The conference was marked
by an unprecedented degree of participation by government delegates and the
international human rights community. Some 7.000 participants, including
academics, treaty bodies, national institutions and representatives of more
than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - two thirds of them at the
grass-roots level - gathered in
United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in a message to the Conference, told the delegates that by adopting the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action they had renewed the international community's commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. He saluted the meeting for having forged "a new vision for global action for human rights into the next century".
The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action marks the culmination of a long process of review and debate over the current status of human rights machinery in the world. It also marks the beginning of a renewed effort to strengthen and further implement the body of human rights instruments that have been painstakingly constructed on the foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 1948.
In his presentation of the document to the final plenary session, Mr. Ibrahima Fall, the Secretary-General of the Conference, said that the Vienna Declaration provides the international community with a new "framework of planning, dialogue and cooperation" that will enable a holistic approach to promoting human rights and involve actors at all levels - international, national and local.
In 1989 the General Assembly called for the convening of a world meeting that would review and assess progress made in the field of human rights since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and identify obstacles and ways in which they might be overcome. The first global meeting on human rights had taken place in Teheran in 1968.
The Conference agenda, as set by the forty-seventh session of the General Assembly in 1992, also included the examination of the link between development, democracy and economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of United Nations methods an mechanisms with the aim of recommending ways to ensure adequate financial and other resources for United Nations human rights activities.
From the first of four Preparatory Committee meetings
The search for common ground on these and many other issues was characterized by intense dialogue among governments and dozens of United Nations bodies, specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations and thousands of human rights and development NGOs from around the world.
The preparatory process
included three key regional meetings, - in
The final document agreed
Similarly, the Conference took historic new steps to promote and protect the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples by, respectively, support the creation of a new mechanism, a Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women; calling for the universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the year 1995; and recommending the proclamation by the General Assembly of an international decade of the world's indigenous peoples. Subsequently, the General Assembly carried out that recommendation.
The Vienna Declaration also
makes concrete recommendations for strengthening and harmonizing the monitoring
capacity of the United Nations system. In this regard, it called for the
establishment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights by the General Assembly,
which subsequently created the post on
The Vienna Declaration further emphasizes the need for speedy ratification of other human rights instruments and for additional resources for the Centre for Human Rights, which served as the secretariat of the World Conference.
"In adopting this Declaration", Mr. Fall concluded in his final address to the conference, "the Member States of the United Nations have solemnly pledged to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to undertake individually and collectively actions and programmes to make the enjoyment of human rights a reality for every human being."
The Vienna Declaration on Human Rights and Programme of Action.
Stamp catalogue - Vienna conference
Austria††††††††††††††††††††††† 11 June 1993
Stamp catalogue - Regional African Meeting, Tunis