March 29, 2012
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Advisory Committee: Right to Peace and Traditional Values of Humankind
From the 20th to the 24th of February 2012, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee held its 8th session at Palais des Nations, Geneva. The experts addressed, among other things, the issues of the right to peace and traditional values of humankind.
With regard to the right to peace, a draft declaration on this subject has been reviewed. While opening the session, Mr. Heinz affirmed that both individuals and peoples are entitled to the right to peace, which nevertheless must be implemented by States individually, jointly, or as part of multilateral organizations. Moreover, he highlighted all the forms that the right to peace may assume: namely, protection from war crimes; respect of international law; disarmament; peace education and training; resistance and opposition to oppression; right to development and to a safe and clean environment; rights of victims and vulnerable groups; and the right to seek and enjoy refugee status without discrimination.
The members of the Committee who did not take part in drafting the document stressed that some points should be strengthened, e.g. a stronger reference to women, youth and refugees, as well as a more active participation of civil society and the United Nations in this process. The intervening States recognized the importance of such a right, but some of them, for example, Russia and Cuba, regarded the state’s responsibility in implementing it as unacceptable. Despite the different points of view, a final draft to be submitted at the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council in June 2012 was adopted by consensus.
As far as the promotion of human rights through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind is concerned, Mr. Kartashkin presented dignity, freedom and personal responsibility as the most important traditional values of humankind, since they determine the development of both the individual and the society as a whole. Nevertheless, if we consider that values are recognized as traditional when they are generally accepted by all civilizations, there can clearly be no comprehensive and definitive list of them. According to Mr. Kartashkin, all human rights are based on traditional values and they represent values in themselves.
The Committee recognized the need of an interdisciplinary approach to tackle the complexity of this issue more effectively. Some of the experts firmly contested the report presented by Mr. Kartashkin, since they argued that if human rights are based on traditional values, the existence itself of these rights may be put into question due to difficulties in identifying universal traditional values. In response to this concern, however, some members of the Committee observed that human rights find their legal basis in the international treaties, through which they are also implemented.