Obrázky stránek

The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights represents what most Western countries—our own included-have traditionally viewed as the essence of "human rights.” It prohibits torture, arbitrary and inhuman punishment, slavery, and arbitrary arrest and detention. It provides for freedom of movement and affords protection of the right to life. It ensures equality of treatment before the courts and for guarantees in criminal and civil procedure. It expressly forbids arbitrary interference with family, home or correspondence, and guarantees the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to take part in public affairs.

To enforce these guarantees, the Covenant calls for the creation of a Human Rights Committee, which has three functions. First, it requires states to submit reports on measures they have adopted and progress they have made in providing the specified rights. Second, it must hear any State's complaint that another State has violated the Covenant: under this procedure, the Committee studies the allegation, and if necessary, attempts to achieve voluntary compliance of the accused State; if that fails, it submits to the General Assembly a report on the facts of the matter. Third, the Committee is authorized to create an ad hoc Conciliation Commission composed of nationals from States that have recognized the Committee's competence to receive complaints: under this procedure, if the Commission fails to reach a solution on the complaint, it files a factfinding report to the General Assembly.

In brief, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights threatens the glare of publicity-and resulting embarrassment and international humiliation-against any State which violates the rights of its citizens.

It should be noted that the Human Rights Committee has yet another watchdog role under the provisions of the Optional Protocol to the Covenant: Under the Protocol, the Committee is authorized to receive complaints from individualsas well as States—whose rights have been violated. I am disappointed that the President did not submit the Optional Protocol to the Senate for ratification, since it alone provides protection for individuals whose rights have been viclated. Its power was proven this past summer, when the Human Rights Committee published views on the first case dealt with under the Protocol, and found that Uruguay, a State-Party, was guilty of a number of violations against three citizens of that country. This amounted to a sharp public rebuke to Uruguay before all the nations of the world.

Second, I wish briefly to discuss the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is to be implemented gradually (depending on the ability of the State in question and the resources available to it), guarantees to individuals the right to education, the right to work, the right to join and form labor unions, the right to social security, the protection of the family, the right to be free from hunger, and the right to take part in cultural life. Just as the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights represents the essence of the West's traditional view of “human rights,” the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights represents the essence of the Third World's view of “human rights.”

As with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides that each State-Party must report periodically to the United Nations Economic and Social Council on the measures it has adopted to guarantee the specified rights. Based on these submissions, the Council will make its own report and recommendations about a country's compliance before the General Assembly. Again, publicity-and a State's international image are the keystones to enforcement.

I would like to discuss ratification of these two Covenants together, as a package, hut before I leave the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, I wish to say strongly that in order for our human rights policies to be taken seriously by Third World and Socialist countries we must go on record in favor of fulfilling basic human needs. After all, political or civil rights are valueless without the simultaneous enjoyment of the right to food, the right to an education, and other essential economic rights.

Why should the U.S. ratify the Covenants, and how would ratification help the Y.S.?

First, as I stated in the beginning of my testimony, the U.S. should ratify the Covenants because they are the most important single standard for human rights practiced in the world, and they expand and strengthen the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These two treaties alone outline, define, and seek to implement, the full scope of what are considered "human rights”, not just by the U.S. or the Soviet Union or developing countries, but by all nations of the world.

Second, ratification of the Covenants by the U.S. Senate would signify to other countries—large and small—that our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms is not the commitment of just one Administration, or just one group of Senators, but it is a lasting commitment and a permanent fixture of U.S. foreign policy.

Third, ratification will help to promote a more even-handed less political, and and more effective, guarantee of human rights throughout the world. As we all recognize, U.S. concern for human rights has often been blinded by political considerations, such that we have ignored our allies' violations and harshly criticized the violations of our Cold War foes. Such politicization of the human rights cause is both hypocritical and counter-productive. Ratification of the Covenants would enable us to work through the United Nations, and would provide a multilateral vehicle through which we can express our concerns and increase our effectiveness. I believe that the United Nations, far more than a specific Secretary of State or National Security Advisor, can address human rights issues with an objectivity which individual governments rarely have.

Fourth, ratification by the United States, as an important world leader, might well encourage ratification by other countries. As a result, we should act swiftly and demonstrate our commitment early.

Fifth, ratification is in our own self-interest.

