Blended Learning Course on Business and Human Rights at MNHRC by DIHR and MCRB

A Blended Learning Course on Business and Human Rights has been conducted recently at MNHRC by the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business. The Blended Learning Course started with a four week e-learning course starting on 25th August and ending on 18th September.

The face to face training workshop took place on 7 to 9 October at MNHRC Function Hall in Yangon, Myanmar. The face-to-face training workshop was led by instructors from DIHR; Elin Wrzoncki, Programme Manager, Human Rights & Business and Nora Götzmann, Senior Adviser, Human Rights & Development. Twenty-three participants from MNHRC and seven participants from MCRB attended the face-to-face workshop. The e-learning provided an introduction to business and human rights, including an overview of the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights and experiences of National Human Rights Institutions working on business and human rights in other countries.

The face to face training built on the content of the e-learning, and included a focus on specific business and Human Rights topics such as labour issues, the impact of extractive industries on Human Rights and land-related issues.

The training benefited to the MNHRC in the accomplishment of its mandate of promotion and protection of Human Rights to address situations where human rights are affected by the business sector. This is particularly timely as Myanmar is facing many issues during the transitional period of economic development.

MNHRC assumes Chairmanship of SEANF

MNHRC assumes Chairmanship of SEANF

5 October 2015

            The South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) is an independent sub-regional human rights forum comprising the six existing national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in South East Asia, namely the NHRIs of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor Leste.

            Chairperson U Win Mra and Member U Nyunt Swe of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) attended the 12th Annual Meeting of the South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) which was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia on 29-30 September 2015.

            The Annual Meeting was held with two components: SEANF Seminar on the Role of NHRIs in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and 12th Annual Meeting of SEANF. The SEANF Seminar was attended by 108 participants from various stakeholders including SEANF Members, Government agencies, United Nations agencies, NGOs, academic institutions and the media.

            At the 12th Annual Meeting, the agenda items such as SEANF – The Way Forward; Establishing of SEANF Permanent Secretariat; Human Rights and Climate Change; Business and Human Rights; National Human Rights Action Plan; Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals; Abolition of the Death Penalty; and Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Victims of Trafficking were discussed.

            On the principle of rotation, the SEANF Chairmanship was handed over from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) at the conclusion of the 12th Annual Meeting of SEANF.

            The SEANF Members also issued a SEANF Communiqué ahead of the 27th ASEAN Summit containing recommendations on various human rights issues.

(ANNEX)

 

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COMMUNIQUÉ

issued by

The South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF)

ahead of the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015

  1. The South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) is an independent sub-regional human rights forum comprising the six existing national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in South East Asia, namely the NHRIs of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Timor Leste. Established formally in 2007, SEANF envisages to promote greater respect for and fulfilment of human rights in South East Asian nations.
  1. SEANF congratulates ASEAN for the significant progress it has accomplished especially in the recent past. SEANF also commends ASEAN for the countless efforts it has undertaken towards fulfilling its raisons d’etre for the betterment of the lives of its peoples. The establishment of the much anticipated ASEAN Community by year’s end will mark a new beginning in ASEAN’s journey towards fostering a region of lasting peace, security and stability, sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and social progress, as envisioned in the ASEAN Charter.
  1. In ASEAN’s endeavour to achieve the ends of the soon-to-be adopted ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision, and to realise a truly people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN Community, we, Members of SEANF respectfully submit the following recommendations to ASEAN Heads of States/Governments ahead of the 27th ASEAN Summit scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015:

International Human Rights Mechanisms

i. That ASEAN Member States become parties to the core international human rights instruments and take concrete measures to harmonise their domestic laws with international human rights standards;

ii.That ASEAN Member States engage actively with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures;

ASEAN Human Rights Instruments and Mechanisms

iii.That ASEAN Member States uphold and adhere to the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and other ASEAN instruments relating to the promotion and protection of human rights including the ASEAN Declaration against Trafficking in Persons Particularly Women and Children, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in the ASEAN Region and the ASEAN Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers;

iv. That the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) be further strengthened by, inter alia, broadening their mandates to allow it to receive and look into complaints of alleged human rights violations and to offer their recommendations;

v. That AICHR and ACWC establish a platform for formal engagement and consultation with relevant stakeholders including NHRIs and civil society organisations;

vi. That ASEAN seriously consider establishing, in the foreseeable future, an ASEAN Human Rights Court;

National Human Rights Institutions and Mechanisms

vii.       That ASEAN Member States establish national human rights institutions (NHRIs), where they do not exist, and strengthen the existing ones, in accordance with the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (the Paris Principles);

viii.      That ASEAN recognise the essential role of NHRIs in promoting and protecting human rights at the national, regional and international levels. While currently, only five of the ten ASEAN Member States have NHRIs, it is nonetheless important for ASEAN and its bodies to engage and consult with the existing NHRIs and with SEANF on a regular basis on matters pertaining to human rights;

ix. That ASEAN Member States develop national human rights action plans and effectively implement them;

