In a joint statement with three other NGOs, IHEU today (27 Sept 2005) urged the UN to recognize the importance of the contribution made by NGOs to human rights. The meeting had been called by the Commission on Human Rights to provide input prior to General Assembly consideration of the future of the Human Rights organization.
David Littman, reading a joint statement by AWE, AWC, WUPJ and IHEU, reminded delegates of the words of the late High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Veillo de Mello, brutally murdered in Baghdad two years ago:
“Without universal respect for human rights, the vision of the Charter – of a world of peace grounded in respect for human rights and economic and social justice – will remain an illusion.
Only the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the necessary “universal respect” for human rights, enshrined in no other “counterfeit declarations with spurious claims to Universality”.
The statement went on to stress the importance of building on the essential work of NGOs through oral presentations, written statements, and structured discussions with government representatives, Special Rapporteurs, and the Secretariat. The possibility for NGOs to organize seminars and briefings should continue, NGOs should be able to make available their documentation and should be the sole judges of their representatives to the Human Rights sessions.
In reference to the “spirit in which we work” the statement continued: “Diplomatic courtesy has usually limited personalized attacks against diplomats representing States, even those in antagonistic positions. Unfortunately, such diplomatic courtesy is not always extended to NGOs and their representatives, who are sometimes attacked by name”, and referred to the ad hominem attacks made on David Littman at the Sub-Commission in July.
The statement concluded with the words of the Libyan Ambassador Najat A-Hajjaji speaking in June 2003 who said:
“I would like to exhort all of you to continue your work. Speak freely as you have done in the past. Continue to do so in the interest of truth, of justice, irrespective of the pressure that is brought to bear upon you by Governments. Even if what you say is contrary to the interests of the Government, there are thousands, millions, of victims, who look upon the Commission… as the conscience of humanity. So I would just like to exhort you once again, urge you, to continue… Stand firm, let nothing stand in the way of truth.”
The statement was well received with more than 80 copies being handed out at the meeting. The full text of the statement can be found here.