1993 Speech

Prince Saud's speech at Human Rights conference in Vienna
Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria, June 15, 1993

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, praise be to God, Lord of the Universe, and peace be upon the most noble of Prophets and Emissaries, all his families and companions.

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have the honor to convey to your distinguished gathering the greetings and best wishes of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, and to convey to His Excellency Alois Mock, the Foreign Minister of Austria, and to the government and people of Austria warmest thanks and appreciation for having hosted the conference, and for the great efforts which have been made and the facilities which have been provided for creating the appropriate conditions for holding it.

I also take pleasure in conveying thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Dr. Boutros-Boutros Ghali, the Secretary General of the United Nations, for the attention he has devoted to this conference and the contributions made by the United Nations to its work.  I should also like to express special thanks to the Secretary General of the Conference, Dr.Ibrahima Fall, for his great efforts in preparation for it.

The large and high-level international participation in  the work of this conference is clear proof of the existence of a strong will, endeavouring to bring about better international cooperation and a more profound understanding of the issues of human rights throughout the world.  We fervently hope that such a participation will provide a favorable opportunity to enrich our dialogue regarding this important topic, in an objective, effective and practical exchange of views.  This is specially needed in these times which witness numerous flagrant violations of the humanity and dignity of mankind and its legitimate rights, such as the genocidal aggression afflicted upon the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, mass murder, forced migration and rape in what is known as the hateful policy of ethnic cleansing.  All this is done in a bare-faced challenge to all human values and ideals, and is a flagrant violation of all international norms and covenants, in full view of the international community.  In addition to this, there are serious violations of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including the deliberate deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate right to self-determination.

Our conference provides a valuable opportunity to review the question of human rights from all its aspects and to address it in a just and balanced fashion, without selectivity or double standards, in order to be able to put an end to such violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. President,
God Almighty, in his Holy Quran said, "We have honoured the sons of Adam; providing them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of our creation."  God considered mankind to be one single human family, by virtue of origin and birth.  He said: "Mankind's reverence of your guardian Lord, who created you from a single person, created of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women."  A family which was made diverse in order that its members should know and understand one another and cooperate among themselves.  "Mankind, we created you from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).  Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you."  The message of Islam came as a confirmation of all the messages, and was open to people of all races, colors and nationalities.  Thus, the Islamic Sharia came as a comprehensive system for universal human rights, which defines duties and obligations at all levels of human relations, which in turn, is based upon respect for humanity and dignity of mankind, and the right of people to lead an honourable life, safeguarded from aggression, whether against their lives, honor, privacy, homes, or families.

The rights and freedoms guaranteed by Islam to mankind were not meant merely as moral exhortations, but rather as legislative orders, which it enshrined in all the legal texts necessary for ensuring their implementation and enforcement, while combining them with implicit duties.  This comprehensivness of Islamic values reflects the great importance attached by Islam to human rights.  The source of human rights in Islam is the Creator of this universe, who created and gave order, and who ordained and gave guidance.  This divine force is what protects human rights amongst the faithful and gives these rights their sanctity and mandatory force; belief which is rooted in faith that causes the willing acceptance by choice and compliance with these duties and rights and to comply with their application, preservation and protection.

Furthermore, human rights in Islam were not ordained for the benefit of one nation to the exclusion of another, but were rather ordained for all humankind.  Thus, from its inception, it was universal by nature, transcending all geographical or political boundries.

Mr. President,
God has honoured the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the custody of the two holiest places of Islam. He gave it the good fortune of being an Islamic state governed by Sharia on the bases of justice, shura (consultation) and equality, especially these related to the principles of human rights.  The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdulaziz, made these established facts clear on the occasion of the issuance of the basic law of governing, the charter of the Shura Council, and provincial statutes.  He said that the source of these statutes was the Islamic Sharia.  These statutes, which determined the character of the state, its objectives, duties and responsibilities, and which defined the relationship between the ruler and the ruled, based on brotherhood, mutual advice, loyalty and cooperation.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a developing society which is firmly based on the established rules that are a mainstay of Islamic civilization. A society which has firmly set itself to face challenges of our time with determination, on the path of reform.  These laws and statutes place upon the state, primary responsibility for the protection of human rights in accordance with Islamic Sharia.  The state thereby guarantees private property and its inviolability, prohibits public confiscation of property, undertakes the responsibility to achieve economic and social development, to preserve and protect the environment.  These laws and statues guarantee the well-being of the citizen and his family in emergencies, sickness, disability and old age.  They provide for the social security system and guarantee the opportunities for all who are able to work.  They have the responsibility to protect both the employer and employee; they also provide general education and health care for every citizen.  The statutes of the government guarantee the inviolability of homes; and have given equal rights to litigation to both citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was in the forefront of the Islamic states which ratified the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, issued by the Organization of the Islamic Conference on August 4, 1990, considering it to be the tributary which would provide a proper foundation for positive and practical international cooperation, and which would flow into the main stream of universal support for human rights and freedoms, coming as an expression of the will of over one billion people, which gives it a truly universal character by any measure.  While the principles and objectives upon which human rights are founded are of a universal nature, their application requires consideration for the diversity of societies, taking into account their various historical, cultural, and religous backgrounds and legal systems.

Mr. President,
While it is commendable that the international community should address the question of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, serious and sincere efforts must be made to achieve the following, if we are to succeed in achieving the desired respect for these rights:

First: Ending the flagrant violations of human rights which we witness today, such as mass extermination, the hateful ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, deprivation of the people of Palestine of their right to self-determination, and racial discrimination. Success in these efforts would undoubtedly confirm the credibility of efforts made to support and firmly establish human rights throughout the world.

Second: To address international problems involving violations of human rights with a single objective standard.

Third: To apply the concepts of human rights in a manner that take into consideration differences in the natures of societies, their customs, traditions and beliefs.

Fourth: Human rights should not be abused and made a pretext for unjustified interference in the affairs of other states.

Fifth: Economic and social development must go hand in hand for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The successful achievement of these objectives requires avoidance of precipitated action in creating mechanisms that would only lead to deepening of differences and disregard for the sensitivities which appeared during the preparatory work for this conference.  The comments made by the Islamic Group, the Group of Seventy Seven and the Non-aligned Movement, and those made by the Afro-Asian Group and the Latin-American Group, must be reflected in the text of the final draft document of the conference which is before us if we are to reach a common ground that would lead to the universality of human rights and their implementation.

In conclusion, permit me, Mr. President to express the hope that our conference will be able to achieve its goals and objectives in a spirit of realism and objectivity, and provide a proper foundation for constructive and positive international cooperation, to preserve human dignity, to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and support continued and sincere efforts to reach a common concept which would strive for justice and equality and aspire to a life where pride and dignity reign and freedom and equity prevail.

May the peace and mercy of God be upon you.