Resolution adopted without a vote by the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Windhoek, 10 April 1998)

The 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Aware that, despite the development of conflict prevention mechanisms and the growing number of successes achieved by preventive diplomacy, armed conflicts still occur and post-war normalisation and rehabilitation require constant and active international involvement and support,

Deeply concerned that the slow pace of post-war normalisation and rehabilitation in various crisis areas of the world continues to endanger international peace, stability and security,

Recalling the relevant resolutions adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, including those entitled " Respect for international humanitarian law and support for humanitarian action in armed conflicts ", " Prevention of conflicts, maintenance and consolidation of peace: Role and means of the United Nations and regional organizations ", " The protection of minorities as a global issue and a prerequisite for stability, security and peace " and " Co-operation for world and regional security and stability, as well as respect for all forms of the sovereignty and independence of States ", adopted, respectively, by the 90th, 91st, 95th and 97th Inter-Parliamentary Conferences,

Considering that war, political instability and oppression but also poverty and economic hardship trigger movements of refugees, and conscious that poverty, especially when combined with ethnic or political discord and political oppression, provides fertile ground for those wishing to foment violent opposition to governments,

Also recalling Conclusions No. 18 (XXXI) of 1980, No. 40 (XXXVI) of 1985, No. 56 (XL) of 1989, No. 74 (XLV) of 1994, No. 80 (XLVII) of 1996 and No 81 (XLVIII) of 1997 of the Executive Committee of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on international protection, and wishing to further stress:

(a) The fundamental right of refugees to return home voluntarily and in safety and dignity;

(b) The entitlement of returning refugees to all constitutional rights, including all human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948;

(c) The need for the international community to provide adequate support to facilitate the reintegration of returnees, internally and externally displaced persons and demobilised soldiers,

Noting that democratic governance, transparency and accountability in government, the strengthening of electoral processes, the pursuit of social and economic development and the observance of basic human rights can not only prevent conflict but also restore peace to countries emerging from war,

Acknowledging the leading role of the United Nations and regional organisations in preventing conflict and restoring peace, ensuring sustainable economic and social development and promoting fundamental human rights,

Also acknowledging the importance of implementing all UN Security Council resolutions on conflicts,

Recalling relevant United Nations documents, especially the UN Secretary-General's 'An Agenda for Peace', the 'Supplement to an Agenda for Peace', 'An Agenda for Development' and 'An Agenda for Democratization', as well as General Assembly resolutions 52/18 of 15 January 1998 and 52/129 of 12 December 1997,

Recognising the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the States participating in the Fourth World Conference on Women organised by the UN in 1995, and convinced that the establishment and maintenance of peace and security require the unrestricted participation of women in decision-making processes, conflict prevention and settlement and all other peace initiatives,

Stressing the need to consolidate international peace and security through disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament leading to the elimination of all nuclear weapons, and to impose quantitative and qualitative restrictions on the arms race, and recalling to this end the resolution of the 85th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (Pyongyang, April 1991) entitled " Need to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, to ensure the security of all States and to strengthen confidence-building measures in the context of the process of disarmament ",

Pointing out that the overwhelming majority of arms sales to developing countries are made by the permanent members of the UN Security Council,

Believing that the restoration of peace, the return of refugees, land rehabilitation and even economic recovery would be facilitated by the banning of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and by their destruction in conformity with IPU resolutions on the subject (Beijing, September 1996 and Cairo, September 1997),

Noting with great interest the content of the address delivered to the Conference by the Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Federico Mayor, on 6 April,

Also noting the importance of promoting all the components of a genuine " culture of peace ", and hoping for full recognition of the right to peace which is inherent in every individual and every society and is the very foundation of such a culture,

Urging parliaments to play their true role by legislating effectively to achieve the objectives of this resolution and by holding the Executive accountable for its action in these areas,

