The Arab Charter on Human Rights is incompatible with international standards – Louise Arbour

  • Date / 11 March 2008

The “Arab Charter on Human Rights” came into force on 30 January 2008. In response, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has stressed that the Charter is incompatible with international standards for women’s, children’s and non-citizens’ rights, and in that it continues to equate Zionism with racism.

“Throughout the development of the Arab Charter, my office shared concerns with the drafters about the incompatibility of some of its provisions with international norms and standards,” said Louise Arbour in a press release issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

“These concerns included the approach to death penalty for children and the rights of women and non-citizens,” said Louise Arbour.

“Moreover, to the extent that it equates Zionism with racism, we reiterated that the Arab Charter is not in conformity with General Assembly Resolution 46/86, which rejects that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination, “said the High Commissioner.

On November 10, 1975, the General Assembly adopted, by 72 votes to 35 and 32 abstentions, resolution 3379 stating that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. That resolution, described by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a “dismal” manifestation of anti-Semitism, was revoked by resolution 46/86 on 16 December 1991.

“OHCHR does not endorse these inconsistencies,” according to the press release, which indicates that OHCHR continues “to work with all stakeholders in the region to ensure the implementation of universal human rights norms”.

Louise Arbour also notes that “regional arrangements play a fundamental role in promoting and protecting human rights”, but that “[t]hey should reinforce universal human rights standards, as contained in international human rights instruments, and their protection.”

Sources: Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the entry into force of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, Geneva, January 30, 2008; http://www.pointdebasculecanada.ca/spip.php?article238

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