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IPU logo SEMINAR FOR CHAIRPERSONS AND MEMBERS
OF PARLIAMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

Geneva (Palais Wilson), 15-17 March 2004
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Organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNDP with the support of OHCHR

STRENGTHENING PARLIAMENT AS A GUARDIAN OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES

  Parliaments have an essential role to play in promoting and protecting human rights. The way in which human rights are integrated into daily parliamentary work has a strong influence on the extent to which parliaments live up to their role as guardians of human rights. The existence within parliaments of bodies with an explicit and permanent mandate to address human rights questions is an effective means of ensuring that these issues permeate all parliamentary activity on a continuing basis.

The Seminar for Chairpersons and Members of Parliamentary Human Rights Bodies brought together some 140 members of such bodies as well as selected members of international, regional and national human rights mechanisms in order to exchange views and identify best practices towards enhancing the protection of human rights at the national level. The Seminar, which was the first of its kind, was organised by the IPU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The final programme of the Seminar is reproduced below. Other documents (Chair's concluding observations and the list of participants) can be downloaded from this page in PDF format.
 

  

DOCUMENTS
Chair's concluding observations (PDF) New!
Statement by the IPU Secretary General (PDF) New!
List of participants (PDF) New!

RELATED SITES AND DOCUMENTS
Background document provided by the National Democratic Institute, USA (PDF, 475 K)
IPU resolutions concerning alleged cases of violations of human rights of pariamentarians
Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Geneva, 8 April 2002)
Inter-Parliamentary Symposium "Parliament: Guardian of Human Rights" (Budapest, 19-22 May 1993)
United Nations Development Programme
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Note: Documents in PDF format require Adobe Acrobat Reader Get Acrobat Reader

Updated on 25 March 2004   
PROGRAMME
MONDAY, 15 MARCH 
8 to 9 a.m.Registration of participants and distribution of documents
9 to 9.45 a.m.Inaugural session:
  • Welcome address by Mr. Bertrand Ramcharan, United Nations Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Opening statement by Mr. Anders B. Johnsson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • Opening statement by Mrs. Odile Sorgho-Moulinier, Director United Nations Development Programme, Geneva
9.45 to 10 a.m.Procedural matters
10 to 10.15 a.m.Coffee break

Part I: Mandate (terms of reference), functioning and working methods of parliamentary human rights bodies

10.15 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.- What are parliamentary human rights bodies and what is their raison díêtre?
Introductory panel
  • Ms. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Chairperson, Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights of the House of Representatives of the Philippines
  • Mr. Amos N. Nakalonga, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights and Gender Matters of the National Assembly of Zambia
  • Ms. Ann Clwyd, Chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group of the British Parliament
  • Mr. Michael Gahler, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy (AFET) of the European Parliament
General discussion
- How do parliamentary human rights committees function and what are their powers? How do they interact with other parliamentary committees and the executive branch?
Same panel as above
2 to 3 p.m.Exchange of views on the last introductory panel of the morning session
3 to 3.30 p.m.- Which terms of reference for maximum effectiveness?
Introductory panel
  • Ms. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Chairperson, Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights of the House of Representatives of the Philippines
  • Mr. Amos N. Nakalonga, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights and Gender Matters of the National Assembly of Zambia
  • Mr. Michael Gahler, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy (AFET) of the European Parliament
3.30 to 3.45 p.m.Coffee break
3.45 to 5.30 p.m.General discussion
5.30 to 6 p.m.Summing up of discussions

TUESDAY, 16 MARCH 
Part II: Parliamentary human rights bodies and their relationship with the UN and regional human rights mechanisms
8.30 to 10.30 a.m.- The role of parliamentary human rights bodies in ensuring the implementation of international human rights standards
Introductory panel
  • Ms. H. I. Bogopane, Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons of the South African Parliament
  • Mr. Leandro Despouy (Argentina), Special United Nations Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
  • Mr. Joseph Voyame, former President of the Committee against Torture (CAT), former Special Rapporteur on Rumania
General discussion
10.30 to 10.45 a.m.Coffee break
10.45 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.Continuation of general discussion
2 to 3.45 p.m.- Regional human rights mechanisms and parliamentary human rights bodies.
Introductory panel
  • Ms. Salamata Sawadogo, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
  • Mr. Leandro Despouy (Argentina), Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
  • Mr. Eduard Lintner, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
General discussion
3.45 to 4 p.m.Coffee break
4 to 5.30 p.m.- Presentation of case studies (Brazil) on the implementation of international human rights standards at the national level .
Moderator: Mr. Clarence Dias, UNDP consultant
Introductory panel
  • Mr. Orlando Fantazzini, MP from Brazil
  • Mr. Guilherme Almeida, UNDP consultant
  • Mr. Khémaïs Chammari (Tunisia), human rights expert and former parliamentarian
General discussion
5.30 to 6 p.m.Summing up of discussions
6.30 p.m.Reception at IPU Headquarters

WEDNESDAY, 17 MARCH 
Part III: Parliamentary human rights bodies and their relationship with National Human Rights Institutions, NGOs and civil society
8.30 to 10.30 a.m.Parliamentary human rights bodies and National Human Rights Institutions: working together to promote and protect human rights.
Introductory panel.
  • Mr. Egon Jüttner, member of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the German Bundestag
  • Mr. Gediminas Dalinkevicius, Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights of the Parliament of Lithuania
  • Mr. Orest Nowosad, Team Leader, National Institutions Team, OHCHR
General discussion
10.30 to 10.45 a.m.Coffee break
10.45 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.Parliamentary human rights bodies, NGOs, the media and civil society: how best to cooperate.
Introductory panel.
  • Ms. Marie-José Laloy, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Belgium Parliament
  • Mr. Mark Thomson, Secretary General of the Association for the Prevention of Torture
  • Mr. Alain Bovard, Amnesty International, Swiss Section
  • Mr. Pierre Hazan, journalist
General discussion
2 to 3.45 p.m.The role of the UN (UNDP and OHCHR) and the IPU in supporting parliaments to protect, promote and realise human rights.
Presentation by representatives of the UNDP, the OHCHR and the IPU.
General discussion
  • Presentation by Mr. Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
3.45 to 4 p.m.Coffee break
4 to 5.30 p.m.Conclusions (including evaluation) and elaboration of follow-up activities, including the holding of regular meetings


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