Learning to negotiate human rights

After a prolonged conflict in the ‘Paradise Republic’, grave violations of human rights still occur. The United Nations has deployed a mission to preserve the tenuous peace. A draft resolution setting out additional measures is tabled in the Security Council. However, it does not address human rights issues. How does a delegate of a UN Member State concerned about the circumstances deal with this situation?

This fictitious scenario was part of a practical exercise undertaken by New York-based diplomats attending a human rights orientation programme organized jointly by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

In the exercise, the participants from over 25 countries suggested human rights provisions and language that could be inserted into the hypothetical Security Council resolution.

In other sessions, they heard presentations on a range human rights related topics including the United Nations human rights framework, the role of OHCHR and other UN agencies, human rights treaties and their monitoring mechanisms, as well as the integration of human rights in the UN’s work on humanitarian action, peace and security, counterterrorism and development.

The intensive two-day programme held on 4 and 5 June also covered ways inter-governmental bodies, including the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the General Assembly address a range of human rights issues.

In an open-ended discussion with the participants, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović emphasized the value of the orientation programme that is held every year in both New York and Geneva.

“It is not only about enhancing your understanding of the UN human rights system but also strengthening our cooperation in order to move forward the human rights agenda,” he said.

The participants said the programme was informative and helpful to their work at the United Nations.

“It was a useful and comprehensive programme. It would be better to do more practical exercises as it helps the understanding of the participants,” commented one participant.

The orientation programme was hosted by the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations in New York.

26 July 2012

See also