Holyrood to host major human rights conference


Scotland is to host a major international conference for national human rights institutions next year.

The 10th International Conference of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) will take place at the Scottish Parliament from 7-10 October 2010.

Delegates from more than 80 countries will discuss human-rights issues on the theme of Business and Human Rights, and the role national institutions can play in improving human rights in a globalised world. Those attending will include:

  • national human rights institutions
  • international and regional experts
  • United Nations officials
  • government representatives
  • representatives of civil society
  • business organisations.

It will be the first time an official United Nations-supported event has taken place in Scotland.

Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, will attend the event, which will see the "Edinburgh Declaration" drafted as part of the conference.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said: “This will be the first time this conference has been held in a legislature and I look forward to welcoming delegates from around the globe to the Scottish Parliament next year.

"The work undertaken by human-rights institutions around the world plays a vital role. The Scottish Parliament is proud not only to recognize this work but also to play our part in promoting debate and good practice in this area.”

Previous NHRI International Conferences have been held in Kenya (2008), Bolivia (2006), Korea (2004), Denmark (2002) and Morocco (2000).

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating international Human Rights Day by announcing this conference coming to Scotland.

"Although ours is one of the newest Commissions in the world, by securing this event we are playing our part on the international stage. I’m sure that all of the delegates from our sister organisations in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and the rest of Europe will share a wealth of experiences in Edinburgh during this important event.”

The conference is being held in cooperation the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will also be invited to attend, added: “This conference will provide an excellent opportunity for national human rights institutions to discuss and share priorities and strategies to improve the application of human-rights norms in the corporate arena.

"National institutions play a key role in ensuring human rights are applied at the national level, and are also well placed to do serious human rights business with companies headquartered in their countries."

Today, 10 December 2009, is international Human Rights Day.

The conference will take place in the Debating Chamber and Committee Rooms of the Scottish Parliament from Thursday 7 October until Sunday 10 October 2010.

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