Third session of the open ended inter-governmental working group on the right to peace.  Statement by the Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International order

20 April 2015

Thank you, Ambassador Guillermet:

I congratulate you and the Working Group on your election and most especially on this improved Draft Declaration.  I thank you for giving me – once again – the opportunity to add my voice to those who for years have advocated a declaration on the human right to peace in its individual and collective dimensions.  Nothing is more crucial to the survival of the planet, and nothing is more resolutely mandated by the UN Charter.  Consensus, of course, is necessary if we want this declaration to bear fruit.

I strongly endorse the preamble and the reaffirmation in operative paragraph one of the three UN pillars – peace and security, human rights and development.  We all know that there is some dispute concerning the precise legal basis of the concept of peace as a human right, which is affirmed by numerous stakeholders, whereas some States entertain doubts and remain less than enthusiastic about coming on board. I dare invite the sceptics to put forward their criteria for codification and implementation of this right, which – as I see it -- is inseparably linked to the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations and is in the best interests of all of humanity.  No one can allow our joint-venture PEACE to fall into a legal black hole.

70 years after the end of the Second World War, governments have not yet unlearned war and continue to squander vital resources in procurement of weapons – both conventional and weapons of mass destruction. This only fuels the senseless arms race and facilitates proxy wars.  According to SIPRI’s 2015 figures released on 13 April 2015, world military expenses in 2014 amounted to 1.776 trillion US dollars1.  I think that everyone in this room would agree that this money could have been better spent elsewhere.  My 2014 report to the Human Rights Council is devoted to the adverse human rights impacts of military spending and contains pertinent facts and recommendations thereon (A/HRC/27/51).

This important gathering has a noble task before it and deserves success in forging a fruitful consensus and adopting a bold declaration as a step on the way toward disarmament, including total nuclear disarmament, as proposed by several delegations at the Third World Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna in December 20142. Disarmament is not only a matter of concern to the Security Council or to the Conference on Disarmament – it is eminently of relevance to the vocation of the Human Rights Council, its Advisory Committee, its Universal Periodic Review and its Special Procedures.

I urge civil society to persevere in its campaign to change the paradigm away from the logic or war and the illusion that security is achieved by militarization – and toward the holistic concept of human security, which is based on an understanding and genuine effort to resolve the root causes of violence, a commitment to preventive diplomacy and conflict de-escalation, to the elimination of extreme poverty and the achievement of the post-2015 development agenda.

At this very moment, downstairs in room XXI another normative process in under way – a two-day consultation on the recognition of international solidarity as a human right, a substantive consultation in which I am participating in one of the working groups.  Virginia Dandan, the Independent Expert on International Solidarity, has presented a draft declaration from which we all can learn and which also recognizes the right to peace as a component of the individual and collective right to international solidarity.

I am confident that a productive dialogue will ensue and wish to both drafting exercises expeditious success.  Let us together – governments, inter-governmental organizations, experts and civil society – join our efforts and prove our commitment to help respect, protect and fulfil human rights for all, including the right to international solidarity and the right to peace.

I thank you.

Alfred de Zayas