Implementation Now’ 


GHR second Program is entitled: ‘Implementation Now, strengthening national empowerment to facilitate the implementation of human rights at national level’ (INP). Aim is to contribute to the implementation processes in particular countries through training, mediation, advisory services and teaching strategies.

The Programme finds its origins in Mexico. With the support of the FDFA, at the request of the Mexican Ministry of Interior, GHR contributed to the elaboration and the first stages of the implementation of Mexico’s national Programme for human rights in a training and mediation process between the Government and the civil society (2004-2008) until the end of the mandate of President Fox. Learning from the Mexican experiences with an external evaluator, GHR made feasibility studies and started similar initiatives for Colombia, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Timor Leste, and, more recently in Tunisia.

GHR Programme has become part of the follow-up with our trainees in many countries. The 3-week Geneva Course offers a unique opportunity to help defenders from the regions to elaborate concrete plans for the future. Besides the Course, GHR staff has many working sessions with them to discuss the best strategies at national and international levels. Thus, new countries have been added to the list. Moreover, in 2011 we started elaborating thematic programmes, in particular on women’s rights and on human rights defenders.

Programme No. 2   Implementation Now ! (INP)

GHR has a special programme to promote the implementation of human rights in specific countries through training, mediation, advisory services and teaching strategies. GHR has launched three new projects have been launched in 2016.

GHR Mexico project: learning from our experience

At the request of the Mexican Ministry of Interior, with the support of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), GHR contributed to the elaboration and to the implementation of the first stages of Mexico’s national Programme for human rights (2004-2008). As Mexico joined the OECD, development funds were no longer available. The FDFA phased-down its Mexico Programme (2007) and the Swiss Federal Council stressed the importance of GHR work:

Switzerland will be withdrawing from its commitment in Mexico at the end of 2007. The process described above has made a significant contribution towards the urgently required implementation of a uniform national plan for the promotion of human rights. The fact that a Swiss human rights organisation has successfully acted as mediator between civil society and government and supported the Mexican Ministry of the Interior through the provision of expertise represents a good example for implementing similar projects in other countries’.

(FDFA, ‘Peace and human rights in Switzerland’s foreign policy – Report 2006’

approved by the Swiss Federal Council on 15 June 2007, p. 18)

Our Mexico project was evaluated (2007) to learn from this experience and elaborate similar projects in other countries. GHR launched activities in Colombia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Timor Leste, (West) Papua, Burundi, Tunisia, Botswana and Morocco. Our Geneva Courses offer a unique opportunity for defenders from the regions to elaborate implementation strategies, in which all the UN recommendations, of UPR, special procedures, treaty bodies, are critical.

GHR new study project on implementation

On the proposal of Prof. Bertrand Ramcharan, GHR General Assembly of 15 March 2016 discussed the weak implementation of the UN human rights programme. The Assembly decided to launch a study project on the contribution of UN institutions, mechanisms and procedures to the strengthening of the domestic human rights protection mechanisms.

Our staff members Isabelle Galino and Thomas Harris drafted the outline and a questionnaire, sent to GHR partners and former trainees to assess the impact in their country of UN human rights programme, and the interaction between Government and civil society. The questionnaire is short. The study covers the period 2000 – 2015. Priority countries were selected, where GHR partners and former trainees are involved in human rights work:

  • Latin America: Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico;
  • Africa: Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Tunisia, Morocco;
  • Asia: Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, West Papua (Indonesia), Kazakhstan;
  • Europe: Hungary, Romania, Armenia; and Switzerland, Germany.

Meeting with the University of Padova

On 9 May, GHR and the University of Padova met to discuss GHR’s new project on the impact of UN institutions, mechanisms and procedures. It was agreed to start with the assessment of specific mechanisms and specific issues.

Course at the Lucerne Akademy (Lucerne, 6 July 2016)

On 6 July, Adrien-Claude Zoller animated a Seminar on implementation during the Lucerne Academy 2016. Theme of his Course was the role of the UN bodies and mechanisms in the implementation of human rights at the domestic level. He outlined the variety of recommendations made by Special Rapporteurs, treaty bodies, UPR, UN programmes, as well as the UN advisory services and technical assistance. The second part of his talk was devoted in the domestic use of these recommendations to elaborate public policies.

22 students attended. They were nationals from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Burma, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, USA, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland.

GHR project on (West) Papua

As a training organisation, GHR trained many human rights defenders from Papua in its Geneva Courses. It also conducted training courses within Papua on how to document human rights abuses and to make use of UN human rights mechanisms and procedures. Our trainees prepare reports on cases of violations, following which we advise them and their organisations on the best way to submit their communications to UN bodies. In 2016, three defenders from Papua participated in the Geneva Course of September 2016.

GHR has been shocked by the massive human rights violations occurring in the Papua province since its integration into Indonesia in 1949. Since 2002, together with dozens of human rights organisations and church institutions from Europe and Australia, GHR participates in the International Coalition for Papua (ICP), which issues human rights reports and advocates for peaceful improvement of the situation. In 2016, GHR participated in the two Coordination Board meetings of the Coalition, in The Hague (23-24 May) and Wuppertal (21-22 November). In 2016, in view of the rapidly deteriorating situation there, GHR has launched a special project on Papua to promote a stronger campaign in the UN bodies.

