APF declares climate impact as urgent HRs issue
The Twenty-Eighth Annual General Meeting of The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions was concluded last Thursday in New Delhi India. The APF has issued a 15-point declaration.
The forum in addressing the issue of climate change and Human Rights has expressed its concern over millions of people who are at risk from rising sea levels, climate change-induced extreme weather events, saltwater intrusions, drought, loss of biodiversity, pollution, land degradation and desertification, disease and other changes caused by a warming planet. The declaration states that one of the most urgent human rights issues facing communities across the Asia Pacific region is the adverse impact of climate change and environmental harm on lives and livelihoods.
Earlier, at the NHRIs-Civil Society dialogue on the first day of the conference, Dr. Kundan Aryal, Chairperson of INSEC stated that Nepal has been demonstrating the example of partnership between CSOs and NHRI in the activities level. However, the collaboration would have been more effective if it could be at the policy level as well.
He further opined that there are voices about the functioning of NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region and the grievances vary from one country to another. In Myanmar CSOs are demanding that the APF suspend the NHRI, I saw on the media yesterday that there are grievances of Indian CSOs over the functioning of the Indian NHRI. But in Nepal, the case is different, though we have some grievances, we can resolve it on our own and that is our internal matter. We need a strong and vibrant NHRC. To bring this institution into existence in our context we the CSOs were on the street, it is the outcome of our struggle.
He further expressed his hope that NHRIs would play a vital role in the national protection and promotion of human rights in the days to come together with the CSOs. Dr. Aryal stated, ” We have been frequently organizing joint activities, on the issues of human rights, including the issues and concerns of HRDs with the NHRI. The process of formulation of the draft bill on the issues of security and recognition of HRDs was prepared first by our organization in the country in collaboration with NHRC.” He, however, said, “From 2012, up to now, a decade has passed and the draft has not been presented before the Federal and provincial parliaments. One area of collaboration would be the robust initiatives to pass the HRD bill. It would be an example of good practice of collaboration between NHRI and CSOs. “
On the second day, INSEC Chair Dr Aryal, as a panellist, spoke on the topic of the role of NHRIs in responding to and mitigating the human rights impacts of climate change – national, regional, and international actions. He started his speech with an example of Nepal’s symbolic attempt to convey the message of the adverse impact of climate change by organizing a cabinet meeting in 2009. Stating that global warming is being manifested in changing patterns of rain, and the melting of glaciers, having a serious impact on Nepali’s economy, thus an impact is visible on people’s livelihood and socio-economic rights.
He stated that as the socio-political context of society has changed, the agenda of human rights needs to be expanded. Hence, he said, today, monitoring and reporting the issues concerning climate justice and raising the voices for the remedy have been the responsibilities of HRDs.
Stating that the Fifth National Human Rights Action Plan (2020-2025) has identified and outlined twelve areas as basic requirements for the protection and promotion of human rights including environment and sustainable development, he said that for its effective implementation in collaboration with various stakeholders, NHRI can initiate the process. To mitigate the HR impacts of climate change and environmental harm, NHRIs can equip the HRDs in collaboration with the CSOs to defeat the challenges posed by the corporate interest, and attempts of harming ecology.
He highlighted the examples of joint activities, on the issues of human rights, including the issues and concerns of HRDs in collaboration between CSOs and the National Human Rights Commission. He said, that the process of formulation of the draft bill on the issues of security and recognition of HRDs was prepared in collaboration with NHRC. However, he further stated that from 2012, up to now, a decade has passed and the draft has yet to be presented before the Federal and provincial Parliaments. Thus, he stressed, “One potential area of partnership would be the robust initiatives to pass the HRD bill. It could be an example of good practice of collaboration between NHRI and CSOs. “
NHRC Chair Tapa Bahadur Magar along with the members Lily Thapa, Mihir Kumar Thakur and secretary Murari Kharel participated in the conference from Nepal’s NHRI.
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