massacres, murders, enforced disappearances
and arbitrary arrests or detentions.  The visits to detention centres and
prisons enabled the observers to take stock of the alarming prison conditions
caused by overcrowding, cramped quarters, health problems and spread of
contagious diseases.  At the request of the Burundian authorities, the
Operation is currently finalizing an important judicial assistance project.

57.  From 1 to 17 July 1996, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on
Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Mr. Paulo Se'rgio
Pinheiro, carried out his third mission to the country (see A/51/459, annex). 
He has stressed that hundreds of thousands of people had been killed,
including women, children and elderly.  He noted a general lack of safety and
that the country was mired in a climate of fear, hatred and exclusion. 
Impunity poisoned human relations and jeopardized initiatives aimed at lifting
the country out of its present situation.

58.  In July 1996, the High Commissioner addressed a letter to the Ministers
of Foreign Affairs of States Members of the United Nations providing
observations and conclusions drawn up from the recent evaluation by the
observers currently in situ.  He requested the Member States to support an
increase in the number of human rights observers in Burundi as planned.  The
High Commissioner is grateful to those Governments that have responded by
contributing to the voluntary funding of the operation.  These contributions
have made it possible to add four human rights observers to the Human Rights
Field Operation in Burundi.  Nevertheless, the financial and logistical
resources available are far from sufficient to enable a significant increase
of the number of mission staff, and to plan operations over a period of a
year, or, at the very least, six months. Consequently, the High Commissioner
reiterates his appeal for financial and logistical support to allow him to
continue the activities he has undertaken, and to increase the number of human
rights observers as envisaged (see also para. 109 below).


                                 3.  Cambodia

59.  In 1994, the United Nations human rights programme established an Office
in Cambodia to manage the implementation of a technical cooperation project. 
In February 1996 the High Commissioner paid a second visit to Cambodia, where
he signed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs a two-year memorandum of
understanding with the Government of Cambodia for the implementation of human
rights technical cooperation activities. 

60.  The Centre for Human Rights in Cambodia represents the broadest human
rights technical cooperation programme currently under way, maintaining
offices in Phnom Penh in the provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang and Kompong
Cham.  The programme is being implemented with the full cooperation of the
Government of Cambodia.  In the framework of the memorandum of understanding,
the Centre continues to provide the Government, the Parliament, the judiciary
and non-governmental organizations with technical cooperation, in particular
in the field of human rights education and training.  Educational programmes
cover the school system, the judiciary, the police, the army, and civil
society.  UNESCO, UNDP, UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the European
Commission, as well as bilateral intergovernmental programmes, the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and international
non-governmental organizations greatly contribute to human rights education. 
The Centre assists the judiciary, the Inter-Ministerial Committee responsible
for the preparation of reports under the international human rights
conventions as well as the local non-governmental organization community in
the framework of more than 50 human rights projects. Jointly with UNDP, the
Centre has implemented a project, funded by UNDP, aimed at judicial assistance
and support to the National Assembly and its Human Rights Commission in
particular. 

61.  The Cambodian Constitution, as well as human rights and humanitarian law
conventions ratified by Cambodia, including the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, establish the protection of the right to life that
must be respected by all actors.  The High Commissioner launched on 3 October
1995 an appeal in favour of the respect for the right to life, to which no
derogation can be accepted, in accordance with article 4 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  He reiterated this appeal during his
February 1996 visit to Cambodia. 


                                  4.  Rwanda

62.  As it enters its third year of operation in October 1996, the Human
Rights Field Operation in Rwanda continues to build on a strong working
relationship with the Government of Rwanda at various levels.  By the
beginning of 1996, the Operation had succeeded in establishing offices in all
11 prefectures, including a new prefecture (Mutara) in the north-east of the
country.  The outgoing Head of the Operation, Mr. Ian Martin, has been able to
strengthen the Operation significantly and to help chart its future course. 
Mr. Javier Zun~iga (Mexico) replaced Mr. Martin on 23 September 1996. 

63.  With the withdrawal of UNAMIR on 8 March 1996, the Human Rights Field
Operation in Rwanda remains the largest United Nations presence in Rwanda.  It
is essential that the international community stand behind its commitment to
the Government and people of Rwanda to ensure that the Operation mandate is
fully implemented.  The Operation has played the major role in human rights
protection and promotion in Rwanda through:  investigation of past violations
of international humanitarian law and human rights, including the genocide;
monitoring and reporting on current human rights violations in cooperation
with local authorities; confidence-building measures to facilitate the return
of refugees and to enable the rebuilding of civil society; provision of
technical cooperation to rebuild the administration of justice, to permit
effective prosecution of individuals for past human rights violations; and
contribution to the release of detainees who may have been arrested and
detained without proper legal grounds.  The Operation has become an example
for the effective United Nations implementation of international human rights
standards in the field as part of the international community's post-conflict
peace-building efforts. Undoubtedly, the experience gained through deployment
of the Operation will benefit similar operations conducted under the auspices
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Detailed information is available
in the High Commissioner's report on the Operation (A/51/478, annex). 

64.  From the initial phase of the Operation, special efforts were made to
provide the Special Rapporteur with the required assistance in the fulfilment
of his mandate.  As the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda became fully
operational and as field information increased, a Coordinator for the Special
Rapporteur was selected in conformity with the Special Rapporteur's
requirements, whose functions form an integral part of the Office of the Chief
of the Operation in Kigali.  

