Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to address you today in the case for a South Asian regional human rights mechanism. I would like to thank ….. for this occasion.
Therein lies the first and greatest challenge for an emerging regionalism in South Asia – the region’s very diversity. From some of the world’s most populous countries, to some of its most sparsely populated. Societies that have been shaped by the great religious traditions of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, and divided by a myriad of ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and caste groups.
South Asian countries share cultural, political, economic and legal commonalities. Except Afghanistan and Nepal, all south Asian countries share a common history of colonial exploitation. South Asia has a rich diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities and nurtured pluralist societies.
Human rights violation in South Asia, the vast majority of people live under conditions of extreme poverty. Disappearances, extra-judicial killings, custodial torture, cross-fire and preventive detention as counter-terrorism strategies of states, suppression of freedom of expression, and freedom of association are common human rights problems in the South Asian region.
All these above factors underpin the necessity of finding of a regional approach and framework through which these common human rights problems can be addressed and remedied
The SAARC Charter does not mention about human rights. But, in 2002, SAARC has adopted two regional treaties which have many implications on enjoyment of human rights: the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children and the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia. In 2004, SAARC adopted the SAARC Social Charter, which impacts on many economic, social and cultural rights. Social development remains a central element in the SAARC Social Charter. It is committed to eradicate poverty, improve health services, foster educational access, and promote the status of women and children. SAARC Food Security Reserve is important initiative to address the specific problem of food security.
It should be remembered that a regional mechanism will play the role of subsidiary in addressing existing gaps and can create certain norm and procedure on human rights. Witch can lead to greater harmonization and unification of human rights laws of the region, which can eventually contribute much towards the goal of South Asian cooperation.
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