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South Asian NHRIs discuss regional human rights protection system

Graphic: Women from rural villages

A seminar involving the NHRIs of South Asia has emphasised that human rights violations increasingly affect the lives of people across borders.

A two-day seminar involving the national human rights institutions (NHRIs) of South Asia has concluded with an agreement to work towards establishing a human rights protection mechanism in the region.

The gathering, organised by the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, expressed concern over the growing human rights challenges facing the South Asian (or SAARC) region and emphasised that regional problems required regional solutions.

While NHRIs were playing a leading role to institutionalise human rights in South Asian countries, participants noted that human rights violations increasingly affect the lives of people across borders.

Issues including trafficking in women, the rights of children (including preventing child marriage), the rights of migrant workers and climate change require concerted and cooperative efforts, participants said.

The Dhaka Resolution was adopted at the conclusion of the regional seminar – titled "Towards a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism: Prospects and Challenges" – which was held at Dhaka University from 17-18 November 2014.

As part of the Dhaka Resolution, senior representatives from the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka committed to work towards:

  • Amplifying efforts made by civil society in developing discussions relating to the need for a South Asian human rights mechanism;
  • Enhancing systematic and close cooperation among NHRIs in the region to address the common challenges and struggles of the peoples of South Asia;
  • Supporting and providing constructive inputs to other NHRIs in the region towards better protecting human rights at the domestic level;
  • Ensuring fullest cooperation among NHRIs in the region in addressing violations that impact lives across borders;
  • Strongly urging the SAARC member States, where there are no NHRIs to establish NHRIs in conformity with the Paris Principles and to further strengthen existing NHRIs;
  • Collectively advocating with SAARC member States to establish a robust South Asia human rights mechanism with a mandate for the protection and promotion of human rights;
  • Inclusion of greater deliberations and commitments relating to human rights and the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism at the SAARC conferences and summits; and
  • Convening annual consultation of the NHRIs in the region to strengthen the inter-NHRI bond of collaboration and cooperation to promote and protect human rights.

The Dhaka Resolution is available on the website of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh.

Date: 20 November 2014

Image credits

  1. Women from rural villages - The Emancipation Network, Flickr Creative Commons