Doha: (NHRC: 14/12/2008): Under the Auspices of H.E. the premier and foreign minister, H.E. SH Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani, the 1st Arab Conference for Human Rights kicked off at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha today (Sunday, 14th December 2008).
The two-day conference, organized by the Arab League in cooperation with Qatar, aims to promote the Arab Charter for Human Rights and discuss the work plan of the Arab League strategy for protecting human rights.
Today’s schedule included an opening session, a preliminary session and a workshop, third session.
In his speech at the opening of the Conference, H.E. the Minister of Justice Hassan bin Abdullah al-Ghanem took up the issue of human rights is something that’s deeply rooted in Islamic and Arab culture as reflected in a number of Quranic verses.
The Minister in his inaugural address said the Qatari constitution had provided the legal basis for protection of human rights. Qatar is a signatory to several international conventions related to human rights and has been an active participant in all regional human rights initiatives.
Qatar’s commitment to protecting human rights and freedom of speech is supported by a number of practical steps such as establishment of the National Human Rights Committee, the Qatar Center for Media Freedom and the Arab Democracy Foundation headquartered in Doha, said the Minister.
The country has also been hosting a number of international conferences with a special focus on democracy, reform and human rights.
“Qatar is keen to support all international efforts to protect human rights for the good of the humanity,” said the Minister.
He called for a mechanism to effectively implement the international laws to end the Israeli aggression in Palestine and restore the rights of Palestinians.
Addressing the opening session, Her Excellency Ambassador, Seemah Bhouth, and Ass. Arab League Secretary General for the Social Affairs Section reviewed Arab League Efforts in the fields of promoting and protecting Human Rights before and after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
For his part, Dr Ali bin Simaikh Al Merri, Secretary General of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), said there is a need to promote human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations in the Arab world, to cultivate a human rights culture, which the region is badly lacking.
He said there is a wrong notion that the concept of human rights is something imported from the West. Human rights are integrated in the beliefs of all religions in the world.
He recommended the establishment of an Arab Court for human rights and implementation of a regional mechanism where the Arab citizens can file complaints against their own governments. Dr Seema Buhoos from the Arab League also addressed the inaugural session.
In the second session chaired by, Munyah Ammar, chairperson of the Arab League Human Rights Follow-up sub-committee, the Conference was addressed by Dr. al-Merry who reviewed the challenges facing one of the major issues taken up by the conference-drawing up an Arab strategy plan for the promotion, development and protection of Human Rights in the Arab World.
The Chairperson then invited Dr. al-Tayib al-Bakoush to address the meeting on the positive and negative aspects of the Human Rights Question under the influence of the bipolar dominance of the cold war era and the current uni-polar dominance of the United States.
Finally, Attorney, Mr. Talib al-Seqaf spoke at length about the Arab League project of drawing up an Arab strategy plan for the promotion, development and protection of Human Rights in the Arab World. Having reviewed the reasons and objectives for drawing a strategy plan, Mr. Seqaf laid the ground for four workshops to discuss the four main aspects of the plan during the third and final session of the first day of the conference- these were:
First, as an essential aspect of individual and social justice; group headed by Shaikha, Hissa Bint Khalifa al-Thani
Secondly: ; chaired by: Dr. Tayib al-Bakoush;
Thirdly: Protection of Human Rights; chaired by: Muhsin Awadh;
Fourthly: The Cooperation and support needed to promote and protect Human Rights, chaired by Mohammad Amin al-Midnani.