Putting human rights at the heart of humanitarian action
Graphic: Two girls stand amid debris from a typhoon in the Philippines
The APF recently delivered an online course in partnership with OHCHR to support NHRIs to protect human rights during humanitarian crises.
Around the world, humanitarian crises are becoming more complex and protracted. Climate change, environmental degradation and the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating inequalities and compounding risks, especially those faced by poor and marginalised communities.
The Asia Pacific is particularly vulnerable to humanitarian crises, consistently recording more than half of the world’s displaced people due to natural disasters. The region has also seen serious humanitarian crises due to conflict situations in recent years, including in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Philippines.
With states increasingly acknowledging the complex risks they face, there is a renewed focus on integrated approaches to humanitarian action. In this context, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have a crucial role to play to ensure that human rights are at the heart of preparedness and responses to humanitarian crises.
Supporting NHRIs to protect human rights during crises
The APF recently delivered an online course in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) South and South-East Asia Regional Office, to support NHRIs to protect human rights during humanitarian crises.
The course aimed to strengthen the capability of NHRI staff in the Asia Pacific by building awareness and knowledge on human rights in humanitarian action and highlighting the value that NHRIs can bring to humanitarian preparedness and responses.
Held in the APF Community, the course was attended by 35 participants from the NHRIs of Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Thailand and Samoa.
Representatives from the Ministry of Justice in Kiribati and the Office of the Ombudsman of the Cook Islands, who are currently seeking to establish an NHRI, also attended the course.
This online course was a big light for our future work on disaster and it is very helpful for us networking and sharing experiences among APF member countries
Building an online community of practice
The course is an expansion on a pilot project run by the APF in collaboration with OHCHR in 2019, which aimed to strengthen the engagement of NHRIs in South and Southeast Asia in humanitarian action.
Participants in the project are now part of an online community of practice and have contributed to some important advancements in NHRI engagement in humanitarian action, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The community of practice will continue to share their experiences integrating human rights into humanitarian action, as the APF and OHCHR work to expand this course to more NHRIs in the region in the coming year.
Date: 30 November 2021
- Two girls stand amid debris from a typhoon in the Philippines - UN Photo/Evan Schneider, Flickr; htt