New Delhi, 8 March 1998/P/K/15846c-is

At an international conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the delegates called for the banning of comprehensive economic sanctions (whether bilateral or multilateral) as an instrument of international enforcement measures because such punitive measures negate the basic human rights, including the right to life, of the peoples in the targeted countries.

This appeal is part of a declaration on "Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century" which was unanimously adopted at the end of the two-day conference in New Delhi. Two hundred experts, politicians and human rights activists from forty countries participated in the conference jointly organized by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (New Delhi) and the NGO Co-ordinating Committee on Human Rights (Geneva).

The main focus of the conference was on social and economic rights and on the right to development as basis for the meaningful exercise of civil and political rights. In his inaugural address, Shri Krishna Kant, Vice-President of India, called for the revival of the Gandhian spirit of dialogue among all sections of society. He delineated three generations of human rights – civil and political, social and economic, and the right to development – and drew the attention of the participants to gender concerns, the rights of the child and sectoral claims of caste, region and ethnicity.

In his remarks as chairman of the special session on "Human Rights Challenges in the 21st Century", the President of the International Progress Organization, Prof. Hans Koechler, underlined the importance of a universal approach towards human rights. He said that the international rule of law can only be preserved if human rights are enforced in a non-discriminatory and non-politicized way. He further stated that the United Nations Organization must not itself violate the basic human rights by imposing comprehensive economic sanctions on innocent civilians. The principles of human rights are binding upon all states and international organizations including the UN.