COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

HR/CN/901
8 April 1999

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

8 April 1999


Press Release
HR/CN/901


COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TAKES UP ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS

19990408 Independent Experts on Extreme Poverty and Structural Adjustment Policies; Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste, Present Their Reports

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 8 April (UN Information Service) -- The Commission on Human Rights this morning started its consideration of economic, social and cultural rights and heard its Independent Experts on extreme poverty and structural adjustment policies and its Special Rapporteur on illicit movement and dumping of toxic wastes introduce their reports on these issues.

Anne-Marie Lizin, the Independent Expert on extreme poverty and its effect on human rights, told the Commission that some 1.3 billion people were affected by extreme poverty worldwide, most of whom were women. International cooperation clearly had to be strengthened in confronting this scourge. Greater resources, sufficient political will and better channelling of resources to health, social and educational concerns were necessary.

The Independent Expert on the effect of structural adjustment policies on the full enjoyment of human rights, Fantu Cheru, said the ultimate responsibility for managing national economies and promoting human development rested on the shoulders of national governments. There were many reasons for the third world debt crisis and it would be wrong to put all the blame on either the debtor governments or creditor institutions. It was safe to say that the policies pursued by both parties were responsible for accentuating the economic and social crisis and the burden of adjustment should be shared equally.

Fatma-Zohra Ksentini, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, said her report reviewed various progress made through mounting awareness, conferences, and agreements signed by countries and international agencies on this subject. Concerning her mission to Latin America, Ms. Ksentini said no country she had visited, despite efforts, was

free from illicit traffic in toxic wastes. The problem was often hidden, ill-known, or underestimated.

In the ensuing debate, the Central American Group agreed with the Special Rapporteur and said its countries would take all legal measures to prohibit the cross-border transportation of toxic wastes and dangerous products. Developing countries did not have the national capacity necessary to enforce legal agreements on these subjects and it was up to the United Nations and the international community to adopt all necessary means to assure the control and enforcement of measures aimed at the elimination of these dangerous products.

The representative of Japan said that issues such as toxic wastes or foreign debt were better dealt with at other relevant bodies like the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

Also this morning, the Minister for Human Rights of Morocco, Mohamed Auajjar, cited the deplorable situation in Kosovo as an example of the challenges to human rights throughout the world. He listed numerous domestic changes undertaken in Morocco in order to improve the promotion and protection of human rights, including among others: constitutional, penal, judicial and legislative reforms, the creation of the Consultative Council of Human Rights in 1990, and the establishment of the position of Minister in charge of Human Rights in 1993.

Zephirin Diabre, the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said poverty eradication was the agency's mission. The UNDP was convinced that the world had sufficient resources to do this in less than one generation, but asked if it had the will.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Commission concluded its discussions on the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world. The following delegations exercised their rights of reply: Latvia, Algeria, Angola, Turkey, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Rwanda, Burundi, Nepal, Indonesia, Poland, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Greece, Czech Republic, Portugal, Cuba, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The representatives of Japan, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), El Salvador (on behalf of the Central American Group), Peru, India, China and Madagascar also addressed the Commission.

The Commission will reconvene its plenary at 3 p.m. to continue its discussion on economic, social and cultural rights.

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Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Before the Commission under this agenda item is a report (E/CN.4/1999/48) from the Independent Expert, Anne-Marie Lizin, on human rights and extreme poverty which outlines the issues and actions taken by the United Nations and individual nations including Portugal, Bulgaria and Yemen.

The report provides a list of recommendations on various issues including among others: the urging of the 54 States which have not yet ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to do so; the implementation of domestic legislation guaranteeing the right of every entitled person to a minimum income; the development of a technical assistance programme to ensure respect for the rights of the poorest of the poor; and the organization of a meeting to draw up the basic elements of a preliminary draft declaration on human rights and extreme poverty.

The Commission is also considering a report (E/CN.4.1999/50) on the effect of structural adjustments policies on the full enjoyment of human rights by the Independent Expert, Fantu Cheru. He examines briefly the roots of the third world development crises which, manifested as debt, represent only a fraction of a much deeper and systematic problem of underdevelopment. He explores the links between structural adjustment programmes and the realization of economic, social and cultural rights. He presents basic principles for adjustment with transformation and provides recommendations for action at the international, regional and national levels. He makes the following recommendations: debt cancellation for the heavily-indebted poor countries; instituting human rights conditionally in future lending; establishing international mechanisms to retrieve money stolen by corrupt leaders; reform of the international economic, financial and trade systems; and natural resource preservation.

