|Friday, 19 November 2004|
NHRI's to promote and protect human rights
An international workshop on National Human Rights Institutions and Non-Governmental Organisation - an Agenda for Cooperation's will be held in Sri Lanka from November 22 to 25.
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the British Council is organising the international workshop for National Human Rights Institutions of the Commonwealth.
The workshop is being organised under the Commonwealth National Human Rights Commissions' Project supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The workshop will provide a platform for Human Rights Commissions and Non-Governmental Organisations for cooperation to identify opportunities and concrete mechanisms for cooperation and collaboration in the protection and promotion of human rights, state a press release.
The workshop's goal is to consolidate and encourage the development of National and Regional Commonwealth partnerships between National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and international, regional and national human rights Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The organisers have sought to ensure a balanced participation between NGOs and NHRI representatives.
They have endeavoured to bring together a reasonable number of representatives from the many NHRIs/NGOs of the Commonwealth but to limit the overall number of participants to allow the atmosphere of the workshop to be informal.
The workshop is to encourage small group discussions. 35 participants from NHRIs and NGOs will represent 12 countries.
The workshop's inaugural sessions will be held on November 22 at 5.00 p.m. at the Galadari Hotel and will be chaired by the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy.
The keynote address will be delivered by Justice Dr. C. G. Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice on "Human Rights in the Contemporary World."
At the national level the pressure the NGOs have been able to bring on States has been critical in securing better observance of human rights.
At the international level, many aspects of the work of the United Nations on human rights has been developed with the active involvement of NGOs, including the drafting of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
NHRIs in comparison to NGOs are a relatively recent development as a mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights. NHRIs also play an important role in ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights.
A close, collaborative and effective working relationship between NHRIs and NGOs is therefore likely to lead to the better observance and greater respect for human rights.
NGOs have a well-established role both domestically and internationally in the promotion and protection of human rights.
NGOs have a recognised role in engendering public policy debates on human rights issues.
They are able to highlight issues and promote responsive action from governments.
They are independent of government and they represent a variety of diverse opinions in society.
They draw on the voluntary effort of large numbers of people. Many NGOs have strong records of grass roots work and often they have excellent information-gathering capacities.
NGOs also play a special role in standard setting through specialist input into the development of international human rights instruments and mechanisms.
For example, the role played by NGOs in the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been recognised internationally. More recently their role in securing an agreement for an international criminal court was crucial.
The approach of NGOs varies considerably. A limited number of NGOs work at the international and regional level exclusively.
Many others work at the national level. They can work on very specific issues, pursuing concerns in relation to individual disadvantaged groups or communities, or on thematic issues or countries.
Commonwealth NHRI project aims to develop an effective network and support system for NHRIs across the Commonwealth in order to increase and improve the impact of their work.
Collaboration is based around proactive information exchange, the joint development of learning materials, and the provision of training in key technical and/or operating skills.
Commonwealth NHRIs will improve their capacity to carry out key statutory functions; will expand the range of activities recognised by their governments as falling within their competency; and will raise their credibility and standing both nationally and internationally.
NHRIs will therefore be better able to contribute positively to the promotion and protection of human rights within their countries.
For further information please call Dr. A. Zainudeen, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on 2696470.
Produced by Lake House