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News Release Issued by the Internat

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *
AI INDEX: ASA 01/02/98
15 MAY 1998



The Asian Human Rights People's Charter, Our Common Humanity, launched by
NGOs in Kwangju, South Korea on 17 May reflects the growing strength and
determination of the human rights movement in the Asia-Pacific region and
the contribution it can make to the international debate on human rights.
This initiative is especially appropriate during the 50th anniversary year
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

     The People's Charter affirms the universality of all human rights -- a
 principle often attacked by governments in the region, both rhetorically
and in law and practice.  Drawing upon a broad spectrum of civil society
across the region, it shows that human rights, far from being an alien or
foreign concept, are the legitimate aspiration and demand of people
throughout Asia and the Pacific.  It shows how these universal principles
can be articulated powerfully from an Asian cultural, religious and
philosophical perspective.

     The People's Charter is also an important expression of the
indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, a reminder that the
 process of development is about the realisation of all human rights and
that one set of rights -- economic, social, cultural, civil or political --
 cannot be enjoyed at the expense or in the absence of another.  This
message is particularly relevant at this time of economic crisis in the
region, as some countries face the human rights and social fallout of
decades of political repression and unsustainable economic development.

     Amnesty International welcomes the Charter's emphasis on legal and
institutional protection of human rights, starting with the ratification of
 international human rights instruments and their full implementation in
law and practice.  It recognises the critical role the judiciary, legal
profession and national human rights institutions can play in the
protection and promotion of human rights.  Amnesty International believes,
however, that some aspects of the Charter need to be strengthened -- in
particular, it should include an unreserved call for abolition of the death

     The People's Charter calls for the adoption by governments of a
regional convention on human rights.  While such a regional convention
might be a positive development over the longer term, Amnesty International
 believes the overwhelming and immediate priority is broader ratification
and implementation of existing international standards by governments in
the Asia-Pacific region.  Widespread adherence to international standards,
such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, should
serve as the foundation stone for any future regional human rights