Also before the Commission is a progress report (E/CN.4/1999/46) from the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Fatma-Zohra Ksentini. The report provides a review of cases and incidents submitted to the Special Rapporteur including, among others: of the shipping of contaminated pharmaceuticals to Haiti; export of United States vessels to extremely hazardous recycling operations in India; dumping of toxic products in the Indian Ocean; and the replies of the Governments of Canada and the Netherlands to allegations made against them.

The report concludes that it is vital that bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation should be strengthened in order to achieve the enumerated objectives which are, among others: reducing transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and toxic products; prohibiting the export of such products to developing countries; providing assistance; and preventing illegal traffic and transboundary movements.

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Before the Commission is a report (E/CN.4/1999/46 Add.1) from the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, specifically with respect to Latin America. It outlines findings of the Special Rapporteur on her mission to Paraguay, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and on her meetings with relevant non-governmental organizations.

The report concludes that Latin America and the Caribbean were becoming a favourite target area for the illegal traffic in toxic wastes and dangerous products and notes that the most serious worries are still the excessive use of chemicals and toxic agricultural products of foreign transplants and transnational companies taking advantage of liberalization and deregulation trends. The report recommends that heightened awareness of officials to the present abuses be undertaken and the strengthening of countries' capacities to detect and crack down on any attempt to bring in prohibited products.

The Commission is also considering a report (E/CN.4/1999/44) from the Secretary-General which deals with the question of human rights and unilateral coercive measures. This report is pursuant to resolution 1998/11 concerning unilateral coercive measures by the Government of Colombia and contains the Government's statement completely rejecting unilateral coercive measures.

Also before the Commission is a report (E/CN.4/1999/44 Add.1) from the Secretary-General which deals with the implications and negative effects of unilateral measures and contains a reply from Iran denouncing the promulgation of any unilateral coercive measures and calls upon the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights to continue the consideration of this issue. In the report, Iran recalls its General Assembly report which enumerates several unilateral coercive measures taken by the United States.

The Commission is considering a report (E/CN.4/1999/44 Add.2) from the Secretary-General dealing with human rights and unilateral coercive measures in Paraguay which draws attention to the negative effects of commercial measures imposed by the Argentine Ministry of Economy and protectionist measures taken by Brazil.

Also before the Commission is a report (E/CN.4/1999/45) from the High Commissioner for Human Rights which deals with the right to food and provides a review of the progress made in the definition of the right to adequate food in international law; it outlines the role of the international organizations in the implementation of the rights related to food and nutrition. The report recommends that the High Commissioner for Human Rights should continue to take the leadership role in advancing the definition of the right to food and nutrition and to develop a comprehensive strategy for this purpose. It states that efforts should be made to better develop indicators and benchmarks concerning the achievements and shortcomings in the realization of food and

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nutritional rights and calls for the organization of a seminar with international financial and trade institutions on these issues.

Also before the Commission is a note (E/CN.4/1999/47) by the Secretariat which deals with the effects on the full enjoyment of human rights of the economic adjustment policies arising from foreign debt. It announces the appointment of Reinaldo Figueredo as Special Rapporteur on this subject.

The Commission is also considering a report (E/CN.4/1999/51) by the Chairman-Rapporteur of the open-ended working group on structural adjustment programmes. The report recommends among others: that the mandate of the Independent Expert on the subject be extended; that the Economic and Social Council authorize the working group to meet in advance of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission to elaborate basic policy guidelines and report to the Commission; and that the Secretary-General be requested to have relevant international, regional and national bodies submit their comments to the working group.

Statements

MOHAMED AUAJJAR, Minister for Human Rights of Morocco, cited Kosovo as an example of the challenges to human rights throughout the world. Morocco fully supported the conventions on human rights and had undertaken numerous domestic changes in order to improve the promotion and protection of those human rights, including among others: constitutional and legislative reforms; the appointment of Abderrahmane El Youssoufi, a great militant for human rights, as the person in charge of constitutional amendments; the creation of the Consultative Council of Human Rights (1990); the creation of a position of Minister in charge of Human Rights (1993); and judicial and penal reforms especially considering physical detention.

