If you want peace, prepare it: towards a collaborative human rights agenda

Kyiv, 24 November 2016 – The international conference in Ukraine welcomes its 90 guests to discuss most pertinent aspects of peacebuilding, restoration of normal life in the war-affected zone, and promotion of tolerance and the antidiscrimination approach.

IMG 00405689756907856076908The conference, titled "If you want peace, prepare it," was organized by the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights with the support of UNDP in Ukraine and gathered representatives of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from Georgie, Croatia, and Lithuania, state officials, international practitioners and civic activists.

One of the main tasks of the conference was to take honest stock of the implementation of the Kyiv Declaration on the role of NHRIs in conflict and post-conflict situations that was adopted at the Kyiv Conference one year ago. Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Valeriya Lutkovska described the conference tasks as the development of a roadmap for NHRIs to ensure the protection of human rights in conflicts, including the most vulnerable groups.

"We need to ensure words become actions," emphasized Mr. Christian Dons Christensen, Ambassador of Denmark to Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia, in his welcoming remarks.

Mr. Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Country Director in Ukraine, lauded that NHRI should be a bridge between people and public institutions, between parties of conflict, which keeps balance between security needs and the protection and respect of human rights, that is challenging even in normal peace life.

IMG 00447893468938904605796"The UN, UN Agencies, and many international organizations and donors are ready to be Ukraine's partners on this long thorny way to peace restoration," said Mr. Hiemstra.

The opening of the conference was followed by two high-level expert discussions on most burning issues in peacebuilding efforts. The discussions provided a clear picture of problems and gaps that need to be addressed to minimize discrimination practices and increase level of tolerance.

"Laying the foundation for future peace, we need to build peace in several areas, not only in the center of the conflict, but also throughout the country. First, available mechanisms should ensure human rights and rule of law overall in Ukraine," summarized Ms. Valeriya Lutkovska.

The high-level panel was followed by 3 working sessions dedicated to exchanging lessons learned and challenges in areas of gender equality, special needs of vulnerable groups, and protection of internally displaced people in conflict and post-conflict situations.

IMG 028035894769084068067The recommendations to NHRIs, authorities, and international organizations as the outcome of the conference is a great opportunity to make a significant step in following up the tasks of the Kyiv Declaration.

Summing up the day-long discussions at the conference, UNDP Deputy Country Director in Ukraine Ms. Blerta Cela dwelt on the need for cooperation between the Ombudsperson and civil society in the protection and peacebuilding work.

"The discussions underlined the important role of NHRIs to address discrimination of IDPs, people with disabilities, children, women and other vulnerable groups. We have also heard the examples from other countries how essential the role of NHRIs is to promote a dialogue and reconciliation between different population groups at local and central level," she noted.