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The Arab Manual for Human

 Rights and Human Development

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter I

The International Human Rights Law and Interconnected Rights

 

Chapter II

International Bill of Human Rights

 

Chapter III

Groups More Worthy of Care

 

Chapter IV

The UN Instruments for the Protection of Human Rights and for Monitoring the Implementation of International Conventions

 

Chapter V

The Right to Development as A Human and People Right

 

Chapter VI

Towards a Course for Development Based on Human Rights

 

Chapter VII

International organizations concerned with human rights and development

 

Chapter VIII

National institutions, Parliamentary Committees, NGOs Working in the Field  of Human Rights and Development

 

Chapter IX

Manual of Terminology and Concepts

 

 

Contributors

Advisory Committee

Asma Khadre * Al-Taieb Al-Bakoush * Bahya Al-Hariri * Ghanem Al-Naggar * Lila Zarouki * Mohamed Ougar * Mona Rishmawy * Hani Megali * Wahiba Farea’

 

Experts Participated in Planing

Ibrahim Al-Esawy * Ahmed Al-Rashidi * Ahmed Tawfik Khalil * Mohamed Mahmoud Al-Emam * Mahmoud Samir Ahmed * Nivin Mosa’d

 

Authors

Ahmed Tawfik Khalil * Amin Mekki Medani * Budjoma’h Ghechir * Rima Al-Saban * Abdul-Aziz Al-Nowidy * A’zam Mahgoub * Essam Ali * Alaa Shalaby * Mohsen Awad * Mohamed Nour El-Ddin * Mohamed Nour Farahat * Nivin Mosa’d

 

Assistant Researchers

          Abdul-Salam Al-Tawil * Faraj Lama

 

Stearing Committee

          Adel Abdel-Latif    UNDP

          Karim Jesraoui -  Frej Fenniche        OHCHR

          Ibrahim Allam      AOHR – Project Coordinator

 

 

Editor

Mohsen Awad

Manual Coordinator

 

Executive Summary

 

This Manual

This Manual stems from an ambitious project which aims to incorporate the concepts of development and human rights, and which is a new old concept: old as a demand made by third world countries that went through decades of debates and endeavors, and produced in one of its phases the International Declaration of the Right to Development as a Human and People’s Right in 1986. The concept is also new in relation to efforts aiming to establish it and realize it in practice, amidst conflicting interests and aspirations within the international community, and even within national communities. When the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Development concludes that not a single nation in the world applies Development based on Human Rights, we can describe this right as “the elusive right”.

Elusiveness is not only related to the incorporation of the concept of Human Rights in Development, but it also extends to the interpretation of documents on which the concept is based, foremost the International Covenant for Economic and Social Rights, which is still considered by some major capitalist countries as a list of demands and needs, and not a list of rights and commitments, which requires a stable human rights course to surmount it.

Elusiveness does not stop at the position taken by some Super Powers, which might bear the burden of “helping in development”, within the framework of the international cooperation required by this concept, but it also comes from some Third World countries that would like to shirk some commitments, which would result from joining related international conventions, these countries soon presented an opposing motto that says Human Rights based on Development instead of Development based on Human Rights, meaning that these countries have to realize Development prior to realizing Human Rights.  This idea would take the entire situation back to square one, which banters Civil and Political Rights for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and which had been settled since 1993 by conforming the Vienna Document and Work Program.

The biggest tribulations do not just lie in the attempt to circumvent commitments, or re-producing concepts that human heritage has outgrown, as they also lie in the effect of international variables on human rights and development. Globalization, reorganization of the international order, and projects to re-structure power in the world, offer difficult challenges to established concepts, programs of development are not the first of these concepts to face such challenges and the order of human rights is not the last. Since the September 11 incidents, the epicenter of this interaction is concentrated in the Arab world and in the Middle East.

This Manual wishes to contribute to the ongoing debate around the concept of human rights and development, not only by delving into the origin of this concept, or by pointing to the progress achieved in establishing it, or by analyzing the challenges facing it, but rather by presenting new proposals to implement it, as well as standards of progress in its achievement, which is a problem facing all those who work in the field of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The question still remains why is it exclusively an “Arab Manual” and not a Human Rights Manual in general, as long as it stems from the principle of the universality of human rights, and as long as the organizations, which worked to achieve it, reiterated their established conviction of this principle.

In fact when preparation started to compile this Manual this question was the subject of several debates, but the team working on the Manual believed and still believes that there is no contradiction between establishing the international concept, and local processing, as there is an urgent need to examine the interactions of this concept with the national and regional reality, as well as a similar need to give examples and models from the local reality, and a stronger need for the targeted public requirements.

This Manual provides analyses of the types of interaction, and monitoring models, but still we have to define the public to be addressed, which also presents a pivotal question that occupied the minds of the team compiling the Manual, its answer was construed from the project objectives, and from the AOHR expertise gained by working in the Arab world over the last two decades, and through its interaction with Human Rights Institutions working in the Arab world, as well as from the needs of activists, researchers and journalists.  The Manual had to include four parts:

·      A comprehensive overview to fulfill the needs of human rights activists.

·      Specialized topics on the subject and the purpose of incorporating development and human rights to fulfill the needs of specialists.

·      Introductions that would help researchers.

·      Finally a Manual of terminology and concepts

 

The Manual content

Chapter I

 

The International Human Rights Law and Interconnected Rights

This Chapter reviews four main subjects, the first is the concept of human rights and its international, regional and national sources and problems, the second is its relation with the International Law related principles, particularly principles related to the International Labor Organization (ILO), to International Humanitarian Law and principles related to the protection of refugees, the third is the position of International Human Rights Law in Arab national legislations, and the fourth is the relation between human rights and democracy in various international contexts.

In its pursuit of the concept of human rights, this section explains that human rights can be tracked in humanity’s religious, philosophical, and intellectual heritage for several centuries preceding the 1948 Universal Human Rights Declaration. As all religions without exception have texts on honoring the human being, and all cultures without exception promote principles of kindness and justice, but when we speak of the modern international human rights heritage, we have in mind the group of binding principles that the human community, specifically since the end of WWII, agreed to legally commit to, such legal commitment acquires its support from international and internal instruments that guarantee this commitment.

Therefore the term of “human rights” indicates a group of rights closely connected with the humane personality stipulated by international conventions and enjoyed by the human being, and which should not be taken away from him for any reason, regardless of all the aspects of discrimination such as religion, language, color, origin, ethnicity and gender etc…

This Chapter also discusses groups of rights according to their subject, their sources, and their regional ranges. The Chapter also reviews human rights sources, between international and regional Conventions and national legislations, and pauses at the dilemma of human rights principles between universality and specificity, and deduces two dimensions of the dilemma:  the first dimension is cultural as no people in the world have a cultural heritage free of manifestations that might be in opposition with universal human rights principles, such questions should be treated with care when examining the implementation of universal human rights principles in a society.  The second and bigger dimension is political, which is that some governments use specificity as an excuse to dodge their commitments to human rights. Furthermore, Super Powers use universality as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of small countries mostly in a selective manner. Therefore, the issue of universality and specificity is politically exploited, as in the name of specificity the rights of citizens are violated and in the name of universality the sovereignty of nations is violated for purely political reasons.

In discussing the relation of International Human Rights Law with other related international laws, this Chapter reviews the relation between International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law and deduces that there is a unity in purpose between all human rights Conventions, and the 1949 Four Geneva Conventions, which is another guarantee of the human being rights and freedoms, although the latter aim to insure human rights at the time of armed conflicts. The Geneva Conventions are distinguished by the circumstances surrounding the protection, as they cover groups not included in the protection offered by traditional human rights, such as protection for the wounded, the drowned and civilians under the occupation, in view of the exceptional circumstances surrounding the protection. Another difference is that some of the rights stipulated by International Human Rights Law can no longer be binding in cases of emergency and wars, while the rights stipulated in the Geneva Conventions can never be disregarded, because the Conventions were adopted to regulate human rights at the time of war.

This section pauses at the current crisis faced by International Humanitarian Law, which is represented by warring countries intentionally disregarding its stipulations, using legal excuses or without even using excuses, while some people tend to undermine the bases of national and international judiciary systems in order to bind the hands of the Law and prevent it from reaching the perpetrators of crimes that violate International Humanitarian Law.

In analyzing the relation between Human Rights Principles and International Labor Organization Agreements, this sections explains that human rights principles constitute a basic component of the background reference regulating all ILO activities and work, while the ILO objectives include the adoption and promotion of all policies and measures based on the principle that all humans have the right to improve their material living standards and their spiritual needs without discrimination. This section explains that most ILO agreements and recommendations strive to protect and develop human rights in one way or the other, as long as they touch on issues like securing the work environment, protecting children and minors, regulating working hours etc…in addition to the various aspects of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as of civil and political rights. Nevertheless, a number of ILO agreements deal with specific basic rights and freedoms, such as freedom to congregate, emancipation from exploitation and equal opportunities in employment. What distinguishes the ILO in the field of human rights is the presence of instruments for the effective protection of the rights stipulated in ILO agreements and recommendations, which have proven their competence and effectiveness in protecting the human rights of workers.

