Conferences do not mean “achievements” [Archives:2004/704/Viewpoint]

January 19 2004

I was annoyed to see that many articles came in the official media in Yemen mentioning the achievement of the Sana'a Inter-Governmental Conference on Human Rights, Democracy and the International Criminal Court during 11-12 of this month.
It is amazing to see the exaggeration made up by the official media to the conference, giving a whole new dimension and naming it sometimes as the 'achievement of the year'.
In my opinion, such claims give no further importance to the conference. On the contrary, they undermine the conference and its meaning. It may be true that the organization of such a conference was a good step, but the achievement in my view is not to hold the conference, the real achievement is to implement its resolutions.
No conference can be a goal by itself. It is a mere tool, which is to be used by participants and decision-makers to form and enforce decisions based on its outcome.
The conference has come out with a beautifully formulated declaration in support of human rights and democracy. It also came out with resolutions in various aspects and fields.
Among those clear declaration articles, was the one defining the importance of “separating three powers”, i.e., legislative, executive, and judicial. Will the government act be based on this conference and show us a real achievement in separating those three authorities?
The declaration also stressed on the need to privatize and liberate the media in all its forms, i.e., TV, radio, press. Will the government show us some solid steps in allowing the private sector to open its own TV and radio channels?
If the answer to any of the two above questions is “no”, or “we'll see” then we are far, real far from any achievement.
An achievement is something that people sense in their lives. It is the people's utmost desire to see the three powers separated because it would serve to enhance the legal system and bring greater independence for the legislators.
It is in the public's interest to have a free media that would focus on their sufferings and concentrate on their domestic issues in health, education, and civil services, rather than just bring about official news items about the President's visits and meetings.
It is important to bring about 'real' achievement that we can touch and see instead of claiming that the conference in itself was the achievement.
It is now up to the decision-makers to start implementing the declaration formulated by the organizers, who are the same people who committed themselves to the conference.
Will the President become a leading example in enforcing those declarations?
Are we destined to see 'real' achievements based on such conferences?
Or will this be mere talk and propaganda?
It all remains to be seen.
Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.