21Η ΣΥΝΟΔΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΥ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΩΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΟΗΕ
Item 8: Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
We would like to recall that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) editors defined all human rights as “equal and inalienable”, as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and as being based on “the inherent dignity of all members of the human family.” It is clear enough that human rights must be of the same content and importance throughout the world. Otherwise, what would be the meaning of declaring their universality? According to the UDHR and the Charter of the United Nations, human rights are fundamental for everyone without distinction of any kind. It is, therefore, worth questioning how can it be that, sometime now, the idea of existence of certain customary practices or traditions allowing declination from the universality of human rights, always against the universally recognized human rights, is being supported with no reference to the United Nations instruments. Human rights are not to be served “à la carte.” National customs or traditions should be respected, unless they contradict human rights.
What is more, Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action expressly declares that “it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect all human rights.” United Nations instruments could not be more specific. Contrary opinions could result in a serious devaluation of the whole human rights system as defined by the United Nations. This kind of arguments undermine the values code of social coexistence established by the United Nations and can result in acts of barbarity that human conscience cannot even imagine.
In addition, we would like to draw the attention to the substantive provisions of the Declaration on the practical implementation of the equality rules, and to the important layout of the article concerning the express principle that the traditional customs and practices contradicting the current admirable Human Rights system - declared by international law universal, indivisible and interdependent – shall yield, which has started to be doubted repeatedly, as in the case of the Council resolution 12/21 2009, calling for revision of this rule or the recent draft Resolution presented by the Russian Federation (A/HRC/21/L.) during this session, which we consider as rather vague. Although the Council Resolution was rejected, the attempt to impose it continued more specific and less clear, beginning with the burqa and other specific issues related to women mainly, but not only to them.
What is more, we would like to call attention to the fact that the United Nations bodies take their decisions according to the principle of consensus, rather than the majority rule. This is a practice that may seem of no importance, even “desirable” for certain people, but is rather a critical one, as it could have an important impact on the substantive protection of human rights. It is not based on any United Nations instrument. The spreading of the practice of the consensus system undermines the democratic principle, applying in democracies from the time of the Athenian democracy to the present. It leads to the prevalence of views of the minority (even a single person) against the majority. Thus, occasionally comprehensive decisions are not delivered, but watered-ones.
The so promising and successful first 50-year operation of the UN has changed direction, creating the fear of walking to the fate of the League of Nations. Fortunately, the risks started to be understood, especially by the civil society.
We should impede the drafting of more non-binding provisions, like all other declarations, and that is why we would like to express our disagreement on the convocation of one more World Conference on Women (so-called “Beijing+20”) considering it as not necessary, as it will conclude to another non-binding text, probably making the already long texts of conclusions of Beijing and Beijing +10 conferences even longer.
The real necessity is to implement in practice the sufficient rules on gender equality, set forth in the binding provisions of the international conventions on human rights and on women’s rights, starting with the CEDAW (1979), to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (2000) and to implement the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (2006). The role of the two UN competent bodies - UN Women and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) - should also be strengthened.
Indeed, the fact that the customary traditions and practices contradicting human rights remain effective in certain states will definitely open a great number of breaches to the admirable human rights system which constitutes the noblest achievement of the humanity. This is why we think that the Member-States and all the NGOs having consultative status with the UN must collaborate relentlessly in supporting any rule on human rights acquired after struggles of many centuries.