Mr. Auajjar said that Morocco was happy to recognize that its initiatives had been met with a favourable effect internationally and noted the decision of Amnesty International which chose Morocco as the venue for its Regional Conference on Human Rights Education in Arab Countries. He cited numerous activities which underscored Morocco's commitment to work at the international level for human rights, especially those involving education in which regard they had created, with cooperation with the Ministry for Higher Education and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a chair for human rights education at the Mohamed V University in Rabat and another at the Mohamed Premier University in Oujda.

The Minister cited the challenge to further progress to be in the constraints of modernization at the economic and financial levels and the repercussions of the economies of the world on those in development. The immigrant problem was one of importance and should be addressed at the international level concerning racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

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He pledged Morocco to be transparent and open in the efforts toward the noble objectives of human rights.

ANNE-MARIE LIZIN, Independent Expert on extreme poverty and its effect on human rights, told the Commission that some 1.3 billion people were affected by extreme poverty, most of whom were women. Better understanding of poverty and better efforts to eradicate it required research and also an improved ability to work hand-in-hand with those who suffered from it. International cooperation clearly had to be strengthened in confronting this scourge; greater resources and better channelling of resources to health, social and educational concerns were necessary.

Ms. Lizin said that at the national level, there obviously had to be sufficient political will to improve the lot of the extreme poor; making progress was not actually that expensive and yet even in rich countries, one found people living in extreme poverty -- clearly greater will had to be brought to bear. Legislation should guarantee minimum incomes and access to basic social services. Such standards also had to be respected by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as they carried out their programmes. There also were problems with justice and law enforcement that had to be addressed -- many of the extreme poor could not afford fines and ended up disproportionately in prison as a result of failure to pay. Corruption was an additional scourge -- money that should help all of a country's population often did not trickle down to help the most vulnerable; it was stolen before it got that far.

International application of economic sanctions could have dire effects on the extreme poor living in the countries targeted by the sanctions, the Independent Expert said; the international community must take extreme care when imposing such measures.

FANTU CHERU, the Independent Expert on the effect of structural adjustment policies on the full enjoyment of human rights, said the ultimate responsibility for managing national economies and promoting human development rested on the shoulders of national governments. Unfortunately, human rights issues had never been the central guiding principle of both national and international efforts to reform the economies of many developing countries, including the transition economies of former Soviet Republics. Furthermore the mindless obsession with market liberalization had come to the exclusion of the need to reform the political market. At the economic level, it had led to a significant erosion of the living standards of the poor and the investment in the productive sectors of many countries had dwindled. At the political level, large numbers of countries ceded their sovereignty and their right to determine their countries development independently by multilateral institutions.

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Mr. Cheru said while elements of structural adjustment programmes were important for reforming poorly performing countries, the context in which these programmes had been applied was largely motivated to ensure the debtor nations fulfilled their interest and principal payments to creditor institutions. There were many reasons for the third world debt crisis and it would be wrong to put all the blame on either the debtor Governments or creditor institutions. It was safe to say that the policies pursued by both parties were responsible for accentuating the economic and social crisis and the burden of adjustment should be shared equally. Despite implementation of harsh economic policies for about two decades, substantial turnaround had not occurred in the majority of the countries that submitted to them. The situation was compounded by increasing globalization which had marginalized many poor countries. Reform was necessary to satisfy the demands of external creditors. Reform was not adequately internalized as a domestic requirement for pursuing human centred growth and development.

An increasing number of non-governmental organizations and United Nations organizations had been warning that the living conditions of the poor were deteriorating to intolerable levels. The cost of adjustment had been borne by the poor. Two regions had the highest incidence of income poverty , sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The cuts made by structural adjustment policies had been indiscriminate there and had affected basic services which were essential for long-term development. Indiscriminate application of structural adjustment policies had also jeopardized the right to food, education, shelter and health.

FATMA-ZOHRA KSENTINI, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, said her report reviewed various progress made through mounting awareness, conferences, and agreements signed by countries and international agencies; she had also summarized in her report the replies she had received from countries to questionnaires and inquiries. Among the more disturbing recent events were the deaths of a number of Haitian children after consuming a medication distributed by a Dutch company that contained glycerine not suitable for medical use; she had supported the filing of a lawsuit by the parents of the deceased children and had received a letter from the Netherlands deploring the loss of life and announcing that an official investigation was under way.

