2021-02 GSC 49 – Course For Defenders From The Regions

On the occasion of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council

49th Training course for defenders from the regions

‘Course on the Human Rights Council, international human rights  and humanitarian law, international procedures and diplomacy’

(Online Course, 22 February to 10 March 2021)

Geneva for Human Rights – Global Training (GHR) conducts its 49th Geneva Course for defenders from the regions from Monday 22 February to Wednesday 10 March 2021, that is during the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (22 February to 23 March 2021).

Geneva for human rights

GHR is an international training organization. It aims at contributing to the implementation of human rights in the countries. GHR trains human rights NGOs, defenders, and all those involved in human rights at national level to empower them in the use of domestic, regional and international procedures, and to elaborate and realize implementation strategies.

            Since the creation of the UN Human Rights Council (‘HR-Council’) in 2006, GHR conducted its Geneva Course during most of the ordinary sessions of the HR-Council. In recent years, GHR also organized with its partners in the field dozens of (3-4 days) in-Country Courses for defenders in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Russia, Botswana, Kenya, Bangladesh, Indonesia (Papua), Pakistan, Nepal, India, and Sri-Lanka.

            GHR gives also Geneva briefings (especially for national NGOs coalitions) during sessions of the treaty bodies and of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It also convenes Experts Seminars on the main issues on the agenda of the HR-Council.


The Geneva Course is an interactive and intensive training taking place ordinary sessions of the HR-Council. Trainees acquire basic knowledge in international human rights, humanitarian and criminal laws; transitional justice; inter-governmental organisations (IGOs); the UN, its structure, its reform and the role of its main organs; the trends in international relations; the functioning of the HR-Council and its mechanisms; the human rights standard setting process; and human rights treaty bodies.

            With the wide training experience of its trainers in Geneva, GHR Geneva Courses are unique. They combine the theory, the exchanges on the experience of the participants (field situations) and the exposure to the multilateral reality, which the trainees monitor. Composed of its researchers and interns from different universities, GHR Department of Human Rights Policy Studies (HPS) assists the trainees during the HR-Council’s session.

Participants in the 49th Geneva Course

The Geneva Courses are part of a Programme of GHR promoting a full and effective participation of defenders from the regions in the work of the HR-Council. Such participation is essential for the quality of the Council’s debates. Priority in the selection is given to defenders and NGOs from the regions. GHR also welcomes members of national and regional NGOs coalitions working at the HR-Council in Geneva, and trainees from international human rights organisations having their seat or representation in Geneva.

            In view of the public restrictions due to the pandemic Covid-19, the 3-week Course will be conducted on-line. The programme and working methods have been adapted accordingly to enable trainees to benefit of a minimum of exposure to the ongoing debates.   

Programme of the training course

The Course is divided into a General Course (Week-1) on the international system and the HR-Council; a Course on the proceedings of the Council (Week-2), to discuss the debates in the HR-Council, to learn drafting communications to the UN special procedures, and to analyze the reports submitted by the Experts and the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR). The last week is devoted to the conclusions of the Course.

  • The General Course (22 to 26 February) focuses on an overview of international human rights law, humanitarian and criminal law; trends in international relations; the UN mechanisms and procedures; the work of the HR-Council and of the OHCHR; the use of the Special procedures, treaty bodies and UPR.
  • During the Course on the HR-Council’s proceedings (1 to 5 March), the trainers will introduce the main thematic reports submitted to the 46th session of the HR-Council by OHCHR and the Special Rapporteurs (such as torture; human rights defenders; extreme poverty; adequate housing; right to food), as well as themes of High-level Panels and country reports (such as those on Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Palestine and Syria, CAR and Mali).
  • The Week-3 is devoted to the conclusions of the Course (8 to 10 March), with the  summaries of the debates in the HR-Council, the presentation of two additional themes of the HR-Council selected by participants, and GHR Course on human rights implementation in the countries (MDG’s, national plans, technical assistance, NGOs strategies inside the countries), the assessment and follow-up.


This 3-Week Geneva Course has to be conducted virtually:

  • The schedule of this Course (from 10:00 to 12:30, each morning, Geneva-time) makes it possible for defenders from Europe, Africa similar times) and from Asia (afternoon there) to participate.
  • As trainees will not have the live exposure to UN sessions, they will be invited to follow several live and/or recorded UN sessions on ‘UN Web TV.  
  • To facilitate exchanges with and between the participants, the programme includes short presentations and space for questions and answers and for discussion. GHR will also enable trainees to intervene on-line and/or to send their questions in advance. Applicants are kindly invited to fill an application form outlining their activities, needs and priorities.
  • Deadline for applications is Saturday 20 February 2021. You can apply by sending a mail to info@gdh-ghr.org with copy to hps-smt@gdh-ghr.org to the attention of Niahm Dear and Nicolas Zoller.
  • Tuition Fees for the Course is 1’200.00 Swiss francs (CHF). The fees include the full documentation and background papers as well as a personalized follow-up and implementation strategy briefing. The fees may be reduced on demand for human rights defenders from the regions having no sponsor.
  • Students and Academics are invited for free to attend the training on line and to watch the internet stream.
To obtain the Course’s certificate, trainees have to attend all the ten classes and to comply with several tasks: reading reports submitted to the HR-Council, drafting a country paper, and a communication to the UN thematic procedures and reporting on one HR-Council debates. There will be two written test for the participants.