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FOCUS March 1999 Volume 15

General Agreement on Networking for Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region

(This is the full text of the document adopted in Strasbourg, France regarding the setting up of a new network in the region for human rights. This was adopted by participants from Asia-Pacific who attended the 1998 session of Strasbourg Human Rights Training Institute. - Editor's note)


We, defenders of human rights in the ASIA-PACIFIC,

Mindful of our fundamental rights and duties and commitment for the full realization of all human rights for all, particularly through education, research, training and advocacy;

Emphasizing the fundamental importance and imperative nature of human rights recognized beyond question in present international human rights law, and adhering to the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights and Programme of Action;

Concerned with the lack of international promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, and noting that the vastness of the Asia-Pacific and the wide diversity of our peoples as well as the continued massive grinding poverty and/or political repression we confront daily in the midst of globalization, environmental degradation, exploitation of peoples [and both their human] and natural wealth and resources, unabated abuse of women and children, pose, undoubtedly for all of us, a most formidable challenge for the full realization of all human rights;

Recognizing that current events, intolerance and conflicts in the Asia-Pacific, coupled with the unresolved regional economic turmoil, present an unavoidable need for human rights defenders to link together or cooperate with one another since human rights are better achieved through joint efforts; and precisely, the inherent, equal and inalienable human dignity of each person, group or community binds all in mutual solidarity for the common good;

Recalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed "as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations," thus requiring "teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms" and "progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance";

Inspired by the countless individuals and groups, who, by themselves or in association with others, have always fought, sacrificed their lives or continued their work for greater respect for human rights in the region, and guided by the Bangkok NGO Declaration on Human Rights and Plan of Action;

And;

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights as we struggle for a new era for all humanity in the next millennium;

hereby agree as follows:

  1. NETWORK: There is hereby established a network for human rights education, research, training and advocacy in the Asia-Pacific which shall be known as the ASIA-PACIFIC NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION, RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY.
  2. VISION: The Asia-Pacific Network shall promote and strive to achieve solidarity and international cooperation in human rights education, research, training and advocacy in the region towards "all human rights for all."
  3. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES: the Asia-Pacific Network shall strategically assist in the full implementation in the Asia-Pacific of the International Bill of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights and Programme of Action, the Bangkok NGO Declaration on Human Rights and Plan of Action, and other instruments relating to women, children, labour, migrant workers, indigenous peoples and minorities.
  4. PARTICIPATION: Participation in the Asia-Pacific Network shall be open to all interested individuals such as lawyers, teachers, educators, activists, and to groups, organizations, communities and peoples, schools and universities.
  5. NETWORK SUPPORT SYSTEM: The Asia-Pacific Network shall endeavor to ensure coordinated efforts, shared resources and information exchange among participants or partners. The Network shall also maintain a library and documentation center or depository of materials, and provide for a programme for education of defenders, exchange of teachers, students, interns or social workers.
  6. APPROACH: Networking shall follow a step-by-step approach. The first step shall consist of building up the necessary infrastructure within a period of at least three (3) years for a smooth functioning of the Network. The second step may consist in its formalization of its own by-laws. The third and final step may be the formation of a representative general conference or council as its governing body.
  7. NETWORKING GROUP: There shall be a Networking Group for Asia-Pacific consisting of one (1) representative from each country. It shall be responsible for policy-making, direction setting and general supervision of the Secretariat. These functions may be delegated to a Coordinating Committee composed of one (1) representative from each sub-region. Sub-regional and national networking groups may also be established.
  8. SECRETARIAT: There shall be a Secretariat responsible for executive and administrative matters necessary or incidental to the effective functioning of the network support system, including fund-raising. In the meantime, the Secretariat shall be established in the Philippines and shall be headed by an Executive Secretary.

Signed: 31 July 1998, Strasbourg, France


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