NEW DELHI: President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the commencement of a two-day gathering for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) across the Asia Pacific region. The event, organized in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forum and hosted by India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), took place at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
During her address, President Murmu emphasized the historical commitment of India and other Asia Pacific nations to safeguarding human rights, underlining their potential to foster international consensus on related issues. She particularly drew attention to the critical impact of climate change on human rights, urging the audience to prioritize nature conservation before it becomes irreversible.
President Murmu proudly noted India's enduring commitment to democratic values and individual rights, highlighting its early adoption of universal adult franchise rights and the establishment of a minimum 33% reservation for women in local government bodies. She hinted at an upcoming proposal to extend this reservation to legislative assemblies and parliament.
In the keynote speech, Justice Arun Mishra, Chairperson of NHRC India, stressed the need for collaborative strategies among Asia Pacific NHRIs to address emerging challenges to human rights. These challenges encompassed areas such as climate change, child trafficking, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), cybercrime, the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, and the growing global wealth disparity. Justice Mishra called for humane working conditions for all workers and urged businesses to take responsibility for waste management. He advocated for a right-based approach to intellectual property rights in essential health services and championed gender justice and opportunities for the differently-abled.
Amina Bouayach, Secretary of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), emphasized the crucial role of NHRIs in promoting and safeguarding human rights amidst contemporary challenges like poverty, discrimination, and shrinking civic space.
Doo-Hwan Song, Chairperson of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, also addressed the attendees.
Before the official proceedings began, Bharat Lal, Secretary General of NHRC, provided an overview of the scheduled discussions during the two-day conference. He highlighted that the event commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and 30 years of National Human Rights Institutions and the Paris Principles, with a sub-theme centered on the environment and climate change.
The conference welcomed Heads, members, and senior officials of NHRIs from the Asia Pacific region, observer countries, representatives from Union and State governments, State Human Rights Commissions, Special Rapporteurs, Monitors, various institutions dedicated to human rights, civil society members, NGOs, human rights defenders, lawyers, jurists, academicians, diplomats, and representatives from international organizations and academic institutions.
In addition to the conference, NHRC is hosting an international seminar on 'Business and Human Rights' to develop strategies that prioritize human rights and environmental sustainability in business operations.