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Human Rights Council
34th session, item 10
Annual Presentation
Overview of successes, best practises and challenges in technical assistance and capacity building efforts provided by OHCHR and relevant United Nations agencies

Statement by Ms. Kate Gilmore Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

22 March 2017 - room XX

Palais des Nations, Geneva

Mr. President, Excellencies, Mr. Sidoti, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pursuant to Council resolution 18/18, I have the pleasure to share with you a brief overview of experiences and results in the implementation of our Office’s technical assistance and capacity building programmes at the request of and in cooperation with Members States.

These observations complement those from the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights which will follow. 

Much of OHCHR work at country and regional level through our 59 field presences, is devoted to support State’s efforts to strengthen national human rights promotion and protection systems. We jointly identify knowledge, capacity and accountability gaps that impede or slow down the realization of human rights for all and then facilitate positive change while optimizing use of our limited resources.

Today I would like to highlight a few of the latest technical cooperation initiatives that have clearly demonstrated how support to follow-up and implementation of recommendations from the international human rights mechanisms can yield sustainable results:

First, documenting creative initiatives by States and other actors in collaboration with OHCHR to implement human rights recommendations has encouraged other States to request assistance and act in this area.  For example, our practical guide on “Effective State Engagement with International Human Rights Mechanisms - National Mechanisms for Reporting and Follow-up”  has been  used by at least 30 States in their efforts to establish national follow-up mechanisms. 

Second, our treaty body capacity building programme, created as one of the outcomes of the treaty body strengthening process, has boosted our support to States in meeting their reporting obligations and widening their ratifications of international human rights instruments. Through this programme, 170 State Officials from 77 countries across regions have become trained-trainers on treaty reporting and now form part of a professional network within their respective regions. Such peer-to-peer awareness raising and capacity building among government officials has also contributed an increase of ratifications and submission of overdue reports.   

Third, all our field presences are also actively and directly encouraging, advising and supporting national authorities, civil societies, UN entities and other actors in their efforts to implement human rights mechanisms’ recommendations. Let me highlight a few reported results that could be inspiring in our discussion here today:

Following the second cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Kenya, the Human Rights Adviser worked with the Office of the Attorney General to develop an intergovernmental implementation matrix aimed at translating the 192 recommendations accepted by the Government into specific action points. The matrix was launched in April and clarifies timelines, deliverables and roles and responsibilities for the implementation of all recommendations. 

Member States have also over the last years increased their interest in seeking OHCHR’s support in the development of online platforms that could help in following-up with the recommendations received. For example, with the support of our Country Office in Uganda, an online database was launched to monitor the status of the Government’s implementation of the recommendations formulated by international, regional and national human rights mechanisms. Following an initial pilot stage that was tested in five ministries and departments, efforts are now underway to roll out the database to other ministries.  This effort has been praised by Government as a key tool that will enable governmental institutions to monitor their implementation of human rights recommendations.

Joint technical cooperation programmes contribute also to facilitate positive change regarding very specific requests in the recommendations and outcomes from the human rights mechanisms.  In Cambodia, legislation related to justice was strengthened with the enactment of the Juvenile Justice Law. The legislation, which counted with input from OHCHR along with other UN partners such as UNICEF, UNODC as well as civil society, provides for the development of a separate juvenile justice system that focuses on “diversion” rather than punishment, in compliance with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in follow-up to a number of recommendations from the human rights mechanisms.

National Human Rights Action Plans and Development Plans are proved critical vehicles to translate commitments into real actions, and we are often approached to support the integration of the recommendations in the development or strengthening of existing plans. Throughout 2016, the Human Rights Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (HRMMU) advocated for the update of the National Human Rights Action Plan by integrating recent human rights recommendations issued by the United Nations human rights mechanisms.

We have also made significant progress in supporting partners within the UN system to better access to the recommendations from the mechanisms so they can support better Member States in their follow-up.  In this context, the Regional Office in South America supported the United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) in Brazil and Peru in aligning their respective United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) for 2017-2021 with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recommendations issued by the international human rights mechanisms.

These are again just a few samples of our work, results and partnerships on the ground. Many other important results and good practices across regions are described in more detailed in the OHCHR 2016 Annual Report and the annual report of the Board.  Your continuous support and engagement with the Office is key for the success and results of our joint programmes. 

Thank you.