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“Negotiate in good faith, stop sabre-rattling,” new UN expert urges the international community

GENEVA (21 September 2012) – On International Day of Peace, the newly appointed United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, calls on States and civil society to work for the peaceful settlement of all disputes, persevere in our commitment to a culture of dialogue and reject the logic of war.

“When negotiations are at an impasse, when States dig their heels in, it is time to ‘undig’ them in a spirit of compromise. We all need to unlearn the predator in us, unlearn discrimination, unlearn privilege.

Peace is an enabling right, the condition for the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Peace is also an end right, the result of the exercise of human rights by all. Thus there is a reciprocal relationship between peace and human rights. In short: Peace is where human rights, the rule of law and social justice prevail. Wherever harmony and solidarity reign, there is no need to use force – domestically or internationally.

Today, I call on States and civil society to keep faith with the United Nations Charter, refrain from the threat or the use of force, and to stop on-going propaganda for war, fear-mongering and sabre-rattling, which all are incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

At the Nuremberg Trials, US Prosecutor Robert Jackson rightly condemned the ‘crime against peace’ as the ‘supreme crime,’ because once hostilities begin, war crimes and crimes against humanity follow. However, in spite of the Nuremberg Judgment and countless UN resolutions condemning war and occupation, humanity has not enjoyed peace since 1945 and the pledge in the UN Charter that succeeding generations be spared the scourge of war has not been kept. The UN General Assembly Resolutions on Friendly Relations and Aggression must be reaffirmed and strengthened.

The Human Rights Council has established an inter-governmental working group to draft a Declaration on the Right to Peace. Its work is of the utmost importance and enjoys the support of thousands of non-governmental organizations. Civil society demands peace, so that all human beings can enjoy security, development, justice and human rights.

Civil society says ‘basta’ to war and war games. It demands an end to sabre-rattling and a renewed commitment to disarmament. The motto of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 was ‘Pax optima rerum’ (peace is the highest good). The negotiators there understood well the horrors of war. The motto of the International Labour Organization ‘si vis pacem, cole justitiam’ (if you want peace, cultivate justice) reminds us that peace requires social justice. Let us work toward this goal so as to achieve an international order that is more equitable, more peaceful, more democratic.”

Mr. Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Mr. de Zayas practiced corporate law with the New York law firm Simpson Thacher and Bartlett and is a retired member of the New York and Florida Bar. He has been visiting professor of law at numerous universities including the University of British Columbia in Canada, DePaul University in Chicago, the Graduate Institute of the University of Geneva, and the University of Trier (Germany) and he has been board member of several organizations. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IntOrder/Pages/IEInternationalorderIndex.aspx

Check the Independent Expert’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A-HRC-21-45_en.pdf

Watch the Independent Expert on OHCHR YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEa6RvDwekQ&feature=share&list=UU3L8u5qG07djPUwWo6VQVLA

For more information and media requests, please contact Pol Planas (+41 22 9179657/ pplanas@ohchr.org) and Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 9179329 / spbconsultant10@ohchr.org) or write to ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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