By Cora Weiss - March 22, 2012


What is unique and important about the proposed Right to Peace Resolution is that it is civil society initiated, civil society vetted, civil society monitored and promoted. SC Res 1325 on Women Peace and Security would never have gotten to the place of prominence it holds today if not for civil society. In that case, it was women in civil society. We are demonstrating in both instances the sustainable influence and therefore the importance of civil society.

Why do we need a Resolution declaring Peace is a Human Right?

We have the Charter of the UN…determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war; we have the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the rights of all people and lists those rights including equality, social security, education and a number of freedoms, 30 in all; the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace…..none of those says that we have a right to peace and peace is a human right. Then there is the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century, which our Chair, Amb. Anwarul Chowdhury, managed to turn into a UN document, A/54/98, which calls for the Abolition of War and Peace is a Human Right. That was written and adopted by 10,000 people from over 100 countries in 1999.  We still haven’t seen any success toward those goals.

All the treaties on children in armed conflict, on women peace and security, all the resolutions on mediation, all the UN conferences with their outcome documents…none calls for the abolition of war, neither does this Declaration we are speaking about today, and it should. But it comes closest to filling the gap in the UDHR which doesn’t call for the guaranteed right to peace, and this will.

This Declaration is good for women, see Art. 2.5; good for education, Art. 4.1; good for civil society, Art 2.7; and good for the future of the world.

Suggestions for the next round of drafting.

The most important contributions this Declaration makes are calling for the need for peace education in all education systems and the right to peace. Many of the other points, which are all important and all need to be reinforced and implemented, are covered by any number of UN documents, Declarations, international laws and treaties. They should remain, of course in this document.

To strengthen this Declaration, in addition to the name change suggested by Carlos Villan, I suggest:

1.    The Right to Peace depends not only on the absence of force (Preamble paras, 5 and 6), but on the presence of human security.

2.    Article 2.5 should be more specific and call for an equal number of women at all peacemaking tables and the full implementation of SC Res 1325.

3.    Article 2.7 which says civil society actors should play a role in mediation, etc., should say, civil society actors including women, and I would include former combatants…..otherwise they won’t be there.

4.    Article 4. Peace Education is the most important idea in this entire Declaration and I would direct the drafters to not allow this to be negotiated away.

5.    Article 4.1. Culture of Peace is referenced only once. The Culture of Peace, fathered by our Amb. Chowdhury, was adopted by consensus in September 1999 (A/RES/53/243). It has been a Decade and a Program of Action. It has a civil society following around the world. It needs more attention in this Declaration.

6.    Article 4.5 ©: Not everyone agrees on what is discriminatory. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been called cultural. It is Mutilation and shld be banned. Stoning women to death is not cultural; it is murder and must be banned. But to arrive on a consensus about what is discriminatory, we should call on a critical mass of women to make a ruling.  If there is one thing that the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements have taught us, at last, is that governments must listen to the people.


Cora Weiss is President, Hague Appeal for Peace,

Former President of the International Peace Bureau, now its Representative at the United Nations.