On December 9-10, 2010, human rights experts, lawyers and NGO and UN representatives gathered at the International Congress on the Human Right to Peace in Santiago de Compostela, Spain to draft a Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace.
The International Campaign for the Human Right to Peace was launched in 2007, led by the Spanish International Human Rights Lawyers Association. The campaign aims to achieve the codification of the human right to peace in international law (declaration or treaty), with the goal of eventually having it adopted at the UN General Assembly.
After four years of intensive meetings, consultations and debates, international experts and activists finalized the draft Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace and launched a new international campaign calling on the United Nations and international institutions to initiate the official codification of the Human Right to Peace. Discussions also took place towards the establishment of an International Observatory to monitor the Human Right to Peace, which would significantly contribute to preventing potential violent and armed conflicts and guaranteeing life in peace and security for all.
The International Congress on the Human Right to Peace was organized by the Spanish Society for the International Human Right to Peace (SSIHRL), in collaboration with the Forum 2010, the World Council of Churches (Geneva, Switzerland) and the Institute for Peace Studies (Alexandria, Egypt), co-sponsored by numerous institutions from all over the world including the Global Article 9 Campaign. Representatives from the campaign's founding organizations Peace Boat and the Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA) attended the Congress.
Around 200 representatives from NGOs around the world participated, as well as many UN-related people. Speakers and participants included eminent and high level international experts, notably the former Director of the UN Human Rights Division and former Special Rapporteur on Torture of the UN Human Rights Council Prof. Dr. Theodor Van Boven (Netherland), the President of the International Drafting Committee of the Barcelona Declaration on the Human Right to Peace Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury (Bangladesh), the President of The Hague Appeal for Peace and Keynote Speaker at the Global Article 9 Conference in 2008 Cora Weiss (USA), and the former President of the UN Committee on the Elimination of the Racial Discrimination Prof. Dr. Mario Yutzis (Argentina).
Key figure of the Global Article 9 Campaign and Secretary General of JALISA Sasamoto Jun made an intervention reminding that the right to live in peace for all people of the world is inscribed in the preamble of the Japanese Constitution, recalled the fact that Japanese legal cases and judgments reiterated such rights (notably the right to pursue happiness and the right not to not be involved in acts that harm others), and circulated information on these issues. Sasamoto also invited the International Campaign for the Human Right to Peace to work in partnership with the Global Article 9 Campaign.
Although there is a long way before the Declaration on the Human Right to Peace becomes an internationally recognized document - some anticipate it may take at leat 10 years - the holding of this Congress and the adoption of the draft Universal Declaration on the Right to Peace are important milestones.
The Human Right to Peace has already become a critical dimension in peace and human rights activism and, like peace constitutions, has been acknowledged as an important peace mechanism. As Cora Weiss puts it, the document should "not only [be seen] as a peace resolution nor as a human rights resolution, but as a resolution to protect and promote the democratic survival of humanity."
Read the draft Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace here.
Learn more about the Congress on Human Right to Peace, Santiago de Compostela, Dec 9-10, 2010 here.