News Releases 2010

Regional Consultation on NHRIs and CSOs' engagement with the international human rights system: Enhancing the protection of human rights on the ground in Asia


Participants

From 22 to 23 November 2010, representatives of National Human Rights Institutions(NHRIs) and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) from 13 countries from Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, S.Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor Leste) will gather in Bangkok to discuss ways to make their collaborative engagement with international human rights mechanisms more effective in order to enhance the protection of human rights in their respective countries.

The forum of these discussions was the “Regional Consultation on National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organizations’ engagement with the international human rights system: Enhancing the protection of human rights on the ground in Asia”, organized by the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia and the UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre. Representatives of the APF and ANNI Secretariats were also participate in the meeting. The consultation aimed to explore options for systematic cooperation between NHRIs and CSOs to ensure a greater and more effective use of the international human rights system for the promotion and protection of human rights. Read more...

Regional Dialogue on UN Engagement With the ASEAN Human Rights System


Participants of the Regional Dialogue on UN Engagement With the ASEAN Human Rights System.On 6 September 2010, OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia and UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Centre jointly organised a “Regional Dialogue on UN Engagement with the ASEAN Human Rights System” in Bangkok.

This was the first occasion that senior UN staff from across the region had come together to consider the emerging ASEAN human rights system and how the UN could engage with and support it at the national and regional level. New opportunities for engagement have been created by references to human rights in the recently adopted ASEAN Charter and the three blueprints for an ASEAN community, and the establishment of two ASEAN human rights bodies over the past year.

The resource persons for this dialogue were a mixture of representatives and support staff from the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), staff from the ASEAN secretariat in Jakarta, civil servants from national ASEAN Departments, and representatives from national human rights institutions and civil society organisations. Read more...

“As Viet Nam develops, new efforts are needed to ensure no one is left behind,” says UN expert on extreme poverty


“While Viet Nam has made impressive progress in reducing poverty over the past two decades, additional efforts are required to ensure the inclusion of vulnerable groups and the sustainability of progress made” said the UN Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda, at the end of her nine-day visit to the country.

Ms. Sepúlveda stressed that poverty should not be understood purely as an economic issue that can be solved solely by increasing the income of households. “Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon and its eradication requires a holistic approach in which compliance with human rights instruments plays a key role”. According to the Independent Expert, “effective poverty reduction strategies must be always framed by the overall premise that everyone in Viet Nam must enjoy the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights.” Moreover, she noted that under a human rights framework the State must ensure that growth remains inclusive and that no groups or regions are left behind. Read more...

It’s not enough to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, says UN expert


UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya.“The poorest among the poor, indigenous peoples continue to be at the margins of power and, in many cases, disregard of their basic human rights escalates into violence against them,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, in commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

“However, they have preserved, generation after generation, an extraordinary wealth of knowledge, culture, and spirituality in the common benefit of humankind, contributing significantly to the world’s diversity and environmental sustainability,” the UN independent expert noted. Read more...

Khmer Rouge verdict - Statement by the UN Special Rapportuer on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi


“I welcome the verdict delivered today by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, widely known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in the trial of Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), who supervised the systematic torture and execution of thousands of prisoners at the S-21 detention centre in Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Although his prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes has come more than three decades after the crimes were committed, the verdict signifies a commitment by the Government of Cambodia to uphold the rule of law and ensure accountability, according to internationally accepted standards of fair trial. It represents a historic milestone in holding those responsible for human rights violations accountable for their actions. Read more...

Bilingual Education key for Viet Nam’s minorities - UN expert


“Most ethnic minority groups remain the poorest of Viet Nam’s poor,” said the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall, on returning from a ten-day mission to the country to examine the human rights situation of Viet Nam’s numerous minority groups.

The Independent Expert highlighted the issue of education for minority communities and the key role of education in closing the poverty gap experienced by many minorities. Read more...

UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to visit Malaysia


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit Malaysia from 7 to 18 June 2010, at the invitation of the Government.

The Working Group is expected to meet with high level authorities from the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of Government to study the institutional and legal framework regarding deprivation of liberty in the country. Meetings will also be held with representatives of the Bar association, civil society members and representatives of United Nations agencies and international organizations. Read more...