65.  The High Commissioner is grateful to those Governments that have
contributed to the voluntary funding of the Human Rights Field Operation in
Rwanda, and to the European Union, which has provided a fully equipped team of
human rights field officers, integrated into the Operation.  The High
Commissioner was very gratified that the support by the European Union has
been renewed and hopes that the number of contributed officers will be
augmented to the 50 envisaged from the outset.


                                   5.  Zaire

66.  After consultations held pursuant to Commission on Human Rights
resolutions 1995/69 of 8 March 1995 and 1996/77 of 23 April 1996, the protocol
to the agreement between the Government of Zaire and the High Commissioner was
signed at Geneva on 21 August 1996.  The agreement foresees an office in
Kinshasa with two human rights experts, who will monitor the situation of
human rights and provide advice to the governmental authorities as well as to
non-governmental organizations.

67.  The Special Rapporteur, Mr. Roberto Garreton, has conducted two missions
to Zaire and presented comprehensive reports to the Commission on Human Rights
at its 1995 and 1996 sessions (see E/CN.4/1995/67 and E/CN.4/1996/66. 
Following the deterioration of the situation of human rights in the region of
North Kivu (eastern Zaire), the Special Rapporteur conducted a mission to the
region from 6 to 13 July 1996, and was also able to inquire about the
situation of 13,000 Zairian Banyarwanda Tutsi refugees in Rwanda.  The Special
Rapporteur expressed his concern about the violent conflicts in eastern Zaire,
both North and South Kivu, and about the application of the Zairian law of
nationality of 1981, which could deny a group of Zairians their nationality,
thereby violating their human rights.  The report on his mission
(E/CN.4/1997/6/Add.1) will be considered by the Commission at its fifty-third
session in 1997. 


                       C.  Field activities in planning

                             1.  Abkhazia, Georgia

68.  Annex I to the report of the Secretary-General concerning the situation
in Abkhazia, Georgia (S/1996/284 of 15 April 1996) outlines the objectives of
the Human Rights Programme for Abkhazia, Georgia, to be carried out by the
High Commissioner in cooperation with OSCE in Abkhazia, as follows:  promoting
respect for human rights; protecting the human rights of the population of
Abkhazia in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
contributing to a safe and dignified return of refugees and internally
displaced persons; and reporting on human rights developments in conformity
with United Nations and OSCE practices.

69.  The High Commissioner, in accordance with paragraph 4 (b) of annex I to
document S/1996/284, plans to open the office of the Human Rights Programme
for Abkhazia, Georgia in Sukhumi in cooperation with the United Nations
Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).  The High Commissioner will deploy one
or two human rights officers and OSCE will deploy one.  The implementation of
the Programme is pending the final financial and structural decisions by the
competent United Nations bodies.


                                 2.  Colombia

70.  In a statement of 23 April 1996 on the situation of human rights in
Colombia, the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights requested the High
Commissioner to proceed, upon the initiative of the Government of Colombia and
the identification of adequate sources of financing, to establish at the
earliest possible date a permanent office in Colombia to assist the Colombian
authorities in developing policies and programmes for the promotion and
protection of human rights and to observe violations of human rights in the
country, making analytical reports to the High Commissioner.  From 19 to
21 August 1996, representatives of the Government of Colombia and of the High
Commissioner reviewed, in Geneva, the provisions of the draft agreement
concerning the office in Colombia.  Agreement was reached on most of the
substantial elements defining the mandate of the office, its objectives, as
well as the general criteria and its functions.  The High Commissioner has
been in close consultations with the European Commission in order to identify
adequate sources of financing for the establishment of the office.  Likewise,
the Government of Spain has also made an important financial contribution to
this initiative.


                        V.  CHALLENGES TO HUMAN RIGHTS


                      A.  Equality and non-discrimination

                   1.  Elimination of racial discrimination

71.  In accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/91 of 20 December
1993, in which the Assembly proclaimed the Third Decade to Combat Racism and
Racial Discrimination, the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights organized
a seminar to assess the implementation of the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, with particular reference
to articles 4 and 6.  The seminar was held at Geneva from 9 to 13 September
1996.  

72.  In his introductory statement, the High Commissioner focused on the
discrimination of immigrants, refugees and ethnic minorities and the
propaganda of racism and anti-semitism through the modern media, including the
Internet.  The participants expressed their concern about the use of media for
the dissemination of racist ideas and incitement to acts of violence and
stressed the necessity of a vigorous action, at the international and national
levels, against such phenomena.  In relation to the Internet, the seminar
suggested that the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights hold a further
seminar in cooperation with Internet Service Providers to discuss how to
prevent racist information on the Internet.  The seminar strongly underlined
the importance of education as a significant means of preventing and
eradicating racism and racial discrimination and of creating awareness of
human rights principles, particularly among young people, and recommended to
States parties that they take measures in that regard. 