  • GHR Appeal to the CERD (14 July 2016)

On 14 July, GHR submitted an appeal to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to consider under its Early Warning measure the deteriorating situation in Papua. Composed of 18 independent experts elected by the States parties, the CERD monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a treaty ratified by Indonesia.

GHR 18-pages report contained a list of the main human rights violations committed in Papua, and Appendixes with a brief history of Papua, a demographic analysis of the population of Papua and a list of hundreds of Papuan recently arrested and detained. The report is available at our Secretariat upon request.

First aim of GHR is to prevent the extinction of the Papuan population. In recent years, mining activities and military operations increased. The total population of the territory continued to grow, largely due to the transmigration flow from other Indonesian islands. And the Papuan population decreased sharply. Over the last 2 to 3 years, a new trend has been the Papuan youth engaging in (peaceful) demonstrations for justice and independence. Repression in the territory increased.

‘The Indonesian Government should stop the systemic discrimination against the Papuan population; stop the excessive use of force against, and extra-judicial killing of, peaceful protestors; and, halt the excessive militarisation of Papua province’.                           GHR urgent appeal to CERD, 14 July 2016

On 3 October 2016, by letter of its Chairperson, Prof. Anastasia Crickley, the CERD addressed an Early Warning’ appeal to Indonesia regarding the situation the ‘Papuan indigenous people in West Papua. This Warning followed the examination of the appeal of GHR during its 90th session of August 2016. The letter of Chairperson Crickley requests the Government of Indonesia ‘to submit information on all of the issues and concerns as outlined above by 14 November 2016.

Main concerns referred to in CERD letter are: ‘repression by security forces during Papuan flag-raising ceremonies and demonstrations; excessive use of force and killings during peaceful demonstrations since 2013; massive arrests in May 2014 during demonstrations against extraction and plantation activities; numerous arbitrary arrests and detention since the beginning of 2016, amounting to 4000 between April and June 2016 (…) large scale impunity; State’s policy consisting of favouring the migration of non-indigenous persons from other parts of Indonesia to West Papua, ‘which leads to the decline in representation of the population of Papuans in comparison to the general population in their territory’; and poor educational standards resulting in very low rates of literacy.
  • Side-event on minorities in Asia (15 March 2016, Palais des Nations)

On 15 March, the ICP, the German West Papua Network (WPN), FI, Tapol, Minority Rights Group (MRG), and Vivat International, convened a side-event on ‘Discrimination against ethnic minority in Asia: addressing State violence in Asia’.

The President of GHR chaired the meeting. Four panellists presented the situation of minorities in Papua, Burma and Japan: Ms Yuliana Lantipo (journalist, Papua), Ms Jessica Nhkum (Kachin Women Association), Ms Sofia Nazalya (Tapol), and Taisuke Komatsu (IMADR), Japan. The meeting was attended by 65 persons.

  • Report of the study trip to West-Papua (Geneva, 6 May 2016)

At GHR request, Edward Flynn undertook a field visit to Papua to assess the training needs of the Catholic partners there. On 6 May, GHR, FI and Vivat International held a meeting with him to discuss his findings. Edward Flynn recommended that our partners focus on the use of domestic mechanisms, on strengthening the networks and improving their skills in English.

  • Meeting with Papuan defenders (17 June 2016)

On 17 June, GHR members met in Geneva two Papuan defenders to review the files received on the waves of massive arbitrary arrests and detention occurring in Papua.  They discussed in particular the excessive use of force by Indonesian army and police to the peaceful demonstrations taking place everywhere in the territory.

  • Meeting at the Mission of the Solomon Islands (27 June 2016)

On the occasion of the visit of Octovianus Mote, Secretary General of the United Liberation Movement for West-Papua (ULMWP), the Permanent Mission of the Solomon Islands at the UN convened a meeting to discuss the situation in West-Papua. Mote highlighted the main features of the Papuan situation. Solomon’s Chargé d’Affaires, Barrett Salato, informed on the initiatives taken by the Pacific countries. 10 NGOs attended, as well as several experts. The discussion was moderated by Adrien-Claude Zoller.

GHR project on enforced disappearance

 For GHR, the crime of enforced disappearances has always been a priority. Several GHR members were actively involved in the creation in 1980 of the first UN mechanism on this crime, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) and in the drafting of the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1992).

GHR also participated in the negotiations on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICED), which was adopted by the General Assembly on 20 December 2006.

With the Convention entering into force on 23 December 2010, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) became the most recent treaty monitoring body. GHR monitored all the eleven sessions of the CED and realized in 2012, 2013 and 2014 three Experts Meetings with both the CED and the WGEID.

Conference of the States Parties

For 2016, it was decided that, instead of conducting another Expert Seminar, our project would focus on the preparation of the first Conference of the States Parties to the ICED. The Conference took place in Geneva on 19 December.

Its theme was to decide on the future of the Committee: as provided for in Article 27 of the Convention, after the first period of activities, the States Parties had to evaluate the functioning of the CED to decide whether the CED would continue to monitor the Convention, or whether the monitoring of the Convention would be transferred to another body.

