Dalit activists forming part of the IDSN delegation made their presence felt at the 25th EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights in Brussels, Belgium held from 4-6 December, 2023. Sunil Kumar Pariyar from Nepal and Prameela KP from India joined the forum to highlight the challenges faced by Dalit communities in their respective countries and beyond.

A Commitment to Dalit Rights

The 25th EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights, was organised by the European Commission and the European External Action Service in partnership with the Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN), under the theme “Youth as actors of change for human rights.” It provided a platform to discuss the work of young human rights defenders worldwide, the challenges they face, and opportunities to shape the future of human rights.

Sunil Kumar Pariyar’s Presentation

Sunil Kumar Pariyar, founded Dalit Alliance for Natural Resources (DANAR), a member of IDSN. He is a forest and natural resource management activist committed to safeguarding the rights of Dalits and marginalised communities, DANAR works on issues such as climate change, gender equality, and social inclusion.

Sunil presented a compelling case at the forum, shedding light on the Dalit community’s struggles in Nepal. He emphasized that Dalits, who are primarily farmers, face discrimination in accessing agricultural land, water for irrigation, and even clean drinking water. Additionally, they bear the brunt of climate change impacts, making them one of the most vulnerable and impoverished groups in Nepal. His aim was to raise awareness about these issues and draw attention to the urgent need for change. You can watch Sunil’s presentation here.

Prameela KP sheds light on the situation of Dalit women and girls

Prameela KP works with the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) as part of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). AIDMAM works to empower Dalit women and girls, nurturing them to become leaders in the fight for Dalit self-respect and dignity.

Prameela actively participated as a Rapporteur for a session on the Asia-Pacific region, proposing recommendations for action to the EU. As a Dalit woman human rights defender from India, the EU NGO Forum provided her with a platform to voice the many violations faced by Dalits and initiate a dialogue on addressing caste and gender-based violence against Dalit women and girls in India. It also offered her a broader perspective on the diverse challenges faced by human rights defenders worldwide and she in turn shared her extensive insights with participants at the forum.

The NGO Forum will produce a report with action-oriented suggestions and recommendations, emphasising practical ways for the EU, Member States, civil society, and youth to adapt and improve policies and practices.

Advocacy meetings with EU officials

In addition to their contributions during the forum, on the 6 and 7 December Sunil and Prameela held several advocacy meetings with EU officials, facilitated by IDSN’s EU adviser. These meetings provided an opportunity to engage with policymakers and programme officers from the European External Action Service, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. Sunil highlighted how natural disasters exacerbate the Dalit community’s vulnerability, leaving them without access to basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter.

Prameela further emphasised the need to address caste and gender-based violence against Dalit girls, advocating for specific policies for Dalit human rights defenders with an intersectional perspective. Her efforts have already borne fruit, as she received an invitation from the EU Delegation to India to speak on “Discrimination faced by the Dalit Community” in a civil society consultation ahead of the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.

Sunil and Prameela’s participation in the 25th EU-NGO Forum on Human Rights in 2023 and contributions and engagement with EU officials has paved the way for constructive dialogues and potential policy changes that can positively impact the lives of Dalits in their respective countries.