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More discussions on women at annual meeting of national human rights institutions

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Members of the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) participated in the NGO Meeting on Engagement with NHRIs from 27-29 July 2008 in Kuala Lumpur. The meeting this year gave more space for discussions on women human rights defenders.

The meeting was co-organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), the International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and was held parallel to the 13th Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) of National Human Rights Institutions.

Hheld yearly parallel to the APF conference, the meeting is held with the objective of consolidating and coordinating international, regional, and national NGOs which are engaged with NHRIs.

This year, new topics were introduced into the programme of the NGO meeting, opening more space for discussion on the role of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Asia Pacific Region.

The seminar allowed NGOs working on WHRDs to discuss about the different risks WHRDs face in the region, such as gender-based violations.

This year’s meeting also concentrated on how NHRIs and NGOs can engage with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

ANNI members and the other participants of the NGO meeting also attended the joint workshop on the Universal Periodic Review on 28 July 2008, organized by the APF, in collaboration with Rights & Democracy and the National Institutions (NI) Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The joint workshop focused on the roles and potential for cooperation between NHRIs and NGOs in the UPR.

Another objective of the NGO Meeting was to discuss strategies for the NGO interventions at the APF conference on 30 July 2008.

The NGOs delivered five statements during the APF conference. The first one was delivered by the ISHR as an international organization, and mainly called for the APF to “systematically integrate the issue of human rights defenders and women human rights defenders in any topic that it may request the Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) to address.”

The ISHR also called for the effective implementation of the recommendations of the ACJ. FORUM-ASIA, on the other hand, highlighted the findings of the 2008 ANNI Report, regarding the worrying trend of a decline of the independence of NHRIs in Asia.

FORUM-ASIA’s statement called for the APF to urgently assist its members who are in danger of being downgraded or have already been downgraded by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC).

The other statements from NGOs addressed thematic and national issues. FORUM-ASIA, as convenor of the ANNI also took the meetings in Kuala Lumpur as an opportunity to launch the ANNI’s second The 2008 Report: an Assessment of the Performance and Development of National Institutions in Asia.

ANNI welcomed recently new members into the network: Libertas from the Philippines, the Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) from Korea, and KontraS and ELSAM from Indonesia.