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Sharing views on human rights

Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Delegates from national human rights institutions from 24 countries gathered here on Tuesday to exchange experiences and views on how to improve the delivery of economic, social and cultural rights at the International Round Table on National Human Rights Institutions and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are hosting the three-day event jointly.

Follow-up of workshops

The round table is a follow-up of workshops held in the Philippines and Fiji in 2000 and Hong Kong in 2001.

In his opening remarks NHRC Chairperson Justice A.S. Anand observed that in democratic societies, human rights are broadly classified into civil and political rights on one hand and economic, social and cultural rights on the other. Observing that the protection of economic, social and cultural rights has been poor and irregular at the national and international level, Mr. Justice Anand said national human rights institutions have a great role to play to correct the fallacy of treating one set of rights as inferior to another set of rights. He said Indian courts have been reading civil and political rights into economic, social and cultural rights by expanding the concept of `right to life and liberty' to mean the right to live with human dignity and all that goes with it.

Said Mr. Justice Anand, "It is the firm view of the NHRC that we must accept the indivisibility and inter-related nature of the two sets of rights for the full development of human personality."

Handbook released

Addressing the meeting, Orest Nowosad, Coordinator, National Institutions Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that India had, in many ways, led the way in ensuring the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights. He released a handbook that aims to help national human rights institutions maximise the effectiveness of their functions and powers in addressing economic, social and cultural rights. Mr. Nowosad urged the participants to actively engage and support the draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that aims to give remedies when domestic remedies have been exhausted.

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