In line with the recommendations of the Regional Conference on the “Role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in the MENA Region”, the ongoing orientation programmes and workshops, as part of OHCHR’s engagement with Member States in the region, seeks to strengthen the capacity of civil servants of Member States to engage with the United Nations international human rights mechanisms.
The capacity-building programme of MENA Section facilitates and contributes towards enhancing and strengthening the human rights capacity of Member States through diplomats and civil servants of various line ministries. As a critical complement to the work of the Section, the capacity-building programme has, since 2017, provided human rights orientation training for 83 diplomats (48 males and 35 females). These orientation programmes are aim at embedding deep sense of human rights responsibilities and the understanding of UN human rights mechanisms, instruments and their applicability, amongst the new generation of diplomats. More importantly, it is to strengthen Member States’ engagement with the United Nations international human rights mechanisms. The orientation programmes target junior diplomats from MENA region in addition to secretariats of League of Arab States (LAS) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The orientation programmes regularly take place in Geneva and last for four days each. In order to reduce cost and increase the number of participants for this year, we organized the training in the Regional Office of MENA (ROMENA) in Beirut, Lebanon, in cooperation with OHCHR Regional Office of Middle East and North Africa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lebanon.
The overall objectives of this orientation programme and workshop are to:
- Provide a general introduction to international human rights mechanisms, with specific focus on mechanisms and treaties that address Member States’ obligations.
- Build participants’ knowledge and skills on how to engage with international human rights mechanisms through their work.
- Bring participants together that would allow the sharing of good practices and lessons learned in engaging with the UN mechanisms and would also allow for a dialogue with OHCHR on thematic areas through which engagement with the relevant mechanisms could be explored using practical simulated approaches.
Programme of activities
The Orientation programme brought together approximately 50 participants from across MENA region from 17 to 20 June 2019.
It consisted of opening and closing sessions and working sessions that are detailed in the programme of work. In order to make the programme interactive, short and informal presentations, mostly by OHCHR staff members, by or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon and by subject matter experts from the region, were intended to trigger discussions and engage participants. Participants were encouraged to share their sub-regional specific experiences in various simulation exercises. The participants had the opportunity to engage in a group exercise. The presentations provided introductions to engagement to various UN human rights mechanisms, with a specific focus on the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review and Special Procedures. In addition to international human rights treaties, as ratified by all States of the region.
Participants received a documentation package of materials which are relevant to various presentations and briefings, and were asked for their expectations of the training at the start of the programme, and asked to indicate whether their expectations were met at the end of the training through an evaluation exercise.