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

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.