International, regional and national human rights mechanisms discussed

Dec 10, 2015

Experts from civil society, government and development partners at the human rights panel discussion. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Governance unit

In conjunction with the Human Rights Day celebrated annually on December 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Support Project for Implementation of the Legal Sector Master Plan organised a two-day seminar on December 7-8 to raise awareness of international and regional human rights systems and also to share good practices from other countries on national human rights mechanisms. The objective of the seminar was to take stock of existing human rights mechanisms in Laos and find concrete ways to strengthen them in the coming months and years.

Chaired by H.E. Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the seminar served as the first of its kind held in Vientiane at this high level discussing the important topic of human rights mechanisms. H.E. Mr. Alounkeo emphasised that “civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Lao multi-ethnic people are enshrined in the national Constitution, laws and other legal documents, which are in conformity with the obligations and commitments of the country at the international and regional level.”

The Seminar welcomed human rights experts (Directors/Representatives of Human Rights Commissions) from Australia, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Thailand who provided valuable inputs regarding their experiences with national and regional human rights institutions as well as their views on the way forward for Lao PDR. The seminar, was well attended with over 100 participants from government agencies, representatives from academia, civil society and development agencies.

Facilitated by Ms. Sudha Gooty, Assistant Representative and Governance Unit Chief of UNDP Lao PDR, the seminar also organised a panel discussion with representatives from local NGOs, the European Union Delegation, National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice exchanging views on how Lao PDR can move forward with better protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Main points derived from the 2-day seminar include but are not limited to:

  • the need for further improvement of the current National Steering Committee on Human Rights (including the consideration for composition and mandate of the Committee as well as capacity strengthening for focal points from different ministries),
  • continued use of existing human rights facilities such as the Universal Periodic Review (continuing inclusive and participatory process),
  • clearer procedures for handling complaints from the general public, and
  • use of local assemblies for effective dissemination of human rights-related information.

Recognising the value of all inputs and suggestions received throughout the event for further improvement of the existing mechanism, Mr. Phoukhong Sisoulath, Director General of the Department of Treaties and Law at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concluded the second day session by stating that “this is not the end in our efforts to further improve the human rights situation. Rather, this is the beginning of such efforts.” 

Contact

Ms. Sudha Gooty, Head of Governance Unit, UNDP Lao PDR, Email: sudha.gooty@undp.org, Tel: + 856 (21) 267720; Mobile: +856 (20)55555336