                                   2.  Women

73.  In its resolution 1996/22 of 19 April 1996, the Commission on Human
Rights welcomed that the persons chairing the human rights treaty bodies had
emphasized that the enjoyment of human rights by women should be closely
monitored by each treaty body within the competence of its mandate, and
recommended that the reporting guidelines adopted by each treaty body should
be amended to identify gender-specific information that should be provided by
State parties in their reports.  Subsequently, the treaty-based bodies are in
the process of revising or preparing new sets of guidelines taking this
recommendation into account.  On the basis of analysis of gender-related data
in State reports, the Division for the Advancement of Women is continuing to
formulate methodologies by which the treaty-based bodies might systematically
and routinely incorporate a gender perspective in their monitoring activities.

74.  The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Radhika
Coomaraswamy, visited Poland in May 1996, to study in-depth the causes and
consequences of the issue of trafficking and forced prostitution of women in
the eastern European region.  This visit was in accordance with paragraph 7 of
General Assembly resolution 50/167 of 22 December 1995 on traffic in women and
girls.

75.  In July 1996 the Special Rapporteur on violence against women visited
Brazil on the issue of domestic violence against women.  The Special
Rapporteur submitted to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-second
session a framework for model legislation on domestic violence to be
considered by Governments (E/CN.4/1996/53/Add.2).  

76.  The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the High Commissioner/Centre
for Human Rights and the Division for the Advancement of Women will jointly
organize in December 1996 a round table on ways in which the recommendations
of recent world conferences concerning women's reproductive and health rights
might be integrated into the human rights monitoring and reporting procedures.

All six treaty bodies will be invited to be represented at the round table.  


                                 3.  Children

77.  The implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
represents the greatest hope for the future of children, particularly for the
world's one billion poor children.  The Convention, the most widely ratified
human rights treaty, deserves great support as the clear expression of what
the international community has adopted as standards for the treatment of
children. Only a handful of countries have yet to ratify the Convention.  

78.  In 1995, the High Commissioner outlined a precise strategy to support
the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  This strategy could
serve as an example of how similar support to other treaty bodies could be
provided, making it possible for them to carry out their own responsibilities
more effectively.  Through this plan of action, the High Commissioner is
seeking to provide the Committee with the resources necessary to strengthen
its monitoring activities and for the implementation of its recommendations: 
staff, database and information sharing, and cooperation with the relevant
United Nations programmes and agencies, in particular UNICEF.

79.  In his address to the World Congress against the Commercial Sexual
Exploitation of Children, held at Stockholm from 26 to 30 August 1996, the
High Commissioner expressed the hope that global awareness of crimes committed
against children would strengthen action taken towards ending them.  He
proposed four concrete ways to achieve change:  the participation of children
themselves in campaigns to end their exploitation, thereby increasing the
children's own awareness of their rights; making adults familiar with
children's rights; legal reforms to protect children and to punish violators
of children's rights; and cooperation at all levels to combat the problem of
commercial sexual exploitation.  The Special Rapporteur on the sale of
children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms. Ofelia
Calcetas-Santos, visited the Czech Republic on the issue of the sale of
children and child prostitution and pornography.  

80.  In follow-up to specific recommendations of the Committee on the Rights
of the Child, a mission to formulate a project on the administration of
juvenile justice was undertaken by the High Commissioner/Centre for Human
Rights in Viet Nam in March 1996, with the participation of a member of the
Committee.  A needs assessment mission on the same subject took place in July
1996 in the Philippines, also following a recommendation of the Committee on
the Rights of the Child.


                                4.  Minorities

81.  At its meeting from 30 April to 3 May 1996, the Working Group on
Minorities considered and adopted recommendations on the following issues: 
the promotion and practical realization of the Declaration on the Rights of
Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities;
the examination of possible solutions to problems involving minorities,
including the promotion of mutual understanding between and among minorities
and Governments; and the recommendation of further measures for the promotion
and protection of the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic,
religious and linguistic minorities (see E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/28).  

82.  In his introductory statement, the High Commissioner welcomed the
growing commitment of the international community to the protection of
minorities.  A programme of international activities should focus on the
translation of international standards into domestic law and practice and
embrace, inter alia, a worldwide campaign for the promotion of the Declaration
on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and
Linguistic Minorities; education on rights of persons belonging to minorities
and the creation of a climate of tolerance and understanding between different
communities; setting up commissions for community relations to reinforce
existing intergroup understanding. 

83.  The High Commissioner organized an inter-agency consultation on
minorities on 21 August 1996 in Geneva.  The rationale for the consultation
was to exchange information on minority-related activities, to share ideas and
to discuss future collaboration in the field of minority protection. 
Welcoming this initiative, the participants decided to continue their
consultations on a regular basis. 