This section discusses in details the challenges presented by the era of globalization, especially the problem of unemployment and the increasing numerical gap between rich and poor countries.

The section also discusses International Protection for Refugees within the framework of International Human Rights Law principles, and provides the definition of “refugee” according to International Law. The section also discusses the connection between the development seen by general International Law in the field of the protection of human rights, and international Conventions regulating the international and regional rights of refugees in addition to responsibilities connected to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Affairs.

The third subject in this Chapter is dedicated to Arab Legal Systems and International Human Rights Principles, and reviews the position of Arab Constitutions on the protection of human rights and public freedoms, which is a position that reflects disparity in the guarantees offered to human rights, and in the extent of freedoms they acknowledge, but they all agree to refer the regulation of freedoms to legislations that mostly restrict them. The effect of this phenomenon, which has historical roots, was exacerbated when many countries used the necessities to fight terrorism as an excuse to adopt legislations that violate human rights guarantees.

This section also discusses the position of International Human Rights Law in national legislation, and explained that Arab Constitutions usually used three methods to handle this issue: the first method put international Conventions at a higher level than the Constitution itself, like the Statute in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates Constitution. The Tunisian and Algerian Constitutions adopted the second method as they consider a treaty signed by the country as having less power than the Constitution and more power than the normal legislation. The third method is adopted by most Arab Constitutions and puts the international treaty after it has been ratified, at an equal level with legislations, and in the event a legislation is adopted after the ratification and violates the treaty stipulations, the subsequent legislative principle is applied, in application of the principle that latter legislation abrogates earlier legislation. This section explains that there is not a single case where Arab courts ruled to directly apply a Human Rights Convention or Covenant, except the Egyptian State Security Court ruling issued on 16/4/87, when the Court found railroad workers innocent of the charge of staging a strike, which is incriminated by the Egyptian Criminal Law, because the right to strike is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Arab judiciary reluctance to directly apply these Conventions is explained by the way judges perceive themselves as just appliers of the law, according to a culture consecrated by the Executive Power, as well as by the ambiguous relationship between international human rights Conventions and national legislations in some countries. This section also monitors the effects of Arab reservations on Human Rights Conventions.

The Manual dedicated the fourth subject in this section to the relation between Human Rights and Democracy, and confirmed there binding relation, as no one can imagine talking about human rights in a tyrannical despotic society, in spite of what is said of some autocratic regimes sometimes providing their citizens with economic and social rights, because human rights are integral and inter-connected, and it is impossible to sacrifice some of them at the expense of others. The section explains that according to some definitions democracy is considered one of the human rights, and pursues the different dimension of democracy like the right to participate in international human rights conventions and the status that democracy has occupied since1999, as one of the human rights, in resolutions taken by the UN Committee on Human Rights. The section concludes that the connection between democracy and human rights has evolved from just a connection between objectives and values at an earlier stage, to the concretization of what might be called Democratic Rights in a second stage and towards the additional concretization of these rights in a third stage.

This section dedicated a special discussion to the issue of democracy in the Arab experience, and concluded that the region suffers from “an acute misery in democracy and human rights”. This of course led to many questions such as: are there some cultural patterns that prevent the implementation of the values of democracy? Does Arab culture fall as rumored within these patterns? Is there a way to amend the culture and spread a minimum level of social agreement between the prevailing culture and democratic values that have a comprehensive humanitarian nature? The conclusion reached after extensive discussion is that there is no elements in Arab culture that would make it unable to accept the values of democracy, but main political alternatives circulating among educated Arabs in this matter need to be reviewed in order for democracy to become one of their main elements by surmounting the traditional forms in which these alternatives have appeared in the past. Democracy is the only way that Arab people will emerge from their oppressing crises and advance with modern developments.

 

Chapter II

International Human Rights Standards

 

This Chapter discusses international human rights standards, through the group of principles established by the International Human Rights Law within the framework of the two International Conventions related to Civil and Political Rights as well as to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In its analysis of the rights and freedoms handled by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights the Chapter does not only mention the Convention texts, but it also broadens its perspective in handling and referencing these texts, using as a guide the achievements realized by the Committee on Civil and Political Right since its started its operations, as well as the specific standards and instruments the Committee derived to insure the practical implementation of the protection and promotion of these rights and freedoms, foremost the integrality of these rights and their non-divisibility.

This section categorizes rights and freedoms into 20 articles, and unduly we do not need to repeat them in this review, we will just look at some of their inferences in relation to the Arab world main concerns, and the challenges facing the Arab world in the implementation of human rights and public freedoms.

·       In the presence of a depressing truth like the military occupation of two Arab countries, it is essential to remember what this Chapter mentioned concerning the right to self-determination being a pre-requisite for guaranteeing that individuals enjoy their civil and political rights, as well as their economic, social and cultural rights. Therefore, we find that Article#1, which handles this right in both international Conventions, totally concurs.

·       Under incessant regrettable repercussions of the international campaign against terrorism, we should remind that the Committee on Human Rights strives to reiterate that legislative and security measures that countries undertake to participate in this campaign, should not be inconsistent with or should not impair international commitments, which the state contracted to protect human rights by voluntarily joining the Convention.

·       Under the continued application of the Emergency Law in six Arab countries, we should remind that while Article#4 of the Convention allows the temporary suspension of some of the rights stipulated by the Article, during the application of the State of Emergency, there are some rights that are to remain untouchable under any circumstances. This license should only extend to the requirements of the State of Emergency, which leads to the necessity of defining the period during which the State of Emergency can be applied as well as its geographic sphere.

·       Within the same framework we should remind that the sanctity of the Right to Live does not only mean that this right should not be wasted, even in cases when a State of Emergency is declared, as stipulated by Article#4 of the Convention, but it also means that in order to implement this right the State has to avoid wars and armed conflicts as well as all forms of collective violence. According to Article#6 of the Convention the State is also required to undertake not just procedures required to curb criminal acts leading to the deprivation of the Right to Live, but in addition the State has to impose obligations on state-affiliated security forces not to arbitrarily kill individuals.

·       Within the framework of stressing the ban on torture, harsh, inhuman or humiliating treatment, this Chapter reminds us that courts no longer admit any confessions the defendant might give as a result of banned treatment, except to establish proof of the treatment against the defendant and render its perpetrator accountable.

·       Guaranteeing the Right to Freedom and Personal Safety is necessary to enable the individual to practice his other rights and public freedoms stipulated by the Convention, it is obvious that a freedom-restricted person or a person who does not feel his life, his honor or his property are secure cannot, for example, practice his right to travel freely or be a candidate to public posts or form associations.

·       Within the framework of the widespread practice of referring civilians to military or exceptional courts, it is worthy to point out that when this Chapter reviewed the conditions required for a fair trial, it deduced that referring civilians to military courts make defendants loose their individual right to stand trial in front of their normal judge and to enjoy all the guarantees required by Article#14 of the Convention.

·       In the presence of complaints about conditions in prisons in some Arab countries, we should reiterate what was mentioned in this Chapter, concerning the fact that the State should not use lack of material resources as an excuse to shirk its commitment to the respect of international standards related to living conditions in prisons.

In discussing Public Freedoms, this Chapter concludes that the Convention content offers the broadest interpretation of Freedom of Intellect and Belief, while the Convention allows the imposition of restrictions on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, if required for the protection of the interests of others or the interest of the entire community, such restrictions should not void the Right of Expression of its content, meaning they should be limited to what is required in democratic states. Freedom of Opinion and Expression is one of the main assets of democratic systems, and impairing it is impairing proper democratic rule.

While this Chapter presents an extensive analysis of the entanglement of the Right to Congregate Peacefully, and the Right to Form Associations with numerous other rights, it pauses at an important meaning, which is that civil society ability to contribute to the promotion and protection of public human rights is limited by the extent of freedom this civil society is allowed to practice, its right to form associations and to practice peaceful activities, thus if the State restricts this right, civil society will practically become at the forefront of those who suffer from human rights violations.

In the field of implementing the Right to Participate, this Chapter explains that the concept of participation in managing public affairs is fully inflected on the practice of political authority, which means participating in the legislative, executive and administrative authority, meaning all aspects of public matters, including shaping and directing political matters at the local, regional and international level through the means and ways regulated by the country’s constitution and legislations.  The international Convention requires its members to issue the necessary legislatures, which would allow citizens to actually practice this right and participate in operations that represent in their sum the management of public affairs, the Convention also requires that legislatures that regulate this right be based on objective and reasonable standards.

