Since its establishment in 1982, ICES has undertaken a series of research and policy formulation programmes and projects in areas such as ethnicity, minority protection and multiculturalism. With regard to the United Nations mechanisms and procedures, ICES has been working closely with the Working Group on Minorities and has been raising awareness of the work and recommendations of the Working Group among the international community and in South Asia. ICES has also been regularly using the United Nations human rights system in order to channel information from Sri Lanka to the Special Rapporteurs, the Working Groups of the Commission, and the Treaty bodies. In this connection, ICES has published a toolkit for NGOs on how to access and effectively use the United Nations mechanisms and procedures to submit information and complaints.
As for the implementation of international human rights standards, ICES implemented a project on minority protection in South Asia which involved, inter alia, examining experiences, achievements and shortfalls of minority/majority arrangements in the region, and organising national reviews on minority issues with a particular emphasis on the status of implementation of international human rights standards. In October 2001, ICES sponsored a conference, in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harvard Law School, to look at international standards and minority rights, with a particular emphasis on the analysis of the work of United Nations human rights mechanisms and procedures.
ICES has also worked with National institutions and their role in the promotion and protection of diversity. In its effort to enhance the elaboration of regional standards the Centre has completed a statement of principles which aims at effectively addressing minority issues and concerns which cut across countries in South Asia and develop and enhance regional responses to some of the current weaknesses in constitutional and legislative protection and promotion of minority and group rights. This document was presented as a working paper at the Working Group on Minorities in Geneva and received a positive response.
With reference to training activities and advisory services, ICES has organized a number of training workshops on the international mechanisms and procedures for NGOs in the Asian region, and has held brainstorming sessions with key NGO representatives from the Asian and South Asian region on the needs for, the contents and the delivery of advisory services. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, ICES designed a training manual which has been used extensively. The Centre is presently publishing a compendium which details organizations, scholars and newspapers focusing on minority issues in South Asia.