WGHR’S Operating Principles
Observing that the human rights situation in India has been deteriorating and new threats and challenges have emerged;
Taking note of the fact that India’s human rights record is being monitored at various levels by the United Nations;
Determined to address all human rights violations, by both state and non state actors;
Concerned that the Indian government’s reporting to the UN does not involve participation by local constituencies;
Also concerned that there is insufficient reporting back to local constituencies of developments at the UN in which the State of India has been involved;
Willing to make best possible use of the various tools and mechanisms provided by the UN system for the promotion and protection of human rights, and to hold India accountable to its national and international human rights obligations; and
Committed to carry out advocacy work to ensure the progressive expansion of India’s international human rights obligations, including the ratification of treaties and Optional Protocols;
Members of WGHR express their commitment and willingness to work together at this critical point in time and abide by the following operating principles, adherence to which is a prerequisite to joining and retaining membership of the Group:
- Inclusiveness: Constituents agree to bring together all those who so desire and are committed to a common cause. The rationale is to welcome inclusion of those who are broadly like minded and genuinely subscribe to the idea that working together is mutually beneficial and serves the common cause much more than working under conditions of fragmentation. WGHR brings together all those who believe that the cause of human rights in India can be advanced through the use of the UN system and its available tools.
- Agreeing on a Common Minimum Agenda: The second principle hinges around acceptance, articulation and adherence to a common minimum agenda, which leaves the door open for healthy expansion of the platform. WGHR will initially commence work with a minimum agenda that is acceptable to all. Over a period of time, it will enlarge the scope of work through debate, discussion and consensus building. Broad agenda items like “monitoring human rights” contribute to bringing together organizations and people who subscribe to common beliefs. The list of such items could be expanded in order to build higher levels of political coherence but the list must not be defined so narrowly as to defeat the very principle of inclusiveness itself.
- Non-Domination: Non-domination by any individual/group of individuals or organization/group of organizations must be strictly followed. This principle is easily spoken about yet difficult to follow. Hence, a conscious attempt must be made to give the platform visibility by its commonly agreed name and not by any particular individual or any single organization.
- Respecting the Identity of each Member: Each member will retain his/her own independent identity, which in certain cases might even imply submission of separate reports to, and independent communication with, UN bodies. However, whenever it is considered most efficient and productive, the constituents will come to the platform for well defined tasks such as drafting a common report or holding pre-session consultations.
All constituents will agree to speak in a common voice on the agreed common minimum agenda. It could also be agreed, at least during specified periods – such as the time of hearing before a UN body – that there will be a designated spokesperson, as may be jointly agreed to, from time to time, by the platform.
- Observing Mutual Respect: Partners who come to the platform must observe mutual respect for each other and move further towards laying down norms to avoid claiming of credit by individuals or particular organizations. WGHR subscribes to the non-competitive use of outputs that originate in the platform and voluntarily subsume individual contributions and credit seeking in favour of the collective identity.
- Sustainability: Members of the platform pledge to contribute to the work of WGHR to the best of their abilities and to dedicate the necessary time and effort for its development. It is understood that WGHR requires sustainable work from all its members and that it is imperative to maintain momentum on the initiative.