Pakistan’s International Human Rights Obligations: Training Module for Capacity Building (OXFAM)

Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, Pakistan set in motion the devolution of federal ministries to the provinces. As a result of this, law-making powers now exist both at the federal and provincial level. One of the issues that immediately arose as a result of the devolution was a severe lack of coordination between the provinces and Federation, especially with regard to Pakistan’s obligations under international law. There was a great deal of confusion as to what obligations must be implemented at which level. Core amongst these obligations were the seven essential human rights treaties.

Consequently, Pakistan regularly faced inconsistency and obstacles in compliance reporting to the UN human rights treaty bodies. It is in order to bridge this gap that RSIL has prepared this module with two main goals. To build the capacity of key stakeholders and for the facilitation of these stakeholders at the provincial level.

While the module was initially intended to only target officials designated at treaty implementation cells provincially, the scope of the module was revised, based on input received from the Ministry of Human Rights and civil society organisations, to include all relevant stakeholders who may benefit from it.

The module includes sections on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ‘Seven Core’ human rights conventions that Pakistan has signed and ratified.

These include:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);
  • Convention against Torture (CAT);
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The module has been developed to be self-explanatory for the trainers using it. It is also accompanied by another set of documents, known as the Basic Legal Documents (BLDs), which will facilitate the trainer during the entire course of the training. The BLDs are a collection of all the pertinent and relevant documents that are required under the module.

Briefly, the module simply provides all relevant information with regard to any aspect of international human rights law. It contains, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Basic concepts of international law,
  • Pakistan’s commitments under the seven core human rights conventions,
  • Domestic legislation safeguarding human rights,
  • Pakistan’s compliance reporting responsibilities under each convention,
  • Performance indicators and data collection tools,
  • Legal simulation exercises for participants to assess their understanding,
  • Lessons learnt from other jurisdictions, etc.

Any essential or recommended reading under this module is referred and annexed in the BLDs.

The module comprises of nine sub-modules that include amongst others the following topics:

Overview of general international law and the United Nations System; Delineation of Pakistan’s obligations under international human rights treaties; Division of responsibility post-18th Amendment, definitions of key terms, comparative understanding of human rights law and International Humanitarian Law and a legal simulation exercise.

Lastly, module nine differs from the others in that it elaborates upon compliance reporting. It provides:

  • Overview of compliance reporting under the seven core conventions;
  • Guidelines for reporting;
  • Reviewing sample compliance reports from other jurisdictions;
  • Status on Pakistan’s compliance reports,
  • Domestic institutions responsible for compliance reporting;
  • Data collection and disaggregation;
  • Recommendations on enhancing national and international compliance.

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