The Supreme Preparatory Committee of the International Conference on “the role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the protection and promotion of human rights in the Arab region”, organized by the NHRC and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in cooperation with the League of Arab States and the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions, under the patronage of HE Prime minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, with participation of 200 representatives of international organizations and institutions, United Nations agencies, offices of human rights at ministries of foreign affairs in the Arab region, human rights commissions, legal committees at the Arab parliaments and advisory councils; national human rights institutions, and civil society organizations, including human rights organizations, regional and international non-governmental organizations, and bodies created under the international human rights treaties and regional organizations (League of Arab States, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Organization of Islamic Cooperation … etc.), and research and studies centers on development and human rights mechanisms, as well as Arab and international personalities and representatives of offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Middle East, North Africa and Geneva.
The meeting discussed the final arrangements for the conference in Doha on 13 and 14 January where participants emphasized the presence and participation of HE Prince Zeid bin Raad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, HE Dr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, HE Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani , Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, HE Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Jarwan, head of the Arab Parliament, HE Dr. Musa Burayzat, President of the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions.
During the meeting, the overall objective of the conference was discussed pointing out that the main aim is to highlight appropriate and necessary approaches of the United Nations human rights system, particularly the role of OHCHR to promote and protect human rights in the current context of the Arab region; how to improve States’ engagement with United Nations treaty bodies’ mechanisms and to follow-up effectively on the Universal Periodic Review’s recommendations. The Conference will serve as a forum for an interactive dialogue on roles, achievements, progress, best practices and expectation of the various stakeholders in promoting and protecting human rights in the Arab region. It also forms a significant opportunity to discuss the OHCHR’s plans in the region and move forward structural reforms within the OHCHR which have been announced by the UN high Commissioner for Human Rights in his first speech at the Human Rights Council in 2014.
Ms. Maryam bint Abdullah Al-Attiyah, secretary-general of the NHRC said that: This conference is the first of its kind, where most human rights officials from the United Nations and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Arab region in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Libya and other Arab countries. She added: This conference came at the initiative of the State of Qatar and it will cover many issues, including cooperation of Arab Member States with the United Nations human rights system, including the OHCHR, the status of ratification of the core human rights treaties, partnership with The United Nations human rights mechanisms, including treaty bodies and special procedures, implementation of the UPR recommendations; Noting that the conference is a good opportunity for interaction between representatives of States, national institutions and civil society on issues and concerns related to human rights, as well as the activation of dialogue and cooperation between the United Nations system, the OHCHR, those Arab actors, and governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of human rights; pointing out that the most prominent role played by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is conducting its activities to achieve prevention, promotion and protection of human rights. She pointed out that, in spite of some important positive results achieved at the level of states, the Arab region still faces many challenges in the field of human rights. Most notably the emergence of armed violence groups and other forces that do not believe in tolerance or coexistence while ignoring the minimum standards and principles of human rights, freedoms, political participation and other similar demands. Al-Attiyah said that these problems have impacted the situation of human rights in the region, and the performance of civil society organizations and the work of the High Commissioner.
Al Attiyah said that in the light of the decline in respect for human rights at the regional and international levels, the role of the High Commissioner in response to this pattern of violations is questioned; She noted that the conference shall include plenary sessions and workshops, where participants shall develop a set of institutional recommendations with the aim to improve the human rights situation in the region.