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Oral Statement at the Celebration of the 100th Session of the Human Rights Committee
Palais des Nations, Friday 29 October 2010

Dear Madame Chairperson Zonke Majodina,

The International Society for Human Rights welcomes Mr. Bacre Ndiaye’s statement with regard to the availability of advisory services and technical assistance in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Such assistance would be particularly valuable to States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in enacting appropriate legislation and improving domestic enforcement mechanisms.

We all know that there is an implementation gap and that many of the Committee’s Views under the Optional Protocol remain unenforced.  This is not always because States parties reject the Committee’s Views or disagree with the Committee’s rationale. Often enough the problem lies in the fact that States parties lack appropriate enforcement mechanisms under domestic law. Thus, all States parties to the Covenant should be encouraged to enact enabling legislation so as to give status in the domestic legal order to the Committee decisions and concluding observations.  The Secretariat of the OHCHR could draft model enabling legislation and explain it to States parties in the context of the examination of Reports under article 40 of the Covenant and/or in the context of the follow-up procedure to Optional Protocol work.  In this connection the Committee can draw on best State practices and may incorporate the positive experiences achieved in Colombia through its Law 288 of 1996.   

The International Society for Human Rights welcomes Professor Eibe Riedel’s emphasis on the Committee’s role in the protection of the right to life, and it celebrates with Mr. Robert Badinter the progress achieved worldwide in the abolition of capital punishment.  In this connection it is important to revisit the two general comments of the Human Rights Committee on article 6, in particular the second general comment of 1984, to which Judge Cançado Trindade made reference. This general comment draws attention to the grave danger posed to humanity by the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Undoubtedly this constitutes a significant menace to the very survival of the species and anticipates the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of Nuclear Weapons, also mentioned by Judge Cançado.

Our Organization applauds Judge Mohammed Bedjaoui’s focus on human dignity as the source of all human rights. We welcome his affirmation of the Disputations of Salamanca and Valladolid in the 16th century, which recognized the humanity of the indigenous of America. This was indeed a major step in the development of a philosophy of human rights. We acknowledge his reminder of the scourge of slavery and other historical inequities, which await justice and reparation.

 Without a doubt, enormous progress has been achieved by the United Nations over the past 65 years in the field of standard-setting in human rights and in the establishing of special procedures for monitoring and assistance to victims.  We therefore share Judge Bedjaoui’s optimism for the future.  Indeed, the Human Rights Committee has significantly contributed to the emergence of a culture of human rights in the world, especially by giving both a face and a voice to victims of violations of human rights.

And now a question to Professor Bertrand Ramcharan, who in November 2009 participated at the Berkeley University Symposium Project 2048, which aims at a restatement of the law of human rights and the adoption of a Statute for a World Court of Human Rights.  Dear Bertie:  How long will it take to establish an International Court of Human Rights with competence to issue binding decisions that will be enforceable by the domestic courts of States parties to the Statute?

I thank you, Madame Chairperson.    

Professor Dr. Alfred de Zayas
Geneva School of Diplomacy


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