Civil and Political Rights

x. That ASEAN Member States take measures to guarantee the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to information, including freedom of the media, the right to security and freedom from arbitrary detention, as well as freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to peaceful assembly and all related rights;

xii. That ASEAN Member States work closely together and redouble their efforts in combating trafficking in persons;

xii.       That ASEAN Member States take progressive steps towards abolishing the death penalty, and pending its abolition, enforce a moratorium on executions;

Business and Human Rights

xiii.      That ASEAN Member States dedicate greater efforts to raising awareness on the responsibility of non-state actors, in particular business entities, be they multinational corporations or small and medium enterprises, to observe human rights principles and standards in the course of their business operations;

xiv.      That ASEAN Member States take steps to put in place policies and regulations that require business entities to undertake human rights due diligence and conduct human rights impact assessments.

xv. That ASEAN Member States develop a national action plan on the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;

xvi.      That ASEAN Member States give due consideration to the serious haze situation in the region that has been recurring for many years. SEANF is disappointed with the lack of action taken by the relevant ASEAN Governments against the perpetrators, including corporations, which have contributed to this highly unfavourable environmental condition that has led to various human rights violations, especially on the right to health. In this regard, SEANF wishes to refer to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which emphasises the obligation of the State to protect human rights and the responsibility of business entities to respect human rights. It is therefore incumbent upon the Governments to ensure that the appropriate laws and policies are in place and are enforced strictly to address this longstanding issue, as well as to combat corruption and eliminate the culture of impunity. Corporate entities must also take into account human rights principles and standards in the course of their operations.

Marginalised and Vulnerable Groups

xvii.     That ASEAN Member States take concrete measures to safeguard the rights of marginalised and vulnerable groups including women, children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, older persons; migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons;

xviii.    That ASEAN Member States adopt an ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons and lend strong support to the international initiative led by the Latin American and Caribbean States for a United Nations Convention on Older Persons;

xix.       That ASEAN Member States expedite the finalisation and adoption of the ASEAN Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, pursuant to Article 22 of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers of 2007. The Instrument should be a legally binding document that seeks to promote and protect the human rights of documented and undocumented migrant workers as well as their family members within ASEAN countries;

Economic and Social Rights

xx. That ASEAN Member States make primary education compulsory, equally accessible and free to all;

xxi.       That ASEAN Member States inculcate a culture of human rights by, inter alia, including human rights subjects and courses in schools and institutions of higher learning;

xxii.      That ASEAN Member States undertake the necessary measures, to the maximum extent of their available resources, to ensure that the following rights, as well as other economic, social and cultural rights of the ASEAN peoples are realised and protected.

a. Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;

b. Right to adequate, affordable and decent housing;

c. Right to safe drinking water and sanitation;

Right to Development and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

xxiii.     That ASEAN Member States, in promoting sustainable development, adopt a human rights based approach to development, as well as uphold and abide by the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC);

xxiv.     That ASEAN Member States make every effort, in close cooperation and consultation with various stakeholders, including NHRIs and civil society organisations, to achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets underscored under the recently adopted Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals within the given timeframe;

xxv.      That the proposed ‘ASEAN Development Goals’, as underscored in the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision of November 2014, do not duplicate but complement the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, in addressing the economic and social rights of the ASEAN peoples;

Human Rights and Climate Change

xxvi.     That ASEAN Member States continue to give due attention to the potentially adverse impacts of climate change on the human rights of its peoples, and intensify national and regional efforts to identify and adopt mitigation and adaptation measures that are not in contravention with human rights standards; and

xxvii.    That ASEAN Member States support the adoption of a universal and legally binding international agreement on climate change that will seek to keep global warming below 2 degrees centigrade, at the upcoming 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) scheduled to take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

4. We sincerely hope that ASEAN Heads of States/Governments will consider positively the SEANF’s recommendations, with a view to advancing the promotion and protection of human rights in South East Asia.

 

 

 

Twentieth Annual Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions

The Twentieth Annual Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions was held in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of the Mongolia from the 26 to 28 August 2015. The Conference was attended by all 22 members and associate members of Asia Pacific Forum as well as observers from countries such as Oman, Hong Kong and Pakistan. The Myanmar Delegation to the Conference was headed by the Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission accompanied by a Commissioner as a member.

The meeting was held at the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel. The opening session was chaired by the Chairman of the Qatar Human Rights Commission after which Ms. Karen Van sacker, Vice President, Global Philanthropy acted as the facilitator for the fund development updates and workshop. A group photograph was then taken of all the delegates in front of Parliament Building. The group photo session was followed by lunch.

In the afternoon session, Dr. Muhyieddeen Touq acted as the facilitator and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders presented his report on the situation of Human Rights defenders. A question and answer session followed the presentation and the first day session came to a close at 16:00 hrs. A cultural program and welcome dinner hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia was held at Chinggis Khaanii Khuree on the outskirts of the city. Traditional wrestling competitions, horse racing and archery skills were demonstrated followed by a dinner in a Hall of traditional Mongolian design. Local vocalists entertained the audience with traditional and modern songs. The highlights of the dinner session was a fashion show by models displaying traditional costumes of the various periods of Mongolian history.

