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Human Rights Council holds its annual thematic discussion on technical cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights

AFTERNOON

GENEVA (20 June 2017) - The Human Rights Council this afternoon held its annual thematic discussion on technical cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, focusing on a decade of technical cooperation and capacity building in the Human Rights Council: challenges and the way forward. 

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, underscored that effective technical cooperation was one of the keys to prevent suffering, discrimination and marginalization.  The report outlined the importance of linking together the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights so that legal guidance flew naturally into practical assistance programmes.  Another key challenge was to make progress visible and trackable in order to guide successful technical cooperation.  Finally, High Commisser Zeid noted that the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had to be able to count on a long-term mandate for the Office’s field presence, as well as to secure funding.

The moderator of the panel was Sek Wannamethee, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  The panellists were Sishasak Phuangketkeow, Ambassador of Thailand to France and former President of the Human Rights Council; Maria Luisa Silva, Director of the United Nations Development Programme Office in Geneva; Ahmed Amin Bahnini, Counsellor for Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Claire Hubert, Project Manager at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway; and Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group.

Mr. Phuangketkeow stressed the importance for the Human Rights Council to take a broader perspective when discussing technical cooperation and capacity building.  The provision of technical cooperation and capacity building needed to be rationalized, and efforts had to be mobilized across the United Nations system.  Most importantly, the sense of ownership of the country concerned had to be supported.  One issue which had come up was how to do more in the area of prevention.

Ms. Silva said that there was an urgent need for policy and institution coherence in order to build synergies.  The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Universal Periodic Review were key entry points to improve coherence.  United Nations agencies played a crucial role in transforming the Universal Periodic Review’s recommendations in tangible realities.  For technical assistance to be effective, it needed political leadership and effective identification of shortcomings.
 
Mr. Bahnini noted that strengthening States’ technical capacities was a challenge for the international community in order to reach effective promotion and protection of human rights.  He underlined the important role of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Funds in the promotion of technical assistance and capacity building.  Those funds helped States integrate international human rights norms in their national laws and policies. 

Ms. Hubert particularly stressed the example of Norway, a country that had a long tradition of providing and supporting technical cooperation and capacity building.  She highlighted that, in order to facilitate a more genuine and constructive dialogue, it was vital to avoid politicization and to consider new ways to develop and follow up technical cooperation under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building.
  
Mr. Limon noted that 11 years after the establishment of the Council, there were significant question marks over the degree to which this body was delivering on its vital mandate, due to many reasons, including a growing propensity on the part of some States to use the agenda item of technical assistance and capacity building to address situations of serious violations that should be more correctly dealt with under the item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.

Georgette Gagnon, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, responding to questions and comments raised during the discussion, highlighted financial obstacles, explaining that resources had been dwindling in the past five years.  That reduction clearly impacted on programmes and required the closure of some of them.  The second obstacle was political.  There were sometimes denials of access to countries, which impacted on efficiency and effectiveness.  In States that had means and possibilities for long-term technical assistance, the results were highly visible and their impact sustainable. 

During the discussion, delegations stressed that technical cooperation and capacity building should always be guided by the principles of cooperation, genuine dialogue, impartiality and objectivity, and in line with countries’ needs.  The Council’s mandate on technical assistance was a powerful tool in the promotion of human rights: in 2016 alone, about 63 national human rights institutions had been established or strengthened because of the cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the States concerned; 96 country visits by Special Procedures had been undertaken; and around 47,000 victims of torture in 80 countries had received rehabilitation support.  All this was evidence that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights must be provided with adequate funding to continue its important work.  Technical cooperation and capacity building were important in spreading best practices, but without the “one size fits all” model. 

