Within its Geneva-based training offer, UNOSAT has completed in February 2012 a professional training for 6 Officers of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). UNOSAT training modules on rapid mapping and satellite analysis are well known both in Geneva and in several countries, but this was the first time that Human Rights Officers were hosted in the UNOSAT training facility based at CERN.

“Hosting training courses at our operations centre is a way to immerse trainees in the real atmosphere of a rapid mapping centre” says Wendi Pedersen of UNOSAT, who coordinated the course. The training lasted two full weeks and included modules on GIS and satellite derived analysis. Wendi Pedersen adds: “We tailored this training for professionals who require a general understanding of GIS and its potential and be able to make maps and make sense of maps they read without having to become GIS graduates”

One of the participants confirmed this point: “I will implement (this) methodology in my section and use the tool to brief UN staff members and advise managers”. Another participant said: “I now understand the amount of work that goes into making a map”.

Since their first collaboration in 2009, the relationship between UNOSAT and the Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights has steadily grown. As stated by the High Commisioner Navi Pillay herself: "OHCHR has on several occasions requested UNOSAT to provide satellite imagery and analysis to be used to examine specific human rights situation. The information provided has been extremely valuable, in particular in the context of investigative missions".

Photos: Top: UNOSAT trainers guide participants through real scenarios taken from actual emergency response operations; (bottom) trainees receive a UNITAR training certificate after their results are reviewed by the training team