How to use treaty bodies at country level: The Bangladesh experience

Priti Darooka
Monday, November 27, 2017

ILC in partnership with the Human Rights Forum of Bangladesh (HRFB), SAFA (South Asian Feminist Alliance for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and PWESCR (Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) organised a 2 day national consultation...

The workshop took place in Dhaka on the 6-7 of October, bringing over 20 participants from diverse sectors and organisations with PWESCR, an ILC member from India, as the main facilitator. Mainly focusing on building the capacities civil society groups which included members of ILC, human rights organizations, women’s rights groups from Bangladesh the workshop also helped participants to work collectively to develop an effective collective CSO report for upcoming CESCR review of Bangladesh in March 2018. Bangladesh ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1998.However, Bangladesh did not submit its first report to the CESCR until August 2017. The State is now scheduled to be reviewed by CESCR in March 2018. Bangladesh’s long delay in signing the ICESCR and absence from the CESCR review process indicates that there was little pressure through civil society engagement in monitoring ESCR or pressing the Bangladesh government to fulfill its ESCR obligations.

Participation in the reporting process helped build capacities of Bangladesh civil society groups, in how to use international mechanisms for domestic issues.

The goal of the workshop was

  • To build capacity of  a core group of leaders in Bangladesh  to monitor ESCR including right to land.
  • To raise awareness around international human rights standards, especially in context of ESCR and its relevance to local realities.
  • To explore how international human rights instruments can be used to strengthen local advocacy efforts.

The first day the workshop focused on unpacking human rights and understanding the ESCR framework. The second day, emphasised on the CESCR process and how to develop a CSO report. Countries shared very practical information  in terms of structure, content of the report. Collectively, the group agreed on common parameters including crosscutting issues and timeline. Based on organisation expertise thematic subgroups were formed with the task to develop relevant chapters for the report. A ten member diverse drafting committee was formed which will coordinate and help shape each chapter.

This workshop was extremely productive in bringing diverse groups together. It also provided a platform for ILC members in Bangladesh to be part of larger human rights forums. It recognised ILCs leadership in initiating this workshop and providing Bangladesh CSO a much needed capacity building opportunity.

The collective process also provided space to discuss links between land rights to other rights.

ILC and PWESCR has been working on CESCR reporting jointly for some countries now including Burundi. We also did joint training in India for regional meetings on CESCR review process. CESCR can be an important treaty body for ILC members to consistently engage with. Also with the discussion around a new General Comment on right to land also makes CESCR important for all of us who work on these issues.