Task Force To Prepare National Action Plan On Human Rights

  • Recently, the government decided to constitute a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAPHR) as mandated under the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Aim

  • The move is aimed to improve India’s human rights records.

Background

  • In UPR-1 and UPR-3, UN recommended that India should have NAPHR covering issues such as the rights to health, education, food security, and housing; aspects related to custodial justice; and measures against the trafficking of women and children
  • In the third UPR of UN in 2017, India accepted 152 out of 250 recommendations on human rights pertaining to sustainable development goals related to eliminating poverty, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and improving protection for women and
  • India refused to accept some recommendations, including those related to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

About Task Force

  • The task force will have 10-20 members and it will examine the plans of other countries before preparing its final draft.
  • It will include the Union Home Ministry and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), with representations from other Ministries, including Social Justice and Health.
  • Apart from these, civil society organisations will also be consulted at a later stage.

Impact

  • Strengthening Social Justice System: Once implemented, NAPHR will help mitigate the criticism India faces at international level when it comes to its human rights record as well as strengthen the social justice system.
  • Strengthening of Human Rights Institutions: The move will help to establish a stronger administration of justice, strengthening of human rights institutions, and linking of rights with development.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Headquarters: New Delhi

  • It was established on 12 October, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), statute, 1993.
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991.
  • The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.

 

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

  • Created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006, it is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
  • It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • It holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September.

Institution-Building Package of UNHRC

  • In 2007, the Council adopted its Institution-building package to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms. It includes-
    • Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Mechanism: It serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States.
    • Advisory Committee: This serves as the Council’s think tank providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues.
    • Complaint Procedure: It allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

  • The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
  • It is a state-driven process which provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.
  • It is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground.

Goal

  • Improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.
  • To provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.

Review Mechanism

  • The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States.
  • Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs.
  • The documents on which the reviews are based are:
    1. Information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”.
    2. Information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities.
    3. Information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
  • Cycles of the UPR: A review cycle is a four-and-half year period within which all UN Member states’ human rights records are reviewed. The working group convenes three two-weeks sessions per year, or 14 sessions over the course of an entire cycle.
    • First Cycle: 2008-2011
    • Second Cycle: 2012-2016
    • Third Cycle: 2017-2021

Significance

  • Addressing Human Rights Concern: It is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when human rights situations are assessed with the ultimate aim of improving them and addressing violations.
  • Equal Treatment for All: It is a significant innovation which is based on equal treatment for all countries which also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, October, 2019