Speaking during the discussion were Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Philippines on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China on behalf of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Thailand on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Timor Leste on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, Norway on behalf of the UN70 Group, Portugal on behalf of the Group of Friends on national implementation, reporting and follow-up, Sierra Leone, Paraguay, Montenegro, Haiti, Bolivia, Mongolia, Seychelles, Venezuela, India, Republic of Moldova, Malaysia, Switzerland, Maldives, the Netherlands, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Togo, Guinea, Fiji, Honduras, and Bahamas.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Association Bharati Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Indian Council of South America, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

The Council will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 21 June, to hear the regular periodic update on Ukraine by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which will be followed by an interactive discussion.  In its afternoon meeting at 3 p.m. the Council will hear the High Commissioner’s oral update on Georgia and will then hold a general debate on technical assistance and capacity building in the field of human rights.

Opening Remarks

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council would hold the annual thematic discussion on technical cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights, entitled “A decade of technical cooperation and capacity building in the Human Rights Council: challenges and the way forward,” in accordance with the Council resolution 33/28.  The basis for the panel discussion was the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights entitled “Progress and challenges encountered in the main activities aimed at enhancing technical cooperation and capacity building undertaken since the establishment of the Human Rights Council.”  The President then introduced the panellists. 

Keynote Statement

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, underlined that effective technical cooperation was one of the keys to prevent suffering, discrimination, marginalization and conflict.  The report demonstrated the importance of joining up all the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights so that legal guidance flew naturally into practical assistance programmes, which had to be anchored in the contributions of monitoring work and public advocacy.  Effective technical cooperation also benefited from strong integration into the work of United Nations country teams, particularly in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  “One size fits all” was not an effective or a principled human rights approach.  No technical cooperation programme that was short-term or isolated from the broader context could hope to succeed in creating sustainable change.  The work of shifting fundamental conditions within society had to be grounded in local knowledge, reach out to ever relevant dimensions of society, and connect deeply with the real actors and experts – people on the ground. 

In order to guide successful technical cooperation it was also important to make progress visible and trackable.  Paraguay’s online system for reporting on follow-up to recommendations was an excellent example.  That work was being replicated in Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Fiji, Mongolia and Tunisia.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had also provided extensive assistance to enable States to establish national human rights action plans, and to further coordinate implementation through the work of national mechanisms for reporting and follow-up.   That kind of systemic approach involved reaching out to national human rights institutions and civil society – including people from vulnerable and traditionally marginalized groups – as well as to regional, national and local officials.  In struggling to establish comprehensive and profound engagement with the national and local landscape, the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had to be able to count on a long-term mandate for the Office’s field presence, as well as to secure funding.  Short and unsustainable interventions that lacked proper follow-up were not the right way to approach the implementation of human rights, High Commissioner Zeid concluded. 

Statements by the Panel Moderator and the Panellists

SEK WANNAMETHEE, Panel Moderator and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the agenda item on technical cooperation and capacity building was an important mandate of the Human Rights Council.  The tenth anniversary of the Council was an opportune moment to reflect on technical cooperation going forward.  The panel would address how the Council should enhance its actions, what key progress had been made, and which challenges had been encountered so far.  He then introduced the first panellist.

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, Ambassador of Thailand to France, noted that it was a pleasure to be back in the room where he had served as President of the Human Rights Council.  Technical cooperation and capacity building, if considered from a broader strategic perspective, had enormous potential to do good for advancing the protection of human rights.  It was important for the Human Rights Council to take a broader perspective when discussing technical cooperation and capacity building.  Discussing a review which he had led, he said much had been achieved in terms of the discussions which had been had.  One issue which had come up was how to do more in the area of prevention.  Much progress had been achieved, such as the United Nations country teams working to support mandates.  The provision of technical cooperation and capacity building had to be rationalized, and efforts had to be mobilized across the United Nations system.  Most importantly, the sense of ownership of the country concerned had to be supported.  He then turned to agenda item 10 (technical assistance and capacity building), noting that many colleagues thought it had become an extension of agenda item 4 (human rights situations that require the attention of the Council).  However, technical cooperation and capacity building provided space to build common ground in the Human Rights Council.  Discussions under item 10 allowed countries to address situations in a constructive and concrete way.  Agenda item 10 was an opportunity for the Council to work to promote dialogue and trust which all aspired to.