Ratification-and especially early ratification—will enable us to participate in the work of the Human Rights Committee to shape the nature of the Covenants. Now, since we are not a party to either Covenant, we cannot participate in the work of the Human Rights Committee. After ratification, we would be able to play a critical role in defining, clarifying and refining the reporting procedures and jurisdiction.

Ratification will affirm the civil liberties guaranteed in our Bill of Rights, and will establish important economic goals to be implemented, thus requiring the progressive realization of such rights as the right to a safe and healthy place to work, the right to receive health care, and the right to employment.

Ratification will provide a single standard for us in the Congress and in the Executive by which we must implement our foreign policy. Congress has exerted significant leadership over the last five or so years in the field of human rights: through public hearings and legislation it has sought to disassociate the U.S. government from the repressive practices of our allies, and has tried to apply human rights standards in all areas of our foreign policy. In this effort, we have frequently disagreed with the Executive Branch as to the application of standards. Ratification would ease these tensions, and provide a legal set of standards.

Sixth, ratification and subsequent actions or sanctions imposed on violator gove ernments will indeed improve the lives of those fighting against economic and political injustices. Some hold that there is no enforcement mechanism, and point to ratifications by the U.S.S.R., Chile and Uruguay, for instance, who have all ratified the Covenants yet continue to systematically violate the human rights of their citizens. I agree that the Covenants do not force compliance by governments. And I agree that the act of ratification by this kind of country represents but a cynical stroke of the pen. But look beyond the surface, and we find that for the individuals of these countries, especially for those who exercise their rights under the Optional Protocol, their government's ratification will mean that human rights violations will indeed be judged, and judged severely, against the standard of the Covenants. Once it is mobilized, international public opinion can be a formidable weapon in the fight against economic and political injustices.

Finally, in summary, our country's credibility as the champion of human rights around the world would be destroyed if we failed to ratify the two Covenants. Certain representatives at the United Nations have already alleged that our failure to ratify is a result of our unwillingness to subject our domestic human rights record to international scrutiny. We will appear to have set a double standard, one for us, one for all other nations. We will appear to want immunity for ourselves while we speak out against other, less powerful countries. And finally, without ratification we will have no power, except on a limited bilateral basis, to affect the human rights of individuals in other countries in the world.

If we are to exert a practical influence, let alone a moral influence, in support of human rights around the world, we must promptly ratify these two Covenants.

Senator Pell. Thank you very much, Congressman Miller.

I notice in many hearings that the Senators and Congressmen who appear as witnesses make their points more briefly than the nonpolitician witnesses. I thank you as well for the brevity of your statement.

Mr. MILLER. I appreciate the opportunity of appearing before your committee.

Senator Pell. Since you have chaired many meetings, I am sure you notice the same thing that I do, which is that when written statements are read in a monotone for 20 minutes you remember absolutely nothing. But you do remember important points when a statement is short and actively delivered. I only wish nonpolitician witnesses would recognize this fact.

I appreciate very much your being here. I know the fine job the MCPL does.


Do you think if the House of Representatives were faced with these treaties a two-thirds vote in the House would be forthcoming for their ratification?

Mr. MILLER. I think it would. I think it is a fact that part of the problem with discussion of human rights violations on an ad hoc basis is it is left to determinations by individuals or groups of individuals. But here, I think people can argue that either the standard will apply or it will not apply, the covenants have been breached or have been adhered to. I think even those people who believe joining in a covenant such as this is an invasion of our sovereignty might prefer to have that standard rather than 15 Congressmen standing up and firing away at a country where a President tries to cut off aid on an ad hoc basis. I think the House of Representatives would welcome that standard.


Senator PELL. Do you think the House of Representatives would give a two-thirds vote to the Genocide Convention?

Mr. MILLER. A two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives, as you know, is difficult on any matter, as you can appreciate in your requirements in the Senate.

I don't know, Mr. Chairman. I cannot say regarding that particular covenant. But I think clearly on these two that would happen. I don't know how you would argue against these. Senator PELL. There are four that are before us today.

Mr. MILLER. I am testifying on only two covenants, those on political rights and economic and cultural rights. I think the House would be hard-pressed to argue against those.

Senator Peul. Thank you.

I personally regret very much that we do not have the Genocide Convention before us at this time because I would like to report that out.