Ms. Ksentini said she had carried out a mission to Latin America, and had received much cooperation and information from the Governments there; although problems differed from country to country, a common element was interest in protecting the environment and efforts to adhere to international instruments related to environmental protection. Resources often were modest for such efforts. No countries she had visited, despite their efforts, were free from illicit traffic in toxic wastes; the problem was often hidden, ill-known, or underestimated. The most grave concerns related to the abuse or

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lack of control of chemical substances and agriculturally toxic products and illegal substances came from countries of origin in Latin America and the Caribbean; there also were serious problems caused by strong industrial pollutants, often produced or dumped in large quantities.

ZEPHIRIN DIABRE, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said poverty eradication was the programme•s mission. UNDP remained convinced that the world had sufficient resources to do this in less than one generation. But did it have the will? Poverty was simply unacceptable, and as a condition it cut to the very core of human dignity and amounted to a gross violation of human rights.

For the 1.3 billion people -- one-third of the population of the developing world -- who lived on less than a dollar a day, there could be little doubt that human rights were adversely affected, Mr. Diabre said; among the greatest challenges was to the right to life. Nearly a third of the people in the least developed countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, could not expect to live beyond age 40. Women and girls were hardest hit by other aspects of poverty, which opened them to whole realms of related abuse, such as violence and sexual trafficking. Clearly, denial of women's human rights and poverty went hand in hand.

Mr. Diabre told the meeting that UNDP's new rights-based approach to poverty eradication was beginning to strengthen and energize its work. Since the policy had been issued, some people had expressed concern that some conditionalities might be applied to UNDP's assistance based on human rights concerns. He wished to clarify that it was not UNDP's role to monitor a country's human-rights record or publicly denounce violations; nonetheless, UNDP had and would continue to take a strong stand on social justice.

RYUICHIRO YAMAKAZI (Japan) said that it agreed that all human rights were equally significant and should be protected and promoted in a balanced way, but it did not support the notion recently expressed that the realization of economic rights should come first. He cited the Tokyo Agenda for Action which had set specific goals and actions for both African counties and their development partners in terms of the realization of economic and social rights.

Mr. Yamakazi said Japan supported the exceptional efforts made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to balance all human rights. Full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, such as alleviating extreme poverty, securing basic food supply, ensuring the right to education by providing primary education, and basic health services, should be accomplished not only by the Commission but also by cooperation and commitment from other relevant fora and institutions. He cited in this regard the Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which should be involved in considering the impact of toxic

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and dangerous wastes on human rights. Issues addressed in previous Commission sessions such as toxic and dangerous wastes or foreign debt were better dealt with at such relevant bodies as UNEP, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund which had relevant expertise.

Japan confirmed that economic, social and cultural rights were crucial components of human rights, and that the realization of such rights required the efforts of both the relevant country concerned and the international community.

WILHELM HOYNCK (Germany), on behalf of the European Union, said economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights had several common denominators: the principle of "personhood", equality and non-discrimination, the quest for full realization of the worth and dignity inherent in every individual being. Humankind was still far away from the universal realization of both sets of rights. In fact there was no country where all the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were fully honoured for all individuals. With regard to the impact of globalization on the human condition, the European Union took a different view. It was convinced that the forces generated by globalization constituted a powerful opportunity to reduce disparities at the global level.

Mr. Hoynck said a number of countries, including less affluent ones, had experienced rapid economic growth and increased economic efficiency. Through intensified competition, they had become dynamic partners in the international economy. The European Union remained supportive of the goal of universal ratification of core treaties and called on all States to accede to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There were three concrete problems related to economic, social and cultural rights: freedom from poverty, social integration and the right to education. The European Union welcomed the preliminary report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Katarina Tomasevski. Her analysis of obligations of States and identification and elimination of obstacles - especially financial- led to valuable recommendations concerning the operationalization of the right to education and strategies to systematically strive for universal primary education in each and every country.

VICTOR LARGOS PIZZATI (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Central American Group, said the members of the group had been working ardently toward the protection and promotion of all human rights during the last decade. The countries of Central America had been enjoying the fruits of peace and stability without precedent which had allowed considerable improvements toward modernization and democracy. Nevertheless, poverty and extreme poverty had remained as an obstacle toward the complete enjoyment of human rights in the region.

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Mr. Pizzati said the Central American Group agreed with the Special Rapporteur on toxic wastes and would take every legal measure to prohibit the cross-border transportation of toxic wastes and dangerous products. The group also agreed with the Special Rapporteur's assessment that the national and international legal framework existed to thwart the transportation of these toxic products. Developing countries did not have the national capacity necessary to enforce legal agreements and the group called on the United Nations and the international community to adopt all necessary means to assure the control and enforcement of measures aimed at elimination of these dangerous abuses.