A. Conflicts and Conflict Prevention

  1. Calls on the United Nations and other international and regional organisations concerned to develop and implement an international system for preventing aggression by tackling the root causes of problems, and urges these organisations to proceed accordingly with an in-depth review of the conditions to be met and the means to be applied to ensure that conflict prevention is more effective than in the past;
  2. Urges all countries to support the UN Secretary-General in his efforts to reform and strengthen the mechanisms of the UN which deal with conflict prevention and early warning;
  3. Stresses the need to avoid different standards when implementing UN Security Council resolutions;
  4. Emphasises that no single State or closed group is entitled to monopolise conflict settlement worldwide, particularly by threatening to resort to force or military action, and that any attempts to do so should be rejected by the world community;
  5. Calls on States which have not yet signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa, December 1997) to do so, and on signatory States to ratify it as soon as possible to ensure its early entry into force; and urges States to facilitate the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to humanitarian demining and victim assistance;
  6. Also calls on States to reaffirm that rape in the conduct of armed conflict constitutes a war crime and, in certain circumstances, a crime against humanity and an act of genocide as defined in the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to take all measures required for the protection of women and children from such acts, and to strengthen mechanisms to investigate and punish those responsible and bring the perpetrators to justice;
  7. Underlines the need to establish or restore civilian control over society as an essential step towards restoring peace and trust;
  8. Calls on governments and all other parties concerned to end arms sales which lead to wars and conflicts;
  9. Underlines the importance of national and regional NGO networks dealing with conflict prevention and peace-building;

B. Restoration of Peace and Trust

  1. Condemns the use of military force against peoples exercising their right to self-determination;
  2. Calls on the United Nations to support all parties which suffer from conflicts, regardless of whether they are subject to international law;
  3. Also calls on parties to conflicts to start and pursue direct negotiations as an essential means of reaching a peaceful solution;
  4. Believes that developing democratic processes and enforcing human rights are the most effective means of preventing conflicts and restoring peace and trust in countries emerging from war;

C. Refugees

  1. Calls on all countries of origin, countries of asylum, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the international community to take all necessary measures to enable refugees to exercise freely their right to return to their home in safety and dignity;
  2. Also calls on governments and parliaments to facilitate the early and voluntary return, the resettlement and the rehabilitation of refugees and displaced persons; the disarming, demobilisation and subsequent training and reintegration of former combatants, especially child soldiers, into civilian life: and the rehabilitation of traumatised populations, in particular women and children;
  3. Urges the international community to provide timely and speedy humanitarian assistance and support to countries affected by an influx of refugees and displaced persons, and to help them particularly with the care and maintenance of large populations;
  4. Calls on governments and parliaments to consider measures to guarantee the safety of displaced persons, including internally displaced persons, and their property during and after repatriation;
  5. Urges governments and parliaments to condemn the use of refugees either as human shields in armed conflicts or as political pawns;
  6. Appeals to donor countries to promote reconstruction in conflict regions and the integration of returning refugees by providing generous assistance in order to safeguard the physical, social, legal and material security of former refugees and displaced persons;
  7. Recommends that international financial bodies accord generous terms to countries which take in substantial numbers of refugees;

D. Democratic Processes

  1. Stresses that the holding of free and fair elections as early as possible in countries emerging from war is of the utmost importance to the normalisation process;
  2. Underscores that a freely and democratically elected Parliament is a prerequisite for the consolidation of peace and the prevention of new conflicts;
  3. Calls on political parties and structures to choose their leaders according to merit;
  4. Attaches the utmost importance to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rights of minorities and the freedom of the media, as major elements in the strengthening of democratic processes;
  5. Urges governments to include teaching on tolerance, human rights and the culture of peace in formal and informal education;

E. Reconstruction

  1. Calls on governments and parliaments to assist in the reconstruction and development of necessary infrastructure and productive capacity;
  2. Stresses the importance of inter-ethnic reconciliation in the post-war normalisation process in multi-ethnic States.

* The delegations of China and Finland expressed reservations on paragraph A.5 and the delegation of Azerbaijan expressed reservations on section B.
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