Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights
Agenda item 2
International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project has submitted two statements for publication under this item, one on the situation of the civilian population in northern Uganda and the other on the situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. We hope the members of the Sub-Commission will consult these documents.
Since we submitted our statement regarding Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir the heads of state of Pakistan and India have held direct discussions regarding the crisis in that region. We hoped, apparently in vain, for a clear commitment to a timetable for implementation of the United Nations-mandated plebiscite to resolve the disposition of Jammu and Kashmir according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. At this time it is critically important that the international community and this Sub-Commission address the situation, especially since the failure to implement the UN plan in the region is the root cause of the problem there and because the humanitarian law violations carried out by India's occupying military forces are, as we are all so clearly aware, among the most serious of all the world's wars. IED/HLP alone has presented these violations over 25 times in statements made and in reports circulated at both the Commission and Sub-Commission since the current crisis began 11 years ago. As we set out in our written statement, many other NGOs have made statements at the sessions and we have over 35 recent reports from highly credible NGOs about the violations.
There are several ways the Sub-Commission can usefully contribute to the resolution of this long-standing conflict. Of course, condemnation of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, The Hague Convention and all of the laws and customs of war can be effective in improving the compliance of the Indian forces with humanitarian norms. The Sub-Commission should also urge the United Nations Security Council to seek more aggressively the implementation of its resolutions regarding the plebiscite. We urge the Sub-Commission to reinforce the central position of the Kashmiri people in deciding their own fate. Finally, we urge the Sub-Commission to suggest international mediation as a means to settle the Kashmir question.
Mediation is an underutilized mechanism to resolve armed conflicts. Even so, there are important mediation efforts underway in several of the world's nearly 40 wars. In Africa Burundi has enjoyed the mediation of Nelson Mandela; the Republic of the Congo has welcomed the mediation of Pres. Omar Bongo of Gabon. The government of Norway has undertaken mediation in the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. All these efforts should be strongly supported by the international community and by this Sub-Commission. We sadly note that the Norwegian effort in Sri Lanka has stalled because of a political crisis related to the war. The President has dismissed Parliament rather than face a "no-confidence" vote. Even so, the Sub-Commission should urge the reactivation of mediation as a matter or urgent concern.
There are other situations, besides the disposition of Kashmir, where mediation may prove useful. We have long followed and reported on the serious situation in the Moluccas arising from the invasion of the Moluccas in 1950 by the Javanese (Indonesian) forces in violation of the Round Table Conference Agreements -- the de-colonization instrument for the Netherlands East Indies. The situation has been worsening for years, and in part due to the lack of international attention, has recently taken on truly tragic proportions. More than 50,000 heavily armed Javanese so called "volunteers", obviously supported by the Indonesian military, have been infiltrating the Moluccas and there have been thousands of deaths in the past year and a half as these armed men attack the Moluccan people. Now with new leadership in Indonesia it is imperative that it feel the concerns of the international community regarding human rights and humanitarian law violations in the Moluccas and other areas currently seeking to exercise their rights under the Round Table Conference Agreements and other de-colonization instruments. We are convinced that international mediation between the Moluccan leadership and the Indonesian authorities can greatly contribute to de-escalation of the crisis and we urge the Sub-Commission to propose this. Of course, any de-escalation would have to include the removal of the Javanese paramilitary groups from the islands.
We also look to the promised mediation role that the OAU, reconstituted as the African Union (AU), can play to resolve the many other wars in Africa and to begin a process of reconciliation and reconstruction of the countries involved and of the continent as a whole. One again, the Sub-Commission can play a fruitful role by urging and supporting all mediation efforts currently underway and proposing mediation in situations not now on track for mediation.
KAREN PARKER, J.D.