This chapter was initially discussed in the first session of the Main Committee on Monday, 5 September 1994. Canada reported on an informal meeting held on 13 July in New York where delegates agreed that there should be fewer principles, which should be reordered and merged.
Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, introduced a new draft with a few amendments. Germany, on behalf of the EU, said that more time was needed for group consultations. Mali expressed some reservation with regard to Principle 5, which called for an end to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, since some developing countries might have problems meeting this goal. Iran suggested that in Principle 7 of the G-77 text, the reference to "individuals" be deleted. El Salvador suggested that the word "individuals" be replaced with "persons." Honduras proposed an amendment that would reiterate the universal right to life, liberty and security of the person.
On Principle 8, China suggested adding "without any form of coercion" and deleting the reference to some specific forms of coercion. Algeria responded that Principle 8 should not be discussed, but considered in brackets until the issues it deals with are addressed in the discussion of Chapters VII and VIII. The Philippines and Pakistan agreed that the phrase "sexual and" should be deleted in the reference to the right to health care services. The Philippines, supported by Indonesia, said that abortion should in no way be considered a method of family planning.
The Holy See said that this set of principles should also refer to the duty that the international community has in matters of human rights violations. El Salvador said that the rights provided in Principle 1 should be balanced with matching duties and that Principle 10 should make clear that the family is the basic unit of society. Iran asked that the reference to various "forms of the family" be deleted in Principle 10. The US suggested a series of amendments on the principal objective of the Programme of Action, gender equity and equality, migrants, indigenous communities and references to sustainable development. The Chair asked the US to submit these amendments in writing.
After this initial discussion in the Main Committee, the "Friends of the Chair" became the primary negotiating forum on this chapter. These often protracted negotiations continued until Monday, 12 September. The most contentious issue was the chapeau, which qualifies not only how the principles are to be interpreted but also provides that the implementation of the whole Programme of Action will be carried out at the national level and according to each State's laws, religious and ethical values. Part of the chapeau now reads:
"The implementation of the recommendations in the Programme of Action is the sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with universally recognized human rights."
Principle 1 states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, including all the rights and freedoms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and have the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Principle 2 calls on all nations to ensure that all individuals are given the opportunity to make the most of their potential, since human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development, and they are the most valuable resource of any nation.
Principle 3 states that the right to development is a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights, and the human person is the central subject of development.
Principle 4 calls for advanced gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women. The human rights of women and the girl- child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.
Principle 5 says that population-related goals and policies are integral parts of cultural, economic and social development, the principal aim of which is to improve the quality of life of all people.
Principle 6 identifies sustainable development as a means to ensure human well being. States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate policies in order to meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Principle 7 calls on all States to cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.
Principle 8 says that everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and that States should take all appropriate measures to ensure universal access to health-care services, including those related to reproductive health care, family planning and sexual health.
Principle 9 states that the family is the basic unit of society, and as such, should be strengthened. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist.
Principle 10 says that everyone has the right to education, which shall be directed to the full development of human resources, and human dignity and potential, with particular attention to women and the girl-child.
Principle 11 calls on States and families to give the highest priority to children. The child has the right to the highest attainable standards of health, and the right to education.
Principle 12 calls on countries receiving documented migrants to provide proper treatment and adequate social welfare services for them and their families, and to ensure their physical safety and security, bearing in mind the special circumstances and needs of countries, and, in particular, those of developing countries.
Principle 13 states that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. States have responsibilities with respect to refugees, as set forth in the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.
Principle 14 calls on States to consider the development and population needs of indigenous people, to recognize and support their identity, culture and interests, and enable them to participate fully in the economic, political and social life of the country, particularly where their health, education and well- being are affected.
Principle 15 requires that in the context of sustainable development and social progress, sustained economic growth be broadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people. All countries should recognize their common but differentiated responsibilities and the developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development.
[Return to start of article]