Many hundreds of democratic lawyers, jurists, legal educators and law students from 56 nations throughout the world gathered at the XVth Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) organized jointly with the XIIth Congress of the American Association of Jurists (AAJ) on the theme: Establishing a Just International Legal Order
Congress Commissions Were Convened under Four Major Themes:
1) THE RIGHT TO PEACE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY; THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
2) THE ROLE OF STATES AND THEIR LEGAL SYSTEMS IN CONTROLLING THE GLOBAL ECONOMY: GLOBALIZATION
3) DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS THEORY AND PRACTICE
4) ACCESS TO JUSTICE: THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY AND THE PREPARATION AND PRACTICE OF LAWYERS
IADL XV Congress Commissions
FINAL DECLARATION OF THE
XII CONFERENCE OF THE A.A.J.
XV CONGRESS OF THE I.A.D.L.
OCTOBER 20, 2000
We the jurists from fifty-six countries, met at the International Conference Center of the Republic of Cuba, having worked for five days in joint sessions of the XII Conference of the American Association of Jurists (A.A.J.) and the XV Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (I.A.D.L.), and as a result of our deliberations, reflections, analyses and discussions, during which we considered the presentations of 163 papers, working in four Commissions in which the main problems that currently demand our greatest attention were covered, prepared this FINAL DECLARATION that summarizes the consensus reached in the debates held in all the Commissions and expresses the conclusions stemming from the relevant discussions and reflections, as well as the prospects of the future work for both organizations of jurists.
THEREFORE A.A.J. and I.A.D.L. jurist delegates:
DECLARE that we are convinced of the role that our profession imposes upon us to perform in each and every one of our countries as part of the struggle to attain true democracy and the real exercise of Human Rights, at this particularly serious time in the history of mankind that requires our intelligence and prudence and at the same time our audacity and profundity.
ARE CONVINCED OF THE FACT THAT we are living amidst a wave of violence and intensification of war conflicts that are causing the most serious and massive violations of Human Rights and thus are increasing the suffering of peoples from all over the world. Regardless of the disappearance of the East-West confrontation, the arms race, instead of ceasing, has not even diminished, and the astronomical figures invested in sophisticated weapons are offensive to the pain and frustration of thousands of millions worldwide, who would witness a considerable improvement of their bitter existence with just a small per cent of the resources presently being spent for the brutal purpose of fabricating weaponry. Consequently, we urge the United Nations and, especially, the Disarmament Committee, to set forth and define actions in pursuit of disarmament that make it possible without any limitations or conditions whatsoever to allocate the funds currently invested in the arms race in the development of the Third World countries.
CONDEMN the irresponsibility of the first world’s main centers of power that, in their eagerness to make profits, are killing the global through the implementation of uncontrolled technologies, the indiscriminate use of resources and a complete disregard for nature. These centers, of power have endangered life in the planet and are now accusing the Third World countries of being the predators of the Earth’s riches are despoiling the paths of development for poor countries and destroying the natural environment with impunity. To this end, we propose that our organizations of jurists devise plans to exert influence on the United Nations and its specialized agencies develop formulating realistic and radical policies to protect the environment, and, at the same time, organizations standing for the defense of the environment that are provided political and juridical support, as well as legal assistance in their struggle against predators. Furthermore, we call our affiliates to cooperate in the establishment of legislation that provides guarantees for the national, regional and international protection of the environment.
ASSUME WITH FULL RESPONSIBILITY that we are facing a politically and militarily unipolar world in which unrestrained intercapitalist competition is maintained and strengthened under the aegis of the neoliberal economy globalization. Within this context, the widening gulf separate the North, achieving unprecedented levels of development, from the South, where living conditions are inadequate to sustain the health and well being of its peoples.
FORCEFULLY REJECT “Neoliberalism” which not only deepens economic gaps and exploitation more merciless, but wages a vicious attack against the most elementary principles of democratic rights, thus openly eroding and breaking the sovereignty and legitimacy of governments, states and political systems of the Third World. We therefore call upon organizations of jurists to undertake campaigns of against these policies and their consequences.
WARN THAT the legitimization of our political systems, governments and States depends less and less upon national consensus; it is instead at the mercy of the approval of the international financial centers: the IMF, the World Bank, the international private banks and the London and Paris creditor clubs, whose admission requirements for our governments and systems, are granted or denied practical recognition in such a way that our peoples have been deprived of what little decision-making power they once had. To this end we call to organize national, regional and international campaigns against such illegitimate dominance and denounce this situation in every forum available.
