Global Training Program – GHR GTP


With a variety of courses, seminars and workshops, in Geneva and in the field, GHR Global Training Programme (GTP) aims at the efficient use of human rights procedures and mechanisms, and a full participation of defenders from the regions in the work of the UN human rights bodies. Our courses cover the entire UN human rights system, as well as international humanitarian and criminal laws and advocacy strategies.

Human rights defenders and organizations provide UN mechanisms and procedures with essential information and proposals. However, those working in the field face serious problems to follow the rapidly evolving UN system, the new procedures and the upheavals in the international negotiations. Their difficulties increased with the Covid-19 restrictions and a more limited access to the sessions.

To bridge these information gaps, to enable defenders to adjust their work to the changes in the international system, and to meet the needs and priorities of the trainees, the group of GHR trainers elaborated since 2003 specific courses, with innovative training tools.

Themes of GHR Courses:

In Geneva and in the regions, we train defenders on:

  • the fundaments of international law, international human rights law (IHRL), humanitarian law (IHL) and criminal law (ICL);
  • the trends in international relations;
  • the functioning of inter-governmental institutions (IGOs);
  • the UN structure and its main bodies (incl. ECOSOC’s Commissions);
  • the HR-Council and its mechanisms;
  • the Special procedures; drafting and submission of communications;
  • the treaty monitoring bodies and the preparation of shadow reports;
  • the Universal Periodic Review (UPR); the stakeholders’ contributions at each stage of the UPR process;
  • the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), its role, its priorities and its field operations;
  • the tools for transitional justice;
  • the preventative measures and strategies to protect human rights defenders; the campaign against reprisals;
  • the strategies to raise issues and situations at domestic, regional and international levels;
  • the sustainable development goals (SDGs):
  • the national implementation strategies to implement all UN decisions and recommendations; consolidate national institutions; elaborate and realize public policies and plans of action in the field of human rights


Since its creation in 2003, GHR has conducted its Geneva Courses for defenders from the regions during all the sessions of the Commission and Sub-Commission, several ECOSOC sessions in Geneva, and most of the sessions of the Human Rights Council.

The Geneva Course is a 2-3 week intensive and interactive advanced course to train trainers. It combines theory (on the international human rights system, its mechanisms and procedures), field experiences (exchanges between participants on their situation), and exposure to the multilateral diplomacy (analysis of the ongoing UN session). Trainees learn to draft reports to the UN procedures and mechanisms.


GHR Geneva Briefings are held on the occasion of a specific UN human rights meeting. Due to the new modalities and working methods of the HR-Council, demands for briefings before the sessions increased. We therefore prepared specific briefings for sessions of the Council, and of its mechanisms, for the Universal Periodic Review and for sessions of the treaty monitoring bodies. Some Briefings also aim at drawing attention on a burning issue, and are followed by a press conference. Open to all defenders, the Geneva Briefings contain a presentation of the UN system, and information and brainstorming on the specific theme. They are free of charge for NGOs delegates, interns and as defenders present in Geneva.


The Geneva Strategic Workshops (GSW) focus on a specific advocacy, either a Course for NGOs from a particular country, or for members of one organisations or coalition working on a specific issue (often at the request of organisations and coalitions). The Workshop contains an overview of the UN mechanisms and procedures; information, exchanges and analysis of the UN proceedings on the selected country or theme; and the elaboration of strategies. So far, GHR has held (5-days) Strategic Workshops in Geneva for defenders from Chechnya, Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Xinjiang, Morocco, Burma, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina. GHR also conducted Workshops on specific issues, such as caste discrimination and racial justice. Focus of each Strategic Workshops is the specific country situation and/or theme, the potential NGO inputs, the long-term perspectives, the cooperation with the states, and the implementation of all UN recommendations.  In 2022, GHR also initiated the preparation of Strategic Workshops for coalitions from Colombia, Philippines, and Moldova.


Since 2003, GHR trainers contributed to nine annual Courses of GANHRI for national human rights institutions, eight Courses of the ICRC for humanitarian actors, and nine Courses for diplomats (of the Geneva Graduate Institute and the GCSP). They lectured for partners, including OHCHR; the World Council of Churches; UNITAR; the Universities of Galway, Maynooth, Lyon, Paris-2, Lund, Nijmegen and Padova; the German NGO Forum and the Ebert Foundation (Berlin); Forum Asia (Bangkok); the JPIC Commissions of the Spiritans and of the Dominican Order; Cordaid (The Hague); and Progressio (London). In 2022, we presented the following lectures and courses for GHR partners (most of them on-line):

  • Overview of the evolution in the UN human rights system. Course at the Human Rights Institute of the Catholic University of Lyon (Nicolas Zoller and Adrien-Claude Zoller, 28 January),
  • Strengthening the Voice of the European Union at the UN’. Participation in the Expert Dialogue of the K. Adenauer Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the USA (Adrien-C. Zoller, 2 February),
  • The elaboration of the UN Declaration on Human rights Defenders and the creation of the Special procedure on human rights defenders’. Interview with Prof. Ann Marie Clark, Purdue University (Adrien-C. Zoller, 17 March),
  • Evolution of the UN human rights system’. Course at the annual (on-line) training of the F. Ebert Foundation, GANHRI, and UNITAR for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), with NHRIs staff members from Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand, Thailand, Bahrain, Palestine, Qatar, Kenya, Zambia, Colombia, Guatemala, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and Northern Ireland (Adrien-C. Zoller, 10 May),
  • History and institutional set-up of the UN human rights system’. Intervention at the Adenauer Foundation’s Diplomats training with diplomats from Malaysia, Gambia, Malawi, Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Paraguay, Uruguay, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain,  Switzerland, UK, Canada and the USA (Adrien-C. Zoller, 23 August),
  • The origins of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)’. Intervention at the ISHR staff retreat (Adrien-C. Zoller, 29 August),
  • Human rights briefing to a delegation from the Mathare Social Justice Center of Nairobi, Kenya (GHR staff, 9 September),
  • Effectiveness of the UPR in Occupied Territories’. Participation in the Round-Table of the American Association of Jurists (Adrien-C. Zoller, 14 September),
  • Advocacy Strategy at the UN’. Intervention at the Training Course for Tibetan defenders (Adrien-C. Zoller, 20 September),
  • The strategies of authoritarian states in the UN human rights bodies’ (Adrien-C. Zoller) and ‘Reprisals against an indigenous expert from Nicaragua’ (Nicolas Zoller).  Course at the Human Rights Institute of the Catholic University of Lyon (21 October),
  • Decolonizing international human rights law, institutions and discourse’. Participation in the Expert Panel of ISHR (Adrien-C. Zoller, 9 December).


In twenty years, GHR held many courses in the field. Eleven on-demand Regional Courses were conducted in Africa, Latin America and Asia, often for specific coalitions (indigenous peoples, Caste Discrimination, religious freedom). GHR also animated fifty-six In-Country Courses in Latin America (15), Africa (5), the Russian Federation (9), and Asia (41).

These (one week) In-Region and (3-day) In-Country courses are prepared and held with local partners, who select the trainees along agreed criteria (gender and ethnic diversity, access for a wide-range of NGOs). The courses always start with the analysis of the patterns of violations, presented by the local partners. Those previously trained in the Geneva Course often introduce main parts of the courses animated by GHR trainers. We had to postpone several In-Country and In-Region Courses due to Covid-19. They will be resumed as soon as possible. In the meantime, they were replaced by additional on-line Geneva Courses.