On June 24, the Third Regional Consultations of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) of Central Asia (CA) were held at the Palace of Forums.
This regional platform is supported by the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub (IRH) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) Regional Office for Central Asia (OHCHR) as part of Central Asia Support Initiative for NHRIs (CASI-NHRI) through Strategic Tripartite Partnership of UNDP, OHCHR and the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI).
Annual regional consultations had conducted since 2016 provide the NHRIs of Central Asia with a platform for sharing experience and best practices. Such knowledge-sharing contributes to strengthening cooperation between the NHRIs of Central Asia and formulating effective solutions to human rights issues problems, both nationally and regionally.
Following the outcomes of regional consultations, on June 24, the NHRIs adopted an Action Plan (“Road Map”) to strengthen cooperation. The Roadmap is expected to further dialogue of the NHRIs in planning its strategies and implementing its mandates in accordance with the fundamental Paris and Belgrade principles, the provisions of the 2015 Merida Declaration, which emphasized the important role of the NHRIs in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, as well as other international legal standards and norms in the field of human rights.
In his welcoming speech, the Regional Representative for OHCHR Regional Office for Central Asia, Mr. Ryszard Komenda, highlighted that “building sustainable partnerships with civil society organizations, academic community, human rights defenders and UN human rights mechanisms should be an integral part of the NHRIs’ work. The Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) for Central Asia, for its part, is ready to assist the initiatives planned, including to strengthen the dialogue with civil society, to interact with UN mechanisms in the field of human rights and to strengthen the principle of independence of the Ombudsman’s offices”.
On the second day of the event, on June 25, a seminar was held on the theme “Human Rights for Sustainable Development” where representatives of the NHRIs of Central Asia discussed their role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly references human rights throughout its textand the SDGs “seek to realize the human rights of all”. Given their unique mandate and role, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can play a key role in the implementation and follow-up of the Agenda.
“NHRIs’ approach towards supporting the implementation of SDGs can be labeled as ‘constructive accountability’; in other words, NHRIs should cooperate with states to ensure the most inclusive, participatory process for the development of action plans for implementing the SDGs and to ensure that “no one is left behind”, while at the same time holding states accountable for implementing their commitments. NHRIs should ensure that implementation of the SDGs becomes part of the national debate, and that states develop national indicators that encompass all of the goals.” said Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan.
As independent State institutions mandated to ensure national compliance with international human rights commitments, NHRIs perform a wide range of functions that address the Agenda: monitoring and reporting, advising the government on human rights issues, cooperating with national, regional and international bodies, complaints handling, promoting human rights education etc.
One of the global indicators for Goal 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions is the presence of Ombudsmen offices in the countries, compliant with the Paris Principles. Likewise, the selection of the existence of an independent NHRI as a global indicator of sustainable development reaffirms that NHRIs constitute an essential element of the institutional framework for sustainable development.
During the seminar, participants learned more about the inter-linkages between the SDGs, human rights system and recommendations of the UN human rights mechanisms; were introduced to the basic principles of a human rights-based approach to data, including the preparation of SDGs reports and preparing information on the implementation of human rights obligations for the UN mechanisms; were familiarized with the use of human rights indicators in the preparation of national reports and data collection, in particular, in the framework of voluntary national surveys on SDGs; and discussed possibilities for enhancing the role of the Central Asian NHRIs in the SDG implementation processes.
At the end, participants, in the format of country teams, discussed ideas on the follow-up actions of NHRIs at the national level with a view to achieving the SDGs from a human rights perspective.