                             5.  Indigenous people

84.  The international community renewed its commitment to the economic,
social and cultural well-being of indigenous people and the full enjoyment of
their rights by proclaiming the period 1995-2004 as the International Decade
of the World's Indigenous People.  Within the framework of the Programme of
Activities as adopted by the General Assembly in the annex to its resolution
50/157 of 21 December 1995, the Advisory Group of the Coordinator of the
Decade developed guidelines and a questionnaire for the submission of requests
for financial assistance from the Voluntary Fund for the International Decade
of the World's Indigenous People.  It recommended that the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights give priority to the following proposals:

to organize a second international workshop on the establishment of a
permanent forum for indigenous people within the United Nations; to develop a
fellowship programme to provide indigenous people with training and practical
experience in the field of human rights and the United Nations system; to
sponsor, in conjunction with UNESCO, a human rights training programme for
official delegates of the Governments of Peru and Ecuador and indigenous
representatives from those countries; and to provide technical support for an
information workshop on the draft declaration of the rights of indigenous
peoples, as proposed by the Government of Fiji.   Finally, it recommended that
the necessary assistance should be provided to the implementation of an
indigenous project aimed at establishing a Central and East Africa regional
office for indigenous peoples.  The information workshop in Fiji has already
taken place while the other projects are currently being developed.  
85.  From 24 to 28 March 1996, the Government of Canada hosted a land rights
seminar held at Whitehorse, Yukon, where a discussion on the negotiation
process and legal arrangements for the demarcation, titling and protection of
lands took place.  It was recommended that the United Nations and its
specialized agencies should consider providing technical assistance to States
and indigenous people to contribute to the resolution of land claims.

86.  The fourteenth session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations
was held from 29 July to 2 August 1996 and attracted 721 participants.  It
focused part of its deliberations on the issue of health and, in this regard,
cooperated closely with WHO.  The ideas and suggestions brought forward will,
where possible, be incorporated in the WHO programme.

87.  In its resolution 50/157, the General Assembly recommended that, with
regard to the issue of the establishment of a permanent forum for indigenous
people within the United Nations, the Secretary-General undertake a review of
the existing mechanisms, procedures and programmes within the United Nations
relating to indigenous people, and report to the Assembly at its fifty-first
session.  Although the findings of the review are encouraging (see A/51/493),
it is clear that there is a lack of adequate procedures and mechanisms.  The
High Commissioner considers the question concerning the establishment of a
permanent forum for indigenous people within the United Nations system to be
one of the core issues in relation to the International Decade of the World's
Indigenous People.  The dialogue on this issue will continue during the second
workshop that will be hosted by the Government of Chile.

88.  The High Commissioner calls upon the international community to
recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous people in order to
achieve full participation of this sector of the population in political,
economic and social life at all levels of society.  It is essential that this
participation be based on full respect for languages, cultures, traditions and
forms of social organization of indigenous people. 


            6.  People infected by the human immunodeficiency virus

89.  The High Commissioner organized in conjunction with the Joint United
Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) a Second International Consultation on
HIV/AIDS and Human Rights at Geneva from 23 to 25 September 1996.  The
Consultation was attended by some 35 participants representing Governments,
human rights non-governmental organizations, AIDS service organizations,
academia, networks of people living with HIV/AIDS, and United Nations system
agencies and programmes.  

90.  The final document contains concrete, action-oriented strategy
guidelines, intended primarily for Governments, regarding the promotion of and
the respect for human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS.  The guidelines, set
out in the framework of applicable international human rights standards,
address areas of, inter alia, labour, education, immigration, law review and
reform, and the empowerment of vulnerable groups.  The Consultation also
called for the creation of a special rapporteur of the Commission on Human
Rights to monitor and receive communications regarding violations of human
rights relating to AIDS.


              B.  Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

91.  The eradication of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
remains a matter of the highest priority in the protection of human rights. 
In its resolution 1996/74 of 23 April 1996, the Commission on Human Rights
reiterated its strong condemnation for the practice of such executions and
demanded that all Governments ensure that it be brought to an end.  The High
Commissioner pays particular attention to situations of serious concern in
this context, and to situations where early action may have a preventive
effect. 

92.  In his interim report to the General Assembly on extrajudicial, summary
or arbitrary executions (A/51/457, annex), the Special Rapporteur,
Mr. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, offers an overview of the action undertaken during his
years in office.  The Special Rapporteur concludes that the number of
violations of the right to life has not decreased in the last four years, and
that women, children and the elderly have not been spared.  Such violations
have ranged from death threats, death in custody and due to attacks by
security forces, death resulting from armed conflicts to executions imposed
after unfair trials.  In his report, the Special Rapporteur issues
recommendations to strengthen respect for the right to life, calling upon all
States to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all allegations
of violations of this right, and to bring to justice those responsible. 
Moreover, he considers that effective measures should be taken to avoid the
recurrence of such violations.  


                                  C.  Torture

93.  In April 1996, only one month before the annual meeting of its Board of
Trustees, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was facing
an alarming financial situation.  The total amount of contributions received
by the Fund was $333,000, whereas the amount requested for assistance was more
than $5 million.  The High Commissioner therefore made an appeal at the
fifty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights urging all Governments
to contribute to the Fund.  Subsequently, over $2 million was received for the
Fund's activities.

94.  The Board recommended that $2,535,500 be granted to 96 requests,
corresponding to the total amount available.  The projects scrutinized provide
medical, psychological, social and legal assistance to victims of torture and
their relatives.  They are implemented by non-governmental organizations and
specialized centres located in 60 countries worldwide.


                          D.  Enforced disappearances

95.  The systematic practice of acts of enforced disappearance became known
in the early 1970s as a phenomenon prevalent in a relatively small number of
countries.  Since then, it has, unfortunately, spread to many regions of the
world, occurring primarily in the context of internal armed conflict and
ethnic strife.  The Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1996/30 of
19 April 1996, reiterated its deep concern about that phenomenon and called
upon Governments to establish appropriate structures and mechanisms aimed at
preventing the occurrence of involuntary disappearances in their countries and
at clarifying already existing cases.  States should take effective measures
to implement the principles of the Declaration on the Protection of All
Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and to that end take action at the
national and regional levels and in cooperation with the United Nations.  The
technical cooperation programme is available with regard to reform of
legislation and training in this respect (see paras. 43-47 above).


