UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF BUDDHIST PEOPLES AND SPIRITUAL COMMUNITIES

 

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF BUDDHIST PEOPLES AND SPIRITUAL COMMUNITIES

 

The Presidency of Maitriyana Buddhist University, of the World Association of Buddhism and of the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights;

Presenting this Declaration before the World Association of Theravada on October 10, 2016;

Guided by the principles and purposes of the Awakening, the Law and the Commune of Buddhist People, which entail both rights and special duties;

Consistent with international instruments developed within the Maitriyana movement such as the Universal Declaration of Spiritual Rights, the Universal Declaration of Ecological Rights and the Universal Declaration on the Right to World Peace;

Recalling the principles of the international community, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities;

Observing the international standards mentioned in International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (1989), and also in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

Whereas the evolution of Buddhist Law since two thousand six hundred years has produced social changes in the situation of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities in all continents of the world, requiring that International Law to adopt new laws that recognize the pre-existence and validity of these ancestral ethical rules;

Assuming that Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have their own laws, spiritual values, customs and perspectives which have been eroded by the States;

Perceiving that in many countries of the world the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities cannot enjoy their fundamental freedoms and their individual and collective human rights and with the same general quality than the rest of the population of the States in which they inhabit;

Recognizing that the aspirations of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities toward the Cure from suffering involve taking control of their own lifestyles and social institutions, practicing a pacifist politics, developing an equitable economy, strengthening an educational culture and maintaining a sustainable ecology within the framework of the States in which they live;

Affirming the enormous contributions of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities to the history of different civilizations and cultures, human thought, social peace, planetary harmony and spiritual heritage of humanity;

Establishing that members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the same human rights as the rest of humanity, including the right to be different and to be respected as such;

By stating that all members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the same spiritual value, so that any doctrine or practice manifesting superiority of certain individuals over others for reasons of national, geographic, racial, ethnic or cultural origin constitutes an expression that is philosophically racist, scientifically false, juridically illegal, ethically questionable and socially unjust;

Reaffirming that compliance with human rights, both individual and collective, implies that Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities are not subject to discrimination;

Concerned about the fact that historically the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have suffered social injustice as a result of phenomena such as discrimination, oppression, colonization, genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, among others, being dispossessed of their territories, monuments, freedom of expression and cultural resources, particularly their right to development in accordance with their spiritual interests;

Promoting the need to respect the inherent rights of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities that emerge from their political, economic, cultural and environmental structures, as well as their spiritual traditions and philosophies of life, especially the rights to self-determination and freedom;

Celebrating the fact that Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities around the world are organizing themselves into international associations and federations in order to promote its political, economic, cultural and environmental development, that involves vanishing all social injustice that their members are suffering;

Convinced that if Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities exercise control over their territories and social resources, their cultural institutions and spiritual traditions will be developed to the maximum to meet their needs and supreme aspirations;

Respecting the ancient knowledge, traditional laws and contemplative practices of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities as a way to contribute to sustainable and equitable development of all humankind;

Highlighting the enormous contribution of the demilitarization of lands on the part of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities in favor of world peace, social justice, advanced education and ecological harmony, by teaching that friendship and reconciliation between nations is indispensable for the survival of the world;

Appreciating the right of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities to participate in social responsibility for welfare, education and raising of children in their communes;

Appreciating that the rights affirmed in international conventions, covenants and declarations, especially those involving Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, are issues of international concern;

Considering that the recognition of collective rights of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities will encourage harmonious relations with States on the basis of the principles of justice, democracy and human rights;

Encouraging States to respect and fully comply with their internationally legal obligations toward the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, establishing relations based on liberty, equality and fraternity;

Considering that it is the task of spiritual masters, apprentices and followers to play a significant role for the promotion and protection of collective rights of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities;

Evaluating that this Universal Declaration constitutes a fundamental step towards the recognition and fulfillment of the collective rights and fundamental freedoms of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities;

Contemplating that the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities not only possess all individual human rights without discrimination but they also possess collective human rights that are indispensable for their existence, welfare and tribal or communal development;

Admitting that the situation of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities varies in each region of the world, having to take into account the importance of national and regional particularities of the countries where its members dwell;

Confirming that nothing contained in this Universal Declaration shall be construed as giving any community or Buddhist People the right to perform an act contrary to the Ethics, Fundamental Freedoms and Human Rights;

Clarifying that the following provisions have been established thanks to the contributions of wisdom and compassion of thousands of masters, apprentices and followers of different times and places, who from their different levels have had the Supreme Purpose to continue and promote the Spiritual Path resurged by Siddharta Gautama 2600 years ago;

Solemnly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, on October 10, 2016, whose text below indicates the common ideal to be achieved in pursuit of the spirit of solidarity and mutual support:

 

Part I: Politics

Article 1: This Universal Declaration applies to Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities living in independent countries who are descended from indigenous, aboriginal or native populations which inhabited the country or geographical region prior to colonization or establishment of the current State, and preserve part of their own political, economic, cultural and legal institutions.