MARIA LUISA SILVA, Director of the United Nations Development Programme Office in Geneva, highlighted two lessons learned from past experiences of working with different United Nations agencies.  There was an urgent need for policy and institution coherence in order to build synergies.  The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Universal Periodic Review were key entry points to improve coherence.  United Nations agencies played a crucial role in transforming the Universal Periodic Review’s recommendations into tangible realities.  This decisive role had been illustrated in Uzbekistan where the United Nations had actively participated to the preparation of a National Action Plan in order to implement the Universal Public Review’s recommendations.  The ambition of “leaving no one behind” that was part of the Sustainable Development Goals provided guidance in the process of implementing recommendations at the national level.  The tripartite cooperation between the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Alliance for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was a good example of enhanced coherence within the system of the United Nations.  Ms. Silva also highlighted that for technical assistance to be effective, it needed political leadership and effective identification of shortcomings.  Finally, there was a need for a systemic transformation in budget management.

AHMED AMIN BAHNINI, Counsellor for Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the mandate and goals of the Human Rights Council to promote and protect human rights remained closely linked with the reinforcement of international cooperation and strengthening of the capacity of States and other actors in the domain of human rights.  If the promotion and protection of human rights constituted a challenge for States, the strengthening of their technical capacities was a challenge for the international community.  Those two challenges were parallel and intertwined.  The focus on technical cooperation allowed for a constructive, collaborative and depoliticized approach to the question of human rights.  Mr. Bahnini underlined the important role of the United Nations Voluntary Funds in the promotion of technical assistance and capacity building.  Those funds helped States integrate international human rights norms in their national laws and policies.  Morocco was the only African country that contributed to the funds.  Morocco was also active in the South-South cooperation in the domain of human rights.  In order to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, it was important to keep those mechanisms that worked, namely the Universal Periodic Review, Mr. Bahnini concluded.   

CLAIRE HUBERT, Project Manager at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said Norway had a long tradition of providing and supporting technical cooperation and capacity building.  Norway sought to ensure that its support was grounded in five principles.  Those were that the cooperation should be grounded in relevant international human rights obligations and recommendations, in line with national priorities, based on mutual respect, inclusive and transparent, and linked to relevant global or regional human rights processes and mechanisms.  Norway strove to be consistent in its approach across fora and platforms, and hoped the 2030 Agenda could help with strengthening that consistency.  When speaking about technical cooperation and capacity building, it was important to ensure that it included all human rights.  Presenting a query of how technical cooperation and capacity building related to agenda item 10 (technical assistance and capacity building), she said there were at least three critical questions.  Those were which countries had received technical assistance, why had they received it, and what kind of support and assistance had they received.  To facilitate a more genuine and constructive dialogue, build trust, avoid politicization and achieve a more effective outcome in strengthening the capacities of States, it might be necessary to consider new ways to develop and follow up technical cooperation under item 10.  The international community should dare to look at partners and opportunities outside the Council.  By inviting different parts of the United Nations family to participate in and report on technical cooperation in the field of human rights, ownership would be strengthened, and understanding was increased of the added value and unique contribution of different actors.

MARC LIMON, Executive Director, Universal Rights Group, outlined that for many developing countries, the task of engaging with the Council and its mechanisms, and of implementing and reporting on hundreds of recommendations each year was extremely challenging in the absence of international support.  And yet, 11 years after the establishment of the Council, there were significant question marks over the degree to which this body was delivering on this vital mandate.  There were a number of reasons for this, including a growing propensity on the part of some States to use agenda item 10 (technical assistance and capacity building) to address situations of serious violations that should be more correctly dealt with under item 4 (human rights situations that require the Council’s attention).  Mr. Limon then offered some thought as to how the Council might strengthen the delivery of domestic capacity building support in the future and how to revitalize item 10.  Capacity building and technical assistance must be provided in consultation with, and with the consent of the country concerned.  The delivery of support must be based in the needs of the country concerned and must be premised on promoting the full implementation of human rights obligations undertaken by States.  The means of delivering support should also be based on the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue, including with civil society.  With those principles in mind, the Council would need to construct a space wherein States reinvigorated item 10.  Mr. Limon called on the Council to give serious consideration to using intersessional periods to convene a voluntary platform for human rights dialogue on capacity building and resilience.

