A regional seminar on human rights held here yesterday under the patronage of
H H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, called on the international community to restore the rights of people in the occupied Arab lands and stop using the anti-terror campaign as a pretext to undermine human dignity.
The event which was hosted by the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) was attended by Sheikha Mozah, Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Selim Al Hoss, former Prime Minister of Lebanon and a host of human rights activists and representatives of civil society groups from the Arab world.
The seminar discussed a document titled “Protecting dignity: An agenda for human rights” prepared by a panel of experts brought together at the initiative of Switzerland in 2008, marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
It also called for doing away with what it called double standards being adopted by nations and international bodies while dealing with issues related with human freedom and dignity. The seminar rejected all types of oppression and dictatorship and stressed the need for widening the scope of people’s participation in the political process and decision making.
The rights of vulnerable sections such as migrants, stateless people and those living in occupied lands were underlined by the seminar, while calling for concerted efforts to protect human dignity.
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Addressing the opening session, Mary Robinson, a key member of the expert panel that drafted the agenda for protecting dignity said this document was aimed at advancing global dialogue and action on human rights.
“As our panel report notes, we are now well past the halfway mark on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) timetable… Reaching the MDG targets has become especially difficult with the global economic crisis added to the existing crises of food and climate change. The challenge is to understand where and why we are falling short and what can be done to close the gap between commitments made and results on the ground,” said Robinson.
Selim Al Hoss said human dignity could not be achieved without freedom and independence. The major powers such as the US, Russia and the European Union were responsible for denying human dignity by imposing their will on other countries and communities.
He lamented the lack of democracy in the Arab world saying that it is hard to find a single country in the region which can be called free in the true sense of the word.
Ali bin Simaikh Al Merri, NHRC chairman, stressed the need for a new international convention on preservation of human dignity. He also called for granting a more important role to civil society groups in designing the policies of countries.
Dr Huda Alban, Minister of Human Rights in Yemen, also addressed the opening session.