urge obligations as well as rights
South China Morning Post. Sep 3, 1997
AN international council of elder statesmen has drafted a "Universal Declaration of Human Obligations" to balance the world human rights charter, a report said yesterday.
The group, including Singapore's political patriarch Lee Kuan Yew, former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former United States president Jimmy Carter, has urged the United Nations and individual governments to adopt the document.
The 29-member group, called the InterAction Council, is chaired by former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser.
Mr Schmidt is the honorary chairman.
Obligations listed in the 19-point proposed declaration cover individuals, governments, business and religious groups and the media, the Straits Times reported.
They include respect for life, just and proper use of wealth and power, non-discrimination against people of different faiths, non-violence, protection of the environment, honest dealings and other norms of behaviour.
Mr Fraser told the Straits Times that "if we have a world in which everyone demands his rights and nobody exercises his obligations, it will be a lopsided and unequal world".
He added that rights could not exist without responsibilities.
Mr Fraser said the council hoped to get the declaration adopted by the UN in time for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10 next year.
The council's campaign comes amid controversial calls for a review of the UN human rights declaration from developing countries, which complain that the document largely reflects the views of Western powers which emerged victorious after World War II.
Published in the South China Morning Post. Sep 3, 1997