Article 2: The present Universal Declaration applies to Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities living in independent countries, even if they are not original inhabitants thereof, provided that their social lifestyle is tribal or communitarian, being ruled partially or completely by its own traditions, customs and special legislations.

Article 3: The awareness of their tribal or communal identity is a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Universal Declaration apply.

Article 4: States have the duty to take legal responsibility for developing systematic and coordinated actions in order to protect individual rights and collective rights of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, ensuring respect for their physical, mental and spiritual integrity. These governmental actions must include:

  • measures to ensure that members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities are able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities as the rest of the population;
  • measures to promote full compliance with the political, economic, cultural and environmental rights, respecting their social identity, their spiritual traditions and their institutions;
  • measures to help members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities to eliminate socio-economic differences that exist with the other members of the national population in a way that is consistent with their spiritual aspirations and lifestyles.

Article 5: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to fully enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination, coercion or obstacle, by applying the provisions of this Universal Declaration into men members and women members without discrimination.

Article 6: States have the duty to take necessary special measures to safeguard individuals and institutions of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, having to take care of their security, their jobs and communal assets as well as their cultures and environment. These special measures should not be contrary to public expressions of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, nor should they undermine the civil rights of the beneficiaries.

Article 7: States have the duty to recognize and protect institutional integrity and spiritual practices of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities by giving full attention to individual and collective problems these peoples face, especially the difficulties associated with living conditions and subsistence.

Article 8: States have the duty to consult Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities in order to reach agreements or obtain informed, prior and free consent, by means of appropriate and respectful procedures of their tribal representative institutions, at each time administrative, legislative or judicial measures that are designed to affect them directly, providing them with the ability to manage or participate in decision-making (formulation, implementation and evaluation) of programs and projects of state development that directly affect them, in accordance with their own procedures and institutions.

Article 9: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to maintain and develop their own political, economic, cultural and legal institutions, while maintaining the right to fully participate -if they wish- in the political, economic, cultural and environmental life of the rest of society.

Article 10: States have the duty to take social customs, legislative institutions and customary Law of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities into account, provided these are not incompatible with the fundamental freedoms and human rights nationally and internationally recognized, having to highlight the traditional methods of conflict resolution both in cases of crimes committed by their members as well as in cases where the members are the victims. To do this, the judicial authorities and state courts should take duly into account the customary Law and social customs of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities.

Article 11: The Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to fast, fair and equitable procedures for the peaceful resolution of conflicts with States and disputes with private institutions and other citizens, as well as full reparation of the injuries they have suffered on their individual and collective rights. In these procedures it should be duly taken into account the international human rights laws, traditional customs, ethical standards and Tribal legal systems of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities.

Article 12: The Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to combat greed, hatred and deceit, by seeking the evanescence of these psychological and social venoms simultaneously promulgating precepts against the killing of living beings, corruption, slander, sexual crimes and drug addiction.

Article 13: States have the duty to take account the political, economic, cultural and environmental characteristics of the members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, when attempting to impose criminal or civil penalties to those members, having to prioritize other types of sanctions different from imprisonment and violence. These legal procedures should respect the human rights of members but also the collective rights of the representative bodies of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities.

Article 14: States have the duty to ensure that governmental authorities in charge of the collective rights of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities properly recognize, observe, abide, respect and comply their constitutional functions and also the agreements and laws of international treaties, especially on tribal communities and ethnic minorities, having to consult to the spiritual commune about legislative measures, planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of social programs that affect them directly, such as health and housing.

Article 15: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the collective right to live in liberty and peace, maintaining their spiritual difference with regard to the general population without being subjected to any act of violence.

Article 16: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the collective right to reject the militarization of their territories, while this state practice infringes upon the healthy and adequate survival of their social lifestyle.

Article 17: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to struggle against the evils of war, injustice, ignorance and pollution.

