Friday, April 7, 2006

NGOs and new HR Council

Dear all,
In March this year, the UN Commission on Human Rights has practically put an end to its 60 years history in a one-day final session.
Given the important NGOs’ contribution to global policy-making at the UN, and considering the current shift from the UN Commission on Human Rights to the new Human Rights Council, on 28 March some NGOs Geneva-based representatives met at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to discuss coordination of activities and advocacy in the area of HRE; some 20 delegates of NGOs and other relevant actors participated.
A summary report of that meeting follows. NGOs agreed that it is important that they link up with UN human rights institutions and organize their advocacy so that they can participate in the setting up of UN policies on HRE. We would welcome the involvement of NGOs, in particular those in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, in relation to the forthcoming Human Rights Council, which will start its first session on 19 June this year.
Sincerely yours,
Kazunari Fujii
SGI UN Liaison Office
Contact: sgiungv@bluewin.ch
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Geneva, 28 March 2006 - A public meeting organized by Conference of NGOs in Relationship with the UN (CONGO), Soka Gakkai International (SGI), Pax Romana, and Organisation internationale pour le droit à l'éducation et la liberté d'enseignement (OIDEL) was held for NGOs today to discuss NGO coordination on human rights education and the World Programme for Human Rights Education.
In the opening, the moderator identified the meeting purpose as an opportunity to look at the transition to the new Human Rights Council and to consider what is missing in global policy regarding human rights education. He also noted that there is a need for NGO cooperation to promote constructive dialogue and to build a common platform for civil society to continue to advance human rights education at the international level.
Ms. Elena Ippoliti, Human Rights Officer in the Methodology, Education and Training Unit of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, briefed the assembly on the World Programme for Human Rights Education. She outlined the main goals of this initiative and noted that the adoption of the World Programme by governments was mostly due to the advocacy work of NGOs which supported a global framework and tools to continue promoting human rights education at both the national and international levels. She also reminded NGOs that the General Assembly resolution establishing the Human Rights Council mentions that the Council will have among its tasks to promote human rights education and learning (operative paragraph 5), and thus it is important to consider possible ways to address this issue with the Council. Ms. Ippoliti emphasized that any human rights education activity should be relevant to those who are learning and provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary for realizing human rights in their life; in this regard, for any specific target audience the selection of appropriate human rights content and the use of participatory educational methodologies are key.
In the second half of the meeting, the topic of actions to be taken by NGOs with regard to human rights education was discussed. It is important to connect NGOs together on this important issue through a network that could be facilitated through the platform provided by the CONGO system. Renate Bloem, the President of CONGO, was present at the meeting to promote NGO cooperation and to stress the importance of NGOs working together in order to become more effective. Several questions and concerns were put forward by the participants, including a debate on the structure of the proposed network system, the importance of language access, and how this proposed committee or system would be financed. Others items discussed were the need to collaborate with UNESCO and specific issues in relation to human rights education in local communities and at the national level in some countries.
At the end of the meeting, those present were encouraged to continue to expand the human rights education network. It was once again emphasized that NGO cooperation in the area of human rights education is important and it is expected that future meetings will be held to continue negotiating an NGO platform for cooperation and for ensuring consolidated input into the Human Rights Council.
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