Human Rights Summit
World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna 1993
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1. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the solemn commitment of all States
to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for, and observance and
protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance with the
Charter of the United Nations, other instruments relating to human rights, and
international law. The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question.
In this framework, enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human
rights is essential for the full achievement of the purposes of the United Nations.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their
protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments.
2. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they
freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and
Taking into account the particular situation of peoples under colonial or other forms
of alien domination or foreign occupation, the World Conference on Human Rights recognizes
the right of peoples to take any legitimate action, in accordance with the Charter of the
United Nations, to realize their inalienable right of self-determination. The World
Conference on Human Rights considers the denial of the right of self-determination as a
violation of human rights and underlines the importance of the effective realization of
In accordance with the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning
Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in accordance with the Charter of the
United Nations, this shall not be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which
would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political
unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the
principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and thus possessed of a
Government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction of
3. Effective international measures to guarantee and monitor the implementation of
human rights standards should be taken in respect of people under foreign occupation, and
effective legal protection against the violation of their human rights should be provided,
in accordance with human rights norms and international law, particularly the Geneva
Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 14 August
1949, and other applicable norms of humanitarian law.
4. The promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms must be
considered as a priority objective of the United Nations in accordance with its purposes
and principles, in particular the purpose of international cooperation. In the framework
of these purposes and principles, the promotion and protection of all human rights is a
legitimate concern of the international community. The organs and specialized agencies
related to human rights should therefore further enhance the coordination of their
activities based on the consistent and objective application of international human rights
5. All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The
international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on
the same footing, and with the same emphasis. While the significance of national and
regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must
be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and
cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
6. The efforts of the United Nations system towards the universal respect for, and
observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, contribute to the stability
and well-being necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations, and to
improved conditions for peace and security as well as social and economic development, in
conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
7. The processes of promoting and protecting human rights should be conducted in
conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and
8. Democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are
interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Democracy is based on the freely expressed will
of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and
their full participation in all aspects of their lives. In the context of the above, the
promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and
international levels should be universal and conducted without conditions attached. The
international community should support the strengthening and promoting of democracy,
development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world.
9. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms that least developed countries
committed to the process of democratization and economic reforms, many of which are in
Africa, should be supported by the international community in order to succeed in their
transition to democracy and economic development.
10. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the right to development, as
established in the Declaration on the Right to Development, as a universal and inalienable
right and an integral part of fundamental human rights.
As stated in the Declaration on the Right to Development, the human person is the
central subject of development.
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While development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of
development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized
States should cooperate with each other in ensuring development and eliminating
obstacles to development. The international community should promote an effective
international cooperation for the realization of the right to development and the
elimination of obstacles to development.
Lasting progress towards the implementation of the right to development requires
effective development policies at the national level, as well as equitable economic
relations and a favourable economic environment at the international level.
11. The right to development should be fulfilled so as to meet equitably the
developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations. The World
Conference on Human Rights recognizes that illicit dumping of toxic and dangerous
substances and waste potentially constitutes a serious threat to the human rights to life
and health of everyone.
Consequently, the World Conference on Human Rights calls on all States to adopt and
vigorously implement existing conventions relating to the dumping of toxic and dangerous
products and waste and to cooperate in the prevention of illicit dumping.
Everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its
applications. The World Conference on Human Rights notes that certain advances, notably in
the biomedical and life sciences as well as in information technology, may have
potentially adverse consequences for the integrity, dignity and human rights of the
individual, and calls for international cooperation to ensure that human rights and
dignity are fully respected in this area of universal concern
12. The World Conference on Human Rights calls upon the international community to make
all efforts to help alleviate the external debt burden of developing countries, in order
to supplement the efforts of the Governments of such countries to attain the full
realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of their people.
13. There is a need for States and international organizations, in cooperation with
non-governmental organizations, to create favourable conditions at the national, regional
and international levels to ensure the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.
States should eliminate all violations of human rights and their causes, as well as
obstacles to the enjoyment of these rights.
14. The existence of widespread extreme poverty inhibits the full and effective
enjoyment of human rights; its immediate alleviation and eventual elimination must remain
a high priority for the international community.
15. Respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms without distinction of any
kind is a fundamental rule of international human rights law. The speedy and comprehensive
elimination of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance is a priority task for the international community. Governments should take
effective measures to prevent and combat them. Groups, institutions, intergovernmental and
nongovernmental organizations and individuals are urged to intensify their efforts in
cooperating and coordinating their activities against these evils.
16. The World Conference on Human Rights welcomes the progress made in dismantling
apartheid and calls upon the international community and the United Nations system to
assist in this process.
The World Conference on Human Rights also deplores the continuing acts of violence
aimed at undermining the quest for a peaceful dismantling of apartheid.
17. The acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as
well as linkage in some countries to drug trafficking are activities aimed at the
destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening territorial
integrity, security of States and destabilizing legitimately constituted Governments. The
international community should take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent
and combat terrorism.
18. The human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and
indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women in
political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at the national, regional and
international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex
are priority objectives of the international community.
Gender-based violence and all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation, including
those resulting from cultural prejudice and international trafficking, are incompatible
with the dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated. This can be
achieved by legal measures and through national action and international cooperation in
such fields as economic and social development, education, safe maternity and health care,
and social support.
The human rights of women should form an integral part of the United Nations human
rights activities, including the promotion of all human rights instruments relating to
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The World Conference on Human Rights urges Governments, institutions, intergovernmental
and non-governmental organizations to intensify their efforts for the protection and
promotion of human rights of women and the girl-child.
19. Considering the importance of the promotion and protection of the rights of persons
belonging to minorities and the contribution of such promotion and protection to the
political and social stability of the States in which such persons live,
The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the obligation of States to ensure that
persons belonging to minorities may exercise fully and effectively all human rights and
fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law in
accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic,
Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
The persons belonging to minorities have the right to enjoy their own culture, to
profess and practise their own religion and to use their own language in private and in
public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.
20. The World Conference on Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity and the unique
contribution of indigenous people to the development and plurality of society and strongly
reaffirms the commitment of the international community to their economic, social and
cultural well-being and their enjoyment of the fruits of sustainable development. States
should ensure the full and free participation of indigenous people in all aspects of
society, in particular in matters of concern to them. Considering the importance of the
promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous people, and the contribution of such
promotion and protection to the political and social stability of the States in which such
people live, States should, in accordance with international law, take concerted positive
steps to ensure respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous
people, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, and recognize the value and
diversity of their distinct identities, cultures and social organization.
21. The World Conference on Human Rights, welcoming the early ratification of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child by a large number of States and noting the
recognition of the human rights of children in the World Declaration on the Survival,
Protection and Development of Children and Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit for
Children, urges universal ratification of the Convention by 1995 and its effective
implementation by States parties through the adoption of all the necessary legislative,
administrative and other measures and the allocation to the maximum extent of the
available resources. In all actions concerning children, nondiscrimination and the best
interest of the child should be primary considerations and the views of the child given
due weight. National and international mechanisms and programmes should be strengthened
for the defence and protection of children, in particular, the girlchild, abandoned
children, street children, economically and sexually exploited children, including through
child pornography, child prostitution or sale of organs, children victims of diseases
including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, refugee and displaced children, children in
detention, children in armed conflict, as well as children victims of famine and drought
and other emergencies. International cooperation and solidarity should be promoted to
support the implementation of the Convention and the rights of the child should be a
priority in the United Nations system-wide action on human rights.
The World Conference on Human Rights also stresses that the child for the full and
harmonious development of his or her personality should grow up in a family environment
which accordingly merits broader protection.
22. Special attention needs to be paid to ensuring non-discrimination, and the equal
enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by disabled persons, including
their active participation in all aspects of society.
23. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms that everyone, without distinction
of any kind, is entitled to the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from
persecution, as well as the right to return to one's own country. In this respect it
stresses the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol and regional instruments. It
expresses its appreciation to States that continue to admit and host large numbers of
refugees in their territories, and to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees for its dedication to its task. It also expresses its appreciation to the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
The World Conference on Human Rights recognizes that gross violations of human rights,
including in armed conflicts, are among the multiple and complex factors leading to
displacement of people.
