Aids, Hunger, Terror Threaten World
March 19, 2003
Posted to the web March 18, 2003
Even as the world gears up for another
major world conflict the UN says world security is threatened
not only by the crises currently dominating the headlines but
by AIDS, hunger and the "dreams of obscure
vengeance" from political terrorists "whose only
achievements are the sudden screams of innocent people."
A top United Nations human rights official made these
disclosures on Monday, the day that all talk of diplomacy in
the Iraq disarmament negotiations finally collapsed.
In an opening address to the 59th
session of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello,
warned that the fight against terrorism could not be allowed
to trample on rigorous respect for civil and political
"We meet today at a time of unusual
convulsion in world affairs," Mr. Vieira de Mello said.
"The security of our world has been fragile enough; one
wonders how much more it will weaken. I am not speaking only
of those crises that dominate the headlines. I am thinking, at
least as much, of the death that, brought into millions of
homes in the form of a terrible virus, has become a constant
companion across much of Africa and elsewhere."
The High Commissioner stressed there
could be no security without the tools each person needs to
live and to improve her life. "Too many people continue
to lack even the basics - water, sustenance, elementary
education, health services - of a dignified life," he
said. "We can never cease pursuing freedom from want,
that is, the rights to food and to development, among others.
Without them, security will be only a privilege of the
powerful, and an endangered privilege at that, because it will
be based on the faith that strong borders, mighty deterrence
or authoritarian domestic rule bring security. That is a false
sense of security, because it is not based on rights."
Referring to "grotesque"
political terror, Mr. Vieira de Mello said: "Individuals
and organized networks whose politics are blood-red - who feed
on dreams of obscure vengeance - whose only achievements are
the sudden screams of innocent people - such men and women are
sowing terror in our world, and reaping pain. In the most
fundamental way, they mock our security."
Warning that the world is living in
fearful times and that fear is a bad advisor, he said:
"True security must be based on the proven principles of
human rights. Some, in fact an increasing number, of states
implicitly or explicitly believe that security and a rigorous
respect of civil and political liberties are mutually
exclusive. But we also have a right to security when faced
with the ambitions of states, whether our own or others. We
cannot compromise our hard-won human rights to give states a
free hand in fighting terrorism.
On the Palestinian-Israel conflict, Mr.
Vieira de Mello said his proposal to visit the region had been
well received and he hoped to carry it out in the near future.
"There can be no security without real peace, and peace
must be built on the firm foundation of human rights,"he