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Opening Statement by the President of the Human Rights Council at the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace

February 18, 2013

Deputy High Commissioner,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to participate in the opening of the first session of the open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace, and welcome the opportunity to address you on this issue.  

Let us recall that international peace and cooperation are central to the founding principles of the United Nations and much of the United Nations work is set in those directions.  The Preamble of the Charter states that the United Nations was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. In a similar fashion, the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.

During the past few decades, the United Nations has worked, with the support of Member States and civil society organizations, towards creating a peaceful international order in which all persons could fully enjoy their fundamental human rights.  Numerous resolutions and decisions of United Nations bodies are related to peace and several international human rights instruments contain provisions relevant to the same subject.

In 1984 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 39/11 annexing the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, which reaffirmed “that the principal aim of the United Nations is the maintenance of international peace and security”.  The General Assembly recognized the importance of laying the foundation for a culture of peace when it proclaimed the year 2000 as International Year for the Culture of Peace in resolution 52/15.  The notion that peace and human rights are intrinsically linked had been reaffirmed by the General Assembly in subsequent resolutions, in particular resolution 60/163 and reiterated by the Human Rights Council in resolutions 8/9 of 12 June 2008 and 11/4 of 12 June 2009.

In paragraph 5 of its resolution 14/3, the Council stressed that peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of United Nations system and the foundations for collective security and well-being.” In the same resolution, the Council requested the Advisory Committee, in consultation with Member states, civil society, academia and all relevant stakeholders, to prepare a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace and to report thereon to the Council at its seventeenth session.

It is in this context that the open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace was established by the Human Rights Council in July 2012, through its resolution 20/15, with the mandate of progressively negotiating a draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee, and without prejudging relevant past, present and future views and proposals, as stated in paragraph 1 of the resolution 20/15.

In compliance with paragraph 2 of the same resolution, my predecessor Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre invited the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee drafting group, Ms. Mona Zufilcar, to participate in the first session of this Working Group. Ms. Zufilcar will join us soon, compatible with her commitments with the simultaneous session of the Advisory Committee (if she is not in the room, otherwise: And I have the pleasure to welcome her in this forum).

The Advisory Committee drafted a comprehensive draft that addresses many different issues as the topic of peace demands. The draft is a result of a broad consultation with Member States and other stakeholders. In its current form, it acknowledges that the right to peace is universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and that all States, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, shall use peaceful means to settle any dispute to which they are parties.

I am conscious that there is a lack of consensus about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself, and that several provisions of the draft declaration will be the object of intense discussions and negotiations. I am however confident that in the able hands of your chairperson you will be able to smooth down the difficulties and overcome the challenges that lie in front of you. I wish you well in your endeavour and will follow your work with utmost attention.