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8th phase (2012-2013) of the ACT Project

Assisting Communities Together Project
Eighth Phase (2012-2013)
Project Implementation Report

I. Introduction

The “Assisting Communities Together” (ACT) Project was initiated in 1998 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It makes available small grants to grass-roots organizations to carry out human rights education activities in local communities. The ACT Project is principally aimed at strengthening local capacities for human rights education, training and public information. Experience has shown that it has also contributed to bridging the gap between the international and local levels, as well as to improving the relationship between civil society and local and national authorities.

The present report provides an overview of activities carried out under the eighth phase of the ACT Project (2012 – 2013) and highlights the main results of the phase drawn from projects funded by OHCHR.

How does the ACT Project work?

The overall administration of the ACT Project is coordinated by OHCHR headquarters in Geneva. For each phase (i.e. round of grants), OHCHR and UNDP jointly determine a list of participating countries in which grants will be awarded and the thematic focus of the human rights education projects to be supported. In each participating country, a local task force, comprising UNDP and OHCHR staff as well as other representatives of United Nations entities, organizes a local call for proposals, disseminates application forms and selects the activities to be funded. The task force is responsible for notifying the selected grantees and monitoring the implementation of the activities. The grantee enters into a grant agreement with the UNDP country office or with OHCHR (depending on the funding entity). The maximum grant per project is currently set at US$ 7,000, but may vary for each phase. The overall project budget can be higher if funds are available to applying organizations from other sources.

The following entities in participating countries and territories can submit applications:

  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • Local associations;
  • EM>Academic institutions and professional groups; and
  • Other civil society institutions carrying out human rights education activities in local communities.

II. Project management and funding

Based on the expression of interest received from both OHCHR field presences and UNDP Country Offices, 9 countries and territories were jointly selected in April 2012 by OHCHR headquarters and the UNDP Geneva Liaison Office to participate in the eight phase of the Project. They were: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Republic of Moldova, Sudan and Tunisia. OHCHR awarded grants in the 9 participating countries, UNDP awarded grants in 8 participating countries, and UNCHR awarded grants in one participating country.

Regional distribution of countries participating in the eighth phase

Regional distribution of countries - 8th phase

Under this phase, a total of 33 projects were selected for funding. Of these, 17 grants were funded by OHCHR, who allocated a total of US$ 116,664.02 to the eighth phase. (Additionally, UNDP and UNHCR allocated total of US$ 97,819.02 and $14,000, respectively, to the eighth phase.)

As in previous phases, local ACT Task Forces comprising OHCHR, UNDP and United Nations staff, organized calls for proposals in each participating country in order to select grantees. The implementation of selected projects started between late August and October 2012 and proceeded for up to six months from the start date. Throughout the phase, one UN staff member in each participating country was designated as an “ACT Focal Point” to ensure follow-up and monitoring of activities, as well as the review of mid-term and final reports, before their final submission to OHCHR headquarters.

By December 2013, OHCHR had received final activity reports from all the projects it funded.

Table 1: Distribution of OHCHR funding by region (2012-2013)

Region

Funds allocated  (in US$)

Percentage distribution of total funds

Number of projects

Africa

41,897.80

35.9%

6

Europe and Central Asia

27,448.00

23.5%

4

Latin America and the Caribbean

27,693.22

23.7%

4

Middle East and North Africa

19,625.00

16.8%

3

TOTAL

116,664.02

100%

17

Significantly represented among the beneficiaries of the eighth phase were women including victims of gender-based and domestic violence, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, children with disabilities, parents, teachers, ethnic minorities, community and youth leaders, victims of specific human rights violations (such as the 1981 El Mozote Massacre), lawyers and journalists. The majority of the supported project activities aimed at encouraging participation and building capacities of these groups through human rights education and awareness activities such as workshops and training programmes, consultations, debates and discussions, theatre plays or sketches, art, film, and the publication of booklets, articles, methodology tools and manuals. Through these mechanisms, the themes of exclusion and discrimination against certain individuals, communities and populations were addressed. 

III. Thematic distribution of OHCHR-funded projects

Funded activities focused on supporting human rights education projects specifically aimed at countering discrimination on any ground and with regards to any group, in line with one of OHCHR’s six thematic priorities for the 2012-2013 biennium. In addition, there were human rights public awareness initiatives such as workshops and training programmes on combating gender-based and domestic violence as well as discrimination against persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, persons living with HIV, prisoners, drug users and sexually diverse people. They also sought to promote awareness of human rights issues, including specific instances of violation, and increase women and youth participation.

The various activities carried out within the 17 projects covered the following thematic areas and issues (distribution provided in Table 2):

  • Gender equality, women’s rights and violence against women
  • Human rights awareness and empowerment for the general public
  • Discrimination, rights of indigenous peoples and minorities

Table 2: Thematic distribution of OHCHR-funded projects

Subject/theme

Region and countries

Number of projects

Percentage of projects by theme

Gender equality, women’s rights and violence against women

Africa: Cameroon (1), Sudan (Darfur) (1)

7

41.2%

Europe and Central Asia: FYR Macedonia (2), Republic of Moldova (1)

Latin America and the Caribbean: Dominican Republic (1)

Middle East and North Africa: Occupied Palestinian Territory (1)

Human rights awareness and empowerment for the general public

Africa: Burkina Faso (2), Sudan (Darfur) (1)

6

35.3%

Europe and Central Asia: Republic of Moldova (1)

Latin America and the Caribbean: Dominican Republic (1), El Salvador (1)

Discrimination, rights of indigenous peoples and minorities

Africa: Cameroon (1)

4

23.5%

Latin America and the Caribbean: El Salvador (1)

Middle East and North Africa: Occupied Palestinian Territory (1), Tunisia (1)

TOTAL

 

17

100%

The project reports have highlighted, among others, the following positive outcomes:

  • Various marginalized groups and victims of human rights violations, particularly women who have suffered gender-based and domestic violence, children living with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, sexually diverse individuals, people living with HIV/AIDS, prisoners and drug users were empowered through a better understanding of their rights and the resources available to them;
  • The effectiveness and impact of human rights awareness building activities and workshops, particularly with regards to the issues of discrimination and specific human rights violations, were enhanced through the extensive use of theatre, film, art, discussion, television and other media forms;
  • Human rights training and education workshops benefitted from the participation of a variety of stakeholders: victims of gender-based violence and other human rights violations, children living with disabilities, religious leaders, rural communities, youth, women leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS, sexually diverse individuals, religious and ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and activists, lawyers, journalists and NGO representatives;
  • Project activities facilitated the creation of various discussion forums and consultative mechanisms involving various beneficiaries and encouraging their active participation on the various issues concerning their daily lives;
  • Consultations and workshops involving many stakeholders – women leaders, religious and community leaders, elders, experts from civil society including journalists, lawyers, psychologists, teachers, professors – contributed to the improvement of the human rights situation in countries concerned.

The eighth phase of the ACT Project increased awareness on human rights among a variety of audiences, as well as contributed to the empowerment of victims of human rights violations by strengthening understanding of their human rights and the tools and mechanisms available to them. As reported by UN colleagues in the field and by grant recipients, it also achieved the following objectives:

  • Contribute towards the improvement of the human rights record at the local and national levels;
  • Create linkages between the international and the local levels;
  • Enhance the relationship between marginalized groups and civil society with their respective local or national authorities;
  • Further build and enhance cooperation between civil society and the local United Nations presence. 

Report on implementation of activities by themes and summaries by country