Human Rights Issues

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Commonwealth of Nations

Mains level: Abolition of modern slavery

The CHRI has released a report on “Eradicating Modern Slavery: An assessment of Commonwealth government progress”.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2012:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Commonwealth has no charter, treaty or constitution
  2. All the territories/countries once under the British Empire (jurisdiction/rule/mandate) automatically joined the Commonwealth as its members

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

About the report

The report was released on the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and an international anti-slavery organisation Walk Free.

Highlights of the report

  • The report assessed the progress made by Commonwealth countries on the promises made in 2018 to end modern slavery by 2030 and achieve the SDGs of ending forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.
  • The report found that one-third of the Commonwealth countries had criminalised forced marriage, while 23 had not criminalised commercial sexual exploitation of children.
  • Commonwealth countries have made little progress towards their commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2030.
  • One in every 150 people in the Commonwealth is living in conditions of modern slavery.
  • Out of 54 countries, only four engage with business to investigate supply chains, and all countries report gaps in victim assistance programs
  • None of the Asian countries in the group had implemented laws against forced labour in supply chains.

India is the worst performer

  • India had fared the worst in terms of coordination with no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place.
  • India, like all other Commonwealth countries in Asia, had not ratified the International Labour Organization’s 2011 Domestic Workers Convention or the 2014 Forced Labour Protocol.
  • The report said India accounted for one-third of all child brides in the world.
  • Despite being the largest country in the region, India has the weakest response on national coordination, with no national coordinating body or National Action Plan in place.

Back2Basics: Commonwealth of Nations

  • The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.
  • It dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonization of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.
  • It was originally created as the British Commonwealth of Nation through the Balfour Declaration at the 1926 Imperial Conference, and formalized by the UK through the Statute of Westminster in 1931.
  • The current body was formally constituted by the London Declaration in 1949, which modernized the community, and established the member states as “free and equal”.
  • The symbol of this free association is Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Head of the Commonwealth.
  • The Queen is head of state of 16 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 32 other members are republics and five others have different monarchs.
  • Member has no legal obligations to one another. Instead, they are united by language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)

  • It is an independent, non-partisan & nonprofit international NGO which works towards the practical realization of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth.
  • It was founded in 1987 and is headquartered at New Delhi.
  • CHRI’s objectives are to promote awareness and adherence to the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to other internationally recognised human rights instruments.
  • The organisation specializes in transparency and accountability issues, with a focus on access to justice and access to information.
  • The organisation mainly works in South Asia, East Africa, and Ghana region.

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