DENOUNCE the foreign debt that already grows in underdeveloped countries to the order of two billion dollars and which, far from decreasing, keeps growing, while societies are dying. That debt is not only unpayable but also, uncollectable. In fact, it has become a eternal debt that holds Third World governments hostage and reinforces their dependence upon international financial centers by canceling the independence of the executive organs, limiting or eroding parliamentary freedom and, in brief, destroying the national sovereignty and capabilities of representation of the public powers.
Accordingly, we call for the articulation of concrete actions against the payment of the foreign debt and, particularly, to condemn its financial manipulations, which have reached extraordinary limits since this debt has quadrupled since 1981 as a result of the manipulation of the dollar. We call upon the United Nations and its specialized agencies to denounce the illegal and arbitrary nature of the foreign debt.
DENOUNCE, also the utilization of the foreign debt as a weapon of dominance and national disintegration as it has been used by the imperialist powers in support of international financial centers supposedly created to support the development of undeveloped countries.
DENOUNCE the thoughtless use of stock exchange mechanisms that lead to the enlargement of the fortunes of a few while the amount of material or spiritual goods available to the planet is kept at its lowest. These Stock Market manipulations of domestic currencies have had us, in the case of the recent Southeast Asia crisis that an immediate impact on the currencies of Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines and Malaysia, and still threaten to further destabilize financial bases worldwide. We call for legislation that prevents careless stock exchange transaction. We specifically call for legal challenges against the deterioration of currencies due to such financial manipulation.
DECLARE that it is increasingly apparent that people’s democracy representation is practically non-existent, in most countries, where democracy representatives come only from the top ranks of parties are unaware of people’s aspirations and demands and support the international centers of economic and political power.
We call for the exposure of the fallacies that democratic scheme that Western power centers offer us, and bring to light the inconsistencies and fallacies of the electoral systems.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the continuous violation of Human Rights, especially of Economic, Social and Cultural rights and the even greater violations of the Right to Peace, Sustainable Development and an inhabitable world.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the first-world doctrine that defends of Civil and Political Rights while assuming that Economic, Social and Cultural rights can be delayed indefinitely. We therefore call upon jurists of the world to initiate campaigns against violations of Human Rights in general and that of the Economic, Social and Cultural rights in particular, urge ECOSOC and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva to articulate the proper mechanisms for truly effective protections of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, promoting approval of the Empowerment Protocol of the International Convention on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with as many amendments as necessary. We firmly sustain the doctrine reiterated in the Second Human Rights Conference of Vienna related to the interdependent, indivisible and universal character of Human Rights.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the economic situation that gives rise to massive violations of Human Rights in the most vulnerable sectors. Whereas the centers of power use the Geneva Commission on Human Rights to examine violations of the right to the free expression of ideas, or the right to freedom of speech in this or that place they fail to take into account, with the same precision and completeness, that in today’s world, 1,000 billion out of the 6,000 billion inhabitants of the planet (one out of every six people) are isolated from the surrounding world because they cannot read or write; 250 million children five to fourteen years-old are forced to work, as reported by the International Labor Organization, and countless numbers of minors are enslaved by debts. Hundreds of thousands of girls and boys all over the world are forced into prostitution or submitted to sexual abuse. The so-called “children of the street”, amount to millions. Indeed in some countries it has been reported that the wealthy are so upset at these children’s pitiful presence before the windows of their shops that they pay paramilitary groups to kill them with impunity, sometimes in broad daylight.
DENOUNCE the corrupt practices which proclaim women’s legal equality while overwhelming reality shows that 70 % of the more than 1,300 billion human beings who live below the absolute poverty limits, over I billion, are in fact women; or for example in India, 61 % of women are illiterate, while in the Third World in general more than half the women suffer from malnutrition, anemia. In Southeast Asia this figure rises to 78 %. We emphasize that the legal equality of women can only result when the misery, ignorance, disease and poverty in which women live are eliminated.
We propose mobilizations to support the effective and realistic protection of the most unprotected sectors, particularly women, children, the elderly and the handicapped.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE any laws aimed at providing amnesty for those who commit crimes against humanity and violate Human Rights, because they open deep wounds in the social tissue, injure the national conscience and the sensibilities of peoples who suffer from tyrannies and erodes the authority of the Administration of Justice weakening its credibility and increasing the fragility of our sovereignties.
