South Asia is home to more than 1.4 billion
people and also a vital economic region in the world withan average 6% GDP growth annually. Yet, South Asia is also a region facing many issues that are causingmuch adversity to the people and human rights situation continues to deteriorate
- armed conflict,poverty, discrimination, etc. Despite the existence of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC), there is still no regional human rights mechanism to protect and promote human rights,signifying states’ priorities in pursuing developmental objectives have little regard for human rights. At the micro level, the income gaps between the working classes and the middle/upper incomegroups have widened. This is clearly a result of bad economic policy within members and in SAARC itself.Even before the food price crisis in 2008, around 40% of the world’s hungry people lived in the South Asia. The massive floods that took place not too long ago in Pakistan and Bangladesh show that South Asia faces the brunt of global climate change and environmental degradation. The liberalisation of markets has also led to foreign extractive and manufacturing companies admitting members, thuscausing massive land grabbing which results in displacement of peoples and further leading to conflict.Member states only focus on the symptoms of “unsustainable development” listed above as securitythreats and continue to spend exorbitantly on arms while clamping down on fundamental freedoms withnational security laws.The recent Commonwealth Civil Society Statement on “Driving Change for a DynamicCommonwealth
” reiterates the need for rights-based economic wellbeing, sustainable development, andhuman rights. This call is echoed across South Asia as a vast part of the South Asia region consists of Commonwealth member states.The call for HRBA to development is congruous with democracy, human rights, development, goodgovernance, civil society, and the rule of law, thus enabling it to be used as a platform for advocacycampaigns. The need for civil society of the South Asian nations to reclaim their spaces as peoples of theregion and of the world is now. Hence, all means to make the people the centre of this change is crucial!
Dignity International’s Role in South Asia
In partnership with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Dignity International organised the firstSouth Asia Regional Linking & Learning Programme on Human Rights and Development in 2008. Bringingtogether 30 individuals from seven countries, the programme was well received in both content andmethodology.This 2012 South Asia Regional Workshop aims to continue the gains made with partners since thefirst workshop in India. The upcoming workshop hosted in Sri Lanka offers another good chance to learnand reflect on HRBA in a post-conflict nation. A new group of NGOs from all the South Asian countrieswill have the opportunity to understand the ESCR contexts through Dignity International’s signaturetraining method.Dignity International believes that empowering people and States through the Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) and mainstreaming human rights within national and regional development frameworks
World Bank databasehttp://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/0,,contentMDK:21566213~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:223547,00.html