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Useful Information

OHCHR Human Rights Programme for Europe and Central Asia
2008-2009
2006-2007

Country Mandates Established
by the CHR/HRC

Open invitation to Special Procedures

Regional Members of the Human Rights Council:

Austria 2014
Czech Republic 2014
Estonia 2015
Germany 2015
Ireland 2015
Italy 2014
Kazakhstan 2015
Montenegro 2015
Romania 2014
United States of America 2015

Voluntary Pledges and Commitments

Publications

OHCHR report 2012 OHCHR Report 2012 (PDF)
OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017 OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017
Brochure: Human Rights in action Human Rights in Action (PDF)
Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR – Central Asia Regional Office


Human Rights Context


The five States of Central Asia share many features and challenges, partly because of their shared history and the legacy of the Soviet Union, and because of their geographic proximity. Yet, since each country has developed in its own way since independence, specific and targeted activities need to be developed for each country.

There are no regional human rights mechanisms in Central Asia, and few international organizations focus their work exclusively on human rights issues. OHCHR can therefore play a key role in raising awareness about human rights. The establishment of the Regional Office is crucial for realizing OHCHR’s goal of active country engagement.

Major human rights concerns as identified by UN human rights mechanisms include allegations of the widespread use of torture; arbitrary detention; the absence of an independent judiciary and violations of fair trial principles; harassment and persecution of civil society organizations, human rights defenders and political opponents; violations of the right to seek asylum and of the nonrefoulement principle; domestic violence and violations of women's rights; child labour; serious obstacles to the enjoyment of freedom of expression, association, information, and movement; limitations on the enjoyment of religious freedoms; poverty and violations of a wide range of social and economic rights, including the right to social security and to an adequate standard of living, in particular its component rights to adequate housing and water.

The 2006-2007 biennium saw a number of positive developments: the change in leadership in Turkmenistan has created an opportunity for better engagement with this country, and Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian State to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The High Commissioner visited Central Asia in April and May 2007 with the aim of discussing human rights needs in the region and how the future Regional Office for Central Asia could help meet those needs. 

Achievements

 
In June 2006, a Regional Representative was deployed to Central Asia to establish the Regional Office. At the time of writing, negotiations on the establishment of the Regional Office were ongoing. OHCHR hopes that they will be completed by early 2008, and that the Regional Office will be fully functional during the 2008-2009 biennium.

Despite this delay, OHCHR was able to increase its engagement on a number of key issues in the region. The Office promoted ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Two round tables on the subject were held with the participation of international experts and resulting materials were published and disseminated. Working with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, OHCHR organized a regional seminar on follow-up to the Committee’s concluding observations. The Office also carried out protection and promotion work and cooperated with the UN human rights special procedures and treaty bodies.

Before the closure of the UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding in July 2007, OHCHR continued to support the activities of its human rights component through a national programme officer working under the supervision of the Central Asia regional representative and funded through the regional project. The regional project implemented a number of human rights activities in Tajikistan, ranging from human rights education, treaty body reporting and implementation support to training for judges and lawyers. At the time of writing, OHCHR was cooperating with UNDP and other organizations active in the region, in particular OSCE, to continue providing human rights support to the country. At the request of the Government, OHCHR and UNDP are supporting Tajikistan’s efforts to establish an independent national human rights institution. Once the Regional Office is formally established, it will support a smaller presence in the country to allow for monitoring and protection work to continue. The unit would continue a number of initiatives in human rights education, and expand into new priority areas, such as violence against women, torture and housing rights. It would also respond to government requests for support, particularly for establishing an independent national human rights institution.

In Turkmenistan, a joint OHCHR/UNDP project to support the country in its treaty body reporting started in May 2006. The Government set up an inter-ministerial committee to be led by the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and started work on preparing reports to be submitted to the treaty bodies. The committee is gathering additional information under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and will prepare the country’s report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The reports under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture are also due. Agreement was reached with the Government to begin a new project in mid-2008, in cooperation with UNDP, to focus on implementing recommendations that emerge from the various human rights bodies.

Priorities


OHCHR’s strategy in Central Asia focuses mostly on efforts to end impunity for torture, violence against women and infringements on the rights of other vulnerable groups. One way to achieve this will be through ensuring greater access to legal services. The Regional Office will also continue to raise awareness about economic, cultural and social rights, and about UN human rights complaint mechanisms, including special procedures and treaty bodies, and will work to improve the effectiveness of the treaty body reporting system.

OHCHR will assist UN Country Teams in implementing a human rights-based approach in all areas of their work. Improved partnerships with Country Teams will help bolster the effectiveness of UN human rights mechanisms and will remain one of the cornerstones of OHCHR’s engagement in the region.

The Regional Office will seek to increase its oversight and supervisory capacity for joint activities with donors and key actors from the international community, and will conduct regular field visits to the countries in the region where joint activities and programmes are being implemented. The Office will also work with the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy to engage relevant political and security organizations and States with significant leverage and influence in the region.

Regional Office for Central Asia, Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

The Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) has seven core staff (including five programme staff) based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, a three-person team in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and one staff member in Astana, Kazakhstan. It is currently implementing a regional EU funded project, “Human Rights Protection for Stability in Central Asia”. Under this project, twelve temporary ROCA staff members are based in Kyrgyzstan from October 2012 until December 2013.

In 2013 ROCA will work to contribute towards the following expected accomplishments in Central Asia:
1) establishment of effective National Preventive Mechanisms to monitor places of detention; 2) increased compliance and engagement by the state with the UN human rights mechanisms and other human rights bodies, including follow up on their recommendations; 3) adoption of national legislation and development of policies compliant with international standards on the right to adequate housing; 4) decisive steps taken to adopt and improve policies in line with international standards on minority rights; 5) Ombudsman institutions increasingly work in conformity with the Paris Principles; 6) the international community is increasingly attentive to human rights developments in countries of Central Asia.


Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division
Geneva, Switzerland

Europe and Central Asia Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9291
Geneva, Switzerland

Regional Offices/Centres

Southern Caucasus

Central Asia

Other OHCHR Offices

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Serbia
Russian Federation

Links

United Nations Country Teams in Europe, Central and the Caucasus Region

Other UN links

External links

Geneva Conventions

ILO Conventions

Refugee Conventions

Council of Europe

European Union

Organization of American States

International Criminal Court

Inter-American Commission for Human Rights

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

International Monetary Fund

World Bank

National Institutions

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