Civil Society in Action for Human Rights

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.


 Civil Society in Action for Human Rights:

 Empowering United Nations Associations to advance human rights worldwide


With the Civil Society in Action for Human Rights program, WFUNA aims to strengthen the capacity of United Nations Associations to uphold human rights worldwide.

Goal and objectives

The goal of the program is to strengthen the effectiveness of United Nations Associations to design and implement effective human rights advocacy strategies both nationally and internationally.

Through the program, participants learn how to:

  • Provide more effective contributions to existing UN human rights mechanisms about the human rights situation in their countries and lobby with permanent Missions to the UN for the advancement of their issues;
  • Implement advocacy activities and increase their cooperation with other national civil society organizations. 

The program

The program consists of two components: capacity-building sessions and advocacy activities.

Component I: Capacity-building sessions

Two capacity-building sessions a year will be carried out with representatives from key leadership members and staff of UNAs. The purpose of the training program is to empower participants to effectively use international human rights mechanisms and implement advocacy activities to advance national human rights issues.

More specifically, capacity-building sessions are intended to increase the UNAs’ capacity to:

  • Monitor the implementation of national human rights commitments
  • Prepare parallel reports to submit to human rights treaty bodies
  • Engage in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
  • Play a leadership role in national civil society consultations
  • Raise awareness on human rights concerns at the national level
  • Understand, promote, and provide input to governments on developing international human rights standards
  • Use social media and video in promoting human rights
  • Use secure digital communication tools
  • Raise funds to implement human rights advocacy activities and expand their human rights programs

Experts from OHCHR, NGOs and the human rights diplomatic community with extensive experience in human rights advocacy and the UN human rights system will train the UNAs.  All developed materials will be made available to participants on a resourceful and up to date section of the WFUNA website.


The training methodology is based on a participatory approach to learning and underlines the interrelatedness of the two program components. This approach implies that much of the content comes from the participants and the training and program activities serve as a framework. WFUNA will use a combination of training methodologies, including, but not limited to:

  • Presentations by human rights experts, focusing on efficient content delivery and interactive dialogue with participants. Handouts, workbooks, mind maps and other materials are provided to participants.
  • Simulation exercises and case studies, enhancing the participants’ creative participation and leadership on a specific topic. This methodology encourages intensive and in-depth analysis, collection and presentation of results.
  • E-learning and education technologies, using digital media and Internet technologies such as webinars, online platforms and blogs. This allows WFUNA to reach out to geographically dispersed participants while they are not in Geneva.


Sessions last five full days and are organized during the sessions of the Human Rights Council, or the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland.


Session 1: 28 January – 1 February 2013;   Session 2: 16 – 20 September 2013

Session 3: March 2104;           Session 4: September 2014; 

Component II: Advocacy activities

After each capacity-building session, participating UNAs will implement specific activities that include:

  • Draft parallel reports to submit to human rights treaty bodies;
  • Draft contributions to the reports for the UPR;
  • Organize/participate in national consultations for the UPR
  • Submit information to, and organize meetings with, the Special Procedures;
  • Raising awareness on specific human rights issues at the national level
  • Draft oral and written statements on a specific human rights issue to be delivered at the Human Rights Council;
  • Draft letters to relevant government ministries to discuss human rights issues.
  • Organize side events during sessions of the Human Rights Council 

Guidance, monitoring and evaluation

WFUNA organizes all capacity-building sessions for UNAs in Geneva. It further guarantees support to UNAs in human rights advocacy activities implemented as a follow-up to the sessions:

  • Assist in targeting decision-makers and provide information and alerts on decision-making procedures;
  • Assist in networking with diplomats, OHCHR staff and other key NGOs;
  • Offer strategic planning advice to UNAs on how to best advocate for human rights issues at the international level;
  • Develop WFUNA’s capacity to inform UNAs about human rights developments, provide resources, updated information on how to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, a members only database to exchange materials, and dedicated web-based tools;
  • Assist with the follow up of outcomes developed as a result of advocacy efforts;
  • Facilitate the internal evaluation and follow up process of the program.

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