NHRIs develop plans to be disaster-ready
Graphic: Two girls stand amid debris from a typhoon in the Philippines
NHRIs must be prepared so they can respond to the human rights challenges of communities affected by humanitarian disasters.
With floods, fires, typhoons and other natural disasters becoming more intense and more frequent, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across the Asia Pacific have shared ideas on how to integrate human rights into emergency responses to these events.
Representatives from nine NHRIs* met in Bangkok from 1-3 October 2019 to discuss the threats facing their countries and how they can use their mandate to meet the human rights needs of individuals and communities affected by humanitarian disasters.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described climate change as one of the greatest threats facing humanity, with implications for all our human rights.
"This is not a situation where any country, any institution, any policymaker can stand on the sidelines," she told the Human Rights Council.
Here is what she is calling on national human rights institutions to do in response.
Led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South and South East Asia, and delivered in partnership with the APF, the workshop was the final stage in a blended learning course that explored the role of NHRIs in relation to:
- Early warning and contingency planning
- Monitoring, including information gathering, documentation and analysis
- Advocacy and reporting in humanitarian emergencies
- Ensuring equality and non-discrimination in humanitarian responses, with a focus on vulnerable groups
- Building partnerships with other organisations delivering humanitarian responses.
The workshop also discussed case studies from NHRIs in the region – for example in the Philippines, Nepal and New Zealand – and their efforts to support communities affected by typhoons and earthquakes.
The workshop discussions built on six weeks of online learning and conversations.
Graphic: Group shot of workshop participants
"The escalating impact of climate change means that NHRIs must be ready and equipped to promote and protect human rights in times of natural and man-made disasters," APF Regional Training Manager Kate Turner-Mann said.
"In particular, NHRIs need to develop ways of working that ensure the needs of vulnerable groups – such as children, women, people with disabilities and indigenous groups – are promoted and protected during times of crisis."
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants undertook to finalise a plan of action for their NHRIs to integrate human rights into humanitarian action within their national settings.
They will also continue to share their ideas and questions as part of an online community of practice, facilitated by the APF and OHCHR in the APF Learning Community on Fuse.
Participants also attended the opening session of an NHRI dialogue on climate change as a transboundary issue, hosted by OHCHR, to link the workshop discussions to the broader issue of human rights and climate change.
Date: 18 October 2019
- Two girls stand amid debris from a typhoon in the Philippines - UN Photo/Evan Schneider, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2JeRARF
- Group shot of workshop participants - APF