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The May 18 Spirit

Ⅱ. Right to Peace

Ⅱ-1. Development, human rights, and peace and security are the underlining principles and purpose of the United Nations itself and peace has been set out as the preeminent goal of international law and international relations. Peace and security, development, and human rights are the three key pillars of the United Nations. Conflict has devastating effects on development and the fulfillment of human rights. Food insecurity undermines the capability of a society, affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately especially women and children. In conflict-affected countries, public services are severely constrained. Military spending has adverse effects on the enjoyment of all human rights and prevents states from realizing internationally recognized development goals.

States should reduce military spending in order to ensure that national resources are properly allocated for the promotion of economic and social rights of the people and remove disparity. We also call for states to address the issue of development and the reduction of poverty.

Ⅱ-2. The basic concept of human rights is understood to be individual entitlement. The UDHR and many other international, regional or national human rights laws recognize rights of “everyone” and require states to fulfill their obligations to respect, protect and fulfill rights of individual citizen. The two categories of rights which refer to political and civil rights and economic, social and cultural rights have been legislated, therefore, most of them are justiciable. However, the third category of rights which is based on the concept of “solidarity rights” which belong to the group and collectivity have been facing challenges until now.

Ⅱ-3. Article 1 of the 1984 UN Declaration of the Rights of Peoples to Peace “solemnly proclaims that the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace” and that “everyone has the right to enjoy peace such that all human rights are promoted and protected and development is fully realized.” Article 2 declares that the preservation of the right of peoples to peace and the promotion of its implementation constitute a fundamental obligation of each state.

On 19 December 2016 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Peace. It recognizes that respect for human rights and the realization of the right of all peoples is the key to the Right to Peace. The Declaration also reiterates the fact that development, peace, security and human rights are linked and mutually reinforcing. It emphasizes that the peaceful settlement and prevention of conflicts are enabling conditions for the right to peace. The Declaration further states that the positive role of women, the eradication of poverty and sustainable development, the importance of moderation, dialogue, cooperation, education, tolerance and cultural diversity, the protection of minorities and the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are all related to the right to peace.

Ⅱ-4. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets 17 goals and reinforcing the right to peace by declaring that “we are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without development”. This global agenda finds its place in the national agendas of all states in Asia.

Ⅱ-5. States have a duty to maintain law and order which should be conducted with strict restraints on the use of force in accordance with standards established by the international community, including humanitarian law. Every individual and group is entitled to protection against all forms of violence committed by the state. The Asian Human Rights Charter maintained, in 1998, that Asian people have suffered many deaths, as well as the external or internal displacements of persons, and the break-up of families and denial of the prospect of peaceful existence. It stated that for the people to live in peace it is necessary for the political, economic or social activities of the state, the corporate sector and the civil society to respect the right to security and the personal integrity of all people including the vulnerable groups. It further elaborated that all persons have the right to live in peace so that they can fully develop their capacities, physical, moral and spiritual, without being the target of any kind of violence.

Ⅱ-6. Past experience demonstrates that foreign states and the entities have used Asian groups as surrogates to wage wars. The existence of armed groups in countries instigated the governments to engage in internal conflicts. By doing so, they have made huge profits out of the sale of armaments. Foreign military infrastructure and other establishments have threatened the social and physical security and property rights of the people who live in the area. To maintain peace in the region, all acts of terror and violence committed by state and non-state actors must be denounced. The use of all kinds of chemical and biological weapons, drones and nuclear technology used for military purpose must be denounced. The arms trade and arms race should be controlled as well.

Ⅱ-7. In all conflict situations, women and children are always the first to become victims of war and violence. Women and children face the most of these attacks including mass rape, slaughter, and the destruction of property and disappearance of family members. This generates thousands of orphans. For the right to peace to be fulfilled and sustained, it has to address structural violence from which some particular groups especially women, and women belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, suffer. The lack of gender equality always contributes to violence in both the public and private spheres. There is a real need for right to peace to properly address discrimination against women and to ensure that children and fully protected.

Ⅱ-8. Since 9/11 when the war against terrorism began, the world has seen unprecedented levels of destruction through the use of modern technologies and war machineries. Suppression of independent thought processes and peoples’ struggles, particularly the right to self-determination movements, Islamophobia and hatred against “other” communities who are different from the dominant communities, all of these have become the norm. War and occupation have become the methods of suppression. In many places in Asia, religious extremism and militarization has brought misery to the religious minorities and the people who fight for their right to self-determination. Many countries in Asia continue to apply extensively national security legislation to suppress peoples’ rights and they dictate only one kind of narrative of these states, which should be followed by all the people of those respective states. We deplore any states’ use the discourse of peace and order to curtail rights and freedoms that people are exercising.

Ⅱ-9. Conflicts, violence and discrimination in different forms are widespread and cause the displacement of millions of people in the region. A number of countries are facing the fastest growth of refugees in the 21st century. This poses challenges to peace building and to development. The adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration, although reflecting the general political will of international community to deal with the rights of mass population movements may not contribute to stopping human rights and humanitarian crises unless the root causes are properly addressed. States and the regional and international community must acknowledge that forced migration is a regional problem which requires regional and collective responses and solutions. There is also a real need of paradigm shift from security and control mentality to a human rights based approach to migration.