                       E.  Internally displaced persons

96.  A compilation and analysis of legal norms pertaining to the protection
and assistance needs of internally displaced persons was presented to the
Commission on Human Rights by the representative of the Secretary-General on
internally displaced persons, Mr. Francis Deng (E/CN.4/1996/52/Add.2).  This
compilation examines the extent to which existing provisions of international
human rights law and humanitarian law provide adequate coverage for the
protection and assistance needs of the internally displaced, and also examines
refugee law for purposes of analogy.  In accordance with the recommendations
by the General Assembly and the Commission, the representative is in the
process of developing a body of guiding principles, based on the
aforementioned compilation, with a view to addressing displacement in all its
stages.  

97.  Ever since it started in January 1995, the High Commissioner and the
Centre for Human Rights have participated in the overall process of the
Conference on Refugees, Returnees, Displaced Persons and Related Migratory
Movements in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Relevant Neighbouring
States, which was organized by UNHCR, the International Organization on
Migration (IOM) and OSCE and held at Geneva on 30 and 31 May 1996.  The High
Commissioner/Centre maintained a close working relation with the Conference
secretariat by sharing its expertise and providing background materials as
well as contributions in the area of human rights and on the specific issues
of forced displacement, with a view to ensuring that commitments undertaken
under international human rights and humanitarian law standards were
accurately reflected in the final document of the Conference.  The United
Nations human rights programme is contributing to the implementation of the
programme of action adopted by the Conference.


                VI.  THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT AS A HUMAN RIGHT


                    A.  Vision for the right to development

98.  The debate on the right to development increasingly focuses on
substantive issues.  The functions of this right, to which the World
Conference attached great importance, and its impact on other rights, are
today more profoundly recognized.  Following the encouraging pattern of the
General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights adopted, for the first time
by consensus, resolution 1996/15 of 11 April 1996 entitled "The right to
development".  This was an important achievement, which reflects the
commitment of Member States to lend support to the realization of the right to
development.  It is also a tribute to the work being conducted by the Working
Group on the Right to Development which concluded its mandate in 1995.  The
Commission also decided to establish a new intergovernmental group of experts
that would elaborate on a strategy for the implementation and promotion of the
right to development. 

99.  The concept of the right to development should contribute to combating
social, economic and political exclusion and alienation.  Participation in
development should be a vehicle of identification of the individual with the
community in which he or she lives.  To achieve it, however, it is
indispensable that the right to development be put against the background of
the triad proclaimed by the World Conference, which embraces:  democracy,
development and respect for human rights.  The right to development is related
to all human rights but cannot be identified with the sum of the civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights or be confused with
development itself.  As in the case of other human rights, the primary
responsibility for its implementation rests with the respective Governments,
acting individually and in cooperation with each other.  Guided by the spirit
of solidarity, international action can and should assist Governments in these
endeavours.  States, as the principal actors in the realization of the right
to development, should guarantee the exercise of human rights and fundamental
freedoms, strengthen democracy and ensure an honest and transparent public
administration and an efficient and impartial administration of justice. 

100. It is of vital importance to move from a theoretical or political
discussion to practically oriented measures.  The participatory dimension is
an essential component of the right to development and is a means of securing
democracy at the national and international levels, improving incomes, health
and social services, eliminating poverty and improving the living conditions
for all people.  This should include the translation of the right to
development to the domestic level. 


              B.  Meeting of the High Commissioner with the World Bank
                  and the United Nations regional economic commissions

101. In 1995, the High Commissioner established contacts with the World Bank,
which led to consultations between the two institutions held at
Washington, D.C., on 24 and 25 July 1996.  The idea of cooperation between the
Bretton Woods and other financial institutions and the United Nations human
rights programme was endorsed by the General Assembly and the Commission on
Human Rights, especially in the context of the right to development.  The
adoption by the High Commissioner of a comprehensive approach to human rights
and the World Bank's focus on sustainable development, including assistance to
human resources, governance and the rule of law, have provided a substantive
basis for such cooperation.  

102. The purpose of the consultations was to explore, in the context of the
programmes aimed at sustainable development, various aspects of possible
cooperation between the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights and the
World Bank, as well as between the two institutions with other partners,
including Governments, international organizations, expert bodies, etc.  It
was a shared view that the responsible units of the World Bank and the United
Nations human rights programme should enter into cooperation in the following
areas:  exchange of information and cooperation in the preparation of country
projects; exchange of expertise with regard to reconstruction and development
assistance in the transition to democracy; cooperation with regard to field
offices; building of national capacities for governance and the promotion and
protection of human rights; human rights education; and cooperation with human
rights treaty-based bodies. 

103. The main objective of the meeting between the High Commissioner and the
regional commissions held in New York on 18 July 1996 was to discuss how the
work of the human rights programme and of the regional commissions could be
mutually reinforcing, in order to promote effectively the implementation of
human rights, including the right to development.  It was stressed that the
national and international development policies should be enriched by a human
rights perspective.  This should be done at the national and international
levels. 