Discussion

Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, stated that technical cooperation was based on respect for national sovereignty and choices as States were primarily responsible for protecting human rights.  Technical cooperation and capacity building were important in spreading best practices, but without the “one size fits all” model.  Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, welcomed the panel discussion, adding that technical cooperation and capacity building should always be guided by the principles of cooperation, genuine dialogue, impartiality and objectivity, and in line with countries’ needs.  China, speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), shared the view on the importance of strengthening technical assistance and capacity building as an indispensable component of the international human rights system.  It was crucial to engage constructively and in good faith with concerned countries. 

Thailand, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the Council’s mandate on technical assistance was a powerful tool in the promotion of human rights.  For technical assistance to be impactful and relevant, the Council should work closely with concerned States and align capacity building with their needs.  European Union stated that technical assistance and capacity building were essential to the integration of human rights in national policies and frameworks.  It welcomed the fact that technical cooperation would continue to be part of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.  Timor Leste, speaking on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, welcomed the establishment of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund in March 2012 to support the participation of least developed countries and small-island developing States in the Council’s work. 

Norway, speaking on behalf of the UN70 Group, said the Council’s item 10 (technical assistance and capacity building) debates had become too static, and suggested changing the approach to ensure a more practical, accountable approach.  Best practices should be shared, and States requesting technical assistance should come forward.   Portugal, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends on national implementation, reporting and follow-up, questioned whether the Council was truly fulfilling its mandate, saying too often item 10 turned into rather stale thematic debates, when instead it should be a dynamic, interactive forum for open and genuine dialogue and cooperation.  Sierra Leone said capacity building was particularly important if the prevention mandate of the Council was to be effective.  Providing technical assistance and capacity building under item 10 when law and order had broken down might be too late to prevent human rights abuses and conflict. 

Paraguay said better results had been achieved through assistance for defining human rights indicators, and in the area of monitoring and implementing human rights recommendations.  Paraguay was endeavouring to share that experience through a South-South programme.  Montenegro said there was a critical need for more engagement and constructive cooperation of all stakeholders in order to provide better impact on the ground.  United Nations country teams must improve their work in terms of raising awareness of the existing international legal instruments and standards.  Haiti said since 1995, there had been a mandate on the human rights situation in Haiti, noting the commitment of the Government to work together with the Human Rights Council.  A new mandate established last March better met the expectations of Haiti.

Association Bharati Centre Culturel Franco-Tamoul stated that in order to improve the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, it was essential for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to set up permanent offices in Colombo and Jaffna.  The Centre highlighted the lack of technical expertise in Sri Lanka to deal with important issues during the post conflict period.  International Human Rights Association of American Minorities drew the Council’s attention to human rights violations against civilians in Yemen.  Capacity building of civil society was still insufficient in the area of monitoring violations perpetrated by Houthi militias.  How could the Council provide effective capacity building to establish a Commission of Inquiry in Yemen?  Indian Council of South America said that at the United States second cycle of the Universal Public Review, it rejected a recommendation to send Alaska and Hawaii to the United Nations Decolonization Committee.  This was a clear example of the United States’ disregard for human rights.

Remarks by Panellists

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, Ambassador of Thailand to France, underscored that it was more important to increase the quality of technical assistance than to increase its quantity.  Technical assistance and capacity building as well as the Universal Periodic Review were key in helping countries to respond to the challenges they were facing.  Particular focus should be given to the way technical assistance was delivered.  It was crucial to monitor that technical assistance met the needs of the country.  Item 10 could be used as a platform to discuss the results of technical assistance in dealing with country situations.  Countries that had benefitted from agenda item 10 should share their experience with the Council.

MARIA LUISA SILVA, Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Geneva, said she would concentrate on the question of how to make work more useful on the ground.  For any technical cooperation and capacity building mechanisms to be effective, change could not be imposed; change had to be wanted.  For countries with limited capacities, it was the multiplicity of policies that presented the challenge.  Linking technical assistance to national development plans adapted to the Sustainable Development Goals was one approach.  The question of the specificity of the assistance was also important.  To harness the best knowledge in the area was important. 