This Chapter reviews Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in two parts, the first is concise and of an introductory nature, it also gives definitions of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights connecting them to the International Human Rights Law, the Declaration on Right to Development, and the Vienna Work Plan. It also presents the subject of meeting and reciprocal enrichment between the perception of development based on rights, and the perception based on basic resources (human development). Furthermore, it reviews the commitments stipulated by the International Convention of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in preparation for assessment.

The second part focuses on assessing the progress achieved in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in turn the second part is divided into two sections, the first focuses on the UN methods used to monitor the implementation of the Convention, as well as the implementation of commitments described in official reports. In this context, the second part reviewed main concerns expressed by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights following the discussion of the reports presented by ten Arab countries.

The second and last section suggests a method to assess progress in the implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by relying on millennium goals for development, which are standard or referential goals that would be used to monitor and assess the ratio of progress in the implementation of rights based on a group of statistical benchmarks. The study included numerous charts and some important tables, in addition to attachments that contained 14 tables of important data related to the subjects discussed.

This analytical introduction pauses at three controversial issues, which will be reviewed in this part of the Manual, the first is commitments related to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in relation to what the Convention stipulated about “graduation” and “as allowed by available resources”. In relation to this matter, the study concludes that there is unanimity on how to understand the type of commitments intended, as some of those commitments are related to rights that do not need gradual implementation, like non-discrimination, or the principle of equality between genders, as in this case commitments are not tied to available resources and require immediate implementation without delay or graduation. The same applies to other freedoms like Cultural Freedom, and Freedom of Research and Creation. In the case of commitments related to other Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the State is required and obligated to initiate their implementation (without delay), by undertaking measures to guarantee the gradual enjoyment of those rights.

Therefore, there is a commitment to unconditional behavior that cannot be postponed, while commitment to the outcome, meaning the actual gratification of rights, is connected to resources and requires graduation, it is obvious that commitment to the outcome is tied to commitment to behavior.

This section also draws attention to the fact that the concept of graduation to insure enjoyment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has inspired some people to come-up with the concept of “minimum basic commitments”. In 1990 the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights approved that these “minimum basic commitments” are represented by at least guaranteeing enjoyment of what is considered basic in all rights. Subsequently the Committee considered that the State party, which for example has large numbers of people who lack the basic in food, health, lodging and education, would have breached the commitments that it contracted to perform, hence even in difficult cases, every state party should not forego those basic commitments towards the rights of weak and needy sectors.

The second issue that this study brings to light is the difficulties facing the implementation of the Convention in the Arab world as reported in the conclusions of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural based on reviewing and discussing official Arab reports. Some of the difficulties are wars, internal conflicts, the negative reflections of policies of conditioning or structural reform, as well as international economic conditions especially condition related to the fluctuation of the price of oil, and to the increase of debts.

In relation to the Committee’s concerns, or what can be described as level of implementation of rights, they point to the following:

1.   Discrimination is present in varying degrees in all Arab countries against ethnic or national minorities, or against foreigners in general. Discrimination is also found between town dwellers and peasants as well as between regions.

2.   Discrimination against women is evident in numerous fields, although its intensity varies from one field to the other.

3.   Unemployment level is high, usually there is no minimum wages, and if present it usually is not adequate, trade unions freedoms are usually absent or restricted in varying degrees.

4.   The standard of living is affected by poverty especially in the countryside, while the standard of living is quite high in some countries in varying degrees.

5.   Interestingly in one of the Arab countries, the AIDS virus is widespread although there is no information about it, while the rate of mortality among new mothers is also quite high.

6.   In the field of the Right to Education it was noticed that the level of illiteracy is high especially among women and in rural areas, the number of school dropouts is also quite elevated.

7.   In relation to the Right to Culture, there was an indication of the presence of censorship on cultural activity in general.

The third and final issue discussed in this Chapter and which we would like to point out, is that it devised a procedure to assess progress in the implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the light of the millennium goals for development, and how to apply it to the Arab reality.

 

*   *   *

 

Chapter III

Groups More Worthy of Care

 

This Chapter discusses group rights, and particularly the rights of five groups, which are more prone to violation, making these rights more worthy of care, such as Women Rights, Children Rights, Migrant workers and their Families Rights, People with Special Needs Rights and Minorities Rights.

 

Women Rights

Obviously this special Chapter should start with Women Rights not only to remove the prejudice befalling women as a result of discrimination against them within both the public and private frameworks, and to support systems of protection required to face all forms of violence against women, but also to correct social imbalances resulting from marginalizing the role and participation of women in development and in advancing society as a whole.

This section reviewed relevant international standards, from the International Human Rights Law, Conventions related to Women’s Political Rights, Nationality of Married Women, the Declaration for the Protection of Women and Children at the time of Wars and Conflicts, and up to the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Additional Protocol.

In this Chapter evaluation of the Convention to End All Form of Discrimination against Women and the Optional Protocol Thereto, the Chapter concluded that the Convention covered all known aspects of the life and rights of women, from public life to private life conditions.  From family relations, fostering, children, inheritance, ownership, marriage and divorce, to work-related matters, transactions, participation in decision making in public life whether in agricultural, industrial or commercial societies, political rights, and finally the right to education, to have access to training opportunities and to receive educational grants.

The Convention also pointed to Women’s Rights during the different stages of a woman’s life: as a young girl, a wife, an employee, a housewife, and as the owner of a political and cultural decision, the Convention failed to cover only one aspect of women’s lives, which is Women Rights in old age, although social security is supposed to guarantee this right.

This section mentioned that the importance of this Convention lies in the fact that it has become and international epitome in the defense of women, and because 90% of UN member states ratified the Convention, which implies that the world has announced its censure of discrimination against women.  But reality is still very far from the Convention aspirations, as women in the world still live a deplorable reality, considering that most poor people are women, most illiterate people are women, most refugees are women, most victims of physical violence are women, and people more liable to be led to the international sex-slave market are women.    To apply the Convention and monitor its application are no easy tasks, as they require huge efforts to change convictions, cultures and practices, these are in fact the biggest challenges facing our Arab and Islamic societies.  But working within the Convention framework prompted a lot of activities, of studies, as well as the creation of organizations, and encouraged the international movement to exert more efforts to promote Women’s Rights.

This section considered that the Optional Protocol Thereto was an advanced step on the road to implementing the rights stipulated by the Convention, as it allows individual or group complaints by women who are victims of violations, or who are suffering from discrimination due to their gender.  But this section also noticed that 1/3 of countries in the world did not sign this Protocol, which means that the majority of countries does not approve following-up on cases of discrimination against women, or answering any inquiries about them.

Within the Arab framework, this section reviewed the provisions related to Women’s Rights in three regional Conventions, which are the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights (1981), the Cairo Declaration for Human Rights in Islam (1990) and the Arab Charter for Human Rights (2004), and concluded that these Conventions are weak in relation to women, it was also noticed that the human rights speech became weaker in Arab and Islamic countries, while it became stronger in African countries.  This backwardness is not compatible with women developmental dimension in the Arab and Islamic framework, if we compare them to women in general within the poorer African framework.  The question is: Why does the Arab speech on human rights remain underdeveloped compared to the similar speech in other third world countries? 

The researcher considered that the answer to the abovementioned question came under three main headings:  an ideological reason controlled by the prevailing culture, a political reason and a structural reason represented by a weak Arab Feminist movement.  She considered that the ideological reason was not connected to socio-economic infrastructure in the third world, as all other third world countries had moved better and quicker in relation to Women’s Rights.  This concept is supported by the fact that the amended Arab Charter was more attuned to international standards for Women’s Rights in work-related matters, such as ownership and trade, and more regressive and conservative in relation to the concept of equality in other rights related to the direct relation between men and women, such as guardianship, family, nationality etc, which proves that retro-gradation was due to the ideological position adopted by Arab regimes and which is based on a tribal concept, the retro-gradation is further shown by reservations expressed by Arab countries on the Convention to End all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The researcher summarized the political reason in the fact that Arab countries lack democracy, political legitimacy and popular support, and the fact that they manipulate the issue of women, as they do other issues, within local social bargaining, as well as within international bargaining.  The researcher pointed that the issue of women was sometimes clouded by the fact that women would like on one hand to develop their positions and end all discrimination against them, while on the other they did not like being a tool in the hands of foreigners.

