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FOCUS December 1996 Volume 6

The Final Resolution of the Asia-Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress, New Delhi, 6-8 December 1996

(Reprinted below is the final resolution issued by the secretariat of the Asia-Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress held in India recently - Editor's note.)

On the 10 December 1996, World Human Rights Day, Burmese and East Timorese activists continued to live in fear. Democracy in China, North Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Pakistan remained a distant dream. Ethnic and religious minorities in India and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were indiscriminately killed in conflicts that show no signs of abating.

For three days prior to World Human Rights day activists from across the region gathered in New Delhi to reiterate the ever present threat to fundamental rights and freedoms.

More than 117 delegates from 28 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere condemned on-going violations of human rights and called upon governments to review laws and policies that lead to human rights violations, including economic reform policies and trade agreements.

The proliferation of national security laws was the focus of widespread condemnation. Participants confirmed that national security laws are routinely invoked in their countries to suspend fundamental rights and are often used as a tool to oppress minorities and indigenous peoples. The Congress also condemned the often cited argument that the concept of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is foreign to Asian cultures. This claim has been used specifically to curb the rights of women as recognized in Vienna at the World Conference on Human Rights and more recently in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women, in September 1995. Of particular concern was the alarming rise in child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes.

The Congress called for bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements between regional blocks including Europe and North America to halt trafficking and punish all forms of child exploitation.

The New Delhi meeting was the third such gathering of Asia-Pacific human rights activists and the second since the Vienna Conference on Human Rights.

For more information on the 1996 Asia-Pacific NGO Human Rights Congress or copies of the final resolutions, please contact: Asia Pacific Human Rights NGOs Facilitating Team P O Box 26, Bungthonglang Bangkok 10242 Thailand Phone : (662) 3779357, 3702701 Fax : (662) 3740464, 3701202 E-mail : boonthan@mozart.inet.co.th or South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre C-16/2, DDA Flats (SFS), Saket, New Delhi 110017, India. Tel. (91-11) 686-5736, 685-9622 Fax. 686-5736 E-mail: ravi@sadc.unv.ernet.in

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