Maternal mortality is a human rights issue, says a new UN study


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay © UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerreDiscrimination against women leads to preventable deaths and injuries during pregnancy and childbirth. Each year, hundreds of thousands of women and girls die and millions more become disabled as a result. A new study by the United Nations Human Rights office (OHCHR) states unequivocally that maternal mortality and morbidity is a matter of human rights.

“The scale of maternal mortality and morbidity across the world reflects a situation of inequality and discrimination suffered by women throughout their lifetimes, perpetuated by formal laws, policies and harmful social norms and practices,” according to the study “Preventable Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Human Rights.” It will be the subject of a Human Rights Council panel discussion on 14 June. Read more...

UN human rights chief urges Thai protestors, security forces to pull back from the brink


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday she was extremely concerned at the escalation of violence in Thailand that have led to a number of deaths and injuries over the past five days. Recalling the appeal by the UN Secretary-General on Friday 14 May, she urged both sides to avoid further violent confrontation and to continue the search for a peaceful resolution to the current standoff.

“As the latest government deadline passes, there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control,” Pillay said. “To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protestors to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the Government. Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation. I urge leaders to set aside pride and politics for the sake of the people of Thailand.” Read more...

Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) Workshop in the Philippines, 6 – 9 April 2010


Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) Workshop in the Philippines, April 2010From 6 to 9 April the OHCHR Regional Office in Bangkok and the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) conducted a training on Human Rights Based Approach to programming for UN staff, government officials and civil society representatives in the Philippines.

The training was part of the support provided by OHCHR Bangkok to the UN Country Teams in South East Asia elaborating their new 4 years plan of country interventions (the UN Development Assistance Framework or UNDAF) to ensure that these plans support Member States to address the main human rights concerns at the national level and implement the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms. Approximately 40 UN staff, representatives of various government agencies and civil society representatives actively participated in the discussions. The process of mainstreaming human rights in the Philippines’ national development planning, currently implemented by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), was also presented and the linkages and the potential synergies with the UN planning process were highlighted. At the end of the workshop, participants discussed possible next steps. Relevant reference material and reports from treaty bodies, special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review were distributed and discussed.

OHCHR Regional Office Bangkok Launches New Human Rights Database


Screenshot of the Human Rights Mechanisms Database.OHCHR Regional Office in Bangkok is pleased to announce the launch of a new database to assist governments, civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, and ASEAN human rights mechanisms in their work with international human rights mechanisms in the South-East Asia region. This database provides easy access to all of the recommendations that have come from the three pillars of the UN human rights system: the UN human rights treaty bodies, the Special Procedures and the Universal Period Review (UPR).

It is hoped that this database will not only help to increase awareness of the human rights recommendations issued to States in the region, but also to encourage all stakeholders, including governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as UN partners, to assist with the implementation of these recommendations. Read more...

Special Session on the theme of International Women’s Day: “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”


Special Session on the theme of International Women’s DayA Special Session was jointly organized by regional agencies of the UN system based in Bangkok on 25 March 2010 to further discuss “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”, the global theme of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2010. The commemorative day which is celebrated every year around the world on 8 March emerged from women activist movements at the turn of the twentieth century.

Within the context of the global theme, the Special Session focused on “Women Speak Up: Voices from the Informal Sector”.

The session brought together experts from the region, including Dr. Saisuree Chutikul, to share experiences and highlight key challenges faced by women in the informal sector. A powerful testimony was presented by a migrant from Myanmar working in Thailand as a domestic worker who described the obstacles she encounters in her everyday life. Read more...

Fellowship programme for persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities


Fellowship programme for persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minoritiesThe Minorities Fellowship Programme (MFP) was launched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2005. Through this Programme, the OHCHR aims to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities - particularly young minority women and men - an opportunity to gain knowledge on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights in general and minority rights in particular. The Fellowship Programme is intended to assist organizations and communities in protecting and promoting the rights of minorities the fellows belong to. Read more...

The deadline for applications for the 2011 English speaking Programme is 3rd May 2010. Application form 2011.

UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery - Call for Applications


UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of SlaveryThe Fund was established by the General Assembly in 1991 (A/RES/46/122) with the purpose to provide, through established channels of assistance, humanitarian, legal and financial aid to individuals who are victims of contemporary forms of slavery. The Fund focuses particularly on individuals who suffer from the most severe forms of human rights violations occurring in the context of slavery, as well as the most identifiable contemporary forms of slavery – chattel slavery, debt bondage, human trafficking, serfdom, child labour and servitude, forced labour, and/or forced marriage. More information about the Fund and the link to the online application system can be found here.

The UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery is currently accepting applications for grants to fund activities in 2011. The deadline for applications is 30 March 2010. Call for 2011 Applications

Human Rights Council considers Human Rights situations in Myanmar


Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, introducing his progress report, said that Myanmar was at a critical moment in its history: for the first time in 20 years, elections had been planned. That should represent an important opportunity for the Government to address a range of human rights issues and to initiate the much-needed reforms towards the building of democratic institutions. He was, however, concerned that that opportunity was not being seized. He had just returned from his third mission to Myanmar last February. Read more...

» UN Webcast of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana

International Women’s Day 2010: “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all”


International Women’s Day 2010International Women's Day is celebrated every year around the world on 8 March. The commemorative day emerged from women activist movements at the turn of the twentieth century. This year’s theme is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all”.

Equality between women and men continues to be a challenge world-wide. Women form the majority of the world’s poorest people. They work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. The number of women living in rural poverty has increased by 50% since 1975. Violence against women prevails on an unimaginable scale throughout the world and in all cultures, and women’s access to justice is often paired with discriminatory obstacles – in law as well as in practice. Multiple forms of discrimination based on gender and other factors such as race, ethnicity, caste, disability, HIV status, sexual orientation or gender identity further subject women to exclusion, poverty and violence. Read more...

UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture - Call for Applications


UNVFVTThe United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is currently accepting applications for grants to fund activities between 1 January and 31 December 2011. The deadline for applications is 1 April 2010.

The Fund was established by the General Assembly in 1981 to support non-governmental organizations providing assistance to victims of torture and members of their family. Grants will be awarded to organizations that provide rehabilitation services to victims of torture. Such assistance may be in the form of medical, psychological, legal or social assistance. More information about the Fund and the link to the online application system can be found here.

» Brochure on the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

UN expert on migrants raises alarm on threat of massive deportations from Thailand


The UN human rights expert on the human rights of migrants, Jorge A. Bustamante, today raised serious concerns about the nationality verification process in Thailand and warned that its implementation in its current form may lead to forced deportation of a great number of migrants, in breach of fundamental human rights obligations.

“A potentially large number of documented and undocumented migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic face the threat of deportation from Thailand after 28th February 2010,” said the expert, who is mandated by the Human Rights Council to monitor the human rights of migrants. Read more...

UN Special Rapporteur hopes to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi during third visit to Myanmar


The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said Thursday that he hopes to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders during his third mission to the country, from 15 to 19 February. Read more...

Regional HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Workshop for National Human Rights Institutions


Regional HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Workshop for National Human Rights Institutions In order to discuss how to ensure the protection of the human rights of persons living with HIV, OHCHR and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), with the support of the Asia-Pacific Forum of NHRIs, organized a Regional HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Workshop for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from 10-12 March 2010 in Bangkok.

Due to their specific mandate and expertise, NHRIs can play a crucial role the protection of the human rights of persons living with HIV through a greater engagement with the national HIV response. The workshop brought together 15 NHRIs from Asia and the Middle East, various UN agencies and representatives from civil society to review the human rights standards and principles that can guide the national HIV response; share experiences and identify opportunities on how HIV can be integrated into NHRIs' programme of work; and strengthen institutional collaboration between NHRIs and other stakeholders in the HIV response. At the end of the workshop, the participants also agreed on a joint statement and drafted HIV action plans. Read more...

Human Trafficking - The Human Rights Framework


Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children. The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, spoke at a special session of the Regional Thematic Working Group on International Migration and Human Trafficking entitled, “Human Trafficking: The Human Rights Framework”, held at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok on 18 January 2010. The event, co-organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia, brought together different UN agencies engaged in the issue of migration and trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region.

The meeting featured a key note speech from the Special Rapporteur along with presentations from OHCHR, the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and Thailand’s representative on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Dr. Sriprapha. The Special Rapporteur highlighted how the trafficking of persons continues to increase, and how increasingly men and boys are the victims of human trafficking. Read more...