NGO Meeting Parallel to the 14th Annual Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Right

AMMAN, JORDAN (August 06, 2009) On August 3 – 4, 2009, the Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, in cooperation with The Forum Asia, the International Women Rights Watch- Asia Pacific, the international Services for Human Rights ISHR and The Foundation For the Future, hosted an NGO Meeting Parallel to the 14th Annual Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions in conjunction with FORUM-ASIA with sponsorship from the Foundation for the Future. The conference took place at the Landmark Hotel.

More than 59 participants attended, all representing NGOs working in the following 29 countries:

Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Yemen.


Many topics were discussed during the first day, with the opening session focused on

“Engaging with the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) and the International Coordinating Committee for National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC).” Mr. Fitzpatrick, gave NGOs an overview of this year’s APF program and discussed the APF’s future plans. He also gave an update on the role the APF is playing to help establish NHRIs in countries where they do not yet exist.  Meanwhile, Ms. Jennifer Lynch of the Law Resource Center gave an overview of new developments within the ICC and how NGOs can contribute to its work.


Mainstreaming human rights defenders’ concerns into the work of the Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) was another topic discussed during the meeting. A panel titled “Role of NHRIs at the International Fora” involved speakers discussing entry points for NGO-NHRI collaboration with the UN Treaty Bodies and the UPR. They also discussed the growing role of NHRIs in bodies such as the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) and the UN Human Rights Council.


In the afternoon, Caroline Hames, Nikote Laiboni and other speakers discussed the “Role of NHRIs in addressing Migration and Trafficking.” Miss Hames presented the GAATW and Miss Nkirote Laiboni talked about migration, the exploitation of women, and trafficking in Africa. Three root causes for trafficking were proposed: political instability and ongoing violent conflicts, poverty, and the lack of economic opportunity. Many women travel within Eastern Africa to escaping violent conflict or leave the continent for Europe or the Middle East, where they typically find domestic work and are deprived of many of their rights.


Finally, another session was held about the Role of NHRIs in Conflict Situations & States of Emergency. In this session, the speakers shared their experiences in engaging with their NHRIs during emergency situations or periods of armed conflict. They also discussed possible recommendations on how NHRIs may effectively promote and protect human rights during emergency situations/ periods of armed conflict, and detailed accounts of best practices.


The representative from the Palestinian NHRI tackled the difficulties that face the national Palestinian institutions while working in an area of conflict where they have to cope not only with the absence of a sovereign state but also with a foreign military occupation, in addition to the national division.

Madam Randa Sanura underlined the effort of the NHRI’s in Palestine in standing for Human Rights no matter who is the victim or the violator, thing that assesses their independence.

Madam Randa Sanura talked as well about the consequences of the law of establishments not being adopted in Palestine. She said that although it is a bad situation, the pending law gives the NIHRs in Palestine more freedom in keeping their independence.


The second day had as many interesting topics as the first, beginning with a brief overview of previous NGO experiences at the APF.

The discussion looked at previous experiences of NGOs in engaging with the APF and how both can contribute to each other’s work in promoting and protecting human rights.

Mr. Yap Swee Seng, FORUM-ASIA talked about the need of dialogue and cooperation between the APF on one hand, and the NGO’s, Asian and Arabic from the other hand.

He encouraged, by the same, the Arab countries to establish a network as the one existing in Asia pointing the need for a domestic Human Rights movement, an inside intervention, necessary to the efficiency of the outside support, knowing that the ANI welcomes this kind of intervention.

He emphasized the require for the NGO’s to participate in the UPR and so, the need of an active civil society to work on these issues! 


At the end, the participants were split into working groups in order to come out with recommendation and statement to be delivered during the 14th APF. Their was a general consensus on the necessity of establishing an Arab body in the Arabic-Asian region with 2 goals which are defending the human rights activists, as well as monitoring and cooperating with the national human rights centers according to Paris principles. Arab countries that don’t have a NHRI are as well highly encouraged and urged to establish one.

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