On October 21st and 22nd the city of Kiev, Ukraine, hosted the conference titled “The Role of the National Human Rights Institutions During and After Conflict”. The event was organized by the Ombudswoman of the Ukraine with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). At the conference 19 national human rights institutions from all over the world – from Mexico and Columbia, through Western and Eastern Europe, to Iraq – including the representative of the Office of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Croatia - discussed their roles in the situations of conflict taking place in their own as well as the neighboring countries.
The gathering in the Ukraine was an opportunity for the institutions recognized by the UN as independent bodies equipped with knowledge in the field of human rights to exchange their experiences. These institutions are in a unique position of independence in relation to the executive bodies of the governments as well as in relation to the parties in conflict and are, thus, provided with an opportunity to conduct observations and collect the data on human rights violations, to advise governments on legislative and other solutions, to provide opportunities for dialogue and to monitor peace negotiations.
The representatives of the national human rights institutions presented the examples of good practice, as well as the examples of human rights violations that need to be anticipated and the prevention of which they particularly advocate. The advisor to the Ombudswoman presented the experience of Croatia in the protection of human rights in the context of the social and demographic consequences of the Homeland War, eliciting particular interest of the representatives of countries presently facing conflict, such as the Ukraine and Iraq.
National institutions participating at the conference gave their support to the drafting of the Kiev Declaration on the role of national institutions during and after conflict. In the event it is adopted in January by the General meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of NHRI’s (ICC) the Declaration will provide an overview of the principles of action in the aforementioned situations as well as measures and tools that will enable better and more efficient protection of human rights in such difficult circumstances.