 

Part II: Economics

Article 18: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to establish and determine their own development projects of their social institutions, such as political, economic, juridical and educational systems and for such purposes they should receive the financial and technical resources through States or international organizations, without discrimination regarding their own priorities and strategies with regards to the processes of social development, to the extent that it affects their survival, lifestyles, beliefs, lands and spiritual well-being.

Article 19: International bodies and intergovernmental organizations have a duty to contribute with technical and financial means to the full realization of the rights of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, establishing procedures to ensure the participation of communes in matters that involve them.

Article 20: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to free determination and control of their own political, economic, cultural and environmental development in order to enforce their human rights. Whenever they have been deprived of their means of survival and development activities, they are entitled to demand a just and fair redress.

Article 21: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, from their right to self-determination, have collective rights to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal affairs, also having the right to dispose of means for financing their autonomous functions and activities.

Article 22: States have a duty to consider the improvement of living conditions, such as health, education, work, housing and security as a priority of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, carrying out effective measures and special projects of ongoing social development in the regions where they live without negatively influence in their politics, economy, culture and environment, and mindfully taking care of the conditions of women, children, elderly and disabled people of the communes.

Article 23: States have the duty to take special measures to ensure work or to protect the economic conditions of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, in so far as members are not effectively protected by labor legislation.

Article 24: States have the duty to undertake measures to prevent any kind of discrimination against Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, especially in matters of social justice and freedom of association.

Article 25: States have the duty to refrain from attempt to charge taxes on Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, respecting not only their economic autonomy but also the reality that they have limited income and it is mainly used for humanitarian purposes.

Article 26: States have the duty to advocate for the strengthening and promotion of activities of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities that are related to their subsistence economy, such as donations, agriculture, meditation retreats and handicrafts, among others, and must recognize the preservation of their culture as an element inseparable of economic and social development which is always sustained, equitable, sustainable and healthy.

Article 27: States have the duty to make adequate and totally free health services available to the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, without discrimination about their economic or geographical conditions, giving them the option to organize and control their own traditional systems of integrative medicine with the aim that its members enjoy the highest level of physical, mental, social and spiritual health. Therefore, prevention methods, Healing practices and natural medicines of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities must be respected.

Article 28: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop intellectual property of their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, artistic cultural expressions and scientific discoveries.

 

Part III: Culture

Article 29: States have the duty to take measures in cooperation with the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, in order to protect and preserve their spirituality and transmission system of knowledge.

Article 30: Members of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to be provided with professional training means, with at least the same quality as the rest of citizens, and these professional training means being provided by the State or by its own educational institutions.

Article 31: States have the duty to create or support professional training programs that respond to the cultural and spiritual needs of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, which if they wish can progressively assume responsibility to organize such special training programs.

Article 32: States have the duty to take measures to ensure that members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the chance to learn all the available skills and educational levels they wish, on equal rights with the rest of the national population by providing them with educational programs that meet their historical needs, knowledge, languages, techniques, spiritual values and social aspirations.

Article 33: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities not only have the right to participate in the formulation and implementation of programs of state education, but also have the right to assume responsibility for the establishment and monitoring of their own institutions and educational facilities in harmony with their own cultural methods of teaching and learning.

Article 34: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to teach, preserve and promote their own original or native languages, having to simultaneously learn the main national language of the country they inhabit to avoid alienating themselves from the rest of the citizens. Even, they also have the right to access the possibility to learn the main international language in order to set cultural ties with members of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities around the world.

Article 35: States have the duty to implement appropriate measures and even international treaties to facilitate the maintenance and development of relations, social links and spiritual cooperation of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, both among its members and with other nations whose relationship exceeds international borders, having to encompass effective measures facilitating their political, economic, cultural and environmental activities at international level.

Article 36: States have the duty to take measures at all educational levels and in all sectors of the media in order to eliminate any discrimination or prejudice that might exist with respect to Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, even having to ensure that cultural and didactic teaching materials nationwide provide an equitable, accurate and informative description of the ancient history of the spiritual commune, duly reflecting their stories, aspirations, cultural traditions and dignity, so that understanding and tolerance in society prevail.

Article 37: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to establish their own information media and also to access all other public and private media without discrimination. To this end, States have a duty to ensure that public information media correctly reflect the cultural diversity of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, taking into account their special vulnerability due that they are ethnic minorities.

Article 38: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to choose, promote and develop their own cultural identity or sense of belonging to their spiritual tradition as well as the right to choose the composition of their social and institutional structures in accordance with their own juridical procedures, Spirituality, traditional practices and ethical customs, in conformity with international human rights standards and without undermining the right of members to enjoy the citizenship or nationality of the States in which they live.

