GHR IS A TRAINING ORGANISATION
Through training, study and protection, GHR aims to bridge the gap between international standards and realities and to empower all those involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.
GHR trains all those involved in the promotion and protection. Its main partners are the defenders, victims, witnesses and their organizations, those who constitute, with their reliable information and essential proposals, the major engine for UN Special procedures, treaty bodies and UPR. GHR trains them not only in the use of the international system, but also in the elaboration of the best strategies at domestic, regional and international levels to bolster domestic implementation.
Geneva for Human Rights has currently four programmes: the Global Training Programme (GTP), with a diversity of courses, the Geneva Advocacy Programme (GAP), with lobby priorities on procedures, themes and countries, the Implementation Programme (INP), with a series of implementation projects, and the Programme of Human Rights Studies (HPS) supporting GHR training and initiatives with its Expert Seminars, its study projects and the training interns and fellows.
GHR is an International Association under Swiss law. It obtained tax exemption status from the State of Geneva and Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC. On 31 December 2022, GHR had 50 members, 9 observers and 2 Honorary members . 18 of them are trainers or teachers and participate pro bono in GHR training activities.
Our Department of Human Rights Policy Studies monitors UN human rights meetings. It studies the main trends in the multilateral negotiations, and constitutes a basic support to our training activities. The department also convenes regularly experts seminars on priority issues for Human Rights defenders from the Regions.
GHR General Assembly holds its ordinary session once a year. The most recent Assemblies took place on 15 March 2016, 9 March 2017, 19 June 2018, 26 June 2019, 8 June 2021 and 28 June 2022.
The 22nd Assembly of GHR of Thursday 28 June 2022 reviewed GHR training programmes and projects. It approved the annual narrative report 2021 and GHR Action Plan 2022. GHR members expressed their concerns at the ongoing trends in the UN human rights machinery and called the Board and the Secretariat to continue GHR brainstorming process on these developments. The Assembly also approved the report of the auditing firm and decided to extend for one year the mandate of all the members of the Executive Council.
 Nationalities of the members: India (1), New Zealand (1), West Papua (1), Singapore (1), Sri Lanka (1), Mexico (1), Guyana (1), Uruguay (1), Congo (1), Belarus (1), Russian Federation (2); United States of America (1), Malta (1), Turkey (1), Germany (4), Belgium (1), Ireland (3), Italy (1), France (2), Netherlands (3), United Kingdom (1), Switzerland (16). Nationality of the observers: Haiti (1), Senegal (1), Malaysia (1), Armenia (1), United Kindgom (1), Netherlands (1), Switzerland (3). Nationality of the Honorary members: Colombia (1), Timor Leste (1).
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.
‘Implementation now !’ is the title of GHR programme to implement human rights on the ground through training, mediation, advisory services and teaching strategies.
There are many human rights conventions, declarations and general principles, and a series of treaty bodies, mechanisms and special procedures. Yet on the ground, a huge gap remains between UN decisions and their implementation. It is high time that these rights become reality. As for fulfilling human rights is an obligation of the States, not of the UN, national protection mechanisms must be strengthened to address implementation deficits.
To fulfil rights, there has to be a partnership between government and civil society. No government acting alone can fully assess the situation, analyse needs and priorities, and elaborate and implement public policies. Since 2003, GHR has been training human rights defenders and all stakeholders involved in rights fulfilment, so as to build their capacity to use UN procedures and develop implementation strategies.
The UN decisions, and all the recommendations from Special procedures, the treaty bodies and the UPR, form a set of priorities for implementation in each country, along with the Sustainable Development Goals. With offices around the world, the OHCHR is participating in this new drive. The call for national human rights plans of the 1993 World Conference facilitates progress made in many countries to better implement human rights.
Since 2007, GHR has launched several projects to promote a better implementation in specific countries (currently Botswana, West Papua) and on specific issues (enforced disappearances, indigenous peoples, freedom of religion or belief).
The Department HPS constitutes the hard core of GHR activities. It is an indispensable support to our training programs. It monitors international human rights negotiations and covers U.N. human rights meetings; it analyses the main trends and developments and quickly inform our trainers and our main partners in the field.
Aim of our Geneva Advocacy Programme (GAP) is to contribute to NGOs advocacy, both in the UN system and at domestic level. This programme responds to our partners’ requests. It also helps GHR to identify many situations of massive violations and patterns of large scales of abuses, which are still neglected by the regional and global bodies. When needed, GHR Executive Council and Senior Management Team may launch a new implementation project on such situations and themes.
In Geneva, GHR conducted many Courses and Seminars for defenders from the regions:
- 53 (2-4 weeks) Geneva Courses on the Human Rights Council, international human rights and humanitarian law, international procedures and diplomacy’ during UN main human rights sessions (Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission, ECOSOC, the 2009 Review Conference on Racism, and ordinary sessions of the HR-Council;
- 39 Experts Seminars on: the HR-Council; International Humanitarian Law; Transitional Justice; Minorities; Caste Discrimination; Enforced Disappearances; Religious Freedom; Business and Human Rights; the World Conference on Human Rights; Indigenous Peoples’ Rights; International Criminal Law; and Death Penalty.
- Twenty-one Seminars and briefings during the UPR Working group;
- several specific ‘On-Demand’ Courses for NGOs coalitions from the regions, from Mozambique, Morocco, India, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, West Papua, Burmese lawyers, Tibetan, Turkish and Uyghurs defenders, Dalits coalitions;
- nine Courses for diplomats (with the Graduate Institute and the GCSP Geneva);
- nine Courses for humanitarian actors (eight for the ICRC);
- GHR also lectured for partner organizations, including OHCHR, the World Council of Churches, UNITAR, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), Universities of Galway, Maynooth, Lyon, Paris-2, Lund, Nijmegen and Padova, the German NGO Forum and the F. Ebert Foundation (Berlin), Forum Asia (Bangkok), the German Network on Papua, Sri-Lanka Advocacy (Frankfurt), the JPIC Commissions of the Spiritans, the Dominican Order, the International Bar Association, Cordaid (The Hague), and Progressio (London).
In the regions, GHR already conducted:
- ten Regional Courses in Africa, Latin America and Asia;
- fifty-six In-Country Courses and Seminars in Latin America (15), in Africa (4), in the Russian Federation (8), and in Asia (29);
- and, at the request of the Swiss and Mexican Governments, from 2004 to 2008, a comprehensive training and mediation program in Mexico to support the process of the national implementation Programme; a similar project was launched in Botswana.