104. The initiative of the High Commissioner to establish closer contacts
between the regional commissions and the United Nations human rights programme
was welcomed by the participants who expect it to be helpful in bridging the
economic and human rights sectors.  The participants agreed that consultations
and exchange of information should provide a framework for joint or
coordinated projects in the field. 



                  VII.  UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS MACHINERY


105. The World Conference on Human Rights recognized the necessity for a
continuing adaptation of the United Nations human rights machinery to the
current and future needs in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Emphasis was placed on improvement of coordination, efficiency and
effectiveness.  The Working Group of the Third Committee created after the
World Conference to elaborate on this issue continues its work. 

106. The General Assembly entrusted the High Commissioner with the specific
responsibility for the reform of the United Nations human rights machinery. 
He has already undertaken a profound reform of the human rights part of the
United Nations Secretariat, which is expected to be completed in early 1997
(see also paras. 118 and 119).  The purpose of the overall reform of the human
rights machinery is to make it:  (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. The High Commissioner has stressed that the adjustment of a
given organ or body to the evolving needs remains the primary responsibility
of the organ or body in question, to which the High Commissioner/Centre for
Human Rights provides analytical and organizational support.

107. While the reform of the human rights machinery is subject to discussion
in various forums, immediate measures are being taken to improve the
conditions of work of human rights organs and bodies.  The restructuring of
the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights will have a positive impact in
this respect.  New methodology of work, including horizontal operational
linkage between various units, new scheme of flow of information, empowerment
of staff and decentralization of decision-making and responsibility should
ensure that human rights organs and bodies will be better served, both in
substantive and technical senses.  This approach is preferable not only from
the point of view of a sound organization of work but also necessary under
current financial constraints, which make it impossible simply to increase
resources available to  each of the organs or bodies. 


                        A.  Commission on Human Rights

108. The fifty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights was held from
18 March to 26 April 1996.  A great number of high-level representatives of
Governments, the numerous and active participation of non-governmental
organizations as well as the close media attention that this event generated,
highlighted the growing prestige of the Commission.  The Commission was
opened, for the first time, by the Secretary-General.  The report of the
Commission to the Economic and Social Council will be issued under the symbol
E/1996/23. 

109. The last session of the Commission illustrates the positive trend to
consensus in human rights matters.  From among 85 resolutions and 14 decisions
about 90 per cent were adopted without a vote.  It is to be noted that the
Commission is functioning more and more as an organ that is reacting to the
current and pressing human rights needs around the world.  After having held
three special sessions (two on former Yugoslavia and one on Rwanda), the
Commission, alerted by the dramatic information being received from Burundi,
decided to hold a special meeting on the human rights situation in that
country. The High Commissioner also organized a panel with the participation
of outstanding human rights personalities to discuss immediate measures to be
taken in response to the human rights developments there.  The Commission in
its resolution concerning the situation in Burundi (resolution 1996/1 of
27 March 1996) called upon the international community to respond to the
situation but failed, however, to adopt a decision concerning the financial
implications of its resolution.

110. Throughout the debate in the Commission there were several expressions
of concern on the need to rationalize the United Nations human rights
machinery, including the Commission itself.  Some steps with regard to the
rationalization of the organization of work and reclustering of the agenda
were taken.  These endeavours, which receive the full support of the High
Commissioner, are expected to be continued.


                            B.  Special procedures

111. Special procedures, which include rapporteurs, representatives, experts
and working groups of the Commission on Human Rights and the Subcommission on
the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, have become one
of the cornerstones of the international system of promotion and protection of
human rights.  There are currently 13 thematic working groups or special
rapporteurs, and 7 thematic mandates entrusted to the Secretary-General.  In
addition, there are eight country specific special rapporteurs, two country
specific special representatives and two independent experts.

112. Both the country specific and thematic mechanisms have continued to
carry out diversified activities for the protection and promotion of human
rights.  For instance, in 1995, 517 urgent actions were taken concerning over
1,500 individuals.  Thanks to increased cooperation from Governments, mission
activity is expected to increase during 1996.  Increased efforts at
coordinating activities among various mandates have been made in the last year
in the following  areas:  (a) joint urgent actions; (b) joint field missions;
and (c) joint meetings and consultations in respect to human rights situations
of a given region or subregion.

113.  The Third Annual Meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives/Experts
and Chairmen of Working Groups of the Commission on Human Rights was held from
28 to 30 May 1996.  These coordination meetings are organized as a follow-up
to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action with the aim that the system
of special procedures be strengthened and that these procedures and mechanisms
be enabled to harmonize and rationalize their work.  The holders of the
mandates welcomed the High Commissioner's support for their activities and his
efforts to enhance coordination and cooperation between them and other parts
of the human rights machinery.  They requested the High Commissioner to carry
out a study on the conditions under which he could intervene with a given
country to facilitate the implementation of their recommendations.  The
Chairperson of the Meeting of Persons Chairing Human Rights Treaty Bodies
participated in the debate for the first time.  It was stressed that
coordination between treaty bodies and special
rapporteurs/representatives/experts and working groups should be further
increased, especially with regard to urgent actions.

