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Written by Joan Russow
Sunday, 20 July 2014 14:48

BY Joan Russow PhD

Global Compliance Research Project

March, 1995                                                              

Throughout the past 50 years the United Nations has undertaken obligations to address the violation of human rights, the escalation of war and conflict, the degradation of the environment, and the denial of equity and social justice. Many member states of the United Nations have failed to sign these international instruments, to ratify these instrument, or even when signed and ratified to enact the necessary legislation to discharge their obligations and enforce these instruments.


In 1972, leading scientists in the Science Council of Canada wrote a publication decrying that “it was not too late yet”. In 1992, at Rio, the United Nations affirmed that “Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with perpetuation of disparities between nations, and a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our well being (Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992).

In addition, at the World Conference on Human Rights, global concern was expressed that:


“The gross and systematic violations and situations constitute serious obstacles to the full enjoyment of all human rights continue to occur in different parts of the world, such violations and obstacles included, as well as torture and cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, summary and arbitrary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, all forms of racism racial discrimination and apartheid, foreign occupation and alien domination, xenophobia, poverty, hunger and other denials of economic, social and cultural rights,, religious intolerance, terrorism, discrimination against women and lack of the rule of law (C. 30 World Conference on human rights.

And in additions the World Conference on Human Rights expressed its dismay at massive violations of human rights especially in the form of genocide, ethnic cleansing” and systematic rape of women in war situations, creating mass exodus of refugees and displaced persons (s. 28 World Conference on Human Rights.)


In 1993, in the World Conference on Human Rights, and in 1994, in the International Conference on Population and Development, and in 1995, the Summit on Social Development , the global community reaffirmed the urgent need to address Human Rights, Population and Development issues.


For over 50 years, the global community has recognized the urgency of the Global situation.


Yet when given the opportunity, on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, of demanding immediate action to address the past 50 years of inaction, the global community with the proposed Platform of Action for the UN Conference on Women: Equality, Development and Peace ignores the significant traditional practice of building upon the principles and precedents already established through 50 years of international instruments.


The proposed Platform of Action is essentially flawed because it ignores the well-established traditional practice of building on past principles and precedents.


To remedy this, the Platform of Action must call for a Declaration of Global Emergency Action which requires this compliance and further commitments in order to meet the present urgent global situation.




1.      States members of the United Nations shall undertake before or at the UN Conference on Women in 1995 to sign what has not yet been signed, to ratify what has not yet been ratified, to enact the necessary legislation to ensure the discharge of obligations and to undertake to enforce what has not yet been enforced.


2.      In addition, States shall undertake (as suggested recently by some members of the United Nations Congress on Public International Law) to support the following:


•        to redraft documents to eliminate ambiguous clauses


 •       to draft a Protocol to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties          on Compliance


 •       to ensure provision for members of the Community to     file     complaints to a form of international court


•        to undertake legal enforcement mechanisms


3.      The following is a selection, from the Global Compliance         Research Project of obligations from international instruments, and       NGO recommendations, that could reflect actions that would     enable compliance with current international obligations:


•        Affirm the right of peoples to peace (Right of all Peoples to      Peace, 1974)


•        Eliminate weapons of mass destruction, as undertaken under          (Article 26, Stockholm, UNCHE, 1972)


•        Undertake the immediate outlawing  of arms production, and sales (VOW Voice of Women response to Platform of Action,          March, 1995)


•        Support the development of renewable [safe] and sound         technology (Atmosphere section, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992, draft        March) [Note the bracketing of ‘safe’ was done by the United        States]


•        Cease the transfer to other states, including to the weak or      disenfranchised (whether states or peoples) of substances and activities that could cause environmental degradation or be       harmful to human health (drawn from Rio Declaration, UNCED,       1992). This would mean the cessation of the transport of toxic,     hazardous or atomic wastes


•        Revoke Charters of Incorporation of industries and transnationals   that have caused environmental destruction, violated human     rights, and contributed to conflict or war (Recommendation to NGO Response to Platform of Action - agreed to by consensus but        not included in the NGO submission)


•        Establish a global regulating regime of highest tenable principles     drawn from different states; thus there will be assurance that the regime will drive industry, rather  than industry driving principle


•        Provide for “socially equitable and environmentally sound       development” (Programme of Action of the United Nations       International Conference on Population and Development, 1994).


•        Phase out nuclear energy and fossil fuel (proposed by the 1992      Nobel Laureate Declaration for UNCED, and agreed to by the       plenary for inclusion on March 13 (but not included) in the NGO     Response to the Platform of Action.


•        Cease the production and consumption of ozone-depleting     substances (Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone,       1985)


•        Undertake to reduce and eliminate the global debt that impacts        on the promotion of socially equitable and environmentally sound           development


•        Provide measures enunciated in numerous documents for      ensuring “equal and inalienable rights of all members of human         family” as agreed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)


•        Provide for the right of all to shelter and of all to be free from   hunger as required under the International Convention   Culture, Social and Economic Rights, 1978


•        Ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, universal   access to health-care service, including those related to      reproductive health care, which include family planning and          sexual health. Reproductive health-care programmes should   provide the widest range of services without any form of coercion      (Principles 8 International Conference on Population and        Development, 1994)


•        Adopt special measures... for safeguarding the persons, institutions,        property, labour, cultures and environment of peoples concerned      (Art 4, Convention 9no-169)concerning indigenous and Tribal       peoples in independent Countries.


•        Undertake to prevent activities, on indigenous lands, that are environmentally destructive or culturally inappropriate (Chapter 26,      Agenda 21 UNCED)


•        Provide legal protection and assistance to refugee and displace      women... as required under UNHCR Guidelines on Refugee     Women, 1991)


The Global Community should concur with the UN Program of Action (International Conference on Population and Development) that to address the urgency “ none of the actions required -nor all of them combined - is expensive in the context of ... military expenditures. A few would require little or no additional financial resources in that they involve changes in lifestyles, social norms or government polices that can be largely brought about and sustained through greater citizen action and political leadership (Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, 1994)



A program of proactive and retroactive sources of funding shall be established. This would involve the immediate reduction of the military budget from the current 800billion to only what would be required to clean up previous environmental degradation and to pay compensation to communities and individuals that have been impacted by military activities. For additional funding  the global community shall also seek compensation from industries, in particular transnationals for years of environmental degradation on, and damage from arms manufacturers and for years of human rights violations. 


What is needed in the co-oincidence of the Beijing Conference on Women and the 50th anniversary of the United Nations is true commitment to “greater citizen action and political leadership-- a combined strong global citizen and political will. This combined political will must stem from a moral imperative to be committed to a completely different socio-political vision-- One that is based on what must be done not on what  is comfortable and convenient.


The Time is Now, 1995. the Global community has undertaken these obligations over the past 50 years. In 1995, the global community must in celebration of the co-incidence of  the UN Conference on Women and the anniversary of the Untied Nations, undertake to fulfill previous obligations and to undertake new commitment s and support the need for a Global Emergency Action Resolution.   

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 July 2014 14:56

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