Geneva, 06 to 09 November 2018
During the first week of the 31st Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Geneva International Centre for Justice organized a training workshop on International Human Rights and Human Rights Mechanisms for the period from November 06 to 09, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The workshop was designed to train a group of NGO representatives, human rights activists, lawyers and University professors. The training focuses on the functioning of the United Nations human rights system. The strengthening of the participants’ ability to effectively engage with the relevant UN bodies and the gaining of a deeper understanding of the international human rights mechanisms, the Universal Periodic Review.
During the workshop, the participants received an overview of the history and mandate of the UN human rights bodies, including the human rights mechanism. A special attention was paid to the mandate and activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and its important role in the protection of human rights around the globe.
As a continuation of the theoretic presentation of the human rights mechanisms, the trainees received extensive information on the work of the Human Rights Council, including the mandate of the previous body (Human Rights Commission) as well as the circumstances that led to the establishment of the new body (the Human Rights Council) in 2006. Details on the mandate of the Council, the permanent Agenda, the membership, the regular and special sessions, the decision-making process, as well as the participation of the NGOs in the Council (prior and during the sessions), and the ways in which NGOs can submit written statements and deliver oral statements were also provided.
Particular attention was devoted to the functioning and structure of the UN Special Procedures, to the difference between the mandates, and to the ways in which mandate holders perform their responsibilities. Participants received explanations on how NGOs and civil society can bring issues to the attention of the Special Procedures mandate holders and request action, including country visits and inclusion of addressed issues in their reports to the HRC.
The presentation of the UPR was done in the way of explaining the unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
In the following days, trainees had the chance to experience one of the appropriate ways NGOs can contribute to the Council; they attended a side event co-organized by GICJ and Jordanian Civic Coalition. The meeting shed light on the participation of the Jordanian NGOs in the UPR process. The panellists explained the issues raised in the reports by NGOs to the UPR Working Group. These reports include views on the reality of women’s rights, access to justice, freedom of expression and media freedom, torture, refugees, and migrant workers. During the side event on the UPR of Jordan, the trainees got acquainted with the way in which panellists shared their insights and discussed the human rights situation in Jordan. The trainees had the opportunity to engage with the panellists and offered their insights and recommendations to improve the human rights situation.
Moreover, to deepen their practical knowledge on the work of UPR, the participants had the opportunity to attend the official session of the Universal Periodic Review on Jordan and Malaysia. The participants had the chance to observe how the representative of the two countries presented their respective National Reports to the Council. They also listened to member states deliver statements where they made comments and gave recommendations to the country in review.
In the concluding part of the training, the group could interact and discuss with GICJ about their experience and the relevance of the workshop for the UPR. The trainees expressed an appreciation for the training and described it as a remarkable experience. GICJ appreciated their insights on the work and the improvement of the training program.
All the participants completed the training and a closing ceremony was organized, during which, each trainee received a certificate in recognition of the successful completion of the workshop on International Human Rights Law and Human Rights Mechanisms.