The third and final reason that the researcher mentioned focused on the weak Arab Feminist Movement, as the Movement remains selective and scattered in many Arab countries, while there is no unified Arab Feminist Movement, not through borders or through modern technology (although it has some manifestations on the internet like Aman and Kawthar), and the biggest problem remains that no Feminist Movement agrees on a specific program. Widespread illiteracy makes women adopt ancestral philosophy and take-up positions against the philosophy asserting their rights.  There is no way out of such situations without developing a speech of awareness of rights and legislations, within the framework of plurality of Arab culture and identity, as well as of enlightened Islam.  

Rights of the Child

This Chapter also discussed the Rights of the Child, and brought out the cumulative character of the interest in these rights since the League of Nations was established in 1919, until the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, and the two Optional Protocols Thereto related to Forcing Children to Participate in Armed Conflicts and Exploitation of Children, which entered into application in 2002.  The Chapter also highlighted the Convention international character, as up to the year 2005 192 countries ratified the Convention, which means that all countries of the world except Somalia (which has no government as a result of civil war) and the United States ratified the Convention.

This section discussed in details principles of the Convention, categorized the rights it included, and highlighted the unique character of the Convention as the first document that combined Civil and Political rights with Economic and Social rights, while adopting the principle of coordination and complementation among various rights. The Convention reinstated the importance of the role of family, as the basic unit of society and the natural environment for all its members growth and well-being, especially children.  The Convention also promoted a group of values headed by the respect of human rights and basic freedoms, as well as developing the child’s respect for his parents, his cultural identity, his language, his special values as well as his national values, preparing the child for a life that would perceive responsibility in a free society with a spirit of tolerance and equality between genders, as well as friendship among people and groups, and developing respect for the natural environment.

An important part of this section focused on the implementation of the Convention on the Right of the Child through a Rights Based Approach built on three elements: “the Right’s Person”, “the Responsible for the Right” and the “Right’s Subject”.  The section demonstrated that it is possible to analyze commitments resulting from the rights within the framework of three obligations:

Obligation to respect the Right, which requires the responsible for the Right not to impair or limit enjoyment of the Right, in a direct on indirect way.

Obligation to protect the Right, which requires the responsible for the Right to adopt all necessary measures and procedures, to prevent a third party from impairing a certain Right.

Obligation to implement the Right, which requires the responsible for the Right to adopt legislative and administrative measures as well as other appropriate measures to implement the Rights.

The section also explained several basic definitions for the implementation of rights based on a comprehensive view of rights, which considers rights as symmetrical and interactive, therefore impairing one of the rights would affect other rights, same as vaccinations in an unhygienic environment would cast shadows of doubt on the purpose for vaccinations, which is to limit child mortality and to let children enjoy a healthy life.  Quantitative benchmarks alone do not reflect a true picture of rights, as ratios of children being admitted to schools would not in itself guarantee the right to education, one should rather look for benchmarks for quality of education, principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunities.  The presence of a legal text that acknowledges a right represents a good framework for claiming the right but does not in itself secure the right, as there are several elements that interact differently with different scope of rights.  It is important to deal with the fundamental reasons that cause problems, not just treat symptoms, it is also important that children, as owners of this right, participate and be empowered, as a true guarantee for continuing to enjoy the right.

Final observations made by the International Committee on the Rights of the Child reflect the Committee’s assessment of the performance of Arab countries in the field of the Rights of the Child, in light of discussions of periodical reports presented by 17 Arab countries.  The assessment shows some positive aspects such as Constitutional texts, ratification of relevant Conventions, a number of Arab countries ratifying the Optional Protocols Thereto, the creation of new institutions concerned with children issues, the establishment of Supreme National Councils for Childhood Affairs, and some countries innovating the position of Representative for the Protection of Childhood, and a Parliament for Children.

The Committee did have some causes for concern: the existence of discrimination against girls, discrimination between cities and villages, widespread road accidents that threaten children’s lives, the lack of services for handicapped children, lack of awareness and information about domestic violence, wrongful conduct including sexual abuse within the family and outside the family, due to lack of protective legal procedures, the widespread circumcision of girls in some countries in spite of efforts to end the practice. Labor laws failure to offer protection for children, who work in family projects, in agricultural activities and as domestic help.  The unofficial sector that appears in many cases as one of the worst forms of labor, the lack of information about teenagers health and about counseling service for mental health.  Stressing the need for systems for gathering detailed information about children in all the fields covered by the Convention, including information about more vulnerable groups, such as individuals with no nationality, the handicapped, and children of economically deprived families, due to the importance of such information to assess progress.

The Committee also mentioned a number of important observations regarding treatment of delinquent children, including the low age of criminal liability in some countries (7 years), while other countries do not determine the age of criminal liability, minors are not separated from adults in some jails and programs for rehabilitation and integration of minors are very weak.

 

Migrant workers 

The third chapter also discussed the Rights of migrant workers, who represent one of the fragile groups from a human rights perspective, due to the fragile legal protection offered to them.  Several local legislations do not include international standards, which clearly give migrant workers human rights, but some of the host countries reject these standards, or only apply them to their national workers. Migrant workers are affected by human rights violations such as eviction and deportation, as well as by aspects of discrimination, like racism and xenophobia, and Migrant workers face great difficulties when attempting to find a way to seek justice.

This section explained that the negative aspects of globalization, which excluded the free movement of workers from all its elements, increased the problems facing migrant workers and produced numerous negative phenomena like: illegal immigration, human trafficking, and increased dangers facing the most vulnerable members of this group, first women who are being exploited, and second house servants (who again are mostly women).

In spite of efforts by the International Labor Organization and relevant UN organizations to protect migrant workers, whose numbers reached around175 millions, difficulties facing the protection of this group’s human rights increased, as feelings of antagonism towards migrant workers increased in some countries due to migrant workers competing with local workers for jobs, furthermore some western right-wing parties adopted programs to evict migrant workers.  The September 11 attacks increased suspicions and xenophobia; many countries hosting migrant workers adopted discrimination-based legislations and procedures that increased the fragility of their conditions.

This chapter also discussed international standards for the protection of migrant workers rights, and highlighted the fact that the ILO was the first organization to issue legal instruments for the protection of migrant workers rights, and also has numerous agreements to that effect, which treat various aspects of migrant workers rights. Since the seventies, the UN showed interest in the problem of migrant workers, and in 1980 the General Assembly adopted a resolution to establish a Task Force to draft a Convention that would guarantee the rights of migrant workers.  In 1990, the Task Force presented its draft of an international convention for the protection of migrant workers and their families.

The Convention consecrated a number of basic rights for all migrant workers and their families, which included: the right to live, to prohibit torture, to prohibit enslavement or slavery, freedom of opinion, conscious and religion, freedom to manifest the individual religion or belief, freedom of expression, to prohibit arbitrary detention, interference in the personal life of an individual, arbitrary confiscation of properties, to protect from violence, the right to a fair trial, to prohibit the retroactive application of criminal laws, to prohibit the confiscation or destruction of identity documents, collective eviction, to guarantee the right of participation in union activities, the right to enjoy the social security enjoyed by nationals of the host country, the right to medical care and the right of the child of migrant workers to acquire a name and a nationality, to get an education, to respect the cultural identity of migrant workers, and their right to transfer their properties and savings when their contract comes to an end.

The Convention also included some rules related to specific groups of migrant workers and their families, and stipulated the creation of a Supervisory Committee to oversee the implementation of the Convention, whose members would be chosen by member states.  The Committee would include 10 experts who would carry their missions in a completely independent and honorable way; the number of experts would be increased to 14, once 41 countries ratify the Convention.

Although the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers and their Families on 18 December 1990, few countries acceded it, and the Convention did not become operational before the year 2002. Until April 2005, only 29 countries acceded the Convention, most of the countries that did were developing countries (including 4 Arab countries: Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt), not a single country that hosts migrant workers joined the Convention.

The Special Rapporteur for migrant workers explained the reluctance to accede the Convention to be the result of real interests that rely on bases with real power, while the individuals who protect the interests are most likely responsible for the problems that prevent the complete application of these human rights standards.

Countries reluctance to accede this Convention gives an indication of the type of difficulties facing the implementation of international standards for the protection of the human rights of migrant workers and their families; it also increases the necessity to support efforts to consecrate international accession to the Convention and its respect.

 

Challengers of Disability

 

The fourth section of this Chapter discusses the rights of the Challengers of Disability, and highlights the problem of disability at the international level as it touches more than 600 Million individuals, which represents around 10% of the world population, although most people with disability are from developing countries.  The section also explains the concepts particular to disability and which differentiate between “handicap” and “disability”, as although both are related to a medical concept, the term disabled comprises the disabled person and his environment, and its purpose is to once more focus on the faults found in the environment and in many the social activities, which prevent the disabled person from participating with others on an equal footing.

