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FOCUS March 2010 Volume 59

Human Rights Events in Asia-Pacific

Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions

The 3rd Regional Consultation of the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) was held from 4-5 March 2010 in Tokyo. This Consultation was organized by the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), in cooperation with the Citizens' Council for Human Rights - Japan (CCHRJ). The Consultation had the primary purpose of ANNI member-organizations presenting updates and developments regarding human rights issues, as well as developments on the issue of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in their countries. The consultation highlighted the importance of establishing a NHRI for the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level. There were panel discussion on "The Role of NHRIs in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Country," country presentations, working groups that identified key/emerging trends in the region and planned for next activities. The representatives of member-organizations in Northeast (Mongolia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan), Southeast (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines), and South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) attended the Consultation. The Consultation issued a statement encouraging the Japanese government to continue pursuing the establishment of a national human rights institution that subscribes to the Paris Principles.1

Human Rights-Based Access to Justice Programs

The Conference on Enhancing Capacities for Human Rights-Based Access to Justice Programs was held in Manila on 16-18 March 2010 as part of the efforts to set up the Asian Consortium for Human Rights-Based Access to Justice (hrba2j- Asia). The Conference was organized by a Philippine committee.2 Consisting of various government agencies and civil society organizations, the regional Consortium seeks to promote the application of human-rights-based approaches in the design and implementation of access to justice programs. The main objective of the Consortium is to share knowledge and to distill best practices and model reform experiences, from the region as well as globally, into appropriate demand-driven knowledge resources which apply human rights principles to facilitate access to justice. Forty advocates from Northeast, West Asia, South and Southeast Asia, who are engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights, and the enhancement of access to justice by citizens in general, and the poor and marginalized groups, in particular, participated in the Conference. The participants represented national human rights institutions, judicial academies, and other government agencies, and legal resource non-governmental organizations (NGOs) , academic organizations, legal aid centers, university-based human rights centers, and other civil society organizations with programs for the promotion of human rights-based access to justice. Officers of donor agencies, especially those with programs on human rights, rule of law, access to justice, and justice reforms, also attended the Conference. The Conference highlighted human rights-based approaches as an integral component of programs that seek to enhance access to justice. The Conference facilitated exchange of information about related human rights and access to justice programs and initiatives in the region, discussed challenges and ways by which these can be overcome, and shared different programs and initiatives with the objective of exchanging views and adopting best practices which may be viable in the context of the region. Prior to the Conference, the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-Asia (ESCR-Asia) undertook a regional capacity mapping consisting of initial profiles (nature, scope, strategies/methodologies and depth of the work on "human rights-based access to justice," including an initial inventory of knowledge products developed and disseminated) of institutions in Asia. The capacity mapping project was a preliminary scan to understand the magnitude, practical difficulties, limitations as well as listening-receiving recommendations in carrying out effective access to justice work in Asia.

Endnotes

  • 1. Principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights (United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/48/134 of 20 December 1993).
  • 2. Currently, the Organizing Committee is composed of representatives from:
  • a. Supreme Court-Program Management Office (SC-PMO)
  • b. Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA)
  • c. Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR)
  • d. University of the Philippines-Institute of Human Rights (UP-IHR)
  • e. Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines, Inc. (ASPAP)
  • f. Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG)
  • g. Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC)
  • h. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-Asia (ESCR-Asia)
  • i. Lawyers League for Liberty (Libertas).

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