Round Table: “Engaging Parliamentarians from the Global to the Local” Organization of Women in Parliamentary Politics in collaboration with Heinrich Boll Stiftung organized a round table on “International Human Rights Conventions Ratified by Pakistan, Implementation Oversight Role of the Parliamentarians” on 28th of October, 2014 at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPs). More than 60 delegates, including Women representatives from different political parties, Women parliamentary Caucus, Chairperson of NCSW, HBS team, media and civil society activists attended this meeting. Ms. Bushra Gohar welcomed all participants and shared the main purpose of this meeting; that was to the highlight oversight role of parliamentarians, awareness and advocacy for the media and politicians and to develop linkages between parliamentarians and executive government in the implementation of neglected international human rights conventions ratified by Pakistan, and the role of parliamentary secretaries within the governmental institutions. Dr. Fehminda Mirza, former speaker of national assembly and patron chairperson of WPC, appreciated the dedication of all women members for establishing the women parliamentary caucus which has been the force behind the pro-women legislation that took place in the last five years and also shared that OWPP is the first ever civil society organization for women parliamentarians in Pakistan. Dr. Mirza, is the founding president and the boards of directors include: Dr. Attiya Innayaytullah, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Yasmeen Rehman, Bushra Gohar, Ishrat Ashraf, Zubaida Jalal, Aasiya Nasir and Khushbkhat Shujjat. Ms. Huma Chughtai is the coordinator of this organization. Dr. Mirza also commended the active role of NCSW. Dr. Mirza acknowledged the assistance of her colleagues and support of HBS for establishing first ever civil society organization for women parliamentarians in Pakistan. She said that it is important for us to legislate on international commitments, improve implementation through oversight and take fundamental freedoms to the doorsteps of our masses through representation. Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a leading lawyer, former interim Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights, and President of Research Society for International Law (RSIL), gave detailed presentation on International Human Rights Conventions ratified by Pakistan, implementation status, role of standing committees on human rights, elected representatives and media. Mr. Soofi explained the meaning of rule of law, source of International Human Rights law, treaty, customary practices, academic writings, judicial decision and public International laws etc. He suggested amendment in the constitution to clarify the confusion of operational issues between federal and provincial governments over legislation and gaps of the implementation of international conventions, treaties and reporting on these conventions. He emphasized the role of universities which could conduct researches on these subjects that would be helpful for the member of provincial assemblies. Government representatives of different ministries spoke about the issues such as lack of implementation, coordination and capacity of people at federal and provincial level, which leads to delay in the timely submission of state reports on international human rights conventions. Dr. Attiya Inayatullah, former MNA conducted session in interactive way to get audience views towards the topic. Some participants suggested that donors should support government institutions to improve their capacity building (particularly report writing skills). Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson of NCSW suggested to OWPP that they should review all shadow reports which might help them to become more responsive and they should also build pressure groups to work for women’s economic empowerment. Ms. Tahira Abdullah, Ms. Shaista Pervaiz, secretary of WPC emphasized on the empowerment of standing committees and importance of think tanks in doing research and advocacy. Women parliamentarians suggested federal government to contact civil society instead of donors to assist them in writing state report for the submission to International Committees. They also gave suggestion to European Union representative during the discussion that they should focus on capacity building and report writing skills of people at federal level, while they are negotiating with foreign office. This round table discussion was chaired by Dr. Fehmida Mirza. Session was moderated by Dr. Attiya Innaytullah (Chairperson Management Committee) and Ms. Huma Chughtai (Coordinator of OWPP). At the end Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali summed up the discussion by highlighting the points which came out from the discussions and Ms. Asiya Nasir thanked to Marion Mueller and HBS team, guests, donors and management of PIPS.
Media coverage: http://www.thenews.com.pk/