August 26-27 2014
In the face of a shrinking space for dissent and freedom of expression and the climate of perpetuating a security apparatus driven culture of impunity, this exciting journey from Kathmandu to Dhaka, Kabul, Lahore and finally, Delhi, has been a journey to ensure peace with justice for all. Responding to the invitation from the Task Force for the Regional Initiative for a South Asia Human Rights Mechanism,over 100 participants from over 20 states in India arrived to participate in a two-day Consultation (August 26 and 27, 2014), joined by friends and colleagues from Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Reaffirming the fundamental principles of human rights and dignity for all, we the participants, re-dedicate ourselves to building a bond of citizenship based on the incorporation of human rights as a core principle and the recognition of international human rights standards and instruments and treaties as the benchmark for the protection and preservation of human rights for all;
Salutingthat the countries of South Asia have been linked by age-old cultural, social and historical traditions as also have strong similarities and distinct and diverse cultures, in terms of the evolution of their political economies with colonial and post-colonial histories;
Assertingthat the countries of the region have adopted numerous international instruments on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR], theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR].
Recognising that the core principles of integrity in composition, independent functioning, participation of individuals and people’s movements and a strong enforcement mechanism that is enabled with fair reporting by state constituents, we resolve to work towards such an entity which is a comprehensive inter-state human rights mechanismas our end goal; in this connection call on all governments, particularly the government of India to work collectively towards the establishment of a robust South Asia human rights mechanism.
Resolvingthat given the acutely confrontational posturing by states in the South Asian region and the inconsistency with which the institution of SAARC has been allowed to function by member states, we the people of South Asia dedicate ourselves, in the immediate and interim to the establishment of a credible, People’s/Citizens South Asia Human Rights Council;
Mindfulthat the credibility and efficacy of such a mechanism including its Vision Charter must be evolved within a specified time frame after more intensive regional consultations with all the multiple constituents, professional bodies, individualsand human rights groups and people’s movements in the region:-
We the people of South Asia, representing various human rights movements affirm our commitment towards this process of the establishment of such a Council that will in composition, representation and vision reflect the diversity of this vast region;
That this Council will through its Charter and Functions actively work towards the promotion and protection of human rights for all in the region including the threats posed by aggressive militarization and nuclearisation in the name of security; the human rights of nomadic and migrant populations, bonded labour, informal and rural workers, persons of disability; women and children who are victims of trafficking, migrant and indigenous labour, sexual minorities, fish workers, South Asian asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons; the protection of the rights of all including populations who suffer fromgender, religion and caste-based discrimination; cross border issues including the conduct of security forces and paramilitary and basic economic and social and cultural rights including inalienable rights of all peoples towards natural resources;reform in the criminal justice system geared towards peace and justice; and violations in the name of national security and counter terrorism;
That no issue that concerns human rights will be beyondthe purview of the Council;
That part of the exercise of its establishment will be to preserve existing and create new records, evidence and documentation of all the work towards this end that has been developed in past decades across the countries of this region;
That the Calendar of Activities of this Council will give equal emphasis to matters of human rights violations and protection through the establishment of Tribunals and their recommendatory judgements/conclusions as also Educational and Cultural Programmes related to the preservation of the Environment and our shared Cultures;
That part and specific to this mandate will be the creation of an Alternate Methods and Means of Communication to link the concerns of Human Rights Preservation and Protection between and through the Peoples of South Asia.
Resolved that such a People’s/Citizens South Asia Council will continually and through all its programmes involve itself with elected representatives, local, regional and national governments keeping in mind the ultimate goal.