Lahore, June 09, 2014: Given the common human rights challenges faced by all South Asian States, there is an urgent need for a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism. We are very pleased to share the news of National Workshop on Building Consensus for South Asia Human Rights Mechanism being organized in collaboration with the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), HRCP and Bytes for All in Lahore on 9-10 June 2014. This workshop is part of a regional initiative striving to develop a human rights mechanism for south Asian countries.
The Regional Initiative is a platform of concerned citizens and civil society organizations advocating for the establishment of such a mechanism in the region. The national workshop will explore challenges faced by the region, models of other regional mechanisms and avenues for engagement. With the participation of several civil society organizations, experts, lawyers and other key stakeholders, this meeting could prove to be crucial for building consensus among national groups and shape the way forward for the South Asian Human Rights Mechanism.
About Regional Initiative
The Regional Initiative for South Asian Human Rights Mechanism is a civil society forum that was created subsequent to the sub-regional consultations held in Kathmandu in 2010 and 2011. This forum is a collaborative platform of civil society and individuals from the region committed to the cause of furthering human rights and peace. The mission of the forum is to advocate for, and help create an environment conducive for the establishment of a South Asia Human Rights Mechanism
With the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), as its secretariat, the Regional Initiative has been striving for greater cooperation and support for the establishment of a South Asia Human Rights Mechanism.
SAARC & Human Rights
Established in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) sought to promote peace and stability in the region through strict adherence to the principles laid out in the Charter of the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement.
Given that the UN Charter has been the basis for evolution of several instruments on human rights, SAARC has also taken some important steps in the right direction.
Key instruments and initiatives of SAARC include:
Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, 2002
Convention on the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia, 2002
Social Charter, 2004
Charter on Democracy, 2011
Initiatives relating to climate change, heath, food security, mutual assistance on criminal matters, combating terrorism and drugs.
The SAARC Social Charter, has particularly reiterated the need for States in the region to promote universal respect for and observance and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. South Asian States have also explicitly reaffirmed their commitment to human rights in the outcome documents of the annual SAARC Summits, including the latest Addu Declaration, 2011.
While Europe, Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arab States have successfully established regional mechanisms, South Asia lags behind. Recognising the need and importance of regional mechanisms for the realisation of human rights, the United Nations General Assembly and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action have specifically called for their establishment.