International Day of Peace – 21 September 2017
The UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, is calling on States to transform war economies into peace economies. The appeal is being made in a statement to mark International Day of Peace on Thursday, 21 September.
“Lobbying on behalf of military and industrial companies is fuelling wars worldwide and frustrating the aspiration of humanity to live in peace. Instead of cutting military budgets, many States are currently increasing their military expenditure and reducing investment in health, education and social services.
States should refrain not only from the use of force in international relations, but also from the threat of force, as stipulated in the UN Charter (Article 2(4) UN-Charter). However, in spite of these well-known rules, many politicians engage in sabre-rattling, frequently with the support and applause of political commentators and the mainstream media.
Based on the UN Charter’s call to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, civil society is leading the movement to ensure peace becomes a clearly defined human right.
This initiative was enshrined in the Santiago Declaration of 10 December 2010, which led to a draft declaration on the right to peace by the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council, a document manifesting a holistic approach to peace and encompassing civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.
The watered-down resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council is not the end of the story. States must listen to civil society and complete the work already started by the General Assembly at the height of the cold war. A renewed cold war makes a new Human Rights Council resolution all the more urgent.
States must work together on resolving the root causes of local, regional and international conflict, often emerging from the unrepresentative nature of governments, great injustices and inequalities prevailing in the world.
Over the past seventy years many armed conflicts had their origin in the denial of the right of internal or external self-determination.
There are still many indigenous peoples, non-self-governing peoples and others living under occupation who have a legitimate claim to self-determination. It is time for the United Nations to proactively support the realization of self-determination as a conflict-prevention strategy, requiring mediation.
My previous reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly emphasized that addressing global problems including pandemics, climate change and the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals requires trillions of dollars.
It is therefore imperative to drastically reduce military expenditure and convert war economies into peace economies. It is unconscionable to continue the arms race when millions of human beings are suffering from extreme poverty, famine and no access to clean water and sanitation.
We must silence the drums of war and disarm for development.” •
Mr Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Mr Alfred de Zayas practiced corporate law and family law in New York and Florida. As a Human Rights Council mandate holder, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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