Resolution on political transitions and human rights

Resolution on political transitions and human rights adopted by FIDH 38th Congress

Presented by the FIDH International Board

The 164 FIDH member organisations attending the FIDH world congress are pleased and honoured to be holding this event in Turkey, a country which, over the last few years, has embarked on a transition to democracy. Turkey is emblematic of the problems that now affect countries in transition, be they in the Arab world or in other regions of the world. Numerous challenges must still be faced, especially involving freedom of speech, the situation of human rights defenders and conflict in the East of the country.

Transitions are marked by institutional change, in particular through constitutional reforms . These reforms must provide an opportunity to unequivocally reassert fundamental principles including the universality of human rights, ; the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary; t; protection of fundamental rights and adequate sanction in case of violation; the establishment of effective mechanisms to fight corruption, and the predominance of international human rights law over domestic legislation and international trade and investment agreements.

The call for dignity and social justice – connected to economic and social rights – is often the trigger for transitions and revolutions. FIDH urges the States to guarantee these rights effectively by embedding them in the constitution and the law, by devoting maximum available resources to their realisation, by establishing effective recourse mechanisms for victims of violations and by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which enables the individuals to file claims before the United Nations in the event of violations of their economic and social rights.

It is essential to establish the truth about human rights violations in all situations of political transition. Bringing the main perpetrators of the most serious crimes to justice is a right, and the realisation of this right should be associated with the right to a fair trial. Transitional justice processes, led in partnership with civil society and all concerned stakeholders, should provide for the right to reparation of the victims and their families and guarantee that such crimes shall not be repeated. To establish the truth is important in order to build up the future. T. The whole society should learn from lessons of the past. For this to happen, we must continue to establish the facts, ensure the preservation of archives, create places of remembrance, and provide the appropriate education for the next generation to understand the past.

The international community has a key role to play in this area via the United Nations and regional organisations. Human rights and justice must be at the heart of debate on conflict resolution at the United Nations Security Council and within the political arenas of regional bodies. FIDH recommends the adoption of a reform agenda for regional bodies to enable them to politically support successful transitional processes.
Justice is essential to peace, and the national judiciary in countries where crimes are perpetrated has the main responsibility for achieving justice. In complementarity or in case of impossibility at the domestic level, mechanisms based on universal jurisdiction should be reinforced. In addition, international tribunals and in particular the International Criminal Court should be more broadly supported and funded, enabling them to expand their remit of investigations, sanctions, reparations and prevention alongside national justice systems.

In situations of transition, societies emerging from dictatorship are all confronted with the problem of identity and need to strive to become pluralistic and respect individual rights, in all their diversity. However racism, xenophobia, homophobia and incitement to hatred related to philosophical or religious allegiances still persist and are exploited by political actors. Ethnic and religious minorities are subjected to hate speech, violence and discrimination, sometimes systematic. Membership of the human race cannot be reduced to a question of origin, nationality, opinion, convictions, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
FIDH urges the States to strive to promote pluralism, respect for diversity , and open-mindedness, which are pillars of democracy. Anti-discrimination laws are needed to support the implementation of all human rights.

FIDH recalls international law guarantees the right of everyone to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or not have a religion or any type of belief. Restrictions to the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief are permitted only if limitations are prescribed by law, necessary to protect public safety, order, health or moral or the fundamental rights of others. Thus, freedom of religion ceases where the rights of others begin.

At a time when the rights of women are being threatened by regression in many countries, FIDH recalls the universality and indivisibility of human rights. Women have equal rights in all domains, including the right to participate in the social, cultural, economic and political life of their country, as well as in peace and reconciliation processes. FIDH calls on States to take all necessary institutional, political and cultural reforms and measures to promote equal participation of women in public life and to abolish restrictive family law. FIDH recalls women have the right to access to all services and means enabling to control their own fertility.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed by all the international and regional instruments on the protection of human rights. It can only be restricted by law, under explicitly stipulated conditions, and interpreted in a controlled manner. In this vein, FIDH notes that inciting hatred, in certain circumstances, may constitute an international crime, as set out in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). New Information and Communication technologies are important means that should be protected from abusive restrictions.

FIDH urges States in transition to regulate the activities of business entities, including their activities in third countries, in particular by imposing an obligation to carry out human rights due diligence and the disclose information on the impact of their activities on the environment and on human rights. Such requirements should matched with sanctions. FIDH also encourages a reversal of the burden of proof when the issue entails the cause-and-effect link between damages incurred and the activities of an enterprise, in the event of legal proceedings instituted by the victims. Furthermore, parent companies, as a matter of principle, should be held responsible for the harmful conduct of their subsidiaries.

International investments and trade, which are supposed to stimulate development in favour of all countries in transition have often contributed to building up the wealth of multinational companies run by a small oligarchy at the expense of the economic and social rights of the majority. They have made the countries’ economies more fragile and sometimes marginalised large segments of the population , weakening the right to food, healthcare, education and the whole range of social rights. FIDH believes that it is essential for the States and the international financial and trade institutions in which they participate to recognise the primacy of human rights in their development, investment and trade policies. These policies should be supported by impact indicators on human rights and their human rights impact should be measured by independent bodies kept informed by the civil society of the countries and regions concerned.

Independent civil societies play a fundamental role as a counter-force, regardless of the regime in power. In order to effectively influence the debates and the elaboration of democratic projects in a complex and multipolar world, FIDH calls on States to guarantee freedom of association, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and the right to use public media. Alliances being decisive FIDH intends to continue its policy of far-reaching and reinvigorated, temporary or long-term, alliances with any- and everyone who adheres to the universal principles of human rights.

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