LUIS CHAVEZ (Peru) said full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights was intimately linked with elimination of generalized and extreme poverty; restrictions on human rights and their effect on exacerbating poverty had been recognized by the international community on numerous occasions. The time had come to concentrate on specific measures to eradicate poverty, especially those that could be taken by the international community; it was ironic that the international economic system had produced unheard-of levels of wealth and well-being for some, while in many places around the globe, poverty was growing worse and worse.

Mr. Chavez said Peru was trying hard to overcome poverty within its borders. Its main aim was to create real wealth based on a healthy macro-economic policy; that approach was considered more effective than efforts to redistribute existing wealth. The policy was working -- Peru had one of the highest growth rates in the region and foreign investment had mounted considerably. Public enterprises had been privatized and the urgent and immediate needs of the poorest sectors of the population had been targeted by the Government. Some 40 per cent of the national budget was set aside for social programmes.

SAVITRI KUNADI (India) said economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development were mutually reinforcing concepts. While the indivisibility of all human rights were acknowledged in the Vienna Declaration, in terms of practical implementation, economic, social and cultural rights continued to lag behind. Steps should be taken to raise awareness regarding the nature and content of economic, social and cultural rights as well as different national practices in relation to these rights. India had provided constitutional recognition to these rights through a Chapter on "Directive Principles", which were deemed fundamental in the governance of the country. As a result of these Constitutional provisions, the debate within the country now focussed on how to make these rights a reality for the people, not whether they were justifiable.

Ms. Kunadi said in her conclusions, the Independent Expert had called for poverty eradication to be consolidated as an absolute priority throughout the United Nations system, for urgent transfer of resources through

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international cooperation and for donor countries to reverse the decline in their official development assistance to developing countries and to commit themselves to the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national product. The Special Rapporteur on the right to education had outlined a range of issues in the field of education that would benefit from a human rights approach and India strongly urged support of her endeavours to elaborate such a perspective to the right to education.

Ms. Kunadi hoped the High Commissioner for Human Rights would ensure that economic, social and cultural rights received the importance and attention they deserved in accordance with the balanced and holistic approach to human rights as reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration.

WANG MIN (China) said that because of the severe absence of economic, social and cultural rights, many people around the world lacked even the means for survival; meanwhile the foreign-debt situation of many developing countries was becoming a huge obstacle to their efforts to improve the situations of their citizens; the negative impact of globalization of the world economy coupled with international financial storms was only adding to the misfortunes of the most vulnerable. Many developing countries were looking to the Commission to play a big role in realizing economic, social and cultural rights, but the reality was disappointing -- of 84 resolutions adopted last year, only a very few were related to such rights, and only a few of the Commission's Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts were dealing with these rights.

Mr. Wang said economic, social, and cultural rights should be accorded equal importance with civil and political rights within the Commission's work; efforts should be made to strengthen international coordination; and the High Commissioner for Human Rights should play an active role in promoting these rights. China continued to make great progress in promoting the economic, social and cultural rights of its citizens.

MAXIME ZAFERA (Madagascar) underscored the sobering statistics of poverty and extreme poverty in the world which had threatened women and children. He cited the debt condition of sub-Saharan Africa as a major obstacle toward the enjoyment of the right to development and said that extreme poverty was a serious violation to human rights. Madagascar saluted the work completed by the United Nations and the measures taken by the donor community which aided impoverished countries.

Mr. Zafera said his country believed that international transportation of toxic wastes and dangerous products had to be controlled and enforced before the developing countries could fully enjoy their human rights to life and health.

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Right of Reply

RAIMONDS JANSONS (Latvia), in right of reply, said the delegation did not agree with the statement made by Vassily Sredin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. Latvia did not feel challenged by these kinds of remarks as there were no common points made between the Russian statement and the other countries following the issue.

MOHAMED-SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria), speaking in right of reply, said the Commission must stick to its principles by excluding any spirit of confrontation. The statement by the New Zealand delegation had been a surprise to Algeria; it was a surprise, among other things, that New Zealand only spoke of human rights difficulties in the South; further, New Zealand had mentioned Algeria in a way that presented an entirely false picture. New Zealand should not set itself up as a paragon of virtue, considering the situation within its own country of the Maori indigenous people, whose standards of living and employment rates were far, far below that of most residents of New Zealand. Also the World Organization against Torture and Human Rights Watch were developing a human rights concept that was anti-third world; it was a matter of concern that they did not say anything about the negative effects on human rights of terrorism, for example.