This section points to the mistaken concepts that prevailed in the way people perceived disabled persons as a group that only needed protection, without considering their needs as human beings and their right to enjoy all the rights enjoyed by other groups of people.  This perception contributed to the disabled being socially isolated, and consecrated a social belief that the disabled person did not enjoy a group of fundamental rights and freedoms in a way equal to the way his healthy equivalents enjoyed those rights and freedoms.

In reviewing international standards, this section examines the basic rights guaranteed by major international conventions, which support the rights of the disabled.  The section also reviews international declarations related to this group like the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975), the Declaration on the Rights of the Mentally Retarded (1971), the Declaration on Progress and Development in the Social Field and the Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness, and the Improvement of Mental Health Care.  The reports also mentions related documents adopted by the General Assembly, such as the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Disabled Persons, which was adopted by the General Assembly 43rd session on December 20, 1993.

These rules were drafted based on experience acquired during the UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), and were based on the International Human Rights Bill, the International Convention on the Right of the Child, the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in addition to the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.  And although the rules are not binding, they implicitly contain a strong moral and political commitment for states to undertake measures to realize equal opportunities for disabled persons.  The rules also comprise important principles related to responsibility, work and cooperation, they also point to domains that have a conclusive importance in relation to quality of life, and to achieving total participation and equality.  The rules represent a base for inter-state technical and economic cooperation, as well as cooperation through the UN and other international organizations.

Since the UN General Assembly adopted those standard rules on the equalization of opportunities, a monitoring instrument was created, and an addendum of the standard rules was published in order to crystallize principles and suggest treatments for the aspects of deficiency mentioned in the report presented by the Special Rapporteur for Disabled Persons to the 36th session of the Committee on Social Development.  The most apparent common feature in this addendum is focusing on the needs of disabled children and elderly people, who represent the weakest members of this group.

The section mentions that the year 2001 witnessed the most important steps on the road to concluding an international agreement that would grant legal protection for the rights of disabled persons.  The General Assembly adopted a resolution drafted by Mexico, calling for the need to conclude an agreement on the rights of disabled persons, and to form a Committee that would review suggestions related to the agreement.  In 2003, the Committee called for the formation of a Working Group that would prepare a draft. In 2004, the Committee and the Working Group held several meetings and reached a consensus about a draft agreement on the rights of disabled persons, which would later be used as the base of negotiations.

Within the Arab framework, Arab countries were part of the efforts aiming to support and guarantee adequate legal protection for disabled persons to allow them to enjoy all their rights.   At the local level, specific plans and policies were adopted, while at the regional or international level plans and policies were adopted through the Arab League; Arab countries also supported international efforts to reach an international agreement on the rights of disabled persons.  Within this framework, the region witnessed a number of important forums like “The Conference on Disability in the Arab World: Reality and Aspirations”, which was held in October 2002 in Beirut, and issued a number of important recommendations, the “Arab Regional Conference on the Standards related to the Development and Rights of Disabled Persons”, which was also held in Lebanon in May 2003.  The 2003 Conference was organized by the UN Economic and Social Committee for West Asia with the participation of some UN Bureaus, Arab governments and Arab NGOs, to prepare for the Arab Decade for Disabled Persons 2004-2013, which was approved by the Council of Arab Ministers for Social Affairs during its 22nd session.

 

 

 Rights of Minorities

Section V of this chapter addresses the rights of minorities and tackles the difficulties pertinent to minority concept. This led the working group interested in minorities to accept the principle of self identity. Accordingly, the decisive element in the definition of minority is the individuals’ determination that they are members of a minority.

This section reveals the discrepancy between the serious nature of the minorities’ problem and its impact on triggering off disputes, on the one hand, and the stand of the UN Charter, on the other. There is no explicit reference to minority protection in the Charter. The same applies to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first allusion to the rights of minorities was enshrined in Article (27) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).This provision was essentially used as a basis for discussion during the development of the draft  ‘declaration of the rights of persons affiliated to national, ethnic or religious and lingual minorities’ adopted on 16 December 1992.

The Minority Declaration is deemed the sheer UN instrument that exclusively addresses the rights of persons affiliated to minorities. It does not only stipulate the protection of the existence and identity of the minorities but also recognizes that the protection and enhancement of the rights of the persons affiliated to minorities shall contribute to secure the rights of effective participation in the cultural, religious, social , economic and public life , and to take the relevant decisions. The Declaration further focuses on the rights of these minorities to the establishment and maintenance of their federations; to conduct free and sound transnational communications with the citizens of other countries with which they have affinities.

            The international mechanisms for the protection and enhancement of the rights of minorities are multiple and include the subcommittee for the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities formed in 1946.The subcommittee has been involved in minority issues though its name was changed in 2000 to the subcommittee for protection and enhancement of human rights together with the stemming task force, the ‘special procedures’, treaty organizations and the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. The minority task force, formed in 1995, is considered the only international forum exclusively concerned with the rights of minorities.

However, the analyses of sources, including the analysis of the international mechanisms, agree on the deficiency of the minority rights’ enhancement mechanisms as well as the urgent need to promote and bolster said mechanisms to fulfill their mission.

Within the Arab framework, the issues of ethnic, religious, lingual and sectarian groups in the Arab arena are characterized by two contradictory features. These are substantially controversial issues in some Arab countries whereas they are non-existent in the Arab political and social studies on the national and regional levels. This is definitely attributed to high sensitivity towards the issues of national unity and social peace.

Though this sensitivity is not just confined to the Arab Region, it has a negative effect. Sometimes, it conceals social tensions that turn into disputes which could have been easily avoided if they were unveiled and tackled with transparency and within a democratic frame that provides the means of equity.

The minority issues have constituted grave armed conflicts in some Arab countries and political conflicts in others. There were multiple patterns of solutions, such as self-rule within the framework of national unity, be it in Iraq (1970) or the Sudan (1972), or the sectarian reconcilation as in Lebanon .However, these solutions did not persist long and conflicts and disputes were flamed anew.

Currently proposed solutions take new forms based on the right of self-determination and federation. The Government of Sudan has recognized the option of separation for the South six years after the effectiveness of peace agreements. Algeria manifested its recognition of the Amazegian identity through acceptance of some of the Amazegian demands. It further recognized the Amazegian language as one equal to the Arabic language. Some Arab countries allocate some seats in their parliamentary councils to ethnic groups as in Jordan.

Though these solutions partially comply with the main principles of the Universal Declaration for the Protection and Enhancement of Rights of Minorities, they were not void of risks as regards the regional integrity and social peace of some countries. Unless the substantial settlements in countries like Sudan and Iraq become a prelude to the resolution of the problem of the Southern ethnic and national groups as well as the intricate relations between the Kurds and Turcoman and Arab minorities in Iraqi Kurdistan, the risks shall loom ahead as regards the regional integrity and social peace in these regions.

The ideal framework for the resolution of intractable dilemmas combines two approaches-independence and integration. This rests on relentless work to reach sound solutions with a democratic framework governed by the rule of law and equality; one that provides means of equity and seeks to secure regional unity and integrity for the citizens of these countries.

 

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Chapter IV

The UN Instruments for the Protection of Human Rights and for Monitoring

the Implementation of International Conventions

 

This Chapter in the Manual reviews all the procedures devised by the UN to support and protect human rights, whether the procedures related to the organizations stipulated in the UN Charter or related to organizations stipulated in related International Conventions, including the International Convention of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families which became operational on July 1, 2003. In doing so the Chapter attempts to explain the practical steps to be taken when addressing these organizations and instruments, whether on the part of states, NGOs or even individuals, based on the fact that knowing procedures and mastering them would facilitate benefiting from these organizations and would help the implementation of human rights.

To confirm the close connection between human rights and democracy, this Chapter reviews international standards for holding free and impartial elections, for the supervision of international and national elections, and reviews the technical support offered by the UN to states to hold free and impartial elections.

This Chapter does not only speak about international instruments, it also reviews a regional instrument represented by the African Committee for Human and People Rights, considering that many Arab countries belong to the African system for the protection of human rights.

This Chapter has the merit of engaging in the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of international instruments and ways to support them, the last part of this Chapter discusses this subject at four levels:

The First Level is related to the criticism directed at the UN as an organization, regarding its inability to control the double standards used by Super Powers to deal with some cases, and its failure to stop some military interventions that took place out of the UN frameworks, as well as the disparities resulting from some countries having the right of “Veto” in the Security Council.

The Second Level looks at the Committee on Human Rights, and summarizes the criticism directed at it in the fact that it is formed of countries that define their positions through their own interests, and not based on the preservation of the principles of human rights. Therefore we have seen countries whose record is full of violations yet it is very difficult to condemn their actions inside the Committee, other countries in the Committee are ruled by repressive regimes, which made the Committee lose its credibility and handicapped its activity, furthermore the Committee has become the scene of conflict and political differences.

