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Associate Membership Discussion Paper

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Associate Membership Discussion Paper

    thReport of the 13 Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum

    of National Human Rights Institutions

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    28 31 July 2008

Contents

    1 Meeting Report 3 2 Human Rights and Corporate Accountability 3 3 Universal Periodic Review 4 4 Human Rights Defenders 4 5 APF 13 Outcomes 4 6 Annex 1 Meeting Agenda 5 7 Annex 2 Forum Councillors Meeting Outcomes 13 8 Annex 3 Senior Executive Officers Meeting Outcomes 16 9 Annex 4 Concluding Statement 21 10 Annex 5 Letter from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand 27 11 Annex 6 Participants List 32

1 Meeting Report

    The possibility of introducing legal sanctions against corporations that violate human

    rights in their operations was just one of the many issues discussed and debated at ththe 13 Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF13).

    Held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 28 31 July, the meeting bought

    together almost 170 representatives (55 per cent male; 45 per cent female) from

    national human rights institutions (NHRIs), regional governments, non-government

    organisations (NGOs) and the United Nations to discuss a number of key human

    rights concerns facing the region.

    Hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, APF 13 included:

    ? a one-day seminar for representatives of NHRIs and NGOs discussing

    effective approaches to engage with the Universal Periodic Review process

    established by the UN Human Rights Council;

    ? discussions by the Advisory Council of Jurists examining a reference on

    human rights and corporate accountability;

    ? a oneday professional training workshop for Senior Executive Officers of

    APF member institutions;

    ? the Annual General Meeting of the APF’s decision-making body, the Forum

    Council; and

    ? a two day conference which featured country reports from APF member

    institutions; examples of regional co-operation; statements from NGO

    representatives and regional governments; and a panel discussion on the

    meaning and effect of Article 29(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human

    Rights.

2 Human Rights and Corporate Accountability

    Presenting their preliminary recommendations on the final day of the conference, the

    Advisory Council of Jurists said corporate social responsibility went beyond

    philanthropic work and must include the protection of human rights.

    NHRIs had a responsibility to educate corporations on the United Nations human

    rights framework, the Advisory Council said, and they also had an important role to

    advise their national governments on potential mechanisms to address human rights

    violations by corporations.

    Sanctions against corporations who violate human rights should be legally

    enforceable, and particular attention should be paid to the operations of corporations

    on a number of vulnerable groups, such as Indigenous communities, women and children.

    There was also a need to introduce clear protections for employees or others who acted as ‘whistleblowers’.

    3 Universal Periodic Review

    Productive engagement between government, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society is one of the key benefits to emerge from the new UN process to review the human rights situation of individual countries, participants said during a special one-day seminar on the topic.

    These discussions focused on the process for developing UPR reports and the importance of putting in place mechanisms to promote genuine consultation between all stakeholders.

    In the coming year the APF will provide practical support to NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region to engage effectively with the UPR process.

    It will produce a ‘best practice’ handbook, which will draw on the experiences of the NHRIs of India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea, who have already participated in the first and second sessions of the UPR.

4 Human Rights Defenders

    A parallel meeting to APF 13, involving more than 40 NGOs from across the region, discussed the situation facing human rights defenders in the Asia Pacific. At the APF conference NGO representatives suggested a number of practical steps that the APF could take to support human rights defenders, such as incorporating a focus on their concerns into future references of the Advisory Council of Jurists and engaging with the new UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. NGO representatives also highlighted the need to strengthen the capacity of NHRIs so they can provide immediate protection against human rights violations. They also suggested developing a ‘human rights impact assessment tool’ that could be used to monitor policies that adversely affect economic, social and cultural rights.

5 APF 13 Outcomes

    The key outcomes of the APF Forum Council meeting included:

    ? offering Associate Membership of the APF to the Iranian Islamic Human

    Rights Commission (with the Commission subsequently advising the APF that

    it would not accept Associate Membership);

    ? deferring the review of the Associate Membership of the Qatar National

    Human Rights Committee;

    ? accepting the offer of the Jordan National Centre for Human Rights to host the

    14th Annual Meeting in 2009; and

    ? electing the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia to the position of APF

    Chair for the coming year, with the Jordan National Centre for Human Rights

    and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission elected

    to the two positions of Deputy Chairs.

    Issues relating to the rights of Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities were raised

    throughout the APF 13 conference and the APF agreed to incorporate a focus on

    these rights in its work programme for 2008-2009.

    In its Conference Statement the APF noted with concern the continuing human rights

    violations in Myanmar.

    It also requested the Iranian Islamic Human Rights Commission take steps to protect

    human rights defenders in Iran and promote the registration of relevant human rights

    organisations, in accordance with the Iranian Constitution and national law.

