UN Human Rights Centre opens in the Gulf State of Qatar

The United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region has been opened by the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay and the Qatar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahoud.

The United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region has been opened in Qatar's capital Doha - OHCHR Photo /Francesca AlbaneseAt the opening ceremony, the Minister underscored the support of the Qatar government for the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), pledging a donation to the Office of U.S. $1 million. Qatar offered to host the Centre in Doha when it was first proposed in 2004 at the 12 th session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Framework on Human Rights.

"Hosting the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Center for South West Asia and the Arab Region is consistent with the Government reform policies that the state of Qatar has embarked upon under the leadership of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, ” the Minister said. “ Qatar will spare no effort to support the activities of the Center."

Pillay thanked the Minister for his Government's “very generous” donation and for its provision and equipping of the Centre. After touring the centre the High Commissioner described the opening as an historic event.

Pillay also congratulated the Government of Qatar on becoming the 186 th State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The new facility immediately began fulfilling its mandate with a two day workshop focusing on the international human rights system, its features and opportunities.

The agreement between the government of Qatar and OHCHR establishing the Centre, reaffirms the emphasis the UN Charter places on international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights.

Pillay echoed these sentiments in her speech to celebrate the Centre's opening. “Only the broadest possible cooperation at the international, regional and national levels helps to counter persisting and towering challenges, such as poverty, armed conflict, impunity, inequality, discrimination, and participation deficits which gravely undermine the enjoyment of human rights.”

“The centre is finally here,” she said, “to facilitate these concerted efforts by fostering an awareness and knowledge of a growing and evolving body of human rights treaties, resolutions and mechanisms.”

The Centre's overarching mandate is to strengthen existing regional arrangements and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights. It will do this through its training activities building knowledge and expertise in a range of human rights procedures and methodologies, through the development of a library with information and documentation systems in the languages of the region and through partnerships with other human rights organisations, civil society and government.

Additionally, the Centre will have a role in lifting awareness of human rights generally, in the media and through communication activities at a range of levels and in different situations.

Pillay drew attention to the importance placed on human rights education in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Human rights education and training are complex processes which should facilitate not only the learning of human rights principles and of the mechanisms for their protection, but also the acquisition of skills to apply and uphold them in daily life. This Centre is perfectly positioned to help pursue such goals.”

27 May, 2009