The Socialist International Committee on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights met in Prague on 16-17 October, hosted by the Czech Social Democratic Party, CSSD, and its leader Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Chair of the Committee.
At the opening, SI Secretary General Luis Ayala recalled how the International had over the years become a force for peace, democracy and human rights and how its work had become a point of reference in different parts of the world.
Speaking on the recent SI visit to the Middle East, Ayala said that the International had long been committed to the work for peace in that region. It was talking to its member parties there and it hoped the violence would finish and the process of peace would be resumed.
Prime Minister Zeman commented, "It is necessary to act. It is necessary to draw up a black list of areas round the world where there are no human rights and where there is no democracy at all. But this is our white list, the list of places where we have the opportunity of helping". Quoting Michel de Montaigne, Zeman said one should be wary of thinking that evil would automatically be substituted by good. He went on to warn against the tactics of blockading an undemocratic regime but advocated a "policy of communication".
The Committee went on to discuss the themes 'International Security: Global and Regional Perspectives'; 'The Nature of Conflict in a Changing World: Developing New Approaches for Securing Peace, Strengthening Democracy and Protecting Human Rights' and 'Enhancing the Principal Role of the United Nations: Deepening Cooperation and Advancing Reform'. Steve Lee, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development; Thomas Hammarberg, of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP; and Jan Kavan, Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic introduced the three themes respectively.
The Committee agreed to hold a number of sessions in the forthcoming period to further its consideration on these subjects, one focusing on the issue of conflicts - their prevention and resolution, another on the advancement and protection of human rights, and one centred on the United Nations - its role and work and proposals for reform.
It was also agreed at this meeting to propose the sending of SI missions where relevant to the Committee's activities and necessary to the issues related to the work of the Committee. It will present progress reports to the Council when needed and will work on a set of conclusions to be given at the SI Congress at the end of 2002.
The Committee is planning to meet at the OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa for its session focusing on conflict, at the United Nations Geneva in relation to its work on human rights and a the UN headquarters in New York for its meeting on the United Nations.