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  5. Making Inter-Governmental Dialogues Fruitful

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FOCUS March 2000 Volume 19

Making Inter-Governmental Dialogues Fruitful


It has been observed that the "diversity and complexity of the [Asia-Pacific] region in terms of history, culture, religion, political system, level of social and economic development [are] often cited as explanation for the absence of a regional mechanism as well as justification for an approach which emphasizes negotiation and constructive dialogue." Taking this view as one of the basic principles, it is suggested that "constant efforts should be made in parallel to build[ing] awareness of [people] that diversity in the region is a source of strength and should facilitate (not obstruct) the search for an appropriate human rights system for the region and its subregions. Cooperation should, for this reason, provide an efficient opportunity for the countries of the region to explore their own policies and strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights."

Realities in the Asia-Pacific region show that there is so much diversity in approaches, systems and programs relating to multi-country and national-level human rights work. No existing national human rights institution in the region, for example, is a copy of any other institution. Each institution is unique in its own way because of the national context.

Regional programs on various issues (women, children, disabled people, and so on) do respect national particularities. Human rights education programs, whether regional or national, are even more diverse.

Regional and national particularities are not obstacles to regional work considering the amount and extent of cooperation among various institutions (government and non-government) at present.

What is the basis then of the repetitious assertion of the need to recognize regional and national particularities when actual work experiences tell us that this is a non-issue? For many human rights workers in this region, discussing practical steps on how to make human rights, in its universal, indivisible and interdependent sense, a reality matters most. Dialogues among government representatives need this perspective to make the exercise useful.

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