Upholding a human right to peace

Upholding a human right to peace

TransConflict is pleased to endorse and promote a joint statement to be submitted to the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council. This will be a decisive session on this issue, as some States will try to adopt a minimum declaration, not defining the Human Right to Peace nor its elements, ending the codification process with a meaningless declaration.

 Suggested Reading Conflict Background GCCT

The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Right to Peace distributed on 31 March 2015 his second draft declaration, to be discussed during the third session of the Working Group, held in Geneva from 20 to 24 April 2015.

Following the approach suggested, guided by the wish to obtain a consensus text, the draft declaration showed again a minimalist approach that did not recognise the human right to peace nor it defined its elements, so it did not provide any added value to the current state of international human rights law.

The debates held during the third session of the Working Group were focused in the preambular paragraphs of the draft and they introduced no essential changes.

At the end of the debate, the Chairperson-Rapporteur submitted on 24 April 2015 his third draft declaration (incomplete) with nine paragraphs of the preamble between square brackets, since they were objected by some States. Regarding the title and the operative part, which reproduced almost the same draft that was submitted on 31 March 2015, they were not either subject to debate due to a lack of time, so they were also submitted between
square brackets. Having acknowledged the failure in finalizing the draft declaration because of lack of consensus, the Chairperson-Rapporteur announced his resignation.

Article 1 makes reference to the three United Nations pillars, as follows:

Everyone has the right to enjoy peace such that security is maintained, all human rights are promoted and protected and development is fully realized.

The undersigned civil society organizations consider that article 1 is highly insufficient since it does not recognise the human right to peace nor develop its fundamental elements, as did the Declaration on the Right to Peace of the Advisory Committee (2012) and the Santiago Declaration on the Human Right to Peace, approved by the international civil society in 2010.

Both documents had identified the following essential elements, which should be incorporated to the third draft declaration of the Chairperson-Rapporteur: the right to human security; the right to disarmament; the right to peace education and training; the right to conscientious objection to military service; the right to resistance and opposition to oppression; the duty to regulate the conduct and responsibilities of both private military and security companies and peacekeeping missions; the right to development; the right to environment; the right of victims of human rights violations to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition; the rights of individuals belonging to vulnerable groups; and the rights of refugees and migrants.

Article 2 refers to elemental obligations of the States, as follows:

States should respect, implement and promote equality and non-discrimination, justice and the rule of law and guarantee the security of their people, fulfil their needs and ensure the protection and promotion of their universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms as a means to build peace.

These obligations were already affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Millennium Declaration, and the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit. They should be now developed in accordance with articles 2 and following of the Advisory Committee Declaration on the Right to Peace and articles 3 and following of the Santiago Declaration on the Human Right to Peace.

Article 3 of the third draft declaration of the Chairperson-Rapporteur states:

States, the United Nations and specialized agencies should take appropriate sustainable measures to implement the present Declaration. Encourages international, regional, national and local organizations and civil society to support and assist in the implementation of the present Declaration.

The undersigned civil society organizations consider that, as stated in the Santiago Declaration and Advisory Committee Declaration, the duties for States and other actors to fulfil the human right to peace and each of its essential elements should be further spelled out.

Among them, States should urgently reform the Security Council so it could assume effectively its responsibilities concerning the maintenance of international peace and security, as stated in Art. 13 paragraph 8 of the Santiago Declaration. The urgency of this reform is justified today more than ever, given the extremely serious context of international crisis, marked by an unprecedented arms race and warlike escalation, with its aftermaths of death and destruction.

Finally, article 4 of the third Chairperson-Rapporteur’s draft declaration establishes that:

Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as being contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. The provisions included in this Declaration are to be interpreted in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.

We consider more accurate the final provisions contained in Article 14 of the Advisory Committee Declaration on the Right to Peace. Furthermore, article 4 should foresee the establishment of a monitoring body of the future
Declaration that, in our view, should be a working group of independent experts on the human right to peace, appointed by the General Assembly.

Finally, the Chairperson-Rapporteur recommended to the Council evaluating if the international community is in a good position to continue developing the right to peace by consensus at this moment.

The undersigned civil society organizations remind that the United Nations were established 70 years ago with the firmly purpose of maintaining international peace and security and strengthening universal peace [1], to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war [2].

Consequently, the General Assembly recognized in 1978 the immanent right of every nation and every individual to live in peace [3], and in 1984 the sacred right of all peoples to peace [4].

It is now to the international community to recognise and develop the human right to peace, in light of the current developments of the international human rights law [5], as well as the work undertaken by this Council in favour of the human right to peace since 2008, at the request of civil society.

In conclusion, the undersigned civil society organizations request the Council:

1. To extend the mandate of the Working Group on the Right to Peace.

2. To invite the Working Group to initiate a real negotiation of the future

Declaration of the United Nations on the Human Right to Peace, taking into account its essential elements, as developed both by the Advisory Committee Declaration on the Right to Peace (2012) and civil society in the Santiago Declaration on the Right to Peace (2010).

Ultimately, we believe that the future United Nations Declaration on the Human Right to Peace should require a normative development that would constitute a clear departure from political declarations adopted in the past. For this reason, it must proclaim with no ambiguity that every individual and all peoples are right-holders of the human right to peace. This right must be spell out with the substantive contents claimed by international civil society, thus being a significant step forward in the development of international human rights law, which is the basis to achieve freedom, justice and peace in the world [6].

Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law, The International Observatory for Human Right to Peace


1) United Nations Charter, articles 1.1 and 1.2.

2) United Nations Charter, Preamble.

3) Declaration adopted in the resolution 33/73 of the General Assembly, 15 December 1978

4) Declaration adopted in the resolution 39/11 of the General Assembly, 12 November 1984

5) Four regional documents equally recognise the right to peace, as follows: the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Ibero-American
Convention on Youth Rights and the Human Rights Declaration of the ASEAN member States.

6) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, preamble, paragraph

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