Skip to main content

Delhi meet to network regional human rights issues in South Asia, implementation of UN conventions

By Our Representative
The Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN (WGHR), an influential Delhi-based advocacy group, is all set to set up a regional mechanism in order to ensure “effective" implementation of international human rights norms and standards in South Asia. Led by senior activist Henri Tiphagne, WGHR will be deliberating on the crucial issue on August 26-27 with several rights bodies across India at a workshop. A concept note for workshop participants said, though the region comprises over one-fourth of the world population, human rights violations in the region have met with “a stubborn stand on state-centred view of national sovereignty, insisting on the principle of non-interference.”
The note regrets, “Despite the grave human rights challenges in all South Asian states, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has shied away from adopting specific mechanisms to address these challenges. SAARC has nevertheless adopted various instruments and conventions touching upon several aspects of human rights.” It underlines, human rights “are not explicitly guaranteed by the SAARC Charter”.
This is so despite the fact that all SAARC members, with the exception of Bhutan, have signed and ratified (or acceded to) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), two multilateral treaties at the core of the International Bill of Human Rights along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Perhaps also compelling is the fact that all eight members are state parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)”, the note says, adding, “As such, these seven countries have multilateral obligations to reinforce the rights stipulated in these two covenants, which are all the basic human rights.”
Running into dozen-odd chapters, the note says that peoples of South Asia “share a common history of culture, social, linguistic, political and economic similarities”, yet “the region marred with mutual distrust, limiting people-to people contact”. It adds, “Most states inherited the commonwealth legacy after the end of the European colonial era. Newly independent states soon slipped into a series of confirmation over territorial and ethnic issues.”
The note says, “The region continues to grapple with extreme levels of poverty, inequality, illiteracy, unemployment, sectarian violence, extremism and terrorism resulting in serious human rights violations relating to torture, arbitrary detentions, disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials, marginalization, of minorities, and violence against women and children.”
It underlines, “Instances of political persecution of critics, political opponents, journalists, and human rights activists are also a flagrant practice in many South Asian states. Endemic state corruption has also led to systematic abuse of social, economic, cultural, and environmental rights of large majorities of people. Manifestly, human rights abuse is a serious and pervasive problem in all South Asian States and is often met with impunity.”
Saying that “trans-border human rights violations” are a major area of concern, the note says, “South Asia witnesses a surge in such cross-border violations in the form of instances of violence in border areas, trafficking, abuse of migrant workers, pollution caused by massive developmental projects and water sharing disputes. Domestic incidences involving religious, ethnic or linguistic groups may also cause ripples in states that share such similarities.”
It adds, “Domestic systems and courts are often not structurally equipped to handle and remedy these issues. The region is riddled with the lack of independent, impartial and efficient institutions to address human rights violations. Despite the existence of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in most countries in South Asia, human rights abuses have largely been unchecked.”
Pointing out in this context that a regional mechanism is as an “appropriate complement to the international and national human rights systems”, the concept note says, it can be an important value addition aiding the collective furthering and implementing internationally recognized norms and standards for human rights.” In fact, it can play “crucial role” by “facilitating the development of complementary human rights norms and standards that are of concern to the states in the region” and fill in “the lacunae in the reach and influence of national and international human rights institutions.”
“If properly funded and provided with an independent mandate, a regional human rights mechanism can play a crucial role in the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the region. By actively promoting and protecting human rights through facilitating human rights education programmes, awareness campaigns and other informational activities the mechanism can generate greater reach, acceptance and respect for international norms”, the note says.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”