30 years now, Amnesty International has not ceased to repeat
that violators of Human Rights should be brought before the
courts, if we want to at last break the viscous cycle of crime
and impunity in the World. Impunity engenders disrespect for
the Law, which opens the way to new violations committed with
even more impudence by agents of the State which place themselves
above the Law" (AI Report, 1995).
International Penal Court for ex-Yugoslavia was put into place
by the UN Security Council in 1993. Then another Court was in
charge of judging the perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda (1994).
establishing of these two courts is progress. But they answered
needs that were more or less short-term in only two places in
the world. The creation of a permanent International Penal Court,
responsible for judging serious violations of Human Rights wherever
they are perpetrated, remains a pressing need." (Extract
from AI Report, 1995). This court was actually conceived by
the UN right from the end of World War II.
this point, a great step was taken: the 17th of July 1998 in
Rome, under the banner of the United Nations, 120 countries
of the 147 represented finally adopted the Statute of an International
Court. This court would be able to judge genocide, and other
crimes against humanity and crimes of war.
project still needs to be improved, but, above all, this Court
will not be created until the Statute is ratified by 60 countries.
Unfortunately, it will take a few years, the 800 odd NGOs
(non-governmental organisations) who have been mobilised to
achieve this first result have not really finished the fight.
position was created in 1994. One of its primordial functions
is to co-ordinate all the initiatives of different institutions
which defend Human Rights which make up the system of the United
Centre for Human Rights (Geneva)
UN Program for Development UNPD (New York)
Departments of the Operations to Maintain Peace, Humanitarian
Affairs, and Political Affairs (New York)
Division for the Promotion of Women (New York)
Service for the Prevention of Crime and Penal Justice (Vienna)
High Commissioner, by going to various countries listens to
what the local Non-Governmental Organisations have to say, considering
this to be part of the mission. These organisations, by giving
the High Commissioner this information of Human Rights in their
respective countries, actually play a major role.
since its creation in 1994 until the present time, its effectiveness
has not been proved. Only time will tell if the new High Commissioner,
Mary Robinson, will give the position a bigger impact.
UN Human Rights programs suffer from a chronic lack of resources;
this renders the accomplishment of the immense work necessary
for obtaining several results almost impossible, in the countries
where violations are more blatant and systematic. By refusing
to fix a sufficient budget, the member States seem to be preventing
the UN Human Rights Program from functioning normally."
(Extract from the AI Report, 1995)
slight rises in 1993 and 1994, less than 2% of the total UN
Budget is allocated to the Centre for Human Rights. This is
why tremendous work remains to be done with each State in the
World to convince the UN to give it the means to let it defend
inter-governmental Organisations have showed themselves to be
largely incompetent in defending Human Rights. Non-governmental
associations needed to be created to bring their participation.
Each one concentrates its efforts on a different aspect of Human
Rights because it would be impossible to handle all of it.
name a few:
International, whose action is largely to do with civil and
political rights: fight for freedom of thought and expression,
against unlawful imprisonment, against torture, "missing
persons and executions without fair trial", and against
the Death Penalty.
Human Rights League, founded at the time of the Dreyfus Affair,
deals with all the rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration.
ACAT: Association of Christians Against Torture, fight also
against the Death Penalty.
Fourth World fights against misery and for the recognition of
the dignity of each person by educating them to mobilise for
those less well off than themselves.
MRAP fights against any form of racism and for friendship between
peoples. It largely contributed to make France adopt the anti-racist
law of July 1st 1972 and uses it to constitute civil part in
numerous cases to legally defend victims of racism.
many countries associations exist that defend Human Rights.
Often they are isolated militants who do not even have the right
to assemble in associations. In countries victim of the consequences
of a violent conflict or a dictatorship, Human Rights play a
unions and political parties have been banned, parliaments abolished
and the press muzzled, they remain the only power between the
State and the population.
are the only ones who can alert international associations like
Amnesty. But they are usually persecuted, arrested, tortured
or deprived of work then watched, followed and illegally under
surveillance. If it be in China or Cuba, in several Latin American
countries, in Turkey, in Syria, in Africa, or even in France
these militants for Human Rights play a determining role
at the peril of their lives.
these associations live only because of militants, often benevolent,
keep them alive. All these courageous militants prove, by their
recognised effectiveness, that each person, where they are,
can work to defend Human Rights and to help those who suffer
the worst infringements of these rights.