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Useful Information

OHCHR Human Rights
Programme for Asia-Pacific
2008-2009
2006-2007

Country Mandates Established
by the CHR/HRC

Open invitation to Special Procedures

Regional Members of the Human Rights Council:

China 2016
India 2014
Indonesia 2014
Japan 2015
Maldives 2016
Pakistan 2015
Philippines 2014
Republic of Korea 2015
Viet Nam 2016

Voluntary Pledges and Commitments

Publications

OHCHR report 2013 OHCHR Report 2013
OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017 OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017
Brochure: Human Rights in action Human Rights in Action (PDF)
Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR Human Rights Programme for Asia-Pacific (2008-2009)


Regional human rights context

The Asia-Pacific region is confronted with a diverse range of human rights challenges.

Long-standing conflicts continue in several parts of the region. Post-conflict transitions in other States remain constrained by insecurity and political uncertainty. Several countries are undergoing important processes of democratic, legal and institutional reform, but democracy has been set back in others through the reassertion of military authority. Many countries continue to enjoy rapid economic development, but this in turn creates pressures on marginalized and disadvantaged groups. At the same time poverty, gender inequality and patterns of discrimination remain deeply entrenched. High levels of internal and external migration within and outside the region pose particular protection challenges, as well as attendant problems such as human trafficking. While many countries have well established legal frameworks and the elements of a national human rights protection system, serious gaps in capacity and political will undermine implementation and enforcement.

The biennium 2008-2009 will also see several important processes come to fruition in the region, particularly in Indonesia and Timor-Leste as well as in Cambodia, where the trials for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period will begin. In Sri Lanka, OHCHR and a group of international experts have worked closely with a special presidential commission investigating serious crimes. The establishment of a truth commission and other specialized inquiries will be important developments in Nepal’s political transition. At the same time, however, there are moves to pass laws granting amnesty to the perpetrators of serious human rights violations in breach of international standards in several countries. In some countries, specific aspects of investigation and prosecution, such as forensic science and witness protection, are either absent or require improvement.

The Asia-Pacific region is also at an important point in the development of national and regional human rights infrastructure and mechanisms. Many countries in the region have national human rights institutions, although many of them lack capacity and several have had their independence and integrity compromised in recent years. At the same time, other countries are considering establishing such institutions. The Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions has played an important role in fostering regional capacity in this area, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) human rights commissions have begun to develop their own systems for transnational cooperation. Most importantly, in a region without its own human rights arrangement, ASEAN and, to a lesser extent, the Pacific Islands Forum, have begun to explore the possibility of creating subregional frameworks and mechanisms.

Strategy

Taking into account this context, OHCHR will focus its work at the regional level on impunity,weak institutions and discrimination. OHCHR is already engaged with several important transitional justice or accountability initiatives aimed at combating impunity throughout the region.

OHCHR’s focus on combating discrimination will vary from country to country, ranging from gender concerns to indigenous people to caste-based discrimination. The rights of non-citizens, both in the context of statelessness and migration, will also receive priority attention. OHCHR will look for specific opportunities to strengthen and support the work of national institutions and civil society that addresses discrimination issues and will promote the participation of groups that have been marginalized or discriminated against in public policy decision making and their engagement with the international human rights system.

Strengthening institutions to protect human rights will also be a priority focus. This will include support for ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum in the creation of subregional human rights mechanisms. It will also involve close partnership with the Asia Pacific Forum and individual national institutions to ensure their compliance with the Paris Principles and capacity to effectively investigate and seek redress for human rights violations. At the sub-national level, OHCHR will also reach out to the many specialized commissions focusing on women, children and other specific groups that could help combat discrimination.

OHCHR has significantly expanded its regional presence and country engagement. During this biennium, regional offices will be in place for South and West Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Country offices will be maintained in Cambodia and Nepal, and OHCHR will continue to support the human rights elements of peace missions in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. Human rights advisers will be maintained in the Maldives, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, and others will be deployed to Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Support will also be provided to UN Country Teams for the “One UN” pilot programmes in Pakistan and Viet Nam.

OHCHR’s office in Nepal will remain flexible and responsive, focusing on the immediate protection concerns that arise during the political transition; however, as part of a rationalization of operations in the country, the office will gradually concentrate on the root causes of the conflict, and on building partnerships and capacity among national institutions and civil society. The opening of a new South and West Asia Regional Office, together with the new Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre in Qatar (see section on North Africa and the Middle East), will provide an important platform for close engagement with countries in the subregion. In the South Pacific, OHCHR will close the Solomon Islands liaison office and work through the Regional Office in Suva and the newly deployed Human Rights Adviser in Papua New Guinea instead.

The Office will continue to support the work of country rapporteurs in Cambodia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Myanmar, subject to the review of mandates by the Human Rights Council. OHCHR will also continue its technical cooperation programme with China and work in close partnership with the UN Country Team, particularly as the 2008 Olympics create further impetus to reform. The Office will also explore closer engagement with the Islamic Republic of Iran as a follow-up to the High Commissioner’s visit there in September 2007.

The Office will continue to play a leading role in the development of regional cooperation on human rights. OHCHR will seek to engage subregional organizations such as ASEAN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in developing cooperation on common issues. The 15th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Regional Framework will be used to encourage progress towards more concrete outcomes at the subregional level. Public reporting and statements will help highlight critical issues at both national and regional levels.

Through its network of regional offices and field presences, OHCHR will also foster deeper partnerships with UN Country Teams and national stakeholders, including in the context of the “One UN” initiatives. A key focus will be strengthening collaboration in follow-up and implementation of treaty body recommendations. OHCHR will encourage effective and strategic engagement with the UN human rights system as a whole, including the special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. The Office will also work with national institutions and civil society to promote greater ratification of human rights treaties, particularly in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Asia Pacific Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9650

Regional Offices/Centres

Pacific
2014
2008-2009
2006-2007
Officer in charge
Tel: 679 3310 46565
Fax: 679 3310 485
Address: Level 5, Kadavu House, Victoria Parade, Suva, Fiji
Email: sabina.lauber@one.un.org

South-East Asia
2014
2011-2012
2008-2009
2006-2007
Regional Representative
C/O UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC)
3rd Floor, UN Service Building
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel.: +66 (2) 304 9100
Fax: +66 (2) 280 2700
Email: heike.alefsen@one.un.org
URL: http://asia-pacific.undp.org

Other OHCHR Offices

Afghanistan
Cambodia
Nepal
Pakistan
Sri Lanka
Timor Leste

Feature stories

Human rights meeting in the Asia-Pacific region

Links

United Nations Country Teams in Asia Pacific Region

Other UN links

External links

International Criminal Court

Geneva Conventions

ILO Conventions

Refugee Conventions

National Institutions

Note: OHCHR is not responsible for the content of external links.