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     Volume 2 Issue 100 | January 4, 2009|


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5th Winter ESDR held

Tabassum Mokhduma

KATHMANDU School of Law (KSL), one of the leading most law schools in Nepal, organised the “5th Winter Residential School on Economic, Social and Development Rights (ESDR), and Good Governance” from 16 October-07 November 2008 at Nagarkot, Nepal.

The three-week long residential event kicked off on 16th October 2008 at the City Hall, Kathmandu. Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal, Hon'ble Kedar Nath Upadhyaya was the Chief Guest while Hon'ble Top Bahadur Singh, Executive Director of National Judicial Academy and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal ; Attorney General of Nepal Hon'ble Raghav Lal Baidhya and President of Nepal Bar Association senior advocate Bishwo Kant Mainali were the guests of honour at the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by over three hundred audiences including legal professionals, human rights activists, professors, scholars, law teachers, students and guardians of KSL students.

In her welcome speech, Assoc. Prof. Geeta Pathak Sangroula, Convener of the Extra Curricular Activities, KSL highlighted that peace and justice could be achieved through appreciation of democracy and social justice.

Justice Upadhyaya, also the Patron of KSL who inaugurated the programme with the release of Course Compendium said, “The sustainability of democracy depends on socio-economic justice and the economic and social rights are the apparatuses of socio-economic justice”. He further added that securing cultural, social and economic rights also helps to improve the eminence of human life.

Guest of Honour, Hon'ble Top Bahadur Singh said, “ESDR are very significant in developing countries to provide a proper place for all the people in society like ours which is divided in two broad groups-haves and havenots, where we still believe in things like touchables and untouchables, where we have a large bulk of marginalized communities.”

Another guest of honour Hon'ble Raghav Lal Baidhya said economic, social and development rights of people are as important as the civil and political rights in developing countries where majority of the people are in a condition of extreme poverty. He expected that the winter school will definitely come up with constructive ideas to deal with the current problem of developing countries regarding ESDR. President of Nepal Bar Association senior advocate Bishwo Kant Mainali mentioned the need to ensure social, economic and development rights for the proper functioning of democracy.

Prof. Zakir Hossain, Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Chittagong (CU), Bangladesh, who has been here as a resource person for last four years expressed that although Asian countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh are rich in tradition, they are very poor in governance. Referring to the UN University report, he said, “There is a great economic disparity between the developed countries and developing countries. Therefore, we invite people to suggest ways for good governance during this three-week long programme.”

Highlighting on the objectives of the Residential School, Executive Director of KSL Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yubaraj Sangroula said that it was a matter of pride to all the students and faculties of KSL that the winter school has successfully reached its fifth year and has now become an international programme.

Mr. Madhusudhan Tamang, student of KSL and Mr. Zhu Wei, Ph.D student from Renmin University of China also spoke on behalf of the Nepalese and international participants respectively while Assoc. Prof. H.K. Rana gave the vote of thanks on behalf of KSL for making the programme a prolific success. The programme ended up with the concluding remarks from Prof. Madhav Prasad Acharya who also presided over the formal session of the inauguration ceremony, who urged all the participants to use the event as an opportunity to learn, interact and commit to work for the society. Apart from this formal session, the inauguration also included a glittering cultural session which reflected Nepalese culture as well as human rights.

From the following day the hectic work schedule started at the residential venue “Central Human Resource Development Unit (CHRDU)” at Nagarkot which included lots of workshops, symposiums, country and group presentations as well as field work that most of the time kept the participants awake up to 3-4 a.m. From morning to evening classes included lectures, group works and presentations on varied interests like myths and realities of cultural relativism; concept and evolution of economic and social rights; comparative analysis of eastern and western perspective of democracy and human rights; problems in Japanese political process in respect to economic development; problems of democracy and human rights in South Asia; social security system in China with special focus on migrant workers in China; inclusiveness in democracy, socio-economic perspective of the participating countries with special reference to socio-economic rights, legal framework and enforcement; identification of the common problems of ESDR & good governance and possible collaboration to address the problems; inclusiveness and good governance to promote ESDR; good governance and social security system; problems and challenges faced by the marginalized, endangered communities and other vulnerable groups in the context of good governance and protection of human rights; ESDR and enforcement mechanism, international communities, vulnerable groups etc. Furthermore, the event also included innovative writing on the right to self determination and indigenous communities as well as workshop to develop the curriculum of ESDR. The resource persons included law teachers, NGO professionals, Human Rights activists, social workers from different countries like Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Nepal.

