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Speech of the Human Rights Council President at Council side event on the role of the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region

Side event on:
The role of the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation centre
for South-West Asia and the Arab Region

Monday 25 June, 13.00 to 15.00pm, room XXII

H.E. Assistant foreign Minister for International Cooperation of the State of Qatar,
Madam High Commissioner,
H.E. Ambassador Alya,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to be present for the opening of this side event organized by the State of Qatar and the OHCHR on the role of the UN Human Rights training and documentation centre for South West Asia and the Arab region, based in Doha, the first of its kind.

The event is a timely opportunity to discuss the role of the Centre in identifying challenges for the promotion of human rights education in the region, particularly in the context of current political changes and aspirations of the peoples in the Arab region.

Education and HR education are of fundamental importance in contributing to the promotion, protection and effective realization of all human rights and in empowering persons and key actors, for example the judiciary, as well as customary or religious institutions. Human rights education has to reach all sectors of the society, in order to promote a culture of universal respect for human rights for all, without discrimination of any kind, and to contribute to the prevention of human rights violations and abuses.

The Human Rights Council has been key to the adoption of the UN Declaration on Human rights education and training. The Declaration is the result of extensive work by the Advisory Committee of the Human rights Council as well as member States. It was adopted in March 2011 by the HRC and in December 2011 by the General Assembly by Res.66/137. It is a landmark document, recognizing the right to access to human rights education, a lifelong process involving all ages, all parts of society, and every kind of education, formal and informal. It provides policy makers and educators with an occasion to reassess national policies and priorities in the light of international standards.

The issue of HRE has also been discussed within the Council’s work through the SR on the right to education, as well as other special procedures.

This morning the Council discussed the advanced report of the SR on the independence of judges and lawyers on the “global thematic study on human rights education and training of legal professionals”, where the SR recommends lifelong or on-going training of the main judicial actors: judges, prosecutors, magistrates, public defenders, lawyers and the police, with skill building and sensitization on the theoretical and practical aspects, to strengthen knowledge that will enable them to perform their duties in an impartial manner. She also expressed that it is a fundamental instrument in promoting democracy, the rule of law, and combating impunity.

As indicated in the GA resolution 60/153 (2005), the mandate of the Doha regional training Centre is focused on undertaking training and documentation activities according to international HR standards and supporting efforts within the region by governments, UN agencies and programmes, NHRIs and NGOs. It is therefore a key actor in promoting international human rights standards.

Despite its recent creation in 2009, the Centre has undertaken a series of important activities since 2010, such as training of NHRIs in the region which are starting to be established, strengthening their expertise and independence; organising thematic workshops to support regional initiatives on issues of interest for the region, such as trafficking in persons, and training for the media. I hope that the Centre will continue to engage in such activities, including thematic areas that would appear relevant in the current context (ex: women’s rights and their role in public life and political processes in the region, freedom of expression and of association and peaceful assembly among others).

I am also pleased to see that the Centre is also engaging with regional mechanisms. I welcome the presence today of the Head of the UN training and documentation centre in Doha, as well as the representative of the Permanent Arab Human Rights Commission of the League of Arab States, and so many other high level experts of the region, as an opportunity to learn more about the on-going activities, reinforce cooperation, sharing experiences in human rights education in the region and best practices identified internationally.

On 18 June, we hold a side event organized by the Presidency with the OHCHR and a group of States, including Qatar, on the enhancement of cooperation with regional and sub-regional mechanisms. A representative of the Human Rights Division of the Secretariat of the League of Arab States (Ms. Al Shejni) was present and underlined the importance of cooperation in terms of sharing best practices with other regional and international mechanisms in order to better protect and promote HR. I hope the centre will continue to work towards creating or consolidating these synergies in order to benefit from each other’s experience in protecting and promoting human rights.

The UN declaration on human rights education emphasizes the need to take into account specific national and local needs and priorities. I believe the Centre is best placed to provide specific human rights training adapted to the needs of the region, and to develop tools following international standards, adjusted to the realities and necessities on the ground, especially in the current context of profound changes in the political systems.

Helping establishing strong independent NHRIs would be a most welcome outcome, since NHRIs are best placed to be a legitimate channel between the society and the authorities. Assisting governments or legislators in looking at the compatibility of draft legislation (or even Constitutions) with international human rights standards is central as well.

A lot of expectations are placed on the Centre so that it will help the different actors focus on human rights and promote adequate implementation of international human rights law and standards through promotion of a human rights culture, building HR expertise in the region for all actors disseminating information on HR and advocating for the ratification of international human rights instruments and its implementation.

In concluding, I would like to thank the organisers and convey my best wishes for the future of Centre and the countries of the region.