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NGO Documents for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development 8th Session, 2000

[ Back to NGO Documents for CSD ]

Human Rights Caucus to CSD 1999

Cui Bono? - To Whom the Benefit?

Due to the close relationship between protecting the human rights of people and safeguarding their lives, livelihood, community, resources and environment, the Human Rights Caucus to the Commission on Sustainable Development was specifically called upon by representatives of NGO's to address the following issues:

1) Production and Consumption Patterns [of the Military Sector].

It has been a major failure of the CSD that the military has not been identified as a sector. In response to this intentional and seven year omission, we raise the Latin dictum cui bono? Along with the Norwegian Forum* for Environment and Development, the HR Caucus calls on the CSD to rectify this error. We deplore the on-going evasion by governments that keep the military out of these discussions and protect the military, and those who profit from the manufacture and trade of ordnance, from the scrutiny applied to other sectors that are reviewed during the meetings of the CSD. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in Principles 24 ( on the impact of war on the environment) and 25 ( on the interdependence and indivisibility of peace, development and environmental protection) mandate such scrutiny.

We call upon the governments to investigate, study, analyse, report, and publicise all of the environmental, economic, social and opportunity costs of the military sector. The military is the most destructive and costly sector of all social sectors, and the worse polluter world-wide. Not only must the consumption and production patterns of the military be examined and reported on, but this data must then be compared to the data on the worldwide increase in human rights violations and hunger, disease, pollution, lack of potable water, illiteracy, oppression, violence, commercial exploitation, unemployment, and infant mortality to demonstrate the fallacy of the poorly chosen priorities of the elite who control the corporations and governments around the world. Cui bono? The shareholders who receive annual reports, but not the majority of humanity ~ the earth that sustains us or the next generations.

2) Tourism [that Exploits the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Indigenous Peoples].

The recent public displays for scientific and commercial profit by the National Geographic Society and the Florida International Museum of the human remains of Inca ancestors** violates Articles 5 and 1 of ILO Convention 169. The remains and funerary objects were at sacred ritual burial sites near the peaks of the mountains venerated as the Spirit of God. People in Peru - descendants of the Incas - adhere to traditional beliefs of the Incas and regard these burial sites as sacred and consider the anthropologists who trespassed to be as criminal as grave robbers. Indigenous people and concerned NGO's cite US Public Law 101-601, the '"Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act" for recourse and in calling for application worldwide of a uniform standard of protection.

The spirituality of indigenous peoples must be taken into account by the tourist industry ... symbols of genocide- the remains of Indigenous peoples should not be used to attract tourists.

The HR Caucus calls upon the governments of the ON to adopt the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to provide immediate protection of the rights of the Incas to safeguard their religion and sacred and cultural heritage from scientific and commercial exploitation. The Draft Declaration reads that "States shall take effective measures, in conjunction with the Indigenous peoples concerned, to ensure that Indigenous sacred places, including burial sites, be preserved, respected and protected."

3) Small Island Developing States [Bermuda]:

The HR Caucus calls on the governments of the ON to guarantee to the people of the Small Island Developing State of Bermuda, their right to self-determination i.e., the right of the people to decide on their own political status or form of government, without outside influence. This right has been recognized and heralded by all of the nations that have emerged from their colonial ties since the end of World War n and by the United Nations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, each declares in common in Article I, that all peoples have the right to self-determination. These covenants, which have been adopted by the United Kingdom, require that States Parties to these Covenants shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and respect that right, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.

These covenants also grant that by virtue of the right of self-determination the people may freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

4) Call for the "Uniting for Peace Resolution" by the General Assembly with Respect to Kosovo and Iraq.

The HR Caucus also calls on the governments of the UN to condemn the use of war fare for disputes resolutions as an egregious violation of Articles 33 through 38 of Chapter Six of the Charter of the United Nations regarding Pacific Settlement of Disputes- Given the extreme human suffering of the people of Iraq and Kosovo, and the destruction of their societies by aggressor nations, we call upon the General Assembly to apply the "Uniting for Peace Resolution" (resolution 377 of the General Assembly passed in 1950).

Under the "Uniting for Peace" resolution the Assembly may take action if the Security Council - because of a lack of unanimity of its permanent members -fails to act in a case where there- appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression. The Assembly is empowered to consider this matter immediately with a view to making recommendations to members for collective measures, to maintain or restore international peace and security. We call on governmental officials who work in our names to make use of the diplomatic relationships and friendships that abound here. We call on all UN member states to obtain a peaceful resolution to the situations in Kosovo and Iraq. We deplore the environmental devastation -caused by the bombings and call upon the countries responsible to desist immediately from their environmentally devastating actions as required by Principle 24 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

5) Payment of Membership Dues to the United Nations.

The HR Caucus notes that financial constraints inhibit the CSD and the UN in general from effectively playing their roles in safeguarding the environment. Therefore, the HR Caucus calls upon the member nations to make immediate payment of their dues owed to the United Nations on pain of loss of voting rights.

April 30,1999 . New York New York

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*.ForUM Position Paper for CSD 1999- "Wanted on CSD Agenda: the Military Sector's Production and Consumption of Goods."

**."Desecration of Indigenous Burial Sites and Display of Indigenous Remains,." by M. Samuel and R. Mucaro Borrero, April 23 ~ 1999.

 

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