As an independent network based in Taipei, Taiwan, Covenants Watch (CW) is working with the aim of ensuring the government of Taiwan to fulfill its obligations under the international human rights instruments. Being excluded from the United Nations system since 1971, it has been extremely of great importance for Taiwan to align with international human rights standards without being monitored by the UN bodies. In this situation, CW strives to install a unique procedure to adjust the domestic laws and government policies in Taiwan to the international standards.
CW mainly focuses on the implementation of the following five human rights instruments:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
- Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Our activities include:
- Monitoring: to monitor the government’s implementation of the Covenants and the Concluding Observations and Recommendations (COR);
- Advocacy: to encourage the government to improve national mechanisms of human rights protection and promotion, with a special interest in the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI);
- Partnership Building: to serve as a platform of collaboration for member organizations and vulnerable groups;
- Capacity Building: to organize seminars, trainings and awareness raising activities to the general public regarding international human rights.
The Covenants Watch is a non-profit and non-governmental organization established on December 9, 2009 by a coalition of human rights NGOs, lawyers, academics, and activists, under the leadership of Mr. Bun-Hiong Ng (aka Peter WS Huang), a veteran of human rights movement in Taiwan.
It came into existence as an umbrella organization to link the efforts of its members into monitoring the government in fulfilling its obligations under core human rights conventions. This is of particular importance for Taiwan because it lies outside of the international human rights monitoring system.
The year 2009 is critical because the parliament ratified the two Covenants (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICESCR) were endowed domestic legal status by an Implementation Act. Implementation Acts for CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) was passed in 2011. Implementation Acts for CRC (Convention on the Rights of Children) and CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) were passed in 2014.
WHAT WE DO
1. Advocacy on government institutions for the protection of human rights.
The CW aims to persuade the government and the parliament to establish:
- National Human Rights Commission (NHRC);
- A Human Rights Office under the Executive Yuan; and
- Tools for human rights monitoring.
The civil society has advocated the establishment of an NHRC since 1999. Covenants Watch submitted a bill on NHRC to the parliament in November 2014, and again in July 2016. To further this on-going process, we invited three international experts to conduct a week-long assessment in Taiwan, representing the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI). For more information, please refer to the Taiwan NHRI Assessment Report 2017.
1-b. A Human Rights Office under the Executive Yuan
The Executive Yuan is the highest administrative organ of the State, currently the human rights issues are dealt with in a dispersed fashion. It is imperative that a well-staffed and funded unit in the Executive Yuan is established.
1-c. Tools for human rights monitoring
We urge the government to adopt tools such as human rights indicators, human rights statistics, and human rights impact assessment.
2. Shadow reporting and Review
Taiwan has “implementation acts” for ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW, CRC, and CRPD. Pursuant to the Implementation Acts, State reports should be prepared according to the guidelines issued by the UN treaty bodies. Each review of state report is an opportunity for human rights NGOs to engage the government for a constructive dialogue.
2-1. The CW has already assumed the position of primary coordinator in the preparation of shadow reports on the covenants. The shadow reports were compiled and translated into English in August, 2016:
- ICCPR Shadow Report 2016
- ICESCR Shadow Report 2016
- Shadow Report on Taiwan government’s“Response to the COR”
2-2. With regard to the CRPD, it will be ideal for the Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) to take the lead in drafting and editing the shadow report. CW assumed the role of a technical assistant in providing to DPOs the knowledge pertaining to the content and review process of CRPD. The CRPD Parallel Report was compiled and translated to English in June, 2017:
3. The rights of vulnerable groups
3-1. We continue to urge the parliament to pass implementation acts for the following three conventions:
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
Families (ICRMW); and
- The government Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
3-2. Works related to CRPD: The CW contributes in knowledge sharing and awareness raising, and assisting in legal access, for persons with disabilities.
3-3. When called into action, we work with other groups to protect their rights, such as victims of forced eviction, victims of Taiwanese business operation abroad, children of undocumented migrant workers.
4. Publications and Newsletter
(1) Monitoring the implementation of ICCPR and ICESCR in Taiwan
(3) CRPD Sundays online column: from August 2017 to December 2017 (in Mandarin)
(4) NHRIs Weekly online column: starting from March 2018 (in Mandarin)
(5) Selected Literature on the Newspapers (in Mandarin):
- Establish National Human Rights Commission to commemorate Human Rights Day (9 Dec 2015)
- The human rights obligation of the government to Tibetans in Taiwan (28 Oct 2015)
- It is the Singaporean government that is insane (27 Jun 2015)
- The Ministry of Justice should not abuse its power to commit man slaughter (5 Jun 2015)
- It is of course a matter of the covenants to abolish the death penalty (4 Jun 2015)
- Respect human rights to prevent potential criminals (3 Jun 2015)
- Amend the law to protect the right to self-determination (2 Apr 2015)
- A plea for the elite legalists to respect the covenants (6 Oct 2014)
- What is wrong about the forced hospitalization of a mentally-ill adolescent (17 Jun 2014)
- The Taipei City Councilor who discriminated against the homeless (29 May 2014)
- Who is interfering with our Interior affairs? (8 Mar 2014)
- The government has to do more to terminate sexual violence (21 Jan 2013)
- Remove the stigma tag on the homeless (23 Nov 2013)
- The parliament chair hiding behind human rights (12 Sep 2013)
- The paradigm of Taiwanese democracy has faded (25 Jun 2013)
- Everyone should enjoy the Right to Housing (20 Mar 2013)
- The Ministry of Justice misunderstood the Covenants (24 Jan 2013)
- Legal execution or illegal man slaughter? (25 Dec 2012)