Sana’a declaration revealed following the conclusion of Sana’a Inter-governmental conference:Conference calls for democracy, criticizes occupation [Archives:2004/703/Front Page]

January 15 2004

The Sana'a Inter-Governmental Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court was concluded on Monday with the Sana'a Declaration, which called for greater democracy and human rights, but which also criticized occupation, implicitly meaning US occupation of Iraq, and Israeli occupation in Palestine.

Democracy and human rights promoted
“The participants therefore agree to Strengthen and protect human rights, including people's fundamental rights to express their views and adhere to their religious beliefs and ethnic identity” it said.
The declaration added that “democracy and human rights, which have their origins in faith and culture, are interdependent and inseparable;” and concentrated.

Occupation slammed
The conference participants slammed occupation in more than one place in the declaration. In the part mentioning the principles agreed upon by participants, the declaration said that participants agreed on the need to overcome “potential threats to the form and substance of democracy, including foreign occupation, imbalances in the international justice system, the concentration and abuse of power”.
The declaration also stated that “Occupation is contrary to international law and basic human rights. There should be an end to occupation of Arab territories and all holy Islamic and Christian sites.”
There was also a special emphasis on Palestinians' rights in mentioning that there should be ” an end to all violations of human rights, in particular in Palestine, and ensuring the civil and political rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination and their right of return according to international resolutions;”

Emphasis on international justice
There was also a specific focus on the International Criminal Court and international justice in general. In its 8th article, the declaration said that participants agreed to “strengthen the role of international judicial institutions, as an important element towards promoting respect for international law and human rights law, including the International Criminal Court;”
The conference called for the ratification and implementation of the ICC in Yemen, in the region, and the world.

Elections emphasized
The issue of elections and elected bodies was also emphasized in the declaration. In its agreed principles, the declaration stated that “the basics of democratic systems are reflected in periodically elected legislatures, representing the citizens in a fair way and ensuring their full participation.”
The declaration also expressed the participants' agreement to “strengthen democracy and pluralism and the establishment of elected legislative bodies to represent popular will and assuring the fair representation of all sectors of society;”

Law enforcement
The participants have also agreed on the importance of the enforcement of the law equally on all citizens. “The effective application of the rule of law is vital to protect democracy and human rights and is the foundation for judicial independence and the application of the separation of powers;” the declaration said.
Participants also agreed on the importance of ensuring “equality before the law and equal protection under the law and fundamental fair trial guarantees;”

Women's rights
The issue of gender equality was also mentioned in the declaration. In the fourth article, the participants agreed to “empower the role of women and their participation, protecting women from all forms of exploitation and any reduction of women's rights;”

Independent media
The declaration also highlighted the importance of having an independent media sector to promote democracy and human rights. “A free and independent media is essential for the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights. Pluralism in the media and its privatization is vital for contributing to the dissemination of human rights information, facilitating informed public participation, promoting tolerance and contributing to governmental accountability.”

Civil society and the private sector
Civil society was mentioned a number of times in the declaration and was considered of great importance in local governance and assisting in development. Among its main principles, the declaration stated that “Civil society should play its role responsibly within the framework of law and the principles of human rights and democracy;”
Furthermore, the private sector was also mentioned as a means to promote democracy and human rights. “The private sector is a vital partner in the strengthening of foundations of democracy and human rights; It has a responsibility to work with governments and civil society to enhance progress;” the declaration said.

Democratic dialogue promoted
The declaration also emphasized on dialogue between different entities within the same country and between entities of different countries. On this specific issue the declaration said “Cultural and religious diversity is at the core of universally recognized human rights, which should be over served in a spirit of understanding in the application of democratic and human rights principles; this diversity should not be a source of confrontation or clashes but should be a source of dialogue and building bridges of understanding between religions and cultures;”

Arab forum created
The participants have also agreed on forming a forum called “Arab Democratic Dialogue Forum”, which is meant to be “an instrument for the promotion of dialogue between diverse actors, for the strengthening of democracy and human rights and public freedoms, especially the freedom of opinion and expression, and strengthening the partnership between public authorities and civil society.”

Complete text of Sanaa Declaration on P3