1. TOP
  2. 資料館
  3. FOCUS
  4. September 2003 - Volume 33
  5. The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law: A Document of Peace and Human Rights

 
Powered by Google


FOCUS Archives


FOCUS September 2003 Volume 33

The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law: A Document of Peace and Human Rights

Rene V. Sarmiento

There is no substitute to a just and lasting peace. The path to peace, though it zigs and zags and faces many detours, is better than armed conflict and war. War is hell.

The Philippine government's pursuit of a just and lasting peace is best reflected in its six paths to peace which are found in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Executive Order No. 3 of 28 February 2001,1 reiterating President Fidel V. Ramos's Executive Order No. 125.2 These six paths which are indivisible and interdependent are (1) pursuit of social, economic and political reforms; (2) consensus-building and empowerment for peace; (3) peaceful negotiated settlement with different rebel groups; (4) programs for reconciliation, reintegration into mainstream society and rehabilitation; (5) ensuring the welfare and protection of civilians and reducing the impact of the armed conflicts on them, and (6) building, nurturing and enhancing a positive climate for peace.

The exploratory talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) started shortly after former Secretary of National Defense Fidel V. Ramos was sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines in 1992. A series of informal talks was conducted by the Philippine government to convince the CPP/NPA/NDF to engage in peace talks, explore the ways of peace and attain a just and lasting peace in the country.

On 1 September 1992 at The Hague, The Netherlands both the Philippine government and the CPP/NPA/NDF forged The Hague Joint Declaration which states the 4 substantive agenda for the formal peace negotiations: (a) human rights and international humanitarian law; (b) social and economic reforms; (c) political and constitutional reforms; (d) end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The Hague talks was followed by 3 more exploratory talks in the next two and a half years and resulted in the attainment of 4 procedural agreements, namely, Broukelen Joint Statement, Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Joint Agreement on the Ground Rules of the Formal Meetings, and Joint Agreement on Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs).

During the period of June 1996 to March 1998, 5 more agreements were completed after a total of 15 rounds of formal and informal meetings. These agreements were a) Additional Implementing Rules Pertaining to the Document of Identification; b) Supplemental Agreement to the Joint Agreement on the RWCs; c) Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHR-IHL); d) Additional Implementing Rules of the JASIG Pertaining to the Security of Personnel and Consultation in Furtherance of the Peace Negotiations; and e) Joint Agreement in Support of Socioeconomic Projects of Private Development Organization and Institutes.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHR-IHL) is a landmark agreement between the Philippine government and the CPP/NPA/NDF and is a glowing testimonial to the painstaking and persevering efforts of the two sides. Finger-pointing, short and lengthy discussions, late evening and early morning deliberations, corrections and fine-tuning of punctuations and provisions attended the preparation and finalization of the CAHR-IHL.

The CAHR-IHL consists of seven parts. They are a) the Preamble which introduces the Agreement and articulates the reasons for and the intention of the parties in entering into the Agreement; b) Declaration of Principles; c) Bases, Scope and Applicability; d) Respect for Human Rights; (5) Respect for International Humanitarian Law; e) Joint Monitoring Committee; and f) Final Provisions.

The CAHR-IHL contains the finest principles of human rights and international humanitarian law found in the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and in various international instruments on human rights and international humanitarian law. It also expresses the historical experiences of the Filipino people in their epic struggle against dictatorship. In his opening speech at the formal signing of the CAHR-IHL at The Hague on 14 March 1998, Luis G. Jalandoni, Chair of the NDF Peace Panel, extolled the Agreement and said that it is "founded on the interests, aspirations and concrete situation of the Filipino people, especially the workers, peasants, urban poor, women, fisherfolk, national minorities and other struggling sectors of Philippine society."