The World Conference on Human Rights recognizes that, in view of the complexities of
the global refugee crisis and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,
relevant international instruments and international solidarity and in the spirit of
burden-sharing, a comprehensive approach by the international community is needed in
coordination and cooperation with the countries concerned and relevant organizations,
bearing in mind the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This
should include the development of strategies to address the root causes and effects of
movements of refugees and other displaced persons, the strengthening of emergency
preparedness and response mechanisms, the provision of effective protection and
assistance, bearing in mind the special needs of women and children, as well as the
achievement of durable solutions, primarily through the preferred solution of dignified
and safe voluntary repatriation, including solutions such as those adopted by the
international refugee conferences. The World Conference on Human Rights underlines the
responsibilities of States, particularly as they relate to the countries of origin.
In the light of the comprehensive approach, the World Conference on Human Rights
emphasizes the importance of giving special attention including through intergovernmental
and humanitarian organizations and finding lasting solutions to questions related to
internally displaced persons including their voluntary and safe return and rehabilitation.
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In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of humanitarian
law, the World Conference on Human Rights further emphasizes the importance of and the
need for humanitarian assistance to victims of all natural and man-made disasters.
24. Great importance must be given to the promotion and protection of the human rights
of persons belonging to groups which have been rendered vulnerable, including migrant
workers, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against them, and the
strengthening and more effective implementation of existing human rights instruments.
States have an obligation to create and maintain adequate measures at the national level,
in particular in the fields of education, health and social support, for the promotion and
protection of the rights of persons in vulnerable sectors of their populations and to
ensure the participation of those among them who are interested in finding a solution to
their own problems.
25. The World Conference on Human Rights affirms that extreme poverty and social
exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity and that urgent steps are necessary to
achieve better knowledge of extreme poverty and its causes, including those related to the
problem of development, in order to promote the human rights of the poorest, and to put an
end to extreme poverty and social exclusion and to promote the enjoyment of the fruits of
social progress. It is essential for States to foster participation by the poorest people
in the decision-making process by the community in which they live, the promotion of human
rights and efforts to combat extreme poverty.
26. The World Conference on Human Rights welcomes the progress made in the codification
of human rights instruments, which is a dynamic and evolving process, and urges the
universal ratification of human rights treaties. All States are encouraged to accede to
these international instruments; all States are encouraged to avoid, as far as possible,
the resort to reservations.
27. Every State should provide an effective framework of remedies to redress human
rights grievances or violations. The administration of justice, including law enforcement
and prosecutorial agencies and, especially, an independent judiciary and legal profession
in full conformity with applicable standards contained in international human rights
instruments, are essential to the full and non-discriminatory realization of human rights
and indispensable to the processes of democracy and sustainable development. In this
context, institutions concerned with the administration of justice should be properly
funded, and an increased level of both technical and financial assistance should be
provided by the international community. It is incumbent upon the United Nations to make
use of special programmes of advisory services on a priority basis for the achievement of
a strong and independent administration of justice.
28. The World Conference on Human Rights expresses its dismay at massive violations of
human rights especially in the form of genocide, "ethnic cleansing" and
systematic rape of women in war situations, creating mass exodus of refugees and displaced
persons. While strongly condemning such abhorrent practices it reiterates the call that
perpetrators of such crimes be punished and such practices immediately stopped.
29. The World Conference on Human Rights expresses grave concern about continuing human
rights violations in all parts of the world in disregard of standards as contained in
international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law and about the
lack of sufficient and effective remedies for the victims.
The World Conference on Human Rights is deeply concerned about violations of human
rights during armed conflicts, affecting the civilian population, especially women,
children, the elderly and the disabled. The Conference therefore calls upon States and all
parties to armed conflicts strictly to observe international humanitarian law, as set
forth in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other rules and principles of international
law, as well as minimum standards for protection of human rights, as laid down in
The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the right of the victims to be assisted
by humanitarian organizations, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other
relevant instruments of international humanitarian law, and calls for the safe and timely
access for such assistance.
30. The World Conference on Human Rights also expresses its dismay and condemnation
that gross and systematic violations and situations that constitute serious obstacles to
the full enjoyment of all human rights continue to occur in different parts of the world.
Such violations and obstacles include, as well as torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment or punishment, summary and arbitrary executions, disappearances, arbitrary
detentions, all forms of racism, racial discrimination and apartheid, foreign occupation
and alien domination, xenophobia, poverty, hunger and other denials of economic, social
and cultural rights, religious intolerance, terrorism, discrimination against women and
lack of the rule of law.
