Civil Society in Action for Human Rights: Results and Follow-ups

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.

 

WFUNA's Human Rights capacity-building program for leadership and permanent staff of United Nations Associations was launched in January 2013. It consists of training sessions held twice a year in Geneva during sessions of the Human Rights Council and other Human Rights mechanisms.Thirteen UNAs from all regions of the world participate in the program. This is a 3-year program aimed to enhance the effectiveness of United Nations Associations to design and implement human rights projects and to strengthen their advocacy impact on national and international level.

Below we present some of the projects developed and implemented by UNAs within the framework of this program:

 

UNA Australia: "Australia & the UN: Can we make a difference?"

On  2 May 2013, the West Australian Chapter of UNA Australia organized a panel discussion of leading government, NGO and academic representatives under the heading "Australia & the UN: Can we make a difference?" in Curtin University. The experts shared their experiences and expectations for Australia's role with the UN mechanisms and in the Security Council - and the role, which civil society can play in holding governments accountable for treaty obligations. The panel was followed by the opportunity for the audience to frame questions and comments. The main questions this event addressed were:

  • What is Australia hoping to achieve from its two-year term in the Security Council? What legacy will Australia leave?
  • How can civil society engage with the UN effectively - whether through the Security Council, the General Assembly or other bodies and mechanisms of the UN - to create change and make a difference?
  • What role can civil society play in holding countries accountable for their treaty obligations?

Approximately 100 beneficiaries attended the event.


UNA Georgia: Protection of Minority Rights in Georgia

 

The United Nations Association of Georgia, in partnership with the Media Development Foundation (MDI), the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), and the European Center for Minority Issues (ECMI) Caucasus submitted a joint submission in view of the second Universal Periodic Review of Georgia, scheduled in November 2015.

The submission focuses on the following points:

  • Failure of the Government to investigate incidents of religious violence against religious minorities;
  • Infringement of Autonomy of Religious Organizations by the newly established State Agency on Religious Affairs
  • Religious Indoctrination at Schools and breach of neutrality in academic teaching; failure of the Government to return places of worship to their true owners;
  • Manifestation of hate speech, xenophobia and homophobia by high ranking political officials and politicians;
  • Improper self-regulation mechanisms in media and manifestation of hate speech on the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB);
  • Lack of access of information in minority languages and ensuring minority voices to be heard on GPB;
  • Ensuring repatriation of deported Meskhetians;
  • Integration of Roma population in society.

Read the full submission: 


UNA Nepal: Educating for a Culture of Human Rights and Peace

An Interaction Program between Major GOs and INGOs working in Child Rights and Child Abuse in Nepal was held on June 13th, 2013 at Galaxy Public School. Altogether, 40 representatives of government organs, NGOs and academic institutions gathered to draw up a network for organizational coordination and collaboration in future activities. UNA Nepal was successful in highlighting the issue of child abuse and the gaps in the work done by other agencies and succeeded in establishing a mutual agreement of collaboration in the future with various actors.

As a follow-up to the Interaction Program, UNA Nepal facilitated a Seminar on Promoting Child Rights and Eliminating Child Abuse on June 20 2013 which was attended by 49 representatives of government, the national Human Rights Commission, NGOs, youth organizations, and academia. The objective of the program was a discussion of child abuses among various stakeholders to come to a common agreement of how to understand and tackle it. The seminar saw three thematic focal points:

  • Political use/abuse of children in Nepal
  • Violence against women and its correlation to child abuse
  • Ending child abuse and its relation to a culture of peace

At the end of the seminar, participants were divided into 3 groups to discuss on child labor, child rights and child abuse and they had to come up with future strategies to end child rights violations. 

A total of 49 beneficiaries and their respective networks have been impacted by the seminar.

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In August 2014, UNA-Nepal held an interactive debate with local civil society organizations, academia and members of governments on “Reduction of Child Labor: The Role of Youth and Challenges”. The conference launched UNA-Nepal's “Child Labor Reduction Program.” Speakers targeted especially young participants as they spoke about the challenges to reduce Child Labor in Nepal.

