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Five-year review of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

"The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action undoubtedly constitutes one of the major events in the United Nations history of human rights. If adequately implemented, it will be a milestone in this history."

(Excerpt from the report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights to the General Assembly at
its forty-ninth session (A/49/668)

The World Conference on Human Rights, held in 1993, adopted by consensus the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) in which it called for a review of the progress made in the implementation of the Declaration in five years on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The Review provides a framework for a comprehensive and future-oriented evaluation of the promotion and protection of human rights at both international and national levels.

Follow-up mechanisms to the World Conference on Human Rights

The follow-up mechanisms to the World Conference on Human Rights set up in the VDPA include, among others: 

  • consideration by the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the Commission on Human Rights and other organs and agencies of the United Nations system related to human rights of appropriate measures to fully implement recommendations contained in the VDPA (para 99, part II);
  • annual review by the Commission on Human Rights of the progress made towards this end (para 99, part II);
  • the Five-Year Review of the Implementation of the VDPA (para 100, part II);
  • establishment of the High Commissioner as the United Nations official with principal responsibility for United Nations human rights activities under the direction and authority of the Secretary-General (para 4 of General Assembly resolution 48/141).

The overall mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights includes the coordination of the implementation of the VDPA by the United Nations system. 

Framework of the Review

The Five-Year Implementation Review of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in 1998 should compel the international community to reaffirm its commitment to human rights through determined and concrete action aimed at the effective promotion and protection of these rights by all States, the United Nations system and other international organizations in cooperation with non-governmental organizations. In undertaking a thorough analysis of the achievements attained and the obstacles remaining in this regard, the Review should allow for identification of measures necessary to ensure the full realization of the recommendations adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights. 

The Five-Year Implementation Review should promote positive developments and give due credit to achievements in implementing the VDPA. Equally important, it should also identify major obstacles to full implementation of the VDPA and offer practical ideas for addressing these issues in the years ahead; like the World Conference on Human Rights, the Review is thematically oriented; the Review focuses on practical information regarding effective implementation of recommendations adopted by the Vienna World Conference; the Review is future-oriented. 

Structure of the Review

The Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-fourth session (March-April 1998) - while reflecting on the role of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, undertook an initial review of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action based on the Interim report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Five-Year Review of the Implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action

The Economic and Social Councilat its substantive session in 1998 - while reviewing the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action by the United Nations system, will be able to identify: 

  • methods of achieving a concerted system-wide approach to human rights;
  • examples of best practices by the UN system in the implementation of the VDPA;
  • areas of responsibility in which efforts should be made to implement fully the VDPA;
  • plans for improving inter-agency cooperation and coordination to achieve better results in the implementation of the VDPA. 

The Economic and Social Council has decided to devote the coordination segment of its substantive session in 1998 to the coordinated follow-up to, and implementation of, the VDPA. The United Nations Secretary-General will submit a report on the Coordinated follow-up to, and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which has been prepared in the framework of inter-agency consultations organized by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

The General Assembly at its fifty-third session (September-December 1998) - will carry out a comprehensive analysis of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and consider recommendations made by the Commission on Human Rights, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The High Commissioner will submit the final report on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. 

Contributions

The Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1998/78 titled, "Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action" welcomed the preparations and contributions made so far to the five-year implementation review of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The Commission called upon all States to contribute actively to this process and encouraged once again, regional and national human rights institutions as well as non-governmental organizations to present, on that occasion, their views on the progress made in the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. 

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is currently preparing the report on the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session. Those Governments as well as regional organizations and, as appropriate, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations wishing to add their views to this process are encouraged to submit their contributions to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as soon as possible.