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Essay and Opinion


The Codification of the right to peace in the United Nations --- the right to live in peace in the preamble of Japan constitution should be a global standard right

August1, 2011

Jun Sasamoto (Lawyer, Secretary General of Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association <JALISA>)

  Do you know the right to peace is discussed in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations?
  On June 17th, 2011 it adopted the resolution to promote the codification of right to peace by the approval of 32 countries among 47 board member countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is similar to this codification.

  The "right to peace" is a wide concept which includes the right to live in peace in the Japan constitution. Peace issue has been dealt with in many international treaties and institutions only by governments not by peoples or individuals. Governments can only make rules about rights and obligations between countries. But who can make them to observe these obligations? It is peoples and individuals, not governments, that only can claim to implement these obligations against each country. So the right of peoples and individuals to peace plays important role. It enables us, citizens, to control each government in the field of peace and security.
  When the declaration of the right to peace is adopted by the UN general assembly and established as international norm of human right, each country, especially which has not peaceful constitution, could incorporate the right to peace into their constitution and legal documents.
  The right to "peace" doesn't mean only the absence of wars but also positive peace free from fear and want. The right to live in peace in the Japan constitution contains the same concept in its text "the right to live in peace, free from fear and want", so Japan constitution has also originally profound meaning. We should recognize that various kinds of right, such as the right to live without economic disparity and the right to live in the healthy environment without radioactivity, are needed for realization of peace.
  The Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council proposes the draft declaration of the right to peace. It includes the core element rights; right to disarmament, right to human security, right to conscientious objection, right to resistance, and other various rights; right to development, right to environment.
  The Advisory Committee held a consultation meeting in August 2011 in Geneva and discussed about this declaration with the board member states and NGO members. In February 2012 it is going to finalize the draft and to submit it to the Human Right Council in June 2012. If HRC adopts this declaration, it is subsequently submitted to the General Assembly of UN.

 Although Japan is a precious country in the world which have right to live in peace in its constitution, Japanese government has opposed to the HRC resolution to promote right to peace along with the United States, EU, South Korea. US claim that peace issue is a topic which should be dealt with in the Security Council of the United States, not in the Human Right Council. They may want to maintain the prior status in the SC, where US and 4 other nations have the veto as permanent board countries and powerful authority about international peace. I think that US is uneasy that its military action are opposed by citizens of the world on the ground of violation of right to peace.

  This codification process for right to peace is also a consequence of NGO movement, which launched in 2006 and has held many NGO conferences around the world. It also means that a lot of citizens in the world inspire the right to peace. The number of the supportive NGO is more than 1800 in the world. Japanese NGO can make efforts to realize the international normalization of human right to peace with other countries NGO.
  Japanese NGO could send a message as follows:
1, Japan has the constitution that has right to live in peace.
2, Japanese courts have developed the right to live in peace like Naganuma lawsuit and dispatched SDF to Iraq in their decisions.
3, Nuclear arms should be abolished through the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
4, Radioactivity is not compatible with people's life through the devastated experience of Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
  If these rights are incorporated in the international codification and become one of the global standard rights, the right to live in peace in Japan could be more effective right to implement.
  Furthermore this movement of spreading right to peace in the world could also be a part of international peace movements, such as Global Article 9 campaign. Because, both movements have a common goal from the viewpoint of spread peaceful constitutions to the world.

Right to peace in the United Nations: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/advisorycommittee/right_to_peace.htm
NGO movement (Spanish Society of International Human Rights Law)
http://www.aedidh.org/?q=node/681