ROLANDO NETO (Angola), speaking in right of reply, said that on 1 April, during discussion of the violation of human rights in any part of the world, Germany, on behalf of the European Union, had referred to the war in the Republic of Angola as a threat to the human right to life. Angola had been part of numerous international agreements which acknowledged that the whole responsibility for the war stood at the door of Jonas Savimbi. The statements made by the representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, were not consistent with the positions taken by the Governments of the European Union and the Security Council.

BULENT MERIC (Turkey), speaking in right of reply, reacted to the statement made by the representative of Norway during discussion of the violation of human rights in any part of the world a couple of days before. He was happy to report satisfaction with the exchange of views and continued cooperation between Turkey and non-governmental organizations. The official contacts had not touched on the Kurdish question. The question of political and cultural rights was one which existed in Norway and like-minded countries. Turkey had full participatory democracy and a solid society which enabled everybody, disregarding ethnic origin, to prosper with equal rights and obligations. Concerning the trial of Abdullah Ocalan, he was the leader of a terrorist organization which was responsible for killing of more than 30,000 people.

SILESHI MENGESHA (Ethiopia), speaking in right of reply, said the Eritrean regime's representatives in the African Commission of Health and

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Human Rights Promoters and the African Association of Education for Development had attempted to mislead and confuse the Commission by making distorted and inaccurate statements about Ethiopia. Of course Eritrean nationals living in Ethiopia had been treated equally with Ethiopian nationals and they participated in the life of Ethiopia. But the Eritrean regime had used and organized some Eritrean nationals living in Ethiopia in clandestine cells, networks, and other ways to undermine Ethiopia's economic establishments and conduct espionage. The endless wailing by the Eritrean delegation that most of the individuals who had been required to leave Ethiopia were Ethiopian nationals was baseless and pure deception.

AMARE TELKE (Eritrea), speaking in right of reply, said that the Ethiopian representative had said that he was making false accusations. He stated that he was only quoting from statements by, among others, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Secretary-General, Amnesty International, and the Prime Minister of Sweden. The expulsion of the Eritrean people by Ethiopia was a human rights violation. He asked the Ethiopian Government: according to what grounds had the Eritrean people been judged as illegal residents? Eritrea said that the Commission was entitled to know what the real Ethiopia/Eritrea situation was and must undertake an official visit. He invited the African Institute of Development to make an official visit to Eritrea to see the situation there.

DEMIL ABEL (Myanmar), speaking in right of reply, said its Government protected and promoted human rights, however, a few delegates had raised allegations of human rights abuses and violations there. It was worthwhile to report that the United Nations and other specialized agencies had addressed its country by its proper name, Myanmar, while the others still referred to its colonial name. He said 16 out of the 17 armed ethnic groups had put aside their weapons and cooperated with the Government. The rule of law had been reinstated and the Government was committed to democratization and to the realization of a constitutionally guaranteed system of multi-party democracy and a market-oriented economy. The economic sanctions and embargoes called for and imposed by some Western countries were like placing obstacles and hurdles on the path to democracy and full enjoyment of human rights. Ironically, the right to development was being denied to Myanmar in the name of human rights.

GERALD GAHIMA (Rwanda), speaking in right of reply, said the Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not given, in his speech, an accurate picture of the situation in the Great Lakes region; Rwanda had carried out activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo because that territory was used as a base for aggression against Rwanda, and the Government of that country had done nothing to stop this aggression. Meanwhile, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had incited genocide against part of its own population -- the Tutsis. It was hard to find the words to describe the indifference of the Special Rapporteur to this situation; it was

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necessary, perhaps, to appoint a new one who would truly act on behalf of halting massive human rights violations.

ADOLPHE NAHAYO (Burundi), speaking in right of reply, said the Democratic Republic of the Congo had stated that Burundi had sent armed forces to its territories. He denied that Burundi had sent armed forces and said that it was interested in finding a peaceful settlement.

SHAMBHU RAM SIMKHADA (Nepal), speaking in right of reply, said the international community generally ignored the plight of the refugee situations until they made international headlines. For a decade now, Nepal had been forced to bear the burden of 100,000 refugees from Bhutan in camps in eastern Nepal. For a small, least developed country like Nepal, this created serious economic, social, environmental and political problems. Nepal appreciated the assistance of the High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations. Nepal was committed to continue its serious dialogue with its Himalayan neighbour Bhutan. However, Nepal regretted that little progress had been achieved in seven ministerial rounds of talks, the last one in April 1996. Nepal urged everyone to do whatever they could to create a favourable situation for the bilateral negotiations to succeed without further delay.