The Third Level reviews Committees in Charge of Monitoring the Implementation of Conventions, and summarized the criticism directed at them in the fact that some experts are not totally independent and are closely connected to their countries political position, which rendered some committees completely ineffective. The study shows that 50% of experts occupy official positions in their countries government and get appointed to these Committees as a reward or a promotion, the presence of those experts embarrasses their colleagues who would like to go further in their critical analyses but fear it might cause a rift in the Committee. These Committees also suffer from lack of material and human resources required to face the huge number of country reports, as some reports are studied two years after being presented. The Committees also do not have a monitoring instrument to follow on the final observations and recommendations they present, countries also do not cooperate with them and do not present their reports at the required time. In addition, countries lack the political will to seriously deal with the Committees, and some Committees do not approve the official presence of NGOs.

The Fourth Level examines the Committee on NGOs affiliated to the Economic and Social Council, and summarized the criticism that NGOs direct at the Committee in the following: resolutions are adopted by consensus, practically giving every member the right of Veto, which deprived many organizations of the attribute of “consultant” for political reasons, this requires switching to the majority system in the adoption of resolutions. Meeting bi-annually does not serve NGOs and therefore they require an annual meeting. Resolution#1269 should be reviewed to conform to the new relation between NGOs and the UN. The rules governing NGOs participation in UN international conferences should be unified, to make the UN and not the states set the rules.

At the end of this review, the Chapter presents twelve suggestions to support UN instruments, which represent the opposite side of the criticisms.

But after completing this Chapter, discussions in the UN about the development of UN structures and instruments entered a new phase following the publication of a report prepared by an international high level committee, formed by the UN Secretary General and presided by Niar Anshon the former Thai Prime Minister.

-                            The Committee sharply criticized some human rights instruments, and pointed that the credibility of the UN Committee on Human Rights had been eroded, as well as its professional efficiency, which undermined its ability to perform its missions in the last few years. The Committee pointed that countries that have no firm commitment towards supporting and protecting human rights cannot put standards for supporting rights; in the last few years countries had asked to be members of the Committee not to support human rights, but rather to protect themselves from criticism or from the censure of others. The Committee cannot be credible if people think it uses double standards in facing human rights-related issues. Therefore reforming this body is essential to make the order of human rights operate effectively, and to guarantee that the Committee would better perform the mandates entrusted to it.

-                            The Committee also supported the efforts of the General Secretary and of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to guarantee the incorporation of human rights in all UN activities.

-                            The international Committee recommended the increase of the number of members in the Committee on Human Rights, and to ask member states to appoint prominent and expert personalities in the field of human rights to represent in the Committee. The international committee also recommended the establishment of a consultative team of around 15 independent experts to advise and guide the Committee about analogous mandates. While the team itself should undertake some of the current mandates related to research and to setting up standards and definitions.

The Committee also recommended that the High Commissioner be asked to prepare an annual report about the status of human rights in the entire world. This report would then be used as a base for a realistic discussion with the Committee, the report should focus on the implementation of all human rights in all countries, based on information received through the work of UN organizations as stipulated by special Conventions and instruments, as well as from other sources that the High Commissioner might consider suitable.

The Committee also recommended increasing the funds allocated to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and highlighted the contradiction between allocating 2% of the UN budget to the High Commissioner and the commitment stipulated by the UN Charter to make the support and protection of human rights one of the UN main goals. The Committee also recommended –for a long term plan- to look into promoting the Commission into a Council for Human Rights, thus it would not to be anymore a branch organization of the Economic and Social Council but rather one of the Charter organizations standing beside the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council, in a manner that would reflect the importance given by the UN Charter Preamble to human rights in addition to economic and security issues.

The international Committee was not the only one to present suggestions for the development of human rights instruments, Switzerland of its own initiative officially presented a proposal to reform the Committee on Human Rights to the Secretary General, several countries participated in the discussion including Canada, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Check Republic and Poland. The Swiss proposal included three alternatives:

1-        Invitation to establish a mini Council of 15 to 25 members, this Council would be prepared, at any time and according to the need, to have a quick and effective response to violations committed by any country. This option meets with resistance due the fact that all countries are not represented in the mini Council, and all its members will exclusively be human rights experts.

2-        To establish a Council of 50 to 60 members similar to the UN Economic and Social Council, representation will by country representatives.

3-        Forming a Council similar to the UN General Assembly where all countries will be represented, the Council will be charged with the mission of devising a binding international Convention in the field of human rights. But it is obvious that such a Council will be subjected to the same obstructions, complications, political balances, and economic interests that impede the work of the High Commission and the current Human Rights Committee.

On April 7, 2005, the Secretary General in turn presented a proposal to reform the UN Human Rights instruments to the Committee on Human Rights in Geneva. The Secretary General explained that: “the issue of human rights has entered a new era, as in most of the past 60 years, the UN focus was to implement, legalize and preserve rights, this effort provided a framework of legislations, standards and instruments, such an effort should continue in some sectors, but the era of declarations is now gone. It is imperative for the benefit of the era of applications, and based on this evolution, I suggest major changes in the three main pillars of the UN human rights order: the Contractual Organizations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs in the following manner:

·       To expand and strengthen the system of contractual organizations to enable them to perform their functions, it is imperative to swiftly devise procedures to enable them to work effectively.

·       To realize the requirements of expanding the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to solve the problems facing its work, to secure additional fund for the Office that would conform to the huge missions entrusted to it. The Office of the High Commissioner was asked to draw a work plan for this purpose.

·       To invite member states to replace the Committee on Human Rights with a smaller Council for Human Rights. As new requirements have surpassed the Committee’s abilities, and politicization and selectiveness of the Committee’s work led to a point where it casts shadows on the reputation of the entire UN system, and as such partial reforms will not be sufficient. The Council for Human Rights can offer a new beginning, and inter-governmental agencies interested in human rights can have a position in this Council, in addition, the Council can have powers and capabilities consistent with the importance of its work.

The UN actually has Councils that deal with its two main purposes: security and development, therefore establishing a third Council for Human Rights would present a conceptual and articulate clarity. I suggested that this Council be a permanent structure, capable of meeting whenever the need arises and not just meet for six weeks per year, as is the case now. The Council’s main purpose would be to assess how all countries implement their commitments towards human rights; this would lend an explicit expression of the principle that human rights are universal and indivisible. The Council would give equal care to Civil, Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights as well as to the Right to Development. The Council would be equipped to provide technical assistance to countries, and to give advice regarding state policies as well as policies of UN agencies.

Under such a system, every member state can periodically appear for review in the Council, this periodical review would not prevent the Council from dealing with widespread repressive violations that could occur, the Council would be able to focus the international community’s attention on urgent crises.

This Council should be more controlling and more illustrative, therefore I suggest that Council members be elected by the General Assembly with a 2/3 majority, and that elected members be totally committed to international standards. Electing members by a 2/3 majority would make them more capable of control, and would make the entire Council more illustrative.”

 

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Chapter V

The Right to Development as A Human and People Right

 

This Chapter reviews its subject through four main sections, which handle the UN efforts to consecrate and implement the Right to Development, and the meaning of the Right to Development as a Human and People Right, as well as applied international policies and obstacles facing the implementation of the Right to Development, and finally the requirements necessary for the implementation of the Right to Development.

The Chapter reviews UN efforts in this field from 1977 up to the 1986 Declaration of the Right to Development, and concludes that the General Assembly’s decision to adopt this Declaration was balanced and reconciled different positions as the Declaration considered the Right to Development one of the Human Rights as well as a People’s Right. The Declaration focused on the individual as the main beneficiary from development, and on the state as party mainly responsible for its implementation, but within a framework of international cooperation, which encourages the evolution of developing countries, and tries to remove all outside problems preventing the individual and people from practicing their rights, as well as internal problems resulting from not respecting indivisible human rights. If the Declaration focuses on the internal aspect of the Right to Development, and the State responsibility to implement it, it did not neglect the international aspect of the Right to Development and the responsibility of rich countries for it.

This Chapter also reviews latter efforts to implement the Right to Development and pauses at the new monitoring instrument created 1998, through the appointment of an independent expert on the Right to Development, as well as a work team of unconstrained composition, to monitor the progress realized in the implementation of this Right. The Chapter also specially pauses at the recommendations offered by the independent expert and which comprised four sides: a development program built on rights, reducing poverty and improving social benchmarks, conventions for development to be concluded between parties based on reciprocal commitments, and monitoring instruments independent from contractual instruments to asses the implementation of various rights and commitments.

In handling the Content of the Right to Development as a Human and People’s Right, this section concludes that the basic character of the Internal Dimension of the Right to Development meets with the basic principle consecrated by the International Law for Human Rights, which is that the initial responsibility for respecting human rights is a State responsibility, as promoting respect is in the first place a national responsibility that each state owes its citizens, within the framework of respecting its international commitments.

