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NHRC to Host 7th International Conference for National Human Rights Institutions
Date : 2004.05.19 00:00:00 Hits : 939

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will host the 7th International Conference of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (7th ICNI) in Seoul, Korea from 14-17 September 2004. In consultation with the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions (ICC), the NHRC has finalized the overarching theme for the 7th international conference: Upholding Human Rights during Conflict and while Countering Terrorism.

The theme of the conference was chosen in consideration of the urgency of the times; not only are armed conflicts among nations and civil strife throughout the globe—including in Iraq, Chechnya, Sudan, and Colombia—on the rise, but also the wave of new counter-terrorism legislation, policy and related activities in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attack have posed a serious threat to basic freedoms and liberties.

Heads of national human rights institutions from countries throughout the world as well as NGO activists will congregate in Seoul for this 7th international conference. Some 180 delegates representing 69 countries will participate in the international conference to discuss major human rights issues arising out of armed conflicts and counter-terrorism, to engage in dialogue over concrete ways to combat human rights violations, and to draw consensus toward adopting aSeoul Declaration that delineates the role of national human rights institutions (NIs) in upholding human rights in these difficult conditions.

To foster more focused and effective discourse, discussions on the major human rights issues have been divided into 5 working groups (hereafter,WG) for the 7th ICNI as follows: (WG1) Conflict and Countering Terrorism—Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; (WG2) Conflict and Countering Terrorism—Civil and Political Rights and the Rule of Law; (WG3) The Role of National Institutions in Conflict Situations; (WG4) Migration in the Context of Conflict and Terrorism; and (WG5) Women’s Rights in the Context of Conflict.

In the first working group, NIs will discuss the impacts of conflict and counter-terrorism measures on economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights and NI’s strategies to address ESC human rights violations.

The second working group aims to examine the infringement of both civil and political (CP) rights and the rule of law owing to conflict situations and counter-terrorism measures. The working group discussion will pay close attention to violation of inalienable rights that cannot be justifiably restricted nor abrogated under any condition, including, the right to be free from torture and the right to be free from discrimination.

Sharing the belief that we can respect human rights while wiping out terrorism and resolving conflict situations and that we must strike a balance between the two goals (upholding rights, countering terrorism), the third working group will build discussion on best practices for NIs coping with human rights abuses arising from conflicts and the war on terror. Further, this working group will also discuss strategies for increasing NI cooperation with NGOs and other organizations.

The working group onMigration in the Context of Conflict and Terrorism will highlight the violation of migrants’ and refugees’ human rights as well as discuss policies to strengthen protection of vulnerable groups displaced by conflict and counter-terrorism campaigns.

Recognizing that women are the most victimized group in conflict situations, the working group onWomen’s Rights in the Context of Conflict aims to address the grave human rights abuses carried out against women and discuss ways to facilitate the greater participation of women in preventing conflicts and in peace processes.

This international conference represents the 7th since the biennial ICNI conference was first held in 1991. The venue for the 7th ICNI will be the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, and proceedings will span from 14-17 September 2004. NHRC President Chang-Kuk Kim, who will serve as chair for the overall proceedings, will begin the opening ceremony with a few opening remarks on the 14th. The five working group discussions will take place on the following day, and on the third day, the plenary will assemble to hear working group reports on those discussions. On day 4, the last day, there will be discussion and adoption of the Seoul Declaration on the role of NIs inUpholding Human Rights during Conflict and while Countering Terrorism.

The NHRC has began preparations for hosting the ICNI in December 2003, when it constituted the working-level teams for conference planning within the NHRC, and began organizing an advisory council composed of leading figures from within Korea and abroad.

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