We therefore call for a struggle in every legal forum, both national and international, against any legislation that confers immunity to those who commit crimes against Human Rights and crimes against humanity, and we call for an international reconciliation culture that includes punishment for those who unforgivably deprive the people of their most elementary rights.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the current world economic order based upon the abyss between the North and the South and its perpetuation through arbitrary and unequal trading and exchange practices, protectionism and tariff systems that cheapen our products and make those from the first world’s powerful industries unavailable to us.
EQUALLY DENOUNCE that the current trading practices are increasingly and dangerously being carried out by and established among highly-industrialized countries, in such a way that poor countries are excluded because of the contracting terms and the lack of credits, as well as inadmissible protectionist measures, so that the economies of underdeveloped countries, far from finding viable ways to prosperity, go deeper and deeper into marginalization and dominance of foreign capitals, along with a structural deformation that brings about a debilitation of their sovereignty, political system and juridical order. We stress that the World Trade Organization has become an instrument for these discriminatory and domination policies. We therefore call all organizations to initiate campaigns against unequal trading practices, tariff barriers and other protectionist mechanisms. We also call for the adoption of legislation that aims at accomplishing a new world economic and commercial order.
STRONGLY CONDEMN the unilateral measures of commercial aggression against some countries by the big world powers and, particularly, we vehemently denounce the brutal and genocidal economic war that the United States of America has been waging against the Cuban people for forty years, because Cuba has made a Revolution, established an alternative political system, and built a state order of its own invention, creating a true democracy that breaks loose from the dictated paradigms with which they pretend to rule from their power centers, over the life and decisions of the whole universe.
CONDEMN with all our strength, the position adopted, by the United States in spite of the many decisions taken by the General Assembly of the United Nations in condemnation of the use of economic coercion and the application of measures which, as in the case of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Laws impose sanctions even on those countries that choose to exercise free and sovereign trade with Cuba.
WE ALSO EMPHATICALLY CONDEMN the recent measures taken by the United States Congress that hypocritically refer to a loosening of the blockade to Cuba but, instead, strengthen the harassment and blockade of the Cuban people trying to bring them to their knees by hunger and disease, to punish Cuba for being sovereign and not bowing before the imperialist neighbor.
Consequently, we advocate permanent mobilizations against the blockade imposed on Cuba and support the movement of solidarity with an energetic and patriotic people that the imperialists seek to bend to their will.
CONDEMN as well the economic blockade that the United Nations Security Council imposes against the people of Iraq under the influence of the United States of America.
CONDEMN terrorism in general and, specifically, the State terrorism practiced by the big, powers that pretend to the arbiters of Human Rights while controlling each country’s struggle against drug trafficking, as in the case of Colombia. In this respect, we particularly condemn the so-called “Plan Colombia” that leads to foreign military interventions against that country and presents a clear and present danger of a regionalization of that sovereign nation’s internal conflict.
DENOUNCE the xenophobia, racism and intolerance spreading throughout the developed countries of the world which are tolerant of the rising of dangerous neo-nazi groups and gangs that kill with impunity as disciples of savage xenophobic and racist principles.
DENOUNCE the maneuverings by the big powers that conceal themselves behind national or interethnic passions and conflicts to promote wars and provide financial support and assistance to certain groups in ways that tend to increase complexity and intensity of these conflicts.
DENOUNCE intervention of the big powers in the domestic, problems of countries in the Balkan region, Africa or the Middle East, where they act as supposed mediators while actually and shamelessly helping the Israeli government.
SUPPORT AND REAFFIRM OUR SOLIDARITY with the struggles of the Palestinian people towards its independence and as a sovereign nation in the international context.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the latest aggressions and violent attacks by Israel and call upon the international community to denounce and express solidarity against the fierce intervention of the Israeli army in Palestinian land.
EXPRESS OUR SOLIDARITY with the struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination and independence, consistent with the principles laid down in the United Nations Charter, and reaffirm the United Nations’ responsibility regarding the Saharawi people’s independent destiny and raise our voices in the United Nations to demand the fulfillment of the agreements concerning people’s independence in Western Sahara.
STRONGLY DENOUNCE the presence of U.S. military bases in sovereign territories, as in the case of the island of Vieques, the naval base in Guantanamo Bay against the expressed will of the Cuban Government and people, and the base of Manta in Ecuador, and that in Okinawa, and all the other military sites imposed by United States on sovereign peoples.
Havana, Cuba, October 20, 2000