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FOCUS September 2006 Volume 45

Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions


The 11th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions discussed the role of national human rights institutions in Asia-Pacific regarding human rights defenders, right to education and subregional human rights mechanisms, among other issues. The 17 member-institutions of the forum likewise reviewed the activities undertaken during the past year including training workshops for members of the staff of the member-institutions. The 2006 meeting was held on 31 July - 3 August 2006 in Suva, Fiji.


The meeting deferred deliberation on the application for membership in the APF[1] by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) of Saudi Arabia pending finalization of the accreditation guidelines of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions. In the meantime, APF offers to extend technical assistance to NSHR regarding compliance with the Paris Principles. The NSHR was established in 2004 through a Royal Decree 24/2 issued by King Rahad bin Abdul Aziz.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM), established in 2003, has expressed interest in applying as a member of APF. It attended the meeting as an observer. The Pakistan government announced its plan to establish a national human rights institution, which is likely to apply for membership in APF.

The APF has the policy of accepting members those national institutions that comply with the requirements of the Paris Principles. It welcomed the plan of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to hold a meeting in 2006 of Asian States "to encourage the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles."

Human rights mechanism

The meeting took note of the efforts to establish human rights mechanisms in the Pacific and Southeast Asia respectively. The initiatives are being led by the member-institutions in Fiji and New Zealand for the Pacific, and by the member-institutions in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand for Southeast Asia. These member-institutions have been lobbying the governments in the Pacific and Southeast Asia to take concrete steps in establishing such mechanisms in the context of the latter's forthcoming Pacific Plan for Human Rights and ASEAN Charter respectively.

Draft Strategic Plan

The meeting considered the draft strategic plan for the period 2007 to 2009, which envisions APF to become the pre-eminent regional human rights organisation in the Asia Pacific.[2] The draft strategic plan incorporates and builds upon the following lessons learned during the past ten years of operation of APF:

  1. Links between NHRIs in different countries are crucial for the implementation of cooperative efforts in the field of human rights.
  2. Specialized technical assistance and cooperation is a priority for the development and strengthening of NHRIs.
  3. The cooperative framework of the APF provides a non-confrontational and practical environment in which NHRIs can address human rights issues.
  4. Diversified and secure funding is necessary in order for the APF to meet its mission and vision.

For further information, please contact: Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Forum Secretariat, GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 1042 Australia; ph (612) 9284 9845; fax (612) 9284 9825; e-mail:;


1. There are currently 15 member-institutions, one candidate member (Provedor for Human Rights and Justice of Timor Leste) and one associate member (National Human Rights Committee of Qatar).

2. Annual Business Meeting Report, Eleventh Annual Meeting 31st July 2006, Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Sydney, Australia, page 67. Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions HURIGHTS OSAKA