    The APF also took note of an open letter by the National Human Rights Commission

    of Thailand to the United Nations Secretary General, in protest of the decision of the

    United Nations World Heritage Committee to accept Cambodia’s proposal that the

    Temple of Pra Viharn be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

6 Annex 1 Meeting Agenda

    THIRTEENTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ASIA PACIFIC FORUM

    OF NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS

    28 31 July 2008

    Hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

    Hotel Imperial

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Day 1 Monday 28 July 2008

    thPlease note that THREE parallel meetings will take place on Monday 28 July. These

    meetings include:

    1. Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) - Closed

    2. Senior Executive Officers (SEO) Closed

    3. Universal Periodic Review Open to APF members and registered observers

8:30 9:00 Registration for ACJ, APF members and registered observers

    Venue: Ballroom Foyer (Level 2)

    9:00 1:00 ACJ Meeting

     Venue: Penang 1 & 2 (level 3)

9:00 1:00 SEO Meeting/Professional Development

     Venue: Boardroom (level 3)

    9:00 1:00 Universal Periodic Review

     Venue: Nusantara 2 (level 2)

    11:00 11:30 Morning tea

    1:00 2:00 Lunch

     Venue: Essence Restaurant (level 1) 2:00 4:00 ACJ Meeting, cont’d

     Venue: Penang 1 & 2 (level 3) 2:00 5:00 SEO Meeting/Professional Development, cont’d

     Venue: Boardroom (level 3) 2:00 5:00 Universal Periodic Review, cont’d

     Venue: Nusantara 2 (level 2)

    3:30 4:00 Afternoon tea

4:00 5:00 Registration for APF members and registered observers

     Registration: Ballroom Foyer (level 2)

8pm 10:20pm Welcoming Dinner and Cultural Performance

     (APF Representatives, ACJ members, Heads of registered NGOs,

    Malaysian NGOs and other Observers)

     Hosted by Chairperson, SUHAKAM

     Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel

    Day 2 Tuesday 29 July 2008 8:30 9:30 Registration for APF members and registered observers

     Registration: Ballroom Foyer (level 2)

    9:30 10:30 Opening Ceremony

     Venue: Nusantara 3 (level 2)

     Opening Speech

    Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman

    Chairperson

    SUHAKAM

    Keynote Speech

    Rt. Hon Deputy Prime Minister

     Government of Malaysia

10:30 11:00 Morning Tea

    Venue: Ballroom Foyer (level 2)

11:00 1:00 APF Forum Councillors Meeting

     Venue: Nusantara 2 (level 2)

     Chair: Mr John von Doussa, President, Australian Human

     Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

    1. Confirmation of Attendance (Chairperson)

    2. Adoption of Agenda (Chairperson)

    3. Election of new APF Chairperson (secretariat)

    Chair: Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, Chairperson, Human Rights

    Commission of Malaysia

    4. Discussion re: Thirteenth Annual Conference (secretariat)

    - Confirmation of agenda and speakers

    - Concluding Statement

    5. International Activities (Chairperson)

    - International Coordinating Committee on National

    Institutions,

    i. Report by Ms Jennifer Lynch QC, ICC Chairperson

    ii. ICC Sub-Accreditation Committee

    - United Nations

    I. Commission on the Status of Women, Report by

    John von Doussa, President, HREOC

    II. UNDP

    III. UNFPA

    - Other Business

    6. Membership Applications (Chairperson)

    - Iran

    - Qatar

    7. Advisory Council of Jurists (Chairperson)

1:00 2:00 Lunch

     Venue: Essence Restaurant (level 1)

    3:00 4:00 Registration desk open for registered observers

     Registration: Ballroom Foyer (level 2)

    2:00 6:00 APF Forum Councillors Meeting Cont.

     Venue: Nusantara 2 (level 2)

    8. Report back from Members on APF activities (Chairperson)

9. Report back from SEO meeting (SEO Chairperson)

10. Location of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting (Chairperson)

     3:00 3:30 Afternoon tea

     Venue: Ballroom foyer (level 2)

    11. Election of APF Deputy Chairpersons (Chairperson)

12. APF Annual Plan for 2009 (secretariat)

13. Discussion and adoption of APF Directors and Financial Report

    (secretariat)

14. General Business

APF Annual General Meeting

15. APF Directors and Financial Report (secretariat)

16. APF Auditors Report (secretariat)

    8:00 11:00pm Formal Dinner Hosted by Hon Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, Minister in the Prime Minister‟s

    Department, Government of Malaysia

    Venue: Istana Hotel

    APF CONFERENCE

    Day 3 Wednesday 30 July 2008

Conference Sessions APF Members and Registered

    Observers

    All day venue: Nusantara 2 & 3 (level 2)

    8:30 9:00 Registration desk open for registered observers

     Registration: Ballroom Foyer (level 2) 9:00 9:20 Opening

     9:00 9:10 Address by RepresentativeUnited Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

     Delivered by Mr Gianni Magazzeni, Senior Human Rights Officer,

    Coordinator National Institutions Unit

    9:10 9:20 Summary of APF Councillors meeting by Chair, Chairperson,

    SUHAKAM

    9:20 11:00 Reports from APF Members

     Chair: Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, Chairperson, SUHAKAM

    ? Note 1: APF members to electronically submit written report to APF Secretariat (by 11 July 2008) for distribution and publication on website. ? Note 2: Speakers will be asked to highlight developments/challenges or achievements from the preceding 12 months and will be stopped after 5 minutes. Please note that a separate session on Thursday will cover implementation of previous ACJ references.

    Full Members Afghanistan Australia India Indonesia Jordan Malaysia Mongolia Nepal New Zealand Philippines Republic of Korea Sri Lanka Thailand Timor-Leste Associate Members Maldives Palestine Qatar

     Other Institutions Hong Kong Iran

11:00 11:30 Morning Tea

    11:30 12:30 Open discussions on the reports from APF members

    12:30 1:30 Lunch

     Venue: Essence Restaurant (level 1)

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