This internal aspect of the Right to Development meets with the concept of human development, which puts the human being at the heart of the development process, as its main performer as well as the main beneficiary from it. This concept was consecrated by the Declaration on the Right to Development before it firmly appeared in the developmental philosophy, this aspect also meets with the concept of Good Governance based on participation, transparency and rationalizing public policies. Thus it can be said that at the national level, the Right to Development is based on two major elements: the right to participate in policies and series of development, and the right to enjoy all human rights in policies and series of development.

In relation to the International Aspect of the Right to Development as a Human and Peoples Rights, this Chapter concludes that it comprises three elements: the right to development as the right to participate on an equal footing in international relations, as the right to preferential treatment to facilitate development, and as the right to receive international assistance conditioned with the respect of human rights. As expected the last controversial element was discussed in great details, using the fact that the Right to Development initially requires that assistance to develop be connected with respect of human rights, but connected this to a group of principles in order to become objective, effective and a contributor to the implementation and realization of the Right to Development. These principles are related to reaching a consensus about the concept of human rights, adopting a trustworthy reference for assessment, they are also related to priority of positive procedures and priority of international handling, the principle of relativity, the principle of respecting human rights in measures undertaken in the name of their respect, non-selectiveness, foregoing the unilateral use of force to support respect of the human being, and the principle of international monitoring of all measures undertaken in the name of human rights.

In analyzing problems facing the implementation of the Right to Development, this Chapter discussed two types of problems, the first type includes internal problems related to banning democratic participation and impeding the enjoyment of human rights in development policies. The Chapter explains that this danger is prevalent in most Third World countries, where the most important industry is power, which is the most dangerous and powerful instrument to compile and make fortunes. In the absence of a strong industrial sector independent from the authority, possessing power is the most important source of accumulation, even in the private sector success very much depends on the private sector relation with the authority and on having its support.

The second type of problems facing the implementation of the Right to Development include international problems, foremost the multi-faceted interventions carried by some Super Powers, whether under the cover of the Security Council or through unilateral action, as well as the intervention of international monetary institutions to impose an economic, social and political model, which undermines the bases of the Right to Development, while international pledges to help development do not rise to the level required by the situation, in addition to dangerous inconsistencies that surround international stipulations, which largely limit their effectiveness against the power of instruments and practices violating the Right to Development.  In relation to the latter problem, the study analyzes the two most important models of stipulations, namely the American and the European Union experiments.

The Chapter reaches its conclusion by a study of the requirements of the implementation of the Right to Development, and divides them into internal and international requirements. The first focuses on reforming some UN agencies, foremost the Security Council, as well as international monetary institutions within the framework of reforming the international organization itself. While the second focuses on reforms required at the national level through defining responsibilities that the democratic forces have to shoulder in reform on one side, and their responsibilities within the framework of their regional and international coalitions on the other.

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Chapter VI

Towards a Course for Development Based on Human Rights

 

This Chapter explains that the concept of development based on human rights, or the incorporation of human rights into development, is a relatively new concept, which has not been fully established or assimilated by development agencies in general nor by civil society nor by funding institutions nor by UN organizations, in addition the concept in itself includes difficulties and complexities.

In order to clarify the dimensions of the concept of development based on human rights this Chapter reviews the development of human rights principles as well as the concept of development leading to the 1986 Universal Declaration on the Right to Development as a Human and People’s Right. The Chapter explains although some major capitalist countries had reservations towards the Declaration on the Right to Development, the Declaration came to confirm that this right was one of the human rights, and not just a petition presented by individuals and which governments can answer or refuse. The Declaration confirmed that the human being constitutes the hinge of the development process, and that he combines participation in the process with benefiting from it, meaning the human being is the development process expedient and objective. But in fact no great achievement occurred in the implementation of the Right to Development Based on Human Rights until the beginning of the nineties when a number of international conferences and summits were held, which all strived to reiterate the Right to Development as a Human Right, not to be impaired in relation to any individuals or groups.

This Chapter concludes that the course of incorporating the concepts of human rights and development requires defining applicable objectives of development based on specific rights, connected to legal standards found in the Universal Declaration as well as in international, regional and national human rights conventions. This requires the fulfillment of several conditions like to adopt international legal standards and incorporate them in development programs, to render governments directly responsible for the implementation of those rights in relation to various rights and groups within the country, to consider them as rights and not needs that the government might consider providing, to offer to help governments implement these rights, to adopt human rights and development benchmarks and to carry organized monitoring to insure that commitments are met.

This Chapter also concludes that this concept requires that several principles be considered as basic conditions to incorporate human rights in development, the most important is the universality of human rights, as they are interwoven and indivisible, to increase the level of responsibility and accountability in relation to the development process by defining the people who have rights and their dues, and in return who is responsible for obligations and commitments.

Furthermore, the procedure should be based on the right and not on need or expertise, meaning that beneficiaries from development should own and administer this right, while stressing that the human being is the center and axle of the development process, either directly or through a representative in institutions of civil society. The objective is to give the human race the capability, the power, and efficiency required to improve their lives, improve their societies, and control their destinies.

This procedure requires a large participation by various social groups and their contribution in a simple and effective way, not just as a token or superficial participation, as it is imperative to focus on openness and transparency and to give various sectors a chance to be informed about development policies and plans and express their opinion, point of view and aspirations. They have to be informed about the scientific presentation of development projects, plans and activities as well as about institutions interested in development, to spread awareness of development institutions as well as treatment and reform means and instruments in relation to beneficiaries and partners.

As discrimination between human beings means putting one group in a better position than others, thus diminishing the rights of the latter, then this method requires the removal of laws and institutions, which discriminate against any attribute or individual, and to provide the necessary resources to all groups and individuals. Based on this the concept of development based on human rights means the total introduction of equality among all, especially marginalized groups. There is no definite or unified list of these groups as they vary according to time and location, it is imperative that developmental information should be sorted according to ethnic, religious, linguistic distribution as well as to social role and other human rights-related factors and to define the manner in which development incomes are distributed, to discover who benefits from incomes and who is deprived.

This Chapter goes on to analyze role of the UN and its agencies in this mission, and the effort of the UN various agencies in this matter, starting with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) which plays a worldwide leading role in the field of human rights, to the UN Development Program (UNDP) and their common efforts, as well as the UNICEF pioneer experiment in the field of incorporating human rights in development.

The final part of this Chapter focuses on ways to incorporate human rights in development and narrowed them to five methods:

1-      The memo of understanding between the UNHCHR and the UNDP

2-      The joint regional evaluation/the framework of the UN Program for Developmental Cooperation

3-      Which are considered as the most important strategic instruments for developmental planning and incorporating human right in development and the objectives of the developmental millennium

4-      The Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS)

5-      The role of contractual committees

In conclusion the Chapter deduces that the process of incorporating human rights in development remains a cumulative process, which progresses from time to time until conviction is established, determination is built, and commitment to the process is concretized on the part of international agencies, governments, institutions of civil society and donors.

 

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Chapter VII

International organizations concerned with

human rights and development

 

Chapter VII identifies the most important international organizations concerned with human rights and development, some of the organizations are UN subsidiaries, which were established by resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly like the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and other subsidiaries that work independently and have their own Board of Directors. While other organizations are specialized agencies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), all the latter organizations are totally independent, some of them were even established before the UN itself, like the ILO, which was established by the 1919Versailles Treaty and in 1946 became the first UN specialized agency. Each of these organizations has its independent budget and decision-making system, but they are all connected to the UN through “Juncture Agreements”.

The objectives and purposes of these organizations vary, as some have developmental objectives like the UNDP, the UNEP and the UNIDO, which aims to promote industrial development, while others aim to protect and support different groups like the ILO, which aims to protect the right of workers and improve work conditions, the UNIFAM which works to strengthen the political and economic status of women by focusing on Women’s Rights and incorporating them in the universal human rights movement. The UN International Childhood Fund (UNICEF), which works to protect children and support conditions conducive to their growth and development, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is active in protecting, helping, rehabilitating, and repatriating refugees.

These organizations provide the main driving power for realizing UN objectives in development as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. Some organizations play a role similar to the role played by the UN in forming and shaping international standards in specific sectors, as the ILO does in the field of labor standards, as it reached 300 international agreements and recommendations in this field, so does the UNESCO in field of cultural rights. But the reciprocal support of objectives and their blending, while in some cases they might even be identical, does not mean that these international organizations duplicate each other objectives, or use analogous measures and procedures. If we go back to the example we previously mentioned about the common ground between the UN and the ILO, we can distinguish three fields, in the first they have analogies like union rights and collective bargaining, while in the second they differ completely as the ILO focuses on some professional conditions for work, while in the third the UN and ILO field of interests blend as the UN focuses on standards without which the Right to Work cannot be implemented, and the ILO focuses on details without which the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights cannot be implemented.

