Islamabad, February 21, 2018 (PPI-OT): The speakers urged for collaborative efforts to end human rights violations at the concluding day of the first ever three-day International Conference on Human Rights (HR) titled, “Owing human Rights for a Better World” organized by the Federal Ministry of Human Rights. Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz was the chief guest on the occasion. The three-day conference titled “Owning Human Rights for a Better World” is part of government’s efforts to join international community in celebration of 70th Universal Declaration of Human Rights by reaffirming its national commitment to protect inalienable human rights.
The conference which started with one minute silence for Human Rights activist Asma Jahangir, was attended by national and foreign delegates including international human rights experts, UN representatives, parliamentarians, government officials, Commissions on Human Rights, diplomats, members of civil society organizations, NGOs, INGOs, academia and the media. Delegates from around the world discussed and highlighted key areas which needed to be focused for welfare and protection of human rights.
The conference revolve around three themes, “Protecting Women and Children under national and international frameworks”, “Protecting Women and Children under national and international frameworks” and “Development and Human Rights” covering all the vulnerable groups. The objective of selecting these themes was that majority of countries have signed international conventions and treaties of Human Rights but still there is a need to establish a framework for implementation to achieve targets especially at grassroots level.
Speaking on this occasion, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz said that with the active role of the parliament and strong support of civil society, there has been valuable addition of new legislations especially on the rights of women, minorities and children in past ten years. He said that it was important for all the stakeholders particularly government, civil society and international partners to enhance cooperation and urged international development partners to collaborate with MOHR to support its programs and initiatives.
He asked Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) to establish legal aid cell in collaboration with bar councils to facilitate victims of human rights violations and said that said that the ideas and recommendations emerging from the conference will assist the government in further strengthening the implementation of action plan for human rights adopted by the government in February 2016.
The Deputy Chairman said that the government is committed to achieve the global sustainable development goals. “The seven pillars of vision 2025 are fully aligned with these goals. He further said there is a need for MOHR to develop cooperation with other federal and provincial stake holders in order to judiciously utilize resources,” he said. In her concluding remarks, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Human Rights Rabiya Javeri Agha thanked all participants for their valuable inputs. She said that the cause of human rights unites all sections of the society. “The Government of Pakistan is cognisant of its duties in the realm of human rights.
Legislation and policy initiatives, presenting and defending international treaty reports, the set-up of human rights institutions from federal to grassroots level, national action plans and financial inclusion strategies, electoral reforms, gender budgeting and the provision of social nets are some of the manifestations of this commitment.” Earlier, at inaugural session, said Federal Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar said that Protection of fundamental human rights is vital for sustainable development, peace and prosperity. The Federal Minister said the conference is an excellent opportunity for sharing experiences, highlighting success stories and to strengthen partnership for human rights.
He said that constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan obligates the state to guarantee Fundamental Human Rights to all its citizens without any discrimination and Pakistan has ratified all significant International Human Rights Conventions. “Although the implementation of Human Rights Agenda is the prime responsibility of the Government, however, it requires the support and cooperation of civil society, the NGOs, the Corporate Sector and international partners in addressing the issues and fulfilling our obligations to our people,” he said.
In the concluding day sessions on “Right to Development” and “Role of Development Planning in Pakistan to Promote Right to Development: Past, Present and Future,” the speakers discussed at length the correlation of human rights with the development. Former Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain said that the best development model to ensure prosperity is the model that is the combination of state-centred, private-oriented and civil society-driven models. He suggested third party evaluation of government projects by the civil society and utilization of the skills of retired bureaucrats for planning and implementations of development plans with human rights perspective.
He also stressed for homogenization of provincial and federal budgets. Member Social Section Ministry of Planning, Development and Social Reforms Asma Haider suggested engaging and strengthening local government terming it the only way to move towards participatory development. She said that she is very hopeful because of the recent steps taken by the government. “I can see that Pakistan’s economic development policy is people-centric, there is ownership of SDG’s, strengthening of BISP by consecutive governments, legislation against hate speech, health cards schemes-all are strong signs of improvement.
“She stressed for balanced planned approach towards development and strong and said that strong and fair law and judicial system is vital for people-centric development. Sania Nishtar, representative World Health Organization stressed on balance between population and resources, strong institutions and improve Public-private partnership for better service delivery. Dr. Abid Sulehri, Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute, (SDPI) asked for trusting in the wisdom of community rather than in forcing your own thesis on them as they are living in the situation and knew problems in depth.
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