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Sharing good practice on monitoring demonstrations and conflict

Graphic: Crowd of men

Representatives of NHRIs shared their experiences of monitoring demonstrations and situations of civil unrest and internal conflict.

Senior Executive Officers (SEOs) representing national human rights institutions from across the Asia Pacific met in Sydney in June for the annual SEO Network roundtable.

During the course of the two-day meeting, participants discussed a broad range of activities undertaken by their respective institutions. These included initiatives to build cooperative relationships with their key stakeholders, such as government, parliament and the judiciary; working with business and industry on upholding human rights standards; and encouraging cross-regional collaboration in relation to refugees and asylum seekers.

In addition, representatives from the NHRIs of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Malaysia described their recent work to monitor and report on demonstrations, civil unrest and elections.

Some of the issues raised during the discussion included:

  • the need to develop a nuanced approach to monitoring that considers all aspects of the situation
  • the need to maintain constructive relationships in order to ensure access to people and places, particularly to people who are detained
  • the importance of providing staff with relevant training – for example, on police practices – and ensuring their safety
  • the difficulty of monitoring events in close urban environments
  • the importance of having up-to-date information, by monitoring media reports and through engaging with relevant civil society organisations.

At the conclusion of this session, SEO Network members agreed to share additional information on their current practice and procedures for monitoring demonstrations and situations of civil unrest or internal conflict.

Once this information is available, the APF will consider developing a 'good practice' guide for national human rights institutions.

The proposed resource would feature case studies from a range of APF member institutions and provide practical information on training and equipping NHRI staff, as well as ensuring their safety during monitoring activities.

Date: 17 July 2014

Image credits

  1. Crowd of men - Hanif Omar, Flickr Creative Commons