New Delhi Feb.26 : The National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) is organizing a workshop on Strengthening the Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) here on February 27 and 28.
The workshop will aim to bring together a representative group of Forum Councillors and Jurists to consider, amongst other things: the most effective ways to utilize the expertise of the ACJ; how to improve procedures for the selection and development of references and the implementation and monitoring of their recommendations; how to clarify and strengthen the relationship between the Forum Council and the ACJ, and between NHRIs and their ACJ nominees.
The proposal to establish the ACJ first arose at the Second Regional Workshop of the APF of NHRIs in New Delhi in September 1997. At that meeting the Forum Councillors agreed to establish "an International Human Rights Law Advisory Panel". The terms of reference for the establishment and operation of the Advisory Council of Jurists were approved at the Third Annual Meeting in Jakarta in September 1998.
Since its inaugural meeting in 2000, the ACJ has considered six references from the APF's Forum Council; education (2006); torture (2005); anti-terrorism legislation and the rule of law (2004); trafficking of women and children (2002); death penalty (2000) and the regulation of child pornography on the internet (2000).
In 2006, the Forum Councillors and the ACJ Members raised the possibility of conducting a review of the role and functions of the ACJ in order to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the Forum Council in future. The review was considered further at the 11th Annual Meeting of the APF in Suva, Fiji in August 2006 and Forum Councillors invited the Secretariat and the ACJ to consider options to ensure the continued effectiveness of this important advisory body.
At the 12th APF, the Forum Council agreed to conduct a review of the role and functions of the Advisory Council of Jurists.
The purpose of the review is to strengthen the operations of the ACJ and to align its activities with the APF's strategic goals.
The two-day workshop would open with a presentation on the results of the questionnaire, which was circulated amongst all the members earlier. It will also consist discussion sessions on a number of topics including legal references; membership and the role of experts; raising the profile of the ACJ; selection criteria and roles and responsibilities of Jurists and changes to terms of reference.
The workshop will be attended by participants from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Korea, besides India.