The finest principles of human rights are universality, indivisibility and interdependence, and solidarity. These are enunciated through numerous rights like the right of the people to oppose oppression and tyranny; the right of the victims and their families to adequate compensation and indemnification, restitution and rehabilitation; the right to effective sanctions and guarantees against repetition of human rights violations and impunity; the rights against summary executions (salvagings) and involuntary disappearances; the right against unwarranted and unjustified arrest and detention; the right not to be subjected to physical or mental torture, solitary confinement, rape and sexual abuse; the right not to be subjected to forced evacuations, food and other forces of economic blockades and indiscriminate bombings, shellings, strafing, gunfire and the use of landmines; the equal right of women in all fields of endeavor and in all spheres of political, economic, cultural, social and domestic life and to their emancipation; the right of children and the disabled to protection, care and a home; and the rights of the indigenous people communities in the Philippines to autonomy, to their ancestral lands and the natural resources in these lands, to engage in and benefit from affirmative action, to their participation and representation in the economic, political and social life and institutions, and to cultural and all around development.

The finest principles of international humanitarian law are a) the humane treatment and protection of persons who do not participate in hostilities (civilians) and of those who have stopped taking part in hostilities (sick or wounded combatants, and captured and detained members of armed forces); b) protection and respect to neutral persons or entities and medical personnel, including persons of humanitarian and/or medical organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); c) personnel and facilities of schools, the medical profession, religious institutions and place of worship, voluntary evacuation centers, programs and projects of relief and development shall not be the target of any attack and the persons of said entities shall be guaranteed their safety; and d) children shall not be allowed to take part in hostilities.

One relevant and timely human right found in the CAHR-IHL is the right of victims and their families against repetition of human rights violations and impunity. Its timeliness was shown when former Yugoslavia leader Slobodan Milosevic was first arrested and detained in Serbia and then handed over the last week of June 2001 to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague. The arrest and trial of Slobodan Milosevic demonstrate the growing international revulsion against impunity. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said that the case of Slobodan Milosevic is a momentous occasion for his victims, who might see a modicum of justice done. William Pace, convenor of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court, remarked that the transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague signal the era of impunity being replaced by a new era of international law and justice.

The resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the CPP/NPA/NDF in Oslo, Norway in April and June 2001 tackled, among others, the modality of implementation of the CAHR-IHL. The important issue in this modality of implementation is the political authority that will implement the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. The Philippine government says that since sovereignty is indivisible it is the Philippine government alone which has the sole authority to implement all the CAHR-IHL including the power to arrest, prosecute, try and impose sanctions on human rights violators. The CPP/NPA/NDF claims otherwise. The CPP/NPA/NDF argues that it has its own legal and judicial system and it can well exercise its power to arrest, prosecute, try and impose sanctions on human rights violators. The debate rages and the negotiation continues. Once the issue of modality and political authority is resolved during the resumption of peace talks, there will be no stopping to the full implementation of CAHR-IHL which will contribute a lot to the fostering and enhancing a climate of peace in the Philippines.

Pending agreement on the modality issue, the Philippine government continues to implement specific provisions of the CAHR-IHL that does not require joint implementation by the Parties. The Philippine government painstakingly adopts reform measures that address the root causes of social discontent aware that dissatisfaction destabilizes and that armed conflict destroys lives, damages liberties and devastates properties. Worst, prolonged armed conflict sears the soul of the nation for it divides and pits brother against brother, sister against sister, families against families.

On 9-10 October 2003, exploratory talks to resume formal peace negotiations will be held in Oslo.

Hope springs eternal that during these exploratory and, eventually, formal talks, the modality issue will once and for all be resolved. For like justice, peace delayed is peace denied.

Rene V. Sarmiento is a well-known Filipino human rights lawyer who, as member of the Philippine government negotiation panel, participated in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front from 1996 till the present.

For further information, please contact: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, GRP Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF, 4th Floor Agustin I Building, Emerald Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, ph (632) 637-7259; (ph/fax) (632) 636-0701 up to 06 local 829/830; e-mail:gpp_cnn.opapp.gov.ph; www.opapp.gov.ph

Endnotes

1. Executive Order No. 3, Defining the Policy and Administrative Structure for Government's Comprehensive Peace Efforts.

2. Executive Order No. 125, Defining the Approach and Administrative Structure for Government's Comprehensive Peace Efforts.


To the page top