You have been a longtime human rights activist, particularly with regard to Chile. Do you think if these covenants had been in effect for some time, it would have changed or improved American policy vis-a-vis Chile?

Mr. MILLER. The kinds of decisions—and I speak personallythat were made by this Government in its dealings with Chile over the last decade and the kinds of decisions that have been made in Chile as to their own citizens and as to that government's involvement in the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt, I do not think these covenants would protect against. Those activities were calculated and were made without any concept of law. So the answer is no.

I think it is very clear that when people carry out the activities which that regime has, it would be much better to be able to join hands with other nations in a unified condemnation, rather than to condemn alone on an ad hoc basis. A willful and flagrant violation of human rights and human law was undertaken by that country. They clearly do not care what the covenants or their own constitution, for that matter, declare when considering the manner in which they treat their citizens.

I would like to believe, however, that our ratifying these conventions would help to establish a meaningful standard. I do not think that is a minor act on the part of this country. The Pinochet regime has made decisions that are far beyond the law.


Senator PELL. Why do you think it is that, with the exception of President Carter, American Presidents have been reluctant to sign these treaties and submit them to the Senate?

Mr. MILLER. Well, sir, you know the Senate better than I do. I think, traditionally, that people have viewed the signing of any treaty as a relinquishment of sovereignty over our own actions, because we would agree to abide by certain rules and regulations, by certain standards in treaties. Americans do not give us their own rights easily. I think the Senate always has had a conservative voice which suggests that anything like this is a relinquishing of our sovereignty.

Senator Pell. The situation you describe has not changed. My question is why do you think President Carter took the initiative in this where the previous six or seven Presidents did not?

Mr. MILLER. I do not pretend to speak for the President of the United States. But I think it is very clear that this is a matter which is of great personal interest and concern to him. He obviously, at great risk, has pushed for a policy of human rights and the honoring of human dignity. It is very clear that you cannot continue to push that as only the President of the United States. It has to become a policy of this country. These covenants provided a method to establish that policy. I think he also is concerned that it continue when he leaves office.

I think by having these covenants ratified, that continuity will be assured.

It is very clear to me that this is a very strong personal belief on

his part.

E Senator PELL. There I would agree with you and I think he should be greatly commended for it.


Let me come to the next logical question, which is this. Since the Soviet Union and other human rights violator nations already have signed and ratified these covenants, how meaningful is ratification of these covenants?

Mr. MILLER. I think it is very meaningful. I think the act of ratification by a country such as the United States is a very clear and long-lasting statement to the world about the importance that we do place on this. · I think we clearly would be saying that this simply is not just the personal policy of this particular President of the United States. I think our participation in the working committees and the ongoing discussion, in the reviews and the audits of countries' positions in regard to human rights, would take on much greater meaning. Perhaps we would be in a much better position to shape that policy and the determinations as to violations.

Our ratification of these covenants will not change the Soviet Union's determined policy on human rights violations, and it will not change the actions of the Pinochet government and other governments. But it will bring to the forefront the discussion and it will lend credence to those countries which already have ratified these in the interest of pursuing human dignity and human rights. We can do very little about those countries which simply have ratified as a pro forma matter. But if our ratification is in the interest of pursuing these goals, then our voice can be heard in that organization and in the working groups in the shaping of that policy.

If this is a throwaway, then we ought not to lend our voice to it. But if we really mean what these covenants say, we ought to approve them. Let's test the sincerity of the Soviet Union in their signing of this. Was it pro forma for them or do they care about human rights and human dignity?

Senator PELL. I thank you for your strong and compelling testimony.

I would ask if you are any relation to Congressman George Miller who used to work very hard for the metric system? Mr. MILLER. No; I am not, though I know him very

well. Senator Pell. He is a wonderful man and is a wonderful namesake to have.

Mr. MILLER. The name is helpful as his district is next to mine.
(General laughter.]
Senator PELL. Give him my best, please.
Mr. MILLER. I will.
Senator Pell. Thank you very much.
Mr. MILLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Pell. Our next three witnesses will appear as a panel to discuss constitutional treaty obligations. We will hear from Prof. Louis Henkin of the Columbia University Law School; Mr. J. Philip Anderegg of Forest Hills, N.Y.; and Prof. David Weissbrodt of the University of Minnesota Law School.

« PředchozíPokračovat »