Around 112 participants from different organizations participated in the program. The main purpose of the program was to create awareness about child labour and how youth can play a key role in reducing it and promoting human rights. The conference also set itself the objective to find ways to address the various challenges faced by youth while trying to tackle child labor in Nepal.
 
The conference served as platform where concerned stakeholders expressed their views and disseminated information about the facts, actions, strategies, goals and challenges in context of Nepal when facing Child Labour. 
 
Read the full report HERE
 
 
In September 2014 UNA-Nepal carried out consultations with Government representatives and local civil society organizations on "Eliminating worst forms of Child Labour: Challenges and Future Directions." The consultations concluded with a call to the Government of Nepal to strengthen legal measures and enforcement policies to ensure that children in Nepal are not forced to work. 
 
The full report is available HERE.

UNA-South Africa

As a result of their participation in the Civil Society in Action for Human Rigths program, in 2014, UNA-South Africa launched its Human Rights Desk.

Participants in WFUNA's human rights leadership training, Ms. Belinda Jackson and Ms. Tamara Naidoo, carried out trainings on human rights and the Universal Periodic Review to Model UN Student Tutors and to children from safety homes.

 

 


Follow UNASA's work on Facebook


UNA-Norway
 

Following their engagement with WFUNA's Civil Society in Action for Human Rights program, UNA-Norway successfully developed and implemented a human rights advocacy project.  

The UNA focused their advocacy on ratification by Norway of the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OP3 CRC). Amongst other activities, UNA-Norway used the Universal Periodic Review to suggest a recommendation to ratify OP3 CRC to States participating in the UPR of Norway at the country's review in April 2014. The Protocol entered into force on 14 April 2014. 

Follow updates on UNA-Norway's work on Twitter

 


UNA-Sweden


UNA-Sweden, in collaboration with 32 supporting organizations, prepared a joint submission for the Sweden's second Universal Periodic Review. The 10-page document was submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner: 


Follow UNA-Sweden's on Twitter: @FNforbundet and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FNforbundet 


UNA-USA
 

UNA-USA is holding national consultations through its chapters throughout the country to prepare a submission in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States. 

 

Outcomes

Seven total recommendations from the UNA-USA UPR report on LGBT, human trafficking, gender equity, and treaties appear directly in the official UN Human Rights Office stakeholder compilation document with specific reference to UNA-USA.  Overall, 4 of these recommendations mirror the language of the UNA-USA report, and ideas from the chapter network:

  • “WI and UNA recommended passing legislation prohibiting LGBT discrimination in employment.” (page 4)
  • “UNA recommended increasing resources for nationwide anti-trafficking awareness programs, including law enforcement training.” (page 6)
  • “UNA recommended passing legislation to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.” (page 8)
  • “UNA recommended that the Government continue to support universal access to voluntary sexual and reproductive health services.” (Page 9)
  • The report takes note of the UNA-USA recommendations for the U.S. to ratify CEDAW, CRPD, and the CRC. (page 1)

On March 27 2015, three UNA-USA members presented the UNA-USA UPR report to member States at a civil society hearing about UPR recommendations. The delegation focused on LGBT, trafficking, and gender equity.  

Links:


On 12 June 2015, the United Nations Association of the United States of America submitted a Written Contribution to the UN Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 36: ICCPR, Article 6

To compile this input, UNA-USA identified prominent trends, observations, and recommendations that emerged from a workshop convened in Washington, DC. The objective of the workshop was to constructively contribute to the Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on Article 6 of the ICCPR, focusing on LGBTI human rights. Workshop contributors represented a broad spectrum of civil society including students, young professionals, career professionals, community leaders, and other human rights advocates from across the U.S. and abroad.

 


UNA-Zimbabwe

 

Shortly after joining WFUNA's Civil Society in Action for Human Rights training in September 2014, the UNA of Zimbabwe held a training session for UNA staff, interns and volunteers in collaboration with the UNDP and the Ministry of Justice who are currently working on the country's national report for Zimbabwe's upcoming review in November 2016. 


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