Understanding Pakistan through a civil rights perspective

This dossier has been curated by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs), together with its partner organization The Knowledge Forum (TKF). In their contributions, civil society activists and experts approach five topics, covering socio-economic and political developments in Pakistan. The themes are: climate movements, the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), Paris Principles and Human Rights Institutions (HRIs) in Sindh, the shrinking of civic spaces and increasing constraints for civil society actors, and the impact of the of recent political developments in Afghanistan for civil society in Pakistan. The articles are based on (expert) interviews, review of relevant documents and online discussions with experts.

Each contribution looks at the respective theme through a (civil) rights perspective. Accordingly, the common assumption of the authors is that the promotion and protection of human rights including environmental rights constitutes the core of any democratic state, conditions its political legitimacy and defines a social contract with its citizens. Pakistan is party to core human rights treaties and various climate change and environmental legally binding commitments. And, in this context since long the role of civil society has been crucial in the promotion of a rights agenda as well as of social, environmental and climate justice. However, many political developments have created challenges as well as opportunities for civil society.

Based on the understanding that Pakistan is a democratic and federal state, which has established a constitutional, legal and policy framework, but is afflicted with many challenges, issues and gaps on human rights as well as climate sustainability, the papers give input and recommendations on alternatives to existing policies. The articles were finalized between late 2021 and early 2022. Each contribution consists of a short blog article, which gives a basic outline of the respective theme and an in-depth paper that critically analyses it. The dossier attempts to create an understanding for the complexities of the country to inform relevant stakeholders including those based in Germany and Europe as well as an international readership.


Civil society pakistan

Shrinking Spaces for Civil Society in Pakistan

The role of civil society organizations in the establishment of peace and promotion of human dignity and equality is a recognized globally and protected by the United Nations human rights framework. The modern democracies also recognize the right to form associations in furthering the agenda of promotion and protection of human rights. In the Pakistan Constitution this right is protected under Article 17.
GSP Pakistan

GSP Plus Status: Opportunity for Pakistan to Engage with Europe

The European Union's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) is a trade incentive scheme which reduces or suspends import duties on the products coming into the EU markets from developing countries. It helps these countries in alleviating poverty through creating jobs as well as strengthening systems in compliance with international standards to protect labour and human rights.Pakistan is one of the beneficiary countries.

Paris Principles and Sindh’s Human Rights Institutions

In Pakistan, human rights institutions came very late: the first National Commission of Human Rights was established through federal law in 2012. Since the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan in 2010, human rights fall within the legislative purview of the provinces.