The New International Economic Order and the promotion of human rights


The New International Economic Order and the promotion of human rights

Baha'i Internationa1 Community Statement to the thirty-seventh session of the
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities


Geneva—1 August 1984

The Special Rapporteur to the thirty-sixth session of the Sub-Commission, stated in his summary that the 'global nature of the structural crisis in international economic relations calls for global solutions also, " and he concludes by underlining that it is essential in this context 'that economic relations, at the international as much as at the national level, are approached in such a way as to ensure that the concepts of the dignity of every individual and of human solidarity are the guiding principles. In the establishment of a new international economic order full respect for human rights must be seen both as an end in itself and as an essential means.1

The views of the Baha'i Internationa1 Community are fully consonant with this position. We are convinced, furthermore, that the development of human solidarity at the level of the individual is a prerequisite for the ability of governments to implement reforms at national and international levels that create a more equitable economic order in line with the many resolutions and declarations of intent adopted by United Nations bodies. Not until such attitudes are developed by large sections of the population will national governments have the constituency and support needed to depart from present policies, which on the whole are characterized by the rejection of Supra-national arrangements and solutions except in cases where this is perceived to promote the national interest more than alternative approaches.

There has been a gradually increasing emphasis on solidarity in the various human rights instruments adopted. This can perhaps be most clearly observed in the recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights by developing what has been called consolidated rights, incorporating a number of recognized human rights. They include the right to development, to peace, to a healthy environment, to benefit from the common heritage of mankind, to communication, etc., and are of particular relevance to the concept of a new international economic order. This sharp focus on the concept and implications of solidarity is referred to in the Baha'i Writings as 'the spirit of world solidarity which is spontaneously arising out of the welter of a disorganized society. . . The growth and development of this lofty conception which must increasingly engage the attention of the responsible custodians of the destinies of peoples and nations.'

The various human rights instruments adopted by the nations of the world at the United Nations represent an immensely significant initial transfer to the global level of fundamental commonly held values. This is a crucially important process because the execution of global responsibility requires a minimum level of such values on the part of humanity as a whole, in the same way that has in general been obtained at the level of the nation state. Unless and until this is achieved mankind will be unable to emerge as a world community and successfully manage world affairs, including the creation of a new international economic order.

As the global values referred to are still too weak to permit a resolute attack on wor1cd problems at the internationa1 1eve1 the Baha'i International Community has proposed to the United Nations General Assembly a broad and intensive programme of education of all peoples in the vital principle--and truth--of the organic oneness of humanity.“2 We recommend that such an educational programme, with a universal curriculum adaptable to each culture, be fostered by governments, using schools, the media, businesses, industry, in fact all public and private means, in every country.

This programme of education - drawing on all human knowledge bearing evidence to this oneness of humanity, whether from science or religion - would begin by fostering in all peoples an understanding and acceptance of the oneness of the human race, leading to an eventual acceptance of all the rich diversity of cultures as integral and unified elements of a single entity, and the recognition of the earth as the one home of the one human family.

Within the wor1ðwide Baha'i Community the príncip1es contained in the major human rights instruments of the United Nations are actively promoted and integrated in the values and attitudes held by a large and increasing number of human beings. Representing a cross-section of humanity and coming from over 2,000 ethnic backgrounds they currently live in over 100,000 localities in virtually every country of the world. The underlying integrative concept for Baha'is is the principle of the oneness of mankind, the pivot around which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, revolve. In the Baha'i view this fundamental oneness can ultimately only be realized, and a new international, equitable and just order be established, in the context of a world federation characterized by unity in diversity. Only in such an organizational form, based on a foundation of commonly held values, can the fundamental economic problems of today's interdependent world be effectively tackled, the human rights of all be safeguarded and mankind realize its potential.

This international order, as envísaged in the Baha'i Writings, would lead to 'the establishment of a world commonwealth in which . . . the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded.' Some further characteristics of this system are that the "economic resources of the world will be organized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.' “The enormous energy dissipated on war . . . will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, . . . and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and the spiritual life of the entire human race."


1 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Thirty-sixth session, Item l2 of the Provisional Agenda, Study on the New International Economic Order and the Promotion of Human Rights, Final Report by Mr. Radil Ferrero, Special Rapporteur (E/CN.4/ Sub. 2/1983/24/Add. 1/Rev.l), 18 November 1983, p. 9

2. Ora1 statement presented by the Baha'i International Community to the Second Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament, 24 June l982