UNITAR and OHCHR’s Human Rights Orientation Programme for Diplomats

2-3 September 2013, Palais Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland. Last month UNITAR’s Multilateral Diplomacy Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights organized a two-day programme to enhance diplomats’ understanding of OHCHR and the UN Human Rights protection system.

In the framework of UNITAR’s core diplomatic training, a group of 49 participants gathered during two days in the historically embedded Palais Wilson in Geneva for an orientation programme, the main objective of which was to enableparticipants to more effectively perform their human rights-related functions at the United Nations in Geneva.

The programme’s content was intense and very varied. In total there were nine sessions that discussed the historical overview of the Human Rights Normative Framework, the OHCHR and its work, the Human Rights Council (HRC) and its mechanisms (Universal Periodic Review, Special Procedures), the role of civil society and NGOs, and the Human Rights Treaty Bodies.

Human Rights experts of OHCHR led the sessions and participants were given the opportunity to actively learn from each other, provide their peers and share their unique experiences. Having this briefing the week before the 24th session of the Human Rights Council started provided participants with a great overview of Human Rights issues and challenges, bringing together historical, legal, political, social and economic perspectives. 

This orientation programme was seen as very successful by its participants, as the evaluation results indicate: participants emphasized that the programme was very useful, that their awareness of the topic had increased, that they would use the information acquired, and that they would recommend the programme to their colleagues.

Due to the great success of this orientation programme and the substantial Human Rights challenges throughout the world, this fifth collaboration between UNITAR and OHCHR on Human Rights will likely be continued in the future.