AHMED AMIN BAHNINI, Counsellor for Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said with regard to the request for the High Commissioner to provide more assistance in the field of Universal Periodic Review recommendations, there were certain funds which were for specific purposes, and they could not be taken to be used for another purpose. 

CLAIRE HUBERT, Project Manager at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said there were a lot of challenges related to political will and financial resources.  The approach adopted was very important in that the output should not be one of punishment but of support and of linking it to the country’s own accepted recommendations.  If it was built up in partnership, the room for work was larger than expected.  Many of the political issues became easier to address if they were broken down.  There was a lot of knowledge outside the Human Rights Council on how to do technical cooperation.

MARC LIMON, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group, noticed a lot of common ground regarding resetting ways in which the Council delivered technical assistance and capacity building.  Some proposals referred to country-led efforts in building domestic resilience vis-à-vis human rights violations.  Some examples were provided by the small island developing States, which had driven the establishment of the Voluntary Trust Funds.  All countries should be able to come to the Council and seek technical assistance and capacity building.  Special Procedures were incredibly useful, but there was a time to move beyond traditional experts to national-level implementation.  The role of item 10 was essential in countries’ implementation of the matrix of recommendations.

GEORGETTE GAGNON, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted financial obstacles, explaining that resources had been dwindling in the past five years.  That reduction clearly impacted on programmes and required the closure of some of them.  The second obstacle was political.  There were sometimes denials of access to countries, which impacted on efficiency and effectiveness.  In States that had means and possibilities for long-term technical assistance, the results were highly visible and their impact sustainable.  The office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Haiti remained fully engaged there.

Discussion

Bolivia welcomed technical assistance as an avenue to foster capacity building, not only for States but also for societies, social movements and indigenous peoples.  Technical cooperation should be based on close cooperation with concerned countries and with their consent.  What was the value of multiculturalism in capacity building work?  Mongolia stressed that changing the mind-set of the relevant government agencies through extensive capacity building would be highly instrumental for enabling countries to achieve tangible improvements on the ground.  Mongolia highly valued the crucial work of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of human rights. 

Seychelles commended the Universal Periodic Review as well as the Voluntary Trust Funds which had allowed it to participate to the Human Rights Council session for the first time.  Seychelles called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide further technical support in the area of training.  Venezuela said that development policies should focus on basic needs and the needs of most vulnerable groups.  Cooperation with developing countries should focus on narrowing inequalities.  Venezuela called on the Council to provide the least develop countries with the technical assistance they deserved. India said it was necessary to address the shortcomings in technical assistance and capacity building in order to achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda.  Enhancing technical cooperation with the full participation of non-governmental organizations was also key to improve its efficiency. 

Republic of Moldova said the human rights perspective was at the core of its agenda, and the assistance received from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was of crucial importance to success.  The Republic of Moldova’s experience transposing recommendations into legislation could prove valuable for other States going through the same changes that the country had implemented.  Malaysia said human rights had to be guided by non-politicization, adding that to improve technical cooperation and capacity building, it should be undertaken at the request of the recipient State.  Switzerland said the Council needed to progress in three areas, including through reinforcing technical assistance; it was important to free up space in terms of implementation at the national level.  Maldives welcomed the report presented under the item, adding that Maldives recognized the support of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to least developed countries and small island developing States which enhanced the ability of those States to participate in the progressive achievements of the Council. 

Netherlands said that in 2016, about 63 national human rights institutions had been established or strengthened because of the cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the States concerned; 96 country visits by Special Procedures had been undertaken; and around 47,000 victims of torture in 80 countries had received rehabilitation support, and therefore it was important to provide the Office of the High Commissioner with adequate funding to continue its important work.  Iraq said that one of the achievements was the project of national reconciliation committed to the Council of Ministers and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq in the area of detention.  Libya said that the Government of National Unity still needed cooperation with all parties, particularly in countering terrorism, and emphasized the principle of national ownership of technical assistance and cooperation.

Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions said that it had been supporting its members, including by providing in-country support and building their capacity to act as early warning mechanisms for conflicts and to operate in conflict and post-conflict contexts. 

Ukraine welcomed the elaborate cycle of the technical assistance provided by the Office in Ukraine, including monitoring and the assessment of human rights needs and practical recommendations and technical assistance in how to meet them.  Saudi Arabia had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office in 2012 which had called, inter alia, for the preparation and adoption of guiding principles for the staff working on human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.

Togo welcomed the comprehensive support in technical assistance that it had received from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights between 2006 and 2015.   The Office had played a pivotal role in different electoral processes in the country.  Guinea said that it had been fully associated with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and was thankful for the support of the Office in strengthening its rule of law, notably in the domain of security, justice and governance.  Cooperation with international human rights mechanisms had allowed Guinea to make significant progress.  Fiji reiterated its full support to the High Commissioner and his Office for their important role in providing technical assistance and capacity building, which should always be agreed upon and respond to the needs of receiving States. 

Honduras underscored the relevance of the panel discussion, noting that promoting technical assistance upon consultation with States was one of the most efficient tools of the Council.  The 2030 Agenda was a unique opportunity to integrate human rights in the process of formulation of national development plans.  Bahamas stated that technical cooperation and capacity building had to be key components of any attempt to advance human rights at the global level.  It expressed hope that the Council’s discussion under item 10 would reflect the true spirit of the item, while fostering genuine dialogue and cooperation. 

Concluding Remarks

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, Ambassador of Thailand to France, suggested that all the proposals that had been made during the meeting be collected in order to examine the possibilities to improve current technical assistance.   Particular focus should be given to ensuring a good delivery of technical assistance, bearing in mind that it should have an impact on the ground.  Technical assistance should not be limited to item 10 but should cross all domains of cooperation.  Further discussions should address the needs of countries beyond what was already being done by main actors.

MARIA LUISA SILVA, Director of the United Nations Development Programme Office in Geneva, stated that technical cooperation must be culturally sensitive and adapted to the national and cultural settings where it occurred.  Around the world, United Nations schemes came under the United Nations Development Group, which was aimed at providing support to countries for them to include the Sustainable Development Goals in national action plans.  United Nations rapid integrated missions which were composed of experts from different United Nations agencies were in charge of identifying the areas where the needs were greatest.  Those missions also played a key role in analysing the principle of “leaving no one behind” in order to find avenues to implement it. 

AHMED AMIN BAHNINI, Counsellor for Human Rights at the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that most statements during the discussion had been very positive.  Technical cooperation and capacity building were successful mechanisms, and the debate was clear about the need to move forward.  The question was now in which way to proceed.  There was no “one size fits all” model.  Thus, implementation of strategic plans on technical cooperation and capacity building had to be made in consultation with countries concerned and with national plans.

CLAIRE HUBERT, Project Manager at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway, welcomed the idea that all countries could ask for technical assistance and capacity building.  Norway also needed such form of assistance.  There should be no stigma in asking for assistance.  The Independent Expert on international solidarity had visited Norway recently and that had been a very useful exercise. 

MARC LIMON, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group, said that at the heart of the discussion lay the conclusion that the Human Rights Council should support all countries in achieving human rights standards, engaging fully with relevant mechanisms, and thus benefiting from the international human rights system.  If countries made progress on the implementation of human rights recommendations, that would complement progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Sharing experiences in domestic implementation was incredibly important because it did not happen often enough in the Council.  Finally, addressing the question on how to match needs with offers of capacity building support, there was a need to create space within the Council to discuss countries’ needs.

GEORGETTE GAGNON, Director of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained that the recommendations from the mechanism were the basis of technical cooperation.  As for reporting mechanisms, in 2016 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had assisted more than 28 countries in treaty body capacity building.  The Office was constantly deliberating about new ways of delivering technical cooperation, such as between countries.  Experts had opportunities to discuss concrete programmes with country representatives through sessions organized by the Office.  The Office had been working to develop new kinds of partnerships, such as with Microsoft, for example.
 
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