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The May 18 Spirit

Asian Declaration

Asian Declaration
on the Right to Justice
the Right to Peace
and the Right to Culture
- the Right to an Effective Remedy for Violations of Human Rights in Terms of Article 2 of the ICCPR
May 18, 2019


The Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong) and the May 18 Memorial Foundation (Gwangju, South Korea) are presenting herewith the Asian Declaration on the Right to Justice, the Right to Peace and the Right to Culture with a view to encouraging a wide discussion of the issues raised in this Declaration.

These documents are prepared on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Asian Human Rights Charter that was launched in Gwangju, South Korea on May 17 1998. The AHRC and the May 18 Memorial Foundation draw inspiration for this work from the boundless attempts made by the people in Asia to have their rights improved.

Victims of violations of human rights are constantly struggling to find genuine solutions to their problems. We are also inspired by the great struggles for freedom that have taken place in Asia among which the struggle by the citizens of Gwangju in 1980 stands out as one of the great inspirations. The realisation of the Gwangju Spirit requires that all people should be able to enjoy their rights through protective mechanisms provided by their justice systems.

Everywhere in Asia and in other corners of the world, violence, internal and inter-state conflicts as well as human rights violations are rampant. For the right to peace to be fully realized, state and civil society organizations and other organs of the society have obligations to promote peace education, and education for peace.

While reiterating the various principles enshrined in existing international human rights documents, this Declaration addresses major issues relating to the right to culture in Asia. This Declaration recognizes the diversities that exist in and among societies and that promoting the right to cultural diversity has to be reviewed and adjusted to reflect changing realities.

Cultural diversity is best protected when all other human rights are respected. Culture should not be used as a tool to infringe on the human rights of certain individuals, especially that of women. Cultural identity is important for the well-being and dignity of individuals and communities. No one should be denied rights on the grounds of cultural differences.

In many Asian countries, as in many less developedo countries around the world, the ratification of UN Conventions has not been followed by steps to ensure that the rights enshrined therein can be practically realised within those jurisdictions. The absence of an effective remedy for the violation of a right makes that right virtually insignificant and lacking in any practical value. Article 2 of the ICCPR requires that all state parties who become signatories to the United Nations covenants should ensure that all those who suffer violations of such rights have access to an effective remedy. This document hereby reaffirms the rights enshrined in Article 2 of the ICCPR and declares ‘the Right to Justice.’ The Right to Justice is, we believe, a remedy to any violations of the Rights committed by state powers and should improve the rights for our common humanity.