31. The World Conference on Human Rights calls upon States to refrain from any
unilateral measure not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United
Nations that creates obstacles to trade relations among States and impedes the full
realization of the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
international human rights instruments, in particular the rights of everyone to a standard
of living adequate for their health and well-being, including food and medical care,
housing and the necessary social services. The World Conference on Human Rights affirms
that food should not be used as a tool for political pressure.
32. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the importance of ensuring the
universality, objectivity and non-selectivity of the consideration of human rights issues.
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33. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms that States are dutybound, as
stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in other international human rights instruments,
to ensure that education is aimed at strengthening the respect of human rights and
fundamental freedoms. The World Conference on Human Rights emphasizes the importance of
incorporating the subject of human rights education programmes and calls upon States to do
so. Education should promote understanding, tolerance, peace and friendly relations
between the nations and all racial or religious groups and encourage the development of
United Nations activities in pursuance of these objectives. Therefore, education on human
rights and the dissemination of proper information, both theoretical and practical, play
an important role in the promotion and respect of human rights with regard to all
individuals without distinction of any kind such as race, sex, language or religion, and
this should be integrated in the education policies at the national as well as
international levels. The World Conference on Human Rights notes that resource constraints
and institutional inadequacies may impede the immediate realization of these objectives.
34. Increased efforts should be made to assist countries which so request to create the
conditions whereby each individual can enjoy universal human rights and fundamental
freedoms. Governments, the United Nations system as well as other multilateral
organizations are urged to increase considerably the resources allocated to programmes
aiming at the establishment and strengthening of national legislation, national
institutions and related infrastructures which uphold the rule of law and democracy,
electoral assistance, human rights awareness through training, teaching and education,
popular participation and civil society.
The programmes of advisory services and technical cooperation under the Centre for
Human Rights should be strengthened as well as made more efficient and transparent and
thus become a major contribution to improving respect for human rights. States are called
upon to increase their contributions to these programmes, both through promoting a larger
allocation from the United Nations regular budget, and through voluntary contributions.
35. The full and effective implementation of United Nations activities to promote and
protect human rights must reflect the high importance accorded to human rights by the
Charter of the United Nations and the demands of the United Nations human rights
activities, as mandated by Member States. To this end, United Nations human rights
activities should be provided with increased resources.
36. The World Conference on Human Rights reaffirms the important and constructive role
played by national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in
particular in their advisory capacity to the competent authorities, their role in
remedying human rights violations, in the dissemination of human rights information, and
education in human rights.
The World Conference on Human Rights encourages the establishment and strengthening of
national institutions, having regard to the "Principles relating to the status of
national institutions" and recognizing that it is the right of each State to choose
the framework which is best suited to its particular needs at the national level.
37. Regional arrangements play a fundamental role in promoting and protecting human
rights. They should reinforce universal human rights standards, as contained in
international human rights instruments, and their protection. The World Conference on
Human Rights endorses efforts under way to strengthen these arrangements and to increase
their effectiveness, while at the same time stressing the importance of cooperation with
the United Nations human rights activities.
The World Conference on Human Rights reiterates the need to consider the possibility of
establishing regional and subregional arrangements for the promotion and protection of
human rights where they do not already exist.
38. The World Conference on Human Rights recognizes the important role of
non-governmental organizations in the promotion of all human rights and in humanitarian
activities at national, regional and international levels. The World Conference on Human
Rights appreciates their contribution to increasing public awareness of human rights
issues, to the conduct of education, training and research in this field, and to the
promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. While recognizing
that the primary responsibility for standard-setting lies with States, the conference also
appreciates the contribution of non-governmental organizations to this process. In this
respect, the World Conference on Human Rights emphasizes the importance of continued
dialogue and cooperation between Governments and nongovernmental organizations.
Non-governmental organizations and their members genuinely involved in the field of human
rights should enjoy the rights and freedoms recognized in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, and the protection of the national law. These rights and freedoms may not be
exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. Nongovernmental
organizations should be free to carry out their human rights activities, without
interference, within the framework of national law and the Universal Declaration of Human
39. Underlining the importance of objective, responsible and impartial information
about human rights and humanitarian issues, the World Conference on Human Rights
encourages the increased involvement of the media, for whom freedom and protection should
be guaranteed within the framework of national law.
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