1. THE GENEVA COURSES OF GHR
As in previous years, GHR conducted in 2012 its three main Geneva Courses on the occasion of the ordinary sessions of the HR-Council in March, June and September 2012.
What are the Geneva Courses ?
Entitled ‘Training Course on the Human Rights Council, international human rights and humanitarian law, international procedures and diplomacy’, the (three to four week) Geneva Courses are unique. They combine theory, working field experiences and the exposure to international human rights diplomacy. These are advanced Courses to train trainers.
The strategic objective of the Geneva Courses is to empower NGOs and defenders, coalitions and networks from the regions to participate fully in the HR-Council’s deliberations. This is why the Courses are based on the realities in the field: the programme of each Course is tailored to the (thematic) needs and priorities of the participants. Moreover, to close the information gap of defenders in the regions, the Geneva Courses teach the new UN orientations (UN Reform process, dialogue and cooperation with the States, OHCHR priorities).
The Courses start with a 2-3 days General Course on the eve and during the first week of the UN session to teach the basic elements of international law, the UN structure, mechanisms and procedures, and international relations.
Then, during the entire session of the HR-Council, there are daily morning classes, during which trainees are briefed on the main reports under examination and analyze the debates and the main human rights issues. For each Geneva Course, the HPS Department prepares a Documentation Kit for the trainees with all the relevant documents.
Adrien-Claude Zoller conducts these Courses since 1985 with different Geneva-based NGOs. The main objectives and outline (needs from the regions; General Course and daily morning classes) were defined during the 1986 Course, organized with the OMCT. GHR conducts the Geneva Courses since 2003. With the creation of the HR-Council (2006), GHR initiated a specific programme (PRE) to elaborate teaching methods taking into consideration the new UN realities.
2. GHR EXPERT SEMINARS IN GENEVA (GSS)
NGOs and defenders in the regions work under difficult conditions and have specific concerns. Launched in 1997, a consultation process with defenders from the regions highlighted a strong demand for faster domestic implementation of the international standards, and their priorities for humanitarian law (victims do not make the difference between human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law); for macroeconomic issues (economic system as source of violations); the struggle against impunity (need to deal with the past and to strengthen international criminal law); and the protection of defenders (who are increasingly under threat). More recently, another main concern emerged in our working relations with partners: indigenous peoples’ rights and violence against women. These issues are critical in all GHR Courses and Seminars.
At the request of its partners, GHR often conducts 3-4 days Regional Courses on certain of their priorities. To sensitize actors at the HR-Council on such issues, GHR has convened since 2009 Expert Seminars in Geneva: on Caste Discrimination (during the Durban Review Conference, April 2009), International Humanitarian Law (September 2010 and June 2011), Trends in the HR-Council (March 2011), Transitional Justice (September 2011), Minorities (November 2011), and Enforced Disappearances (November 2012). In view of the debates in HR-Council, GHR Executive Council chose Religious Freedom as the theme of the last Seminar of 2012.
3. GENEVA SPECIFIC SEMINARS DURING THE UPR (GSS-UPR)
GHR elaborated a specific Course on the UPR mechanism, which it conducts both in the regions and in Geneva. From 2008 to 2011, GHR gave several Courses during the UPR meetings. In 2012, this Course was given to the coalitions of women from India.