MILLENNIUM SUMMIT - Time to commit to human rights protection

The Millennium Summit will take place at the United Nations in New York between 6 and 8 September. In May, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, wrote to all UN member states highlighting 25 core treaties, including many human rights treaties, and urged them to use the special facilities provided at the Summit to sign and ratify or accede to treaties.

'The world community should reflect on its failure to prevent the millions of human rights violations committed in the past half century,' Amnesty International said.

'It is time for all UN member states to show their commitment to ending this pattern by strengthening the international systems set up to ensure that every person can seek protection of their fundamental rights and every perpetrator of human rights violations can be brought to justice.'

In particular Amnesty International is urging all UN member states to ratify or accede, without reservation, to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which sets out the fundamental rights of all people, together with the First Optional Protocol which allows individuals to petition the Human Rights Committee for protection and redress for violations, as well as the Second Optional Protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty

The organisation also urges all states to ratify or accede, without reservation, to treaties which criminalise human rights violations, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In particular, Amnesty International urges all states to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which once established will prosecute people accused of genocide, other crimes against humanity and war crimes. By doing so, states would be taking a major step towards ending the trend of impunity for these crimes which have plagued the world in the last 50 years.

Amnesty International also calls on states to ratify or accede, without reservation, to treaties specifically designed to protect certain groups of people, including, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and its Optional Protocol, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol.

'As the new millennium begins, respect for human dignity must be at the top of the world's agenda,' the organisation concluded.

'The most positive step that member states can take at the Summit to bring about such respect, is to fully commit themselves to the provisions of international human rights standards'.

Background The Millennium Summit will be attended by heads of state and/or government of the member states of the United Nations. It is likely to be the largest single gathering of heads of state and/or government ever held in the world. The Summit is to be a historic opportunity to agree on a process for fundamental review of the role of the United Nations and the challenges it faces in the new century.

The full list of treaties Amnesty International is urging states to ratify is as follows:

* Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court * Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide * International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination * International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights * International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights * Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights * Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty * Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights * Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights * Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, * Convention on the Rights of the Child, * Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of Children's rights in armed conflicts, * Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of Children's rights, child prostitution and child pornography * International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families * Convention relating to the Status of Refugees * Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel

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