Statement by

Ambassador Munir Akram permanent representative of Pakistan, Coordinator of the OIC Working Group on Human Rights in Geneva, on behalf of the OIC, at the 56th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, on Item 4, “Special Debate on Chechnya”

Geneva, 11 April 2000

Mr. Chairman,

1. I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We welcome the Commission’s decision to devote this part of the Session to a discussion of the situation arising from the conflict in Chechnya. The OIC has already expressed its position and views on the situation in Chechnya in its statements on 21st, 24th and 30th March 2000. Most OIC countries remain concerned about the situation, particularly the human rights and humanitarian situation, in Chechnya.

2. The OIC countries welcome the visit of the High Commission for Human Rights to Chechnya and the decision of the Russian Federation to invite her to undertake the visit. We consider the visit timely and warranted. We have listened carefully to the report the High Commissioner provided to the Commission on 5 April 2000 following the visit. We look forward to further avenues of dialogue, including another visit to Chechnya by the High Commissioner and note in this regard the invitation already extended to her by the Russian authorities.

3. The OIC countries are deeply concerned that, on the basis of her visits to refugee camps and other areas in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, as well as her discussions in Moscow with Russian officials, the High Commissioner has reported cases where she believed that serious violations of human rights have taken place in the Chechen conflict.

4. The OIC further notes the High Commissioner’s assessment that:

One, “the scale of military force used, and heavy weaponry brought to bear in Chechnya, have caused widespread loss of life and material destruction” and that the High Commissioner has called “on the Russian Government to refrain from using heavy weaponry in populated areas which places civilian lives at risk”‘

Two, “any resolution of the conflict must include a blueprint which would hold out the prospect of rebuilding the infrastructure, restoring economic life and bringing long-term stability. Peaceful negotiated solutions must be found. All should eschew violence”. The OIC shares this view.

Three, “more aid is urgently needed”. Her call “for the humanitarian agencies to be allowed to carry out their work freely and safely and for any outstanding administrative and taxation issues to be resolved” should be accepted.

Four, ” the establishment” by the Russian Federation” of a national, broad-based independent Commission of Inquiry to look into the serious allegations” of human rights violations; and

Five, “the scale of serious allegations of gross human rights violations warrants international attention and concern.” In this context the OIC joins in expressing the hope that UN human rights mechanisms will be enabled to play their role and that the Russian authorities will extend full cooperation to them.

5. The OIC countries are concerned at the humanitarian catastrophe and the fate and welfare of the people of Chechnya. Let me state once more that we seek a solution in Chechnya which, while underlining the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, also envisages the adoption of several concrete steps including: one, termination of military operations to begin the political process; two, release of prisoners and hostages; three, safe return of refugees and displaced persons, four, declaration and implementation of a general amnesty; five, commencement of dialogue with responsible Chechen representatives; six, agreement on separation of powers between local and federal authorities in keeping with the 1996 Accord; seven, ensure freedom to practice their religion; and eight reconstruction of Chechnya by all possible means. Several OIC Countries are engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population affected by the crisis.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.