(in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC)

on the UN resolution on Mexico
Geneva, August 25, 1998

The United Nations Adopts a Resolution on Mexico

After two years of activity, Dominicans and Franciscans International in cooperation with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were successful in their efforts to obtain a positive vote on a resolution dealing with the human rights situation in Mexico, at the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Content of the resolution:
Following consideration of the grave situation of human rights in Mexico and after hearing the Mexican government's statement, the UN Sub-Commission adopted on August 20, 1998 a resolution on the human rights situation in Mexico (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1998/L18). The result of the vote was 12 in favor, 6 against and 6 abstentions. The resolution contained three main points:

Toward the end of impunity?
The resolution forces the government of Mexico to justify itself before the international community and therefore to face up to its responsibilities. Mexican authorities will also have to live up to their word after years of promoting an image of "good citizen" while committing grave human rights violations against their own people. One of the effects of the resolution is that the different UN bodies will now be on the alert in terms of Mexico's human rights record and will be able to speak directly on the violations taking place in the country. Further, the Mexican government will not be allowed to ratify all the international treaties just to show its "good faith" but will be held accountable also for their implementation.

Oral interventions by Dominicans-Franciscans International
During the whole process of the presentation and the adoption of the resolution on Mexico, Dominicans and Franciscans International developed a communications strategy to inform and convince participants of the serious nature of the human rights situation and of the opportunity for a successful vote at the Sub-Commission. In this regard, the Permanent Delegate of the Order at the UN Commission on Human Rights, Philippe LeBlanc OP intervened publicly on the issues during the debate at the Sub-Commission. He focused his presentation on explaining the San Andrés Accords which were concluded between the government of Mexico and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). In addition, he addressed a number of recommendations to the independent experts of the Sub-Commission and to the Mexican government. He recommended that the Sub-Commission give priority attention to the systematic violation of human rights in Mexico; that the government of Mexico respect the human rights of indigenous peoples; that it demilitarize the indigenous regions of Mexico and commit to guaranteeing that security forces will act with full respect of human rights; and, that the signatories to the San Andrés Accords honor them, re-establish and re-initiate dialogue with all parties.

Links with our Brothers and Sisters in the field
The action of Dominicans and Franciscans International in Geneva was carried out in close liaison with those who are active in the field on the issues. The purpose of the FI/OP Office in Geneva is to intervene on behalf of our Brothers and Sisters working in areas where they confront serious human rights violations. When the situation goes beyond the local region and no solution can be found on the spot, the Office intervenes at the United Nations using the existing mechanisms and various human rights bodies which were set up to protect human right worldwide. In the case of Mexico, it was an example of collaboration between our Brothers and Sisters in the country and the Geneva Office which allowed us to achieve a resolution. Fr. Miguel Concha Malo OP, the Prior Provincial of Mexico (also the Founder of the Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP Human Rights Centre) participated in the Sub-Commission meeting and was active in working with the Mexican NGOs present. Pablo Romo OP of the Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre in Chiapas regularly advises the Geneva Office on the situation in Chiapas. The FI/OP delegation in Geneva was also assisted by a Dominican intern, fr. Olivier Poquillon of Lille.

Complementary action
Even though the resolution on Mexico will not put an end to human rights violations in the country, it remains an important tool for improving the situation. The vote taken by independent experts who make up the UN Sub-Commission opens the door for us to use other national and international mechanisms. The effectiveness of the resolution will rely on the ability of diverse players to make use of it for advocacy in communities, local institutions, with human rights organizations as well as with the media and international organizations. It is at this stage that the Dominican Family can act locally in their own countries in order to realize our common hope for justice and peace. We can achieve these goals through the exchange of information, cooperation and by offering support and prayers for those who are involved in the struggle.

For more information, please contact:

FI/OP Geneva Office:
P.O.Box 97 CH-1211 Geneva 25
Tel: 41.22 839 2091
Fax: 41 22 839 2129

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