114. The holders of the mandates reiterated their concern about the financial
constraints that have an impact on their work.  The restructuring of the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights should result in the rationalization of
the service for the special procedures system, better coordination of their
activities, a greater degree of cost-effectiveness and more interchange
between monitoring responsibilities and technical cooperation activities.  The
meeting requested the High Commissioner to keep the Secretary-General, and
through him the General Assembly and the Security Council, apprised of the
activities of the holders of mandates.  On the proposal of the High
Commissioner, it was suggested that the Chairman of the Meeting meet annually
with the Secretary-General.


                            C.  Treaty-based bodies

115. Over the past few years, the treaty-based bodies have taken several
steps to adapt their work to evolving needs.  To that end, they increasingly
focus on important issues that call for urgent action; enlarge their
cooperation with specialized agencies, United Nations organs and bodies,
regional intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; and devise new
procedures in order to make their recommendations more effective.  In that
context, the Human Rights Committee appointed rapporteurs for the follow-up of
final views on communications; members of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination carried out good-offices missions; regional meetings
were organized in cooperation with UNICEF to support the activities of the
Committee on the Rights of the Child; and country missions were carried out by
the Committee against Torture and the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights under their respective mandates.  The Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination has also envisaged the possibility of
taking early warning measures aimed at preventing conflicts related to racial
discrimination.

116. A more efficient implementation of international human rights
instruments was further encouraged by the seventh Meeting of the Persons
Chairing Human Rights Treaty Bodies held at Geneva from 16 to 20 September
1996.  The Chairpersons, inter alia, invited treaty-based bodies to avail
themselves of the most recent electronic technics to provide information on
international human rights procedures and to raise awareness in public
opinion.  They further encouraged treaty-based bodies to increase active
participation of specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in
their monitoring activities and to develop a constructive relationship with
the Bretton Woods institutions and UNDP.

117. With a view to implementing the relevant provisions of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action, the General Assembly, in its resolution
48/121, authorized the holding of two regional meetings of high-level
government officials in Africa and the Asia/Pacific regions.  The meeting for
the Africa region took place at Addis Ababa from 14 to 17 May 1996, with the
organizational and logistical assistance of ECE and OAU.  It assembled
high-ranking government representatives from 16 States that had not yet
ratified, acceded or succeeded to some of the seven principal international
human rights instruments.  During the meeting, the government representatives
discussed and reflected on all aspects of the international human rights
treaty regime, including the reporting and implementing obligations of States
parties to the instruments, the use of reservations, the identification of
obstacles to ratification and the development of strategies to overcome them. 
They were assisted by experts from treaty-based bodies and senior officials of
the Office of the High Commissioner and the Centre for Human Rights.  The
meeting for the Asia/Pacific region has been rescheduled for technical reasons
for the beginning of 1997.


             VIII.  THE HIGH COMMISSIONER/CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


                              A.  Restructuring

118. In 1995, the High Commissioner initiated a process aimed at
restructuring the programme of work and the organization of the Centre for
Human Rights. Developed with the full participation of the High Commissioner,
the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and the staff of the Centre,
this process is now in its final stage.  On 30 September 1996, a new general
structure of the Office of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights was
established.  Detailed information in this regard is contained in the report
of the Secretary-General entitled "Restructuring the Centre for Human Rights"
(A/C.5/50/71).

119. The new structure of the Office of the High Commissioner/Centre for
Human Rights will provide a functional framework for integrated and
consolidated activities of the Secretariat in the field of human rights.  To
that end, the restructuring was oriented at three objectives:  (a) removal of
the obstacles that impeded effective and efficient work, in particular those
identified in the reports of the competent United Nations units; (b) setting
up a new structure responding to the evolving needs of the United Nations
human rights programme and adopting adequate rules and methods of work, both
in Headquarters and in the field; and (c) creating a new culture of work,
including the opening for cooperation and partnership with other parts of the
human rights constituency.  The experiences already gathered in the process of
the implementation of the programme of change are very positive and confirm
that this is a proper way to achieve the assumed objectives.


                                 B.  Financing

120. The budget of the human rights programme for the biennium 1996-1997,
representing the minimum necessary in order to carry out mandated activities,
was approved by the General Assembly.  Moreover, in February 1996, in the
framework of the system-wide saving measures, the resources available from the
regular budget were reduced by $2.6 million both in post and non-post items. 
That reduction represents approximately 6 per cent of the approved budget. 
Furthermore, a vacancy rate of 6.4 per cent is to be maintained in both the
staff of the Professional and General Service categories.  Although these
measures cannot remain without negative implications for the work of the High
Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights, serious efforts are being made, also in
the framework of the ongoing restructuring to minimize their negative impact
on the capacity of action.  Nevertheless, it must be stressed that the
capability of the human rights programme depends on an adequate and reliable
mix of regular budget resources and voluntary contributions from Governments
and private entities.

121. The High Commissioner has been charged with a very broad mandate the
implementation of which, particularly with regard to country-projects, depends
to a large extent on voluntary sources.  In his report to the Commission on
Human Rights, the High Commissioner stressed that the ever growing demand on
his Office to engage in such areas as confidence-building measures, technical
cooperation, education, observation and monitoring, etc., cannot be satisfied
by the present regular-budget funding and thus other sources must be tapped. 
In this context, the High Commissioner consistently appeals to Member States
and others to contribute generously to his endeavours.  The Fund for Human
Rights Field Activities, which is a component of the Voluntary Fund for the
Support of the Activities of the High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights,
has met with great interest and support by Governments.  Several countries,
including developing ones, have already made contributions to this Fund.