Article 39: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals and groups toward their communes.

Article 40: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right not to be submitted to forced cultural assimilation or the destruction of their transmission systems of knowledge, receiving respect and non-discrimination for their cultural values and ethnic identity.

Article 41: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to enjoy and belong to the traditions and customs of their spiritual tribal nation without receiving discrimination of any kind.

Article 42: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural movement, by maintaining, protecting and developing the manifestations of past, present and future, which include the right to manage its archaeological and historical sites as well as its objects, ceremonies, visual arts and literature. States have the duty to provide effective mechanisms for redress and restitution of cultural, intellectual and spiritual heritage of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities when they had been deprived of them without informed, prior and free consent and or when they have violated their laws, traditions and customs.

Article 43: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their ethical traditions, cultural practices and spiritual ceremonies, using and protecting their places of worship. States have the duty to seek the repatriation of objects and places of worship of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities.

Article 44: States have the duty to protect the right of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities to revitalize and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, traditions, philosophies, literatures and languages, including ensuring the right to give name to their own people, places and communities.

Article 45: States have the duty to adopt administrative and legislative measures that are respectful of legal systems and spiritual traditions of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, in order to apprise them their constitutional rights and duties, especially their tribal collective rights as regards to political autonomy, economic possibilities, cultural issues of education and justice, and rights to peace and a healthy environment.

 

Part IV: Environment

Article 46: States have the duty to respect the special importance and spiritual relationship that nature and Mother Earth have in cultures and values of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, having to protect the territories and habitats inhabited by its members.

Article 47: States have the duty to recognize to the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities the right of collective possession and ownership of the territories that have traditionally been cared, occupied, possessed or used by their members both in the present and in the past. In addition, in appropriate cases, steps must be taken to safeguard the right of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities to possess cultural heritage and of subsistence they currently are not occupying, such as territories of agriculture, temples, monuments and natural resources, which have been expropriated; having to recuperate their right to use, management, conservation and development of said cultural and environmental resources.

Article 48: States have the duty to fully repair, restore or indemnify the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities for damage or past expropriation of its institutions and collective territories, while it must be ensured the prohibition of any future loss of land and monasteries currently occupied. In consensual settlement with Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities, such compensations must consist of monetary reparations, territories and resources on equal quality, extension and legal condition.

Article 49: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right not to be forcibly displaced from their territories and environment, with which they maintain a relationship of cultural and spiritual symbiosis, so that any transfer must have the informed, prior and free consent in order to receive compensations for such actions.

Article 50: States have the duty to respect the modalities of transmission of the inherent rights collectively owned by Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities through juridical protection and recognition of their territories, preventing that individuals who are foreign or alien to such tribal commune take illegitimate possession of those lands. Any unauthorized intrusion in territories and monuments are offenses that must be adequately prevented and sanctioned by States, duly respecting the traditional customs of the Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities.

Article 51: States must to assign the benefit from allocation of additional lands to Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities when those lands they own are not sufficient to ensure the elements of a healthy life such as clean water, clean air and fertile soil.

Article 52: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to maintain healthy and adequate natural resources to be able to compose their traditional medicines and health practices, including the protection of their medicinal plants, animals and vital minerals. This benefit must not undermine the non-discriminatory access to social and health services of the State.

Article 53: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to protection and development of the environment, so that States have the duty to establish and implement programs of social assistance to ensure the ecological conservation of their territories and natural resources without any discrimination, such as prohibitions for water pollution, storage of hazardous substances, mining, deforestation and hunting, having to take steps to mitigate the harmful consequences of political, economic, cultural, environmental and spiritual order.

Article 54: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to determine the development of priorities and strategies to use their territories and their sustainable development.

Article 55: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to demand the international community the fulfillment of their environmental rights and the care for nature, demanding the implementation of effective measures to combat global warming and other planetary disorders.

Article 56: Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities have the right to maintain and strengthen their own spiritual relationship with nature, playing the international role of representative of future generations and the Mother Earth, without impairing or suppressing individual and collective rights that may be additionally acquired in the future.

Article 57: The rights to peace and healthy environment recognized in this Universal Declaration constitute the minimum laws for survival, dignity, welfare and liberty of Buddhist Peoples and Spiritual Communities around the world.

 

 

By

H.E. Master Maitreya Samyaksambuddha

President of the World Association of Buddhism, the Maitriyana Buddhist University and the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights

 

 

 

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