I would like to send my warmest greetings to all participants in the Symposium "Best Practices For National Institutions For Human Rights, Common Action for NGOs and National Institutions."
As you are no doubt aware, I have made National Institutions one of the highest priorities of my office. I frankly believe that independent, pluralistic and effective National Institutions are one of the principle weapons in the struggle for human rights at the national level. National Institutions can by virtue of their accessibility, transform the rhetoric of international instruments into practical reality and accessible redress for millions of people. They can often do this in a more informed and appropriate manner than any regional or international body. National Institutions enhance promotion and protection of human rights and in so doing they support national stability and security -- thereby contributing to national development.
An effective national institution is an accessible one. A national institution's capacity to reach out to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups must be a measure of its success. The ability and willingness of many national institutions to act as advocates for the marginalized is an extremely important factor in the human rights equation.
The role of human right's NGOs and other sectors of civil society in the creation and strengthening of National Institutions should not be underestimated. NGOs are able to make a substantive contribution to the work of National Institutions -- both through collaborative projects and through a mutual exchange of information and views. Many of the Charters of national Human Rights Commissions already established in the Asia-Pacific Region emphasize either explicitly or implicitly, the important role played by NGOs and empower National Institutions to work closely with them. It is essential that the synergy of this relationship is appreciated by Governments currently contemplating the creation of independent national institutions -- and that there is no misapprehension that the establishment of such mechanisms in any way minimizes or derogates from the central role which a vigorous NGO sector has to play in protecting human rights.
Clearly the Asia Pacific Region comprise countries of tremendous complexity and cultural diversity. This rich heritage is no impediment to the creation of National Institutions, instead they can make a major contribution to the effective realization of the fundamental human rights embodied in the international Covenants and Declarations. The Asia-Pacific region has seen the most impressive growth of national Institutions. Much of this success is owed to the NGO community. I congratulate you on your efforts and reaffirm my commitment to your important work.
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