TOWARDS THE "SANA'A DECLARATION": A PRESS CONFERENCE WAS HELD THIS MORNING IN ROME TO LAUNCH THE INTER-GOVERNMENTAL REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ROLE OF THE ICC TAKING PLACE IN SANA’A ON 10-12 JANUARY 2004


The purpose and aims of the conference were illustrated by Emma Bonino, MEP and former European Commissioner, Margherita Boniver, Italian Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Saleh Al-Helali, Ambassador to Italy of the Government of the Republic of Yemen, and Sergio Stanzani, President of “No Peace without Justice”.

Jointly organized by the Government of the Republic of Yemen and by the Italian Ngo 'No Peace Without Justice', under the auspices of the Presidency of the European Union, the meeting is sponsored by the European Commission, the Governments of Canada, France, Germany, Ireland (EU president from January), Italy (current EU President), The Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, plus the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP). Among the participants are expected delegations from over forty national Governments, from the most important regional and international organisations, academics and representatives from civil society.
To date the following personalities have confirmed their participation: Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, the 2003 Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, the Foreign Affairs ministers, the ministers of Justice and the Presidents or Speakers of Parliaments from sixteen Arab and African countries (Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen), the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, the UN Under-Secretary General for political affairs, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Arab as well as European parliamentarians and over a hundred Arab, European and American NGOs, research centres and foundations.

The existing dialogue between Arab countries and their neighbours - on issues that have acquired dramatic urgency in the wake of the 9/11 events - will be at the heart of discussions at the conference. The conference will focus on enhancing this dialogue through experience sharing and by establishing principles that will aid countries in the region, within their own cultural and religious context, to make progress on the path of democracy and the rule of law. The conference will be opened by the President of the Republic of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and will be articulated in three thematic sessions: the role of the International Criminal Court, the interdependence of democracy and human rights and, finally, the role and responsibilities of civil society in the promotion of democratic principles. The conference will close with the "Sana'a Declaration" to reaffirm the commitment of participating regional delegations to these values and to promote possible mechanisms for continued national and regional dialogue.

Emma Bonino underlined that, unlike the format of most other international meetings, at the Sana’a conference Government delegations and representatives from civil society will have equal access to the floor. “I expect discussions at the conference to be, if not easy, at least frank”, she added.