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Recognising a right to peace

February 5, 2015

The Human Rights programme recently attended an informal consultation on the Right to Peace, with the presence of at least 40 States, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and international NGOs.

Reaching an agreement

Member states have the mandate to draft a declaration on the Right to Peace but agreement seems still far way. After a first draft declaration was put aside because countries did not manage to find a middle ground, the Chairman-Rapporteur has presented a new, extremely concise draft in the hope that countries may be able to accept it.

The draft uses a “victim approach” and includes some elements of the Charter of the United Nations such as friendly relations between States. Thanks to WILPF’s advocacy, it also includes the importance of women’s participation in peacemaking processes.

Many states expressed their disappointment for such a short text that is missing so many essential elements. Indeed, as WILPF expressed during the session, a declaration that does not address the root causes of war, that does not recognise the need for disarmament, social justice or to end militarism, will be meaningless.

The right to development should also be an important element. Many states, led by Brazil, reminded of the importance of including the right to development as directly linked to the right to peace. Indeed, if we are talking about friendly relations and cooperation between states, we must look at the foreign policy priorities of states, their trading and financial policies, and analyse their consequences on human rights. Foreign policies governed by exclusive interests based on a realpolitik vision of the world can only lead to conflict and eventually armed conflict.

Defending the right to peace

Despite having such a short declaration, the USA and the EU still expressed concerns based on the fact that they do not recognise a right to peace to exist and would only; at the most, recognise a link between peace and realisation of human rights.

The Independent Expert highlighted the necessity to advance toward the realisation of human dignity as the source of all human rights. He strongly defended that the human right to peace needs to be recognised. He also called for a monitoring mechanism so that the Declaration on the Right to Peace does not remain an empty gesture. Have a look at his full statement here.

He thoroughly agreed with a victim-centred approach, “because it is real people who endure the consequences of every breach of the right to peace”, endangered not only by armed conflicts but also by structural violence and exploitation.

WILPF will continue advocating for a text that includes the root causes of war and that will effectively ensure long lasting peace: human rights approach, disarmament, non-discrimination and gender equality and social justice. To keep posted about this, sign up to our newsletter!

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