On Day 2 of the meeting, the present Chairperson of APF, the representative from Qatar made a short introductory address which was followed by adoption of the agenda and election of APF’s Chairperson. Mongolia was chosen as the Chair of the APF Forum until 2017, in place of Qatar the present Chair.

The Chair of Mongolia assumed the APF’s Chairperson Role and the APF Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 and international activities of UN Agencies were presented. The ICC Chairperson’s report was presented to the meeting and it was followed by an election on APF’s representation in ICC Sub-committee on Accreditation. Three countries namely India, Jordan and Palestine put up the nominations and a vote was taken among the full members to choose a single representative from APF. Jordan was elected as the representative of APF to the Sub-committee on Accreditation in ICC. Election for the APF representation in Business and Human Rights Committee came up as the next agenda. After some consultations between the full-fledged members of APF it was agreed that Ms. Oyunchimeg Purev of the Mongolian Human Rights Commission will be the representative of APF in the Committee.

The APF Director and financial report, approval of audited account, APF Annual Operation Plan (2015-2016) was then presented. In the general business session, Dr. Sima Samar made a presentation on the establishment of a regional mechanism for human rights in South Asia followed by Professor Gillian Triggs speaking on Death Penalty and Dr. Jacqueline Miller on New Zealand National Plan of Action. A paper on ASEM Conference to be held in Korea was presented before the meeting adjourned for lunch.

The APF Forum Councillors and annual general meeting continued up to lunch break. After lunch the working group made a report on the recommendations of the Forum Council Working Group. This session was facilitated by Dr. Muhyieddeen Touq. The whole of the afternoon session was devoted to the Forum Council Working Group’s report.

Forum Councillors’ meeting made a report on the financial aspect of APF. The APF’s Rules of Procedures and the Strategic Plan of APF for 2015-2020 was then presented by Mr. Kieren Fitzpatrick, after which the meeting adjourned.

There was also a motion to choose the host country for the 21st Annual General Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. Three countries put up the nominations namely Afghanistan, Nepal and Philippines. They each have to made a brief introductory remark and on why they wish to host the meeting and after a vote count among the parties it was decided that Afghanistan will be the host for the 21st Annual General Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, in 2017.

Twentieth Annual Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions was held on Friday the 28th of August 2015.

H.E. Mr. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj , the President of the Republic of Mongolia graced the occasion by his presence and delivered the Opening Remarks. H.E. the President of Mongolia then greeted all the participants attending the annual meeting.

The role of National Human Rights Institutions in Preventing Torture and other forms of ill-treatment was the theme of Session 1. This Session was facilitated by Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairperson of SUHAKAM.

Ms. Oyunchimeg Purev, Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, Ms. Shazeera Zawawi, Asia Pacific Programme Officer, Association for the Prevention of Torture, Dr. Simar Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and Mr. Sevan Doraisamy, Executive Director, SUARAM made presentations which were followed by a question and answer Session.

The Session on Monitoring under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which followed was facilitated by Mr Marco Mona, Former President, Association for the Prevention of Torture.

Dr Ahmad Harb, Commissioner General, Palestine Independent Commission for Human Rights, Dr Jacqueline Blue, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of New Zealand, Dr Mousa Burayzat, Commissioner General, Jordan National Centre for Human Rights, Ms Shahindha Ismail, Executive Director, Maldivian Democracy Network made presentations which were followed by a question and answer Session.

During lunch break, the Chairman of the Mongolian Human Rights Commission and the Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Commissions to coordinate and cooperate in matters of human rights and exchange of information.

After lunch, the Session on Engaging Law Enforcement and Security Forces was held. This Session was facilitated by Professor Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.

Mr Kazi Reazul Hoque, Member, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, Mr Nur Kholis, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia, Justice Shri Cyriac Joseph, Acting Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Ms Poengky Indarti, Executive Director, Imparsial made presentations which were followed by a question and answer Session.

The last Session of the day was the Session on APF-Torture Prevention Ambassador (TPAs). This Session was facilitated by Professor Gillian Triggs, President, Australian Human Rights Commission.

Mr Agar-Erdene Gankhuyag, Torture Prevention Ambassador, National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, Ms Young-Hye Kim, Torture Prevention Ambassador, National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Mr Sidonio Soares, Torture Prevention Ambassador, Timor Leste Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice made presentations which were followed by a question and answer Session.

Mr Otgonbayar Yondon, Chairman of Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Member of Mongolian Parliament first delivered an address at the Closing ceremony of the Twentieth Annual Meeting and Biennial Conference of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions.

Mr Byambadorj Jamsran, Chief Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia then delivered the Closing speech after which the Conference came to a successful conclusion.

The Myanmar Delegation left Mongolia for Myanmar on the morning of 29th August 2015.