1996 Speech

Statement by Dr. Abdulraham Al-Rassi, Second Secretary, Delegate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Third Committee on the Agenda Item 110 Human Rights Questions Sub (b), (C), (D), and (E) 51st Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, November 20, 1996

In the name of God, the most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

Madam Chairwoman,
I would like to begin my statement by thanking Mr. Jose Ayala Lasso the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for his valuable report which he presented to the third committee.  I would also like to thank Mr. Ibrahima Fal and the rapporteurs for their reports which contained important information.  I should, in this regard, show my appreciation for your judicious administration of the work of the committee since the beginning of the session.

Madam Chairwoman,
The item on human rights, which we are discussing today, is one of the most important subjects which dominates international debate in this decade because it affects the well-being and dignity of people.  The international community still passes many international covenants which support the rights, freedoms ,and dignity of people, beginning with the UN Charter [in 1945] and the International Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and ending with the various treaties and agreements as well as the Vienna Declaration of 1993, and lastly the efforts to develop the mechanisms for human rights.

Madam Chairwoman,
The various past treaties, conventions, the number of issues we discuss, and the great number of reports before us, are an indication that human rights occupy a high status among the issues facing the international community.  But this also is an indication of the many difficulties which impede an agreement on a unified understanding of those rights or until transforming these rights to a reality.

From this starting point, the delegation of my country believes that the concept of universality of human rights should not be explained in an abstract manner.  The laws governing human rights are derived from prevalent multiculturalism all over the world.  The attempt to impose definite explanations on the concepts of human rights mean restricting the provisions of human rights and the applicability of these rights on a small segment of the international community.  That is why we should take into consideration, when applying human rights, the diverse and specific historical, religious, cultural and social connotations of these rights.  Thus, the High Commissioner must take into consideration the cultural differences and study the technical aspects of this issue.

Madam Chairwoman,
In the first place, the responsibility of supporting and protecting those rights is the domain of the governments which must follow the policies and establish frameworks that are suitable on the national level.   Because of the importance which my country places on people and their rights, ‘human dignity’ is protected without any discrimination, as it is dictated by the lofty principle of Islam. The Islamic Shariah gave us a complete creed built on detailed explanation of human rights.  It defines the duties and obligations in all forms of human relations and different responsibilities based on the principles with respect of humanness and protection of dignity, as well as the right for honorable life away from any attack on his being, his body, private life, dwelling, or his family.   These rights and freedoms, which are protected by Islam, are not intended as moral sermons but rather as legal dictates from God to insure respect and application.  They were also coupled with responsibilities.  The universality and completeness of Islamic values that are concerned with human rights and the high status of Man in Islam, affirm without any doubt the great importance which Islamic thought places on supporting and encouraging the respect of human rights.

Madam Chairwoman,
Human rights in Islam were not affirmed for the sake of one nation or country;  they were for all humanity, and their universality transcends all borders and the sovereignty of states.

In this regard, the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which was adopted in Cairo in 1990 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, affirms the following: Article 1: (a)   All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam.   All people are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status, or other considerations.  True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.

Madam Chairwoman,
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is honored by serving the Two Holy Mosques.  It is blessed for being an Islamic country in which the government is founded on equality and consultative principles, as well as the extreme care of fair application of Islamic Shariah in all its principles and intentions, including the principle of human rights.

The system of government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is based on Islamic Shariah and Islamic principles, guarantees for the Saudi citizen all the rights that are imbedded in the universal declaration of human rights.  Its laws are based on Islamic Shariah and divine and pure rules that are perfect.   The Shariah detailed the principles and binding regulations which are referred to by rulers, judges, scholars, and all those who work in government.   The purpose is to guarantee justice and the rights and respect of human dignity and the right for free and honest life within the framework of the Islamic Shariah whether he/she is a citizen of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or not.

Madam Chairwoman,
The international community’s interest in protecting human rights is a very important issue.  In order to succeed in realizing the objective of respecting those rights we have to work sincerely and seriously to achieve the following:

  1. 1. never attempting to marginalize the role of developing countries in formulating or explaining the global perception of human rights.  The concepts must be applied in a manner that takes into consideration the diversity of social customs, traditions, and beliefs
  2. dealing in a unified objectivity with international issues which have to do with violations of human rights
  3. never using human rights as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries
  4. economic and social development should accompany the protection and support of human rights


Madam Chairwoman,
As we welcome the re-structuring of the Center for Human Rights to increase its effectiveness, we would like to record that it is necessary to take into account the fair geographical distribution over the world.  It is also important to take into consideration the quality and competence in the different projects that are concerned with planning, monitoring, and information.   Restructuring is not in itself the objective;  it is only a beginning for reforming the Center, increasing the responsiveness and effectiveness of what the United Nations is doing in the field of human rights, and insuring that the services are global and of a high quality.

Madam Chairwoman,
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, being one of the founding states of the United Nations, was and will continue to be part of the international community performing its humanitarian role according to the Charter of the UN.   It will exert more effort to participate effectively with the international community to achieve the high objective of protecting human rights and dignity.   In conclusion, let us remember the call of the High Commissioner in his report, paragraph 125, for all sectors concerned with human rights to take initiative that “human rights reflect not only hopes and aspirations but also essential interest and legitimate demands of all people on all continents.  The international community should use 1998 to give new impetus to human rights, reflecting the vision of the next century”.

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.