Moreover, on the day of field work, the participants with the formation of three groups visited the nearby Telkot village where they did research on education system, situation of education to girl child, and health facilities in that particular area. The research teams after a whole day’s work came up with the conclusion that the health facilities are not sufficient because of the lack of doctors and health assistants in the health centres. Likewise they also came up with the conclusion that the stereotypical attitude of parents is not only the cause of the dropping out of the girl child from the school but the economic condition is also one of the reasons behind it.

The event came to an end on November 7, 2008 at KSL where Senior Advocate Prakash Osti was the Chief Guest while Prof. Incharge Madhav Pd. Acharya chaired the session. Among others Prof. Kapil Shrestha, Dr. Danielle Celermajer, Director, Global Studies, University of Sydney, Australia; Mr. Henryk Montygierd, Expert, Access to Justice Programme, CMP; Dr. Yubaraj Sangroula, Executive Director of KSL; Mr. Sudip Pokharel, President, Law Students Society, KSL were also present in the programme.

Speaking at the closing session Ms. Celermejer highlighted the activities of the women in the present world and mentioned women empowerment as the essential tools of ESDR. Mr. Montygierd, shared his experiences as the students and also wished to see the participants of the 21-day program in leading positions for human rights in the future. Additionally Dr. Sangroula, , highlighted the importance of confidence of people on democratic system as inevitable as set in the structure of democracy. Prof. Shrestha in his speech shared the importance of residential school and stated the politics of human rights as the most complex issue and challenging to all. Encouraging the participants Mr. Osti, urged all the participants to take the responsibilities and identify the effective measures to fulfill them. Mr. Pokharel also wished the participants and hoped that all the participants will work together to make the world a better place to live in regardless of nationality, race and religion. On behalf of the Nepalese and international students Hasina Pradhan of KSL and Mr. Panch Rishi Dev Sharma from University of Lucknow, India respectively shared their experiences. Finally, Chairperson of the closing session, Prof. Acharya, giving best wishes to all the participants for their future endeavours in terms of working for the protection and promotion of human rights in their respective communities and societies and termed the end of the programme as a new beginning in the arena of human rights.

Valediction was followed by the distribution of Diplomas for 18 participants who were adjudged proactive at the Residential School. Mr. Noufal Abboud of Mahidol University, Thailand bagged “Overall Performance Award” after topping the Diploma winners list while Tabassum Mokhduma from Chittagong University (CU) became the first ever Bangladeshi participant in this five-year old event to obtain “Academic Excellence Award” after winning the Elocution Competition. Among the Diploma receivers Zaker Ahmed of CU secured third position, this year's best performance by Bangladeshi students at the Diploma race.

Altogether 46 participants from various countries including China, Thailand, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh participated in this programme. The participants included university teachers, legal professionals, human right activists, scholars and students as well as representative from National Human Rights Commission and National Police Academy of Nepal. From Bangladesh Sharin Shajahan Naomi from University of Dhaka and Zaker Ahmed, Bapan Chandra Das and this writer from CU participated.

Besides rediscovering themselves as true advocate to ensure rights of the masses, the participants also took the opportunity to celebrate “Laxmi Puja”, “Bhai Tika” as well as visiting different scenic & historical places of Kathmandu, watching sunrise at beautiful Nagarkot, enjoying traditional dances and songs of different participating countries.

(The writer is a 4th year student of Department of Law, CU)

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