ICJ seminar on reporting to UN treaty bodies marks advance in cooperation between NGOs and governments in Asia

The ICJ, in collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Human Rights of Colombo University, concluded a seminar on State reporting to the United Nations treaty bodies in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 15 December 1999.

The meeting focused on the reporting procedures provided under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The primary objective of the event was to acquaint all participants with the reporting mechanisms and the processes involved in the coordination and preparation of the reports for submission by the governments and NGOs to the UN human rights treaty bodies established under the two international instruments.

The meeting provided an opportunity to urge and convince governments that have not yet acceded to these human rights instruments to ratify them. The members of the official delegations of the Maldives and Pakistan gave assurances that their governments would take the necessary steps in the near future.

The participants appreciated and recognised the importance of collaborative efforts expected in the preparation of the reports, both from the governments and the NGOs. However, not all the governments seemed to share the same commitment towards their international obligations. This was marked by the absence of government representatives from India and Bhutan.

The seminar brought together representatives of governments and NGOs from the following eight countries: Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Bhutan; India; Nepal; the Maldives; Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Experts directly involved in the working of the UN treaty bodies concerned, i.e. the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, took part in the seminar.

The seminar in Colombo was the first of the kind ever organized in South Asia and marks the beginning of ICJ activities in Asia in the coming millennium.