OHCHR opens new regional human rights hub in Doha

The human rights education and capacity development work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will have a much higher profile and longer reach with the opening of the United Nations centre for Human Rights in Qatar’s capital, Doha. OHCHR has been shifting its emphasis to the field for the last few years and the development of the new United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab region underscores that strategic view. The Centre will be officially opened by Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Qatari Minister of State, His Excellency Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang - OHCHRThe Centre’s chief purpose is to build on existing human rights achievements in the region through training and documentation activities involving a wide range of governments, institutions and individuals in close cooperation with the network of OHCHR regional offices in Beirut, Addis Ababa and Bangkok. The Centre will have multiple training and information-sharing functions devoted to achieving a substantial, sustained human rights capacity in the region. 

Recognizing that information is key, the Centre’s other critical function is the development and documentation of human rights systems in the languages of the regions it is serving. The Centre will assemble a broad collection of information resources and publications in print and electronic format, to inform policy makers, human rights defenders, practitioners from various sectors, academics and researchers. The material stored and disseminated by the Centre will provide essential complementary support to the educational and information-sharing roles of the Centre.

A major responsibility of the Centre is to construct partnerships with governments and with civil society, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations and to engage with the media of the region and beyond to promote human rights knowledge and experiences.

The opening of the Centre is the result of an agreement between the Office of the High Commissioner and the government of Qatar. The initial offer to host the Centre in Doha was made by the Qatari government in 2004 and shortly after OHCHR was officially asked to assist with its development. In 2005 the General Assembly passed a resolution welcoming the venture and an agreement was signed in December 2008 by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang.

To mark the operational start-up of the Centre an inaugural two-day regional workshop is scheduled during its first week. The workshop, “A comprehensive vision of the United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms” will bring together participants from the countries to be serviced by the Centre to get acquainted with the latest developments regarding these mechanisms and exchange experiences in interacting with them.

This is the second regional centre of this kind established and supported by the Office of the High Commissioner. The sub-regional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Yaoundé, Cameroon in Central Africa was established in 2001 at the request of Member States of the Economic Community of Central African States to strengthen security, stability and development in Central Africa by promoting respect for human rights and democracy. It has operated successfully since and contributed to a better understanding and respect for human rights in the sub-region.

25 May 2009