You are here : HomeCooperation and External RelationsExternal RelationsArab-Ibero American dialogue of National Human Rights Institutions

  • Reduce
  • Enlarge

Arab-Ibero American dialogue of National Human Rights Institutions

The last decade has witnessed a remarkable growth in the number of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (NHRIs). Indeed, in over 130 countries on all continents, human rights are now protected and promoted by national commissions, councils, committees, institutes, Defensoría, Procuratorría, Provedoria, etc. which are known as national human rights institutions.

Despite their great formal diversity, these institutions abide by the Paris Principles, which govern their functioning to fully play their role as independent actors and staunch advocates of the universal values of human rights.

There are currently 17 Ibero-American NHRIs accredited with “A” status and 11 Arab NHRIs, including 5 accredited with “A” status. This is a potential framework for a promising cooperation and exchange. Arab institutions belong to two networks: the African Network presided by Morocco’s Advisory Council on Human Rights and the Asia-Pacific Forum, presided by Jordan’s National Center for Human Rights. Furthermore, Arab NHRIs have been involved with their European counterparts in a Euro-Arab dialogue, whose secretariat has been entrusted jointly to Morocco’s Advisory Council on Human Rights, Jordan’s National Center for Human Rights and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The network of national institutions in the Americas, founded in 1999 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, includes 15 institutions. A year after its creation, the constitution of this network was adopted in Mexico by representatives of national institutions of Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. During the first decade of its existence, the network carried out many initiatives and actions aiming to establish and promote a culture of respect for human rights in the region.

The desire for closer ties and cooperation between the Arab and American regions has been crowned by the holding of two summits in Brasilia (May 10-15, 2005) and Doha (March 31 - April 1, 2009). The second summit brought together Heads of States and Governments and senior representatives of 12 South American countries and 22 Arab states, as well as delegates from the League of Arab States. The two summits identified several areas of interregional cooperation in the form of a plan of action: organizing conferences and seminars on economic and financial aspects, exchange, training, facilitation of trade agreements and capital flows and businessmen, trade, cultural and tourism forums, air and maritime transport, and fiscal conventions, etc.

If the focus has so far been put on economic cooperation (embodied in the elaboration of plans of action by the two regions - the 2006 Quito Plan and the 2007 Rabat Plan-, the will to coordinate between economic policies and investments and the negotiation of four free trade agreements between Mercosur, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco), it is high time for national institutions of both regions to share their expertise and experience to promote the human rights culture in their respective regions.

The first meeting of Casablanca seeks to provide NHRIs in both regions with a common platform for dialogue and exchange to consider ways to build very strong relationships of cooperation and partnership between these institutions, to facilitate sharing experiences, knowledge, best practices and views on all human rights issues that are of interest for both regions.

The development of this form of interregional dialogue among NHRIs meets as well one of the strategic objectives of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) as provided for in its 2010-2013 Strategic Plan.

The Casablanca meeting also aims at a better awareness of human rights issues and development of advocacy for human rights at national and regional levels. It seeks also to establish a mapping of the comparative laws, practices, challenges, gaps and constraints encountered in the process of implementing international human rights standards.

The participants of this meeting made suggestions on the field of cooperation and anticipated the results of the meeting. They underlined the importance of translating the recommendations of this meeting into facts. They agreed on the creation of a follow-up committee composed of two members from each region: Morocco and Qatar (Arab region), Portugal and Spain (Iberian region) and Equator and Mexico (Latin America), and Nicaragua and Palestine as observers.

The participants indicated that diversity of NHRIs is a motivation for cooperation to promote and protect human rights. They stated that priority should be given to several main rights: right to life, right to food, right to water, etc. and stressed the importance of promoting human rights culture and protecting the right to live in a sound and healthy environment.