The nature of the relationship between each of these organizations and NGOs varies, not just in what is expected, such as the type of cooperating organizations in relation to common objectives, for example the principal connections of the ILO are mainly with labor organizations and the connections of the WHO are mainly with medical or scientific organizations etc…but variation also occurs outside specialized frameworks, as outside of the framework of labor organizations, the ILO cooperates with NGOs within the framework of semi-contractual arrangements to carry out certain assignments like statistics, studies and training… the UN High Commissioner for Refugees relations are not limited to aid or humanitarian relief organizations, but also extend to NGOs interested in education, pedagogy, human rights and other.

Regulatory bases governing relations and cooperation between international organizations and institutions of civil society also vary. Most of the international organizations grant the “Consultative Status” to a limited number of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), while some also grant this Status to international regional organizations, others provide other levels for cooperation through a roster, or even outside the previous standards.

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) provides a commendable service to support communication between international organizations and NGOs. The NGLS is a unit liaising between specialized UN agencies, programs, funds, desks and donors, the unit was established in 1975 at the suggestion of the UNDP and the UN Public Information Bureau, and is supported by several international organizations to promote dialogue, cooperation and communication between the UN and NGOs, especially in the fields of sustained human development, environmental development, development, universal economy, and boosting development in Africa. The NGLS issues a great number of publications that reflect NGOs interests and activities as well as the UN system.

 

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Chapter VIII

National institutions, Parliamentary Committees, 

NGOs Working in the Field  of Human Rights and Development

 

This Chapter aims to define NGOs working in the field of human rights and development in the Arab world, and ways to communicate with them. This task might outwardly seem easy, but in fact it was a difficult one, starting with the problem of classification and going to the problem of subjective unbiased selection to meet the Manual’s requirements. While theoretical and field studies have always recognized the problems of terminology, the problems remained unresolved, the team compiling data for the Manual was entrusted with the somewhat risky responsibility of determining specifications.

Standards used to select the organizations to be included in the Manual contained some difficulty, as with the increasing number of NGOs working in the fields of human rights and human development in the Arab world. A deeper awareness of the organizations role, an increased social need for them, and the gradual regression of legislative restrictions to establish them, led to a surge in their numbers. Due to the large number of organizations it is very difficult to enumerate all of them in such a limited space, this in turn imposed an individual judgment in selecting the organizations that would appear in the Manual, and therefore the selection was somewhat arbitrary.

In spite of these problems, civil society in the Arab world in general and human rights institutions in particular, are very dynamic in their course of development and their propagation, as there is a constant and heavy burgeoning of institutions, which operate in varied fields and have varied activities, between general and specialized, between regional, national and local. In addition there is a degree of competition among them, which sometimes leads to positive outcomes and at other times to negative outcomes.

Focusing on new areas and concepts is another positive feature, as for instance, interest expanded to include Economic, Social and Cultural Rights beside Civil and Political Rights. Arab Human Rights Organizations started to focus on democracy as one of the basic rights, on the concept of human or humanitarian development based on human rights, on good governance as well as on issues related to the environment and water resources…

In spite of these two positive features in the movement of human rights institutions, the motion also included the disappearance of some institutions shortly after they were established and became active; or they were not able to operate after their establishment due to subjective or internal pressures.

These various features lead to difficulties in observing these institutions and their diffusion in the absence of official or semi-official statistics. It is less difficult to monitor human rights institutions due to their continuous activities and their wish to promote themselves, but it is difficult to find out any detailed information about human rights organizations.

A number of modern Directories, which were published by national, regional or international authorities, although they provide wide and almost comprehensive data about those organizations, did not help us when we were preparing related sections, as many data like “name of responsible or manager”, “means of communication” and “field of interest” were no longer current. Some of the institutions included in these Directories were no longer operational or no longer existed.

This section presents around 150 non-governmental organizations operating in 17 Arab countries in the field of human rights in general or in a specialized field (women – children), or in the field of developing democracy, and human or humanitarian development based on human rights, this latter type of organizations is not widespread, in addition we also present some organizations working at the regional level. Taking into account that the number of related organizations that could be tallied in the Arab region is double this number, this does not mean that we selected or preferred organizations listed in the Manual over others, this rather reflects the difficulties surrounding the tabulating operations especially features of development and motion.

We could not include any data about four Arab countries, namely the Sultanate of Oman, Djibouti and Qatar where there are no of non-governmental human rights formations, while in Somalia the nature of the current conditions prevented us from contacting human rights organizations there.

In Iraq and in spite of a growing civil society movement in the aftermath of the occupation, and the accelerated proliferation of general civil society institutions and specialized human rights institutions, the rapid proliferation was accompanied by even quicker variables as well as deep and fundamental problems related to the issue of occupation and popular polarization, which made it difficult at the current time to present facts that would be firm and would have the ability to progress.

Accordingly it was decided that the data presented in this section would be the subject of constant change and development, by posting it at the website of the Arab Project for Human Rights and Human Development www.arabhumanrights.org to allow everybody to access it, and to periodically update the site when organizations not in the Manual send their data to the website, or when organizations already included in the Manual update their information.

Furthermore the Arab Organization for Human Rights, as the institution responsible for supervising and executing the project, as well as the institution responsible for managing the project website starting May 2005, will have its technical team develop and update the data posted on the website. Either through receiving requests for additions from organizations, or requests to update the data of organizations already in the Manual. The AOHR technical team will also expand the type of information available on the website through the self-effort required by aspects of the AOHR activities, campaigns and other regional projects.

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Chapter IX

Manual of Terminology and Concepts

 

This last Chapter of the Arab Manual for Human Rights and Human Development aims to achieve three main goals: the first is to clarify some legal terms that might cause confusion, whether due to the variety of related references between Anglo Saxon, Latin or Islamic in the Arab countries, which the Manual would like to address through its scientific material. The second is to differentiate between some interlocking general concepts; this interlocking is due to the close connection between one concept and another, as between referendum and elections, or between parliament and local council. The third is to monitor some of the most prominent new concepts in the field of human rights, and to analyze new dimensions of old concepts used in the same field. In connection with these three objectives, this Chapter is divided into three main sections that cover legal interlocking terms, interlocking general concepts, as well as new and renewable concepts successively.

The options of this Chapter were based on some methodical limitations that governed its general framework and controlled it; the most important limitations are the ones connected to the field of inclusion and exclusion that controlled the terms and concepts related to human rights and development. From the beginning, its is important to reiterate that it was not on the mind of any of the people responsible for the publication of the Manual, that this Manual would be inclusive of all what it could contain, but it imperatively had to be selective, meaning it would include what it should contain.

Although it is possible to differ about what should be included and what should not, it can be said that the selection procedure was widely discussed by a group of prominent experts in the studies of human rights and development, and came as a result of reading a great number of encyclopedias, directories and dictionaries, reflected by the list of references and sources. In addition in selecting concepts and terms, it was observed that they would fulfill the need of the people responsible for the publication of this work, based on their expertise in human rights at the Arab level, meaning the need to spread awareness of various concepts that express the same meaning or a close meaning from one Arab country to the other, which some people might call symbolizing the gap between the Arab Mashreq and Maghreb, but it is far better to describe it as developing Arab awareness of the culture of human rights.  In addition this material can still be developed and increased in the future within the framework of a plan of constant updating of the Manual material, which will be posted on the international information network on the Project website.

Another methodical controller was related to the distinction the reader of this work will find between the term and the concept. This distinction comes in reality from the fact that the term points to the “word” that a group of specialists in a branch of knowledge accept as meaning something specific, making the agreement between those specialists the center of definition and its limitation. For example the term of constitution has a different meaning in sociology and politics. While the concept has a more definite nature than the conventional nature of the term, as it embodies the values stemming from each human civilization. Such is the case of the concept of democracy within the context of western civilization and the concept of Shura in the context of Arab-Islamic civilization.

The third methodical controller is related to the Manual sources, which is a problem that the people responsible for issuing the Manual had to face. As in addition to dictionaries, encyclopedias and directories, there was an abundance of UN documents related to the Manual material and to its three sections, as well as articles of opinion and venerable academic studies. Compilers of the Manual chose to focus on UN documents because they directly reflect the development of the international community ideas on how to deal with issues related to human rights and development, but they did not neglect other sources that presented individual efforts and analytical views, as they considered they would strengthen and enrich the Manual.

This Chapter discussed 40 main subjects handled in alphabetical order within every section, after attributing every concept or term to its direct linguistic root.

 

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