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France To Commission On Human Rights


Foreign Minister Of France To Commission On Human Rights

World Is Living Dramatic Events With Iraq Crisis

Commission Continues to Debate Right of Peoples to Self-Determination

GENEVA -- Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister, this morning told the Commission on Human Rights that the world was living dramatic events with regard to the crisis in Iraq.

Mr. de Villepin said that the world wanted law to prevail, and from now onwards, the international community should give a new efficacy to multilateral institutions, in particular to the Commission. He said that, with regard to Iraq, the Commission had every year condemned the violations of human rights there. However, if force should be the last recourse, it should not be a preventive and unilateral action. Such a situation could damage the confidence that existed between States, and could lead to violence and war. Particularly, it would damage the process of human rights.

Mr. de Villepin added that the international community's obligations were to open the doors to the freedom of peoples. Categorically refusing any compliance with dictators, France wanted to bring hope to the world.

The Commission also continued this morning with its debate on the right of peoples to self-determination and its application to peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation.

Several speakers who took the floor on the issue of the right to self-determination highlighted the war in Iraq and said that the United States and its allies had transgressed international law. They said that the crimes perpetrated by the aggressing countries had resulted in many deaths. Other speakers requested the Commission to condemn the acts perpetrated by the United States against the people of Iraq. The situations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the occupied Palestinian territories were also raised by a number of delegations.

Before adjourning the morning session, the President of the Commission, Najat Al-Hajjaji, announced that nine members of the Commission had requested that the body hold a special sitting on the situation of the Iraqi people and the humanitarian situation to reaffirm the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war. She said she would be holding consultations with the extended Bureau on this issue.

Taking part in this morning's debate were the country representatives of Cuba, Viet Nam, India, Algeria and Armenia.

Exercising the right to reply were the United States, India, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Cuba, Pakistan and Angola.

The representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Women's International Democratic Federation (on behalf of the Federation of Cuban Women and Centro de Estudios Europes); World Union of Progressive Judaism (on behalf of the International Council of Jewish Women and Women's International Zionist Organization); the International Institute for Peace; Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity; United Nations Watch; the International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities; Centre Europe - Tiers Monde; American Association of Jurists; International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations; World Muslim World; General Federation of Iraqi Women; African Commission on Health and Human Rights Promoters; Union of Arab Jurists; Pax Romana; International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples; International Human Rights Association of American Minorities; the European Union of Public Relations; and Tupaj Amaru.

The Commission is scheduled to start its consideration of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination when it reconvenes at 3 p.m. It will first hear more rights to reply from country representatives.

Statement from Podium

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, Foreign Minister of France, stated that the world was living dramatic events. With the crisis in Iraq, the international community was confronted with three problems: the legitimacy of the recourse to war, peoples' rights, and human rights. The international community was at a crossroads with the question of human rights which was at the heart of any debate. The world wanted law to prevail, and from now onwards, the international community should give a new efficacy to multilateral institutions, in particular to the Commission. Human rights were the only universal value able to bring together the different sides. The Commission had been defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the last 50 years, and considerable progress had been achieved.

Mr. de Villepin continued to state that the fight for human rights was exigent. Its respect should be universal, otherwise it could lead to an irreparable situation. One should also trace the limit of sovereignty vis-à-vis human rights: how to reconcile the sovereignty of States with the obligations to respect human rights, when minorities were suppressed, even massacred. The situation should correspond to proportionate and legitimate solutions. In Bosnia in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999, in the face of the denial of the elementary principles of human dignity, France had played a big role in the decisions of the international community to intervene militarily. That situation had put to an end the barbarism and ethnic cleansing. The intervention had been necessary.

Was it necessary to recourse to this large and systematic war? Mr. de Villepin asked. More than ever, in the name of the future for all, one should reply to that question: how could one impose the respect for fundamental freedoms on a State that did not respect them? It was true that in Iraq, the Commission had been condemning every year the violations of human rights. If force was the last recourse, it should not be a preventive and unilateral action. That situation could damage the confidence that existed between States, and could lead to violence and war. Particularly, it would damage the process of human rights. The international community's obligations were to open the doors to the freedom of peoples. Categorically refusing any compliance with dictators, France wanted to bring hope to humanity.

Mr. de Villepin said that the Commission should contribute to the realization of the goals of the Millennium Declaration and the commitments made in Johannesburg. The Commission should favour access to education and health, particularly for children. Those goals constituted a major key to development, and to democracy and peace. All should fight together the pandemic that had ravaged countries and continents. One should not accept that AIDS could devastate people and their civil societies, while the preventive means existed and the treatments were available in the developed countries.

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