SUDHVDNARA PARNOHADININGRAT (Indonesia), speaking in right of reply, said Portugal had again distorted the situation in East Timor; Indonesia had taken a bold step to change the situation for the better, and it was clear that this caused not only hope but also confusion and negative reactions in some quarters. Portugal should try to take a cooperative, conciliatory approach and to support dialogue and tolerance; statements such as those made by Portugal in the Commission were not helpful; they were a shallow attempt to "score points". Indonesia strongly rejected the contention of Portugal that it had been giving arms to certain factions in East Timor -- Indonesia would never risk the peace process by doing that. For general peace and security in the region, in fact, disarmament of all factions should be carried out, a point Portugal had failed to mention.

Mr. RUMASZEWSKI (Poland), speaking in right of reply, said that he was referring to the draft resolution on the status of human rights in Cuba and defended Poland's position taken on the human rights abuses in that country. He had been a prisoner in communist Poland and saw the effect of such repressive laws which took away the most fundamental democratic freedoms. The Government of Cuba had returned to its previous policy of terrorizing societies and Poland expressed the hope that it would follow the Polish people's example in building a viable democracy.

PETROS EFTYCHIOU (Cyprus), speaking in right of reply, said he was surprised that Turkey pretended not to violate human rights when it was actually holding Abdullah Ocalan, a man fighting for the liberation of the Kurdish people. He was astonished by the lies of the Turkish delegation.

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That country should first satisfactorily answer questions related to its occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus, the presence of 50,000 armed troops, the displacement of thousands of people and the plight of refugees.

T. T. CHIFAMBA (Zimbabwe), speaking in right of reply, said the European Union, the United States, Norway, and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) were inaccurate when they said the rule of law was not being applied in Zimbabwe; the case of two journalists referred to was an isolated incident and in any case the judicial process was still under way. Meanwhile freedom of expression should not be seen as the right to tell untruths and upset the population. It was worth adding that the allied forces that had got involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had done so to prevent human rights violations -- anyone looking at a television who had seen the atrocities being carried out in Kinshasa had been able to see what the intervention was intended to stop.

EMMANUEL MANOUSAKIS (Greece), speaking in right of reply, said that he fully rejected Turkish allegations against Greece which had been malicious, false and unfounded.

TOMAS PSTROSS (Czech Republic), speaking in right of reply, said human rights violations in Cuba were serious enough to deserve criticism from other countries. The Czechs and the Poles had strong reasons to take this common initiative toward a resolution against Cuba. Former human rights fighters in their countries had learned to appreciate the value of support from the democratic world. Their commitment to help other people persecuted for human rights stemmed from there. The Cuban Government should be able to accept criticism based on the principles of international community from others.

SUZANA DIOGO (Portugal), speaking in right of reply, said Portugal did not want to "score points", as Indonesia claimed; Portugal only wanted to prevent further deterioration of the very frightening situation in East Timor, where violence was escalating because violent factions were being armed.

JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), speaking in right of reply, in response to statements by the Czech Republic and Poland, accused those countries of being satellite countries which had changed their orientation and which were now speaking on behalf of their author, the United States. Both Poland and the Czech Republic had much work to do in their own human rights situations: Poland with its prostitution and traffic in children and the Czech Republic with its Gypsy (Roma) minority.

KAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia), speaking in right of reply, said Azerbaijan had completely reversed the real circumstances that provoked the human rights violations in the region. The actions of the representative of Azerbaijan represented political propaganda without any objectivity. The policies of ethnic cleansing, torture and murder carried out by the Azeries was

- 16 - Press Release HR/CN/901 8 April 1999

unacceptable. The principle of national sovereignty could not be invoked to justify human rights violations.

SIMA EIVAZOVA (Azerbaijan), speaking in right of reply, said the representative of Armenia had once again misled the Commission; Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh were a national minority living within the Azerbaijani State. The separation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan was Armenia's intent; Armenian troops had brutally occupied part of the region, displacing some 1 million refugees. The Commission must take into consideration the real situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, not the fiction being portrayed here by Armenia.

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For information media. Not an official record.