The Technical Cooperation Program for Human Rights Capacity Building in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the result of a fruitful partnership between the Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This partnership was translated into a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between the parties in Geneva on 07/08/1433 H (corresponding to 27/06/2012), and ratified by Royal Decree No. M/31, dated 27/05/1434 H (corresponding to 08/04/2013).
OBJECTIVES OF THE TECHNICAL COOPERATION PROGRAM
The main objective of the Technical Cooperation Program is to build national capacities necessary for the protection and promotion of human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The program also aims at strengthening the engagement of the Kingdom with the International Human Rights Mechanisms.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TECHNICAL COOPERATION PROGRAM
In February 2014, The activities of the Program were effectively commenced as a collaborative effort between the SHRC and the OHCHR through its Regional Office in the Middle East and North Africa in Beirut, Lebanon. The implemented activities were in accordance to the Program's objectives, and took into consideration the needs of the SHRC and government entities, as well as the recommendations emanating from international human rights mechanisms.
The Program yielded positive results, including:
- Developing the SHRC capacities in the protection and promotion of human rights.
- Promoting human rights education in the Kingdom.
- Contributing to the preparation of a national strategy for combating trafficking in persons
- Contributing to the implementation of various specialized training-of-trainers programs.
- Strengthening the engagement of the Kingdom with the International Human Rights System.
ACTIVITIES OF THE TECHNICAL COOPERATION PROGRAM
Both the SHRC and the OHCHR have implemented a series of activities, programs and events to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, focusing on the following themes:
- Programs and activities that aim to strengthen the cooperation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the UN human rights mechanisms, which includes the preparation of periodic reports and monitoring the implementation of the recommendations made by such mechanisms.
- Programs and activities that aim to adapt national legislations to international standards in accordance with the Kingdom's international obligations
- Training of trainers in human rights and wide-scale dissemination of the culture of human rights in the Kingdom.
- Program and activities on the protection and promotion of human rights through the development of the SHRC capacities and roles in coordination with other external and internal stakeholders.
For more information on the implementation of the Technical Cooperation Program's activities from 2014 to the end of the second phase of the program, February 2019, please click
CHALLENGES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
The Technical Cooperation Program was successful in implementing many capacity-building activities and contributing to the qualitative leap in the SHRC operations and performance; yet, several challenges remains to be addressed. At the same time, however, there are many opportunities that would serve to strengthen the human rights foundation in the Kingdom in the future. These challenges and opportunities can be summarized as follows:
- Dispelling the common belief in the difficulty of reconciling the concept of human rights with the Islamic Sharia, on which the Kingdom bases its laws and regulations.
- Enhancing the performance and capacities of government authorities tasked with the protection and promotion of human rights in the Kingdom through training and capacity-building programs.
- The novelty of establishing many civil society organizations whose activities are predominantly philanthropic, and the difficulties faced in connecting their activities to the concept of human rights/human rights based approach.
- Keeping the legislative and legal framework in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in line with the international human rights obligation.
- Taking the necessary steps to reform human rights within the society under the Saudi Vision 2030, notably through emphasis on the moderate interpretation of Islam.
- The Shura Council and several other concerned government authorities have already begun reviewing laws and regulations in light of the Saudi Vision 2030.
- The SHRC is currently drafting the National Human Rights Strategy, which is expected to promote and clarify the roles of various government authorities and bodies in the protection and promotion of human rights in the Kingdom