‘Regional cooperation can resolve human rights issues’
ISLAMABAD: There are very few chances to resolve issues between countries at international forums, so a trend has emerged to resolve such issues at regional forums because of similar culture, languages and history. Countries of South Asia should also establish a South Asian mechanism to deal with issues, especially those pertaining to human rights.
This was suggested by Director of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) I.A. Rehman while speaking at a news conference on Thursday.
Mr Rehman said the European Union and the African Union were the best examples of regional forums that had been resolving disputes at local levels.
“Countries of South Asia have the same culture, history and even laws, so they need a mechanism to deal with the issues. As many as 50 civil society organisations have been working collaboratively towards the establishment of a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism,” he said.
HRCP director says countries in South Asia should build upon common heritage to find solutions to regional problems
“The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries should resolve a strong mechanism and for that the civil society must contribute for the realisation of this dream,” he said.
“At the moment, among the Saarc countries, Pakistan and Bhutan do not have National Commission for Human Rights,” he said.
The HRCP director further said Saarc countries had failed to establish an affective union, because most of the states were very young.
“States are also scared that if they get together, they might lose their powers. People are afraid of new things and they do not want to experiment. Some elements have flourished based on disputes, thus they do not want to resolve these disputes either,” he alleged.
Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who is also the chairperson of Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights, said he also believed that there should be a strong regional mechanism. However, Mr Khattak did admit that the cooperation in South Asia is mostly hindered because of the tension between India and Pakistan.
“National Commission for Human Rights will be established within a couple of months. The government is very much clear about resolving the issues of human rights,” he said.
Chairperson National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh Dr Mizanur Rehman said South Asia, as a region, was lagging behind, which had become a matter of concern for the civil society.
“We have been doing consultation in all countries and civil societies have been involved. If we come up with a regional mechanism, our region will start developing,” he said.
Nepalese human rights activist Subodh Raj Pyakurel said human rights should not only be the agenda of the government, meaningful participation of the civil society was also required.
“South Asia has a unique characteristic that most of the residents of South Asian countries can understand Urdu or Hindi. People should get together and resolve their issues. We can learn from each other,” he said.
Representative of FORUM-ASIA Gayatri Khandhadai said even social media was being used to build an opinion for the regional mechanism.