The Human Rights Programme recently attended 3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Peace. Over 40 States at least 20 international NGOs were present in the room.
After 2 previous sessions in which no consensus had been reached, the mandate of the Working Group was to finalize the draft UN declaration on the right to peace according with the Human Rights Council Resolution 20/15.
Again, achieving consensus proved to be a very difficult goal for States as some are just not ready to recognize a Human Right to Peace or even a Right to Peace.
For this 3rd session the Chairman-Rapporteur presented a concise new draft with a rich preamble but an extremely short operative part in the hope that States may be able to accept it. The draft included the principles of: gender equality, non-discrimination, and social justice, and highlighted the importance of women’s participation in peacemaking processes.
However, the draft lacked any reference to disarmament as a prerequisite to the achievement of peace, it was weak in its measures for compliance and it did not even acknowledge the human right to peace, it merely created the notion of the entitlement to “enjoy peace”.
WILPF advocated for a text that includes the root causes of war and that will effectively ensure long lasting peace: peace as human right, disarmament and the necessity to include implementation measures in regard that states are the main duty-holders for the human rights in a Statement and we also joined other NGOs in a coordinated Statement. The Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International order, Alfred de Zayas, also made a statement demanding States to work positively towards peace.
Although the draft declaration was already very weak and the absolute minimum countries could agree on, the discussion among states did not lead to a consensus. Some states categorically rejected to recognize the Right to Peace. Some delegations made it clear from the outset that it was thus inconceivable to have a draft declaration without the right to peace appearing in it.
Discussions have added new paragraphs on terrorism; foreign occupation; obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes; the importance of conflict prevention and of addressing the root causes of conflicts in the new draft. It also has an important paragraph on the needed measures for implementation. But that text does not enjoy consensus.
After three sessions with a clear mandate to draft a Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, States have shown no willingness to recognize such a right; indeed they have shown a determination to prevent any codification of such a right.
We, NGOs in that room cannot help but feel that all we have done is waste our time believing in an initiative that States were never willing to support. Perhaps that was the point.