                         IX.  1998:  HUMAN RIGHTS YEAR


122. The year 1998 will be important for human rights.  Two years before the
dawn of the next millennium, the international community will celebrate the
fiftieth anniversary of its first-ever proclamation of rights and freedoms of
the individual.  In 1948, the international community agreed upon the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights - a common standard of achievement for
all peoples and all nations, which gave rise to a vigorous development of
international promotion and protection of these rights.  In order to respond
to the hopes of the drafters of the Declaration and to generations of its
advocates all over the world, the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary
should be used for advancement of human rights.

123. The  World Conference on Human Rights provided a means for reaching this
objective by linking the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration
with the five-year review of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action.  It requested the Secretary-General:  "to invite on the
occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights all States, all organs and agencies of the United Nations system
related to human rights, to report to him on the progress made in the
implementation of the present Declaration and to submit a report to the
General Assembly at its fifty-third session, through the Commission on Human
Rights and the Economic and Social Council.  Likewise, regional, and as
appropriate, national human rights institutions, as well as non-governmental
organizations, may present their views to the Secretary-General on the
progress made in the implementation of the present Declaration." 2/  The
Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1996/42 of 19 April 1996 on the
preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, requested the High Commissioner to coordinate the preparations for the
fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration, bearing in mind provisions
of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action for evaluation and
follow-up.

124. The celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration
and review of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
Action should provide the opportunity:  (a) to strengthen the promotion and
protection of human rights worldwide; (b) to review and assess the progress
that has been made in the field of human rights since the adoption of the
Universal Declaration; (c) to review the progress made in the implementation
of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action; and (d) to outline or
update human rights programmes to meet current and future challenges.  This
should be achieved through joint efforts of the international community.  Let
us call 1998 "Human Rights Year".

125. All sectors of the human rights constituency, Governments, United
Nations agencies and programmes, international and regional organizations,
academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and other parts of civil
society, media and private enterprises, are called upon to take initiatives
aimed at the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.  This should be a global movement giving evidence
that human rights reflect not only hopes and aspirations but also essential
interests and legitimate demands of all people on all continents.  The
international community should use 1998 to give new impetus to human rights,
reflecting the vision of the next century.

126. The High Commissioner will facilitate cooperation between various
initiatives aimed at the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the
Universal Declaration.  To that end, the High Commissioner/Centre has
initiated the United Nations inter-agency consultations that will provide a
continuing forum throughout 1997 and 1998.  In 1997, the High Commissioner
intends to undertake sectoral consultations with regional organizations, non-
governmental organizations, academic institutions, and others to discuss the
preparations for the anniversary.  In 1998, the Commission on Human Rights and
the Economic and Social Council will be the United Nations focal points for
the commemoration which should culminate on 10 December 1998.  The General
Assembly at its fifty-first session may wish to adopt a decision convening a
ceremonial meeting for that day.

127. The  review of the progress in the implementation of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action during the first five years since its
adoption should include a profound analysis of achievements in and obstacles
to the full realization of the recommendations adopted at Vienna.  A frank and
open debate will be of paramount importance for future efforts aimed at the
promotion and protection of human rights.  It is useful to identify well in
advance which role the Commission on Human Rights, the Economic and Social
Council and the General Assembly should play in reviewing the implementation
of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.  Governments, United
Nations agencies and programmes, international organizations and
non-governmental organizations are encouraged to launch preparations for the
presentation of their reports and views on the progress made in the
implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in
accordance with paragraph 100 of that document (see para. 123 above).

128. The Commission on Human Rights may wish to undertake in 1998 an initial
evaluation of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
Action.  The results of that debate would provide input to the work of the
Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.  This exchange would be
enhanced considerably if held during a high-level segment of the Commission.

129. The Economic and Social Council, in its decision 1996/283 of 24 July
1996, endorsed the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights resolution
1996/78 of 23 April 1996 to devote the coordination segment of its session in
1998 to the coordinated follow-up to, and implementation of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action as part of the overall coordinated
follow-up to major United Nations conferences.  This would be an excellent
occasion to analyse the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme
of Action by the United Nations system.

130. The General Assembly may also wish to carry out in 1998 a comprehensive
analysis of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action and to consider recommendations made by
the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council.  Thus, the
report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly concerning the
implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action will
highlight the activities of all actors involved, including international and
regional organizations, that are not parts of the United Nations system, and
civil society.

131. A multifaceted and timely preparation of the celebration of the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration and of the review of the
implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action will produce
an important contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.  A
spirit of solidarity and cooperation should guide the international community
in this endeavour.


                                     Notes

     1/  The High Commissioner visited Italy and the Holy See from 9 to
12 October 1995.  He visited Indonesia from 2 to 7 December 1995, as reported
to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/112).  The High Commissioner
visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
from 6 to 11 May 1996, as well as Tunisia from 26 to 28 June 1996.  Both
visits have been reported to the Economic and Social Council (E/1996/87).

     2/  A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III, para. 100.


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