Need for regional rights body stressed

  • FORUM-ASIA urges South Asian nations to act on human rights challenges facing the region

Kathmandu, April 9

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development concluded a two-day dialogue on ‘Regional Human Rights Mechanism in South Asia’ in the capital yesterday.

The event was attended by South Asian members of FORUM-ASIA and other key civil society experts to discuss the importance of a regional human rights mechanism for South Asia.

The dialogue was a culmination of a process that began in July 2011, whenindependent human rights experts and organisations from South Asia met in Kathmandu to discuss

strategies towards the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism, and adopted the ‘Kathmandu Statement’ as its ideological blueprint.

The objective of the regional dialogue was to critically review and reflect on the present efforts being made towards the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism in South Asia, and to explore ways to evolve broad-based advocacy strategies and alliances to respond to human rights challenges facing the region in partnership and collaboration with other actors and movements working towards the same goal.

“An effective regional human rights mechanism is necessary to ensure all human rights for all in the region,” said John Samuel, executive director of FORUM-ASIA.

“A broad-based movement of civil society organisations, youths, women, and other social movements is necessary to strengthen human rights and democracy across South Asia,” he added.

A new Kathmandu Statement was adopted as the outcome of the dialogue. The statement calls on South Asian governments, national human rights institutions, and human rights activists in the region to take up specific actions to tackle human rights and democracy challenges facing the region.

“FORUM-ASIA believes such a regional human rights mechanism is very important in this day and age when the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has been unable to rise to the pressing human rights challenges of the day, such as increasing intolerance, shrinking of civil society space, and with it, the capacity to challenge orthodoxies and build alternative voices and crackdown on fundamental freedoms and liberties,” read a press release issued by the organiser.