by Lucy Lethbridge CATHOLIC human rights organisations expressed disappointment this week over the controversies that threaten the success of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.
Monica Dolan of Trocaire. the Catholic Agency for World Development in Ireland, who returned from Vienna this week, said that she "wouldn't be optimistic about any great changes in the future" and she went on "there's an awful lot of politics of trading off one human right against another."
The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, was among other prominent figures in international human rights causes invited to address the conference, but the exiled leader was denied a platform at the conference at the insistence of China.
The exclusion caused embarrassment to the organisers of a conference aimed at forging a new international consensus on human rights that includes the legally binding right of
assembly in all countries.
13 Nobel Peace Prize winners boycotted the first session of the conference at the weekend in protest at the exclusion of the Dalai Lama, who is himself a former winner of the prize.
A spokesman for Amnesty International said that the organisation was "outraged" that the Dalai Lama was unable to speak and went on to say that "Amnesty had great hopes for the conference but we are now concerned about the way things are going a step backward instead of forward."
Amnesty International has offered the Dalai Lama a tent in the precincts of the conference centre in which to make a speech and Amnesty's Secretary General Pierre Sane, said that "We must listen to our political opponents. That is what we are telling governments and the same should apply to us," A CAFOD representative at the conference admitted: "There are inevitable problems of mix and match between official delegations".