GHR initiatives

GHR worked closely with Argentina and France, who co-chaired the Conference. Meetings took place with the Delegations of both countries in Geneva and during the International Conference of the University of Paris-2 (7-8 November).

Our HPS Department prepared a Memorandum for NGOs with a list of activities of the CED so far, information on the on-going negotiations in Geneva, and a call to associations of relatives and other human rights organisations to prepare statements for the Conference.

Through social media, the Memorandum was widely distributed to all NGOs concerned. Together with the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), a preparatory meeting was convened for NGOs (13 December). And the co-Chairs proposed to include in the rules of procedures a provision that NGOs could make oral statements.

Proceedings of the Conference

Opened by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the Conference decided to continue to entrust the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to monitor the Convention.

After this decision, GHR read a joint statement of eight international NGOs, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Churches’ Commission on International Affairs of the 0World Council of Churches (CCIA-WCC), the FIDH, the ISHR, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the International Federation of the Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture (FIACAT), TRIAL International, and GHR.

GHR was also authorized to read out several statements prepared by organisations from the regions who could not come to Geneva, including the ‘Madres de Plaza de Mayo’.

At the end of the Conference, GHR agreed to prepare a next Expert Seminar with the CED and the WGEID, which will take place in March 2017.


Follow-up activities regarding other countries

Sri Lanka

GHR remains committed in strengthening the capacity of Sri Lankan human rights NGOs and coalitions. GHR was actively involved in the Hague Consultation (2008) and conducted training Courses on the spot.

In 2015, GHR actively participated in NGOs efforts to obtain a clear decision from the UN Human Rights Council to seriously address the massive human rights abuses committed in the past. A special focus of GHR was the fate of thousands of enforced disappeared. On 13 March, GHR intervened during the side-event of Amnesty on Sri Lanka to raise this facet of the problem. The case of Sri Lanka was also presented during each Geneva Course.

Having been instrumental in the preparation of The Hague Consultation (January 2008), GHR hosted from 19 to 21 March 2012 a new meeting of the Sri Lanka consultation. This consultation was prepared by Theo Rathgeber. A dozen of agencies from Germany, Netherlands, England and Geneva attended, together with several victims and witnesses from Sri Lanka. GHR presented proposals for new strategies to raise the issues of violations and accountability. On 19 March, the Group organized a side event on the situation in Sri Lanka, focusing on the need to deal with the past.

(West) Papua

In 2015, GHR continued to support international efforts to sensitize the opinion on the Indonesian repression in Papua. It provided orientation and strategic advice to the ICP, the International Consultation on Papua, in which both Edward Flynn (Geneva Representative of Vivat International and GHR member) and Adrien-Claude Zoller participate.

Together with Franciscans International, Edward Flynn was instrumental in the preparation and submission of several communications to the UN special procedures. During the 30th session of the HR-Council, the World Council of Churches welcomed the Papuan delegates present in a reception (16 September 2015).

GHR attended the ICP Coordination Board (May in Brussels, November in Wuppertal) and Assembly (May in Brussels). Adrien-Claude Zoller chaired the Conference on Papua at the European Parliament, which took place on the occasion of the ICP Assembly (5 May). GHR also joined several NGOs side-events on Papua.


With our Colombian trainee (GSC-27), and in our meeting with Gustavo Gallon, the Director of our main partner, the Colombian Commission of Jurists (7 June), we further discussed the forthcoming GHR Course in Colombia. Specific funding is needed to realize this plan.

Sri Lanka

Having been instrumental in the preparation of The Hague Consultation (January 2008), GHR hosted from 19 to 21 March 2012 a new meeting of the Sri Lanka consultation. This consultation was prepared by Theo Rathgeber. A dozen of agencies from Germany, Netherlands, England and Geneva attended, together with several victims and witnesses from Sri Lanka. GHR presented proposals for new strategies to raise the issues of violations and accountability. On 19 March, the Group organized a side event on the situation in Sri Lanka, focusing on the need to deal with the past.


In 2012, GHR welcomed its 4th trainee from the Terai, in the South of Nepal, where GHR is involved in a training programme for young partners on tools of transitional justice and on the elaboration of public policies to deal with the past and implement human rights. We prepared the next Course in the Terai with this trainee.


We met former trainees from the Philippines during the UPR review of this country (May). In September 2012, it was decided to prepare jointly In-Country Training with the Filipino defenders having participated in the Geneva Courses. During these courses on the spot, our former trainees will be resource persons.

Eastern Congo (DRC)

In June and September 2012, defenders from Congo-DRC came to Geneva for the Geneva Courses. They were from Kivu. In June, GHR submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions a communication prepared by a Congolese participant in the Geneva Course about the killings occurring the East of the DRC. One week later, the Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal and the High Commissioner made a strong public statement. Their stay in Geneva enabled them to better understand how to work with UN procedures, with follow-up documentation on the situation, and to inform the Geneva community on the massacres committed by both the Congolese forces and the Movement M-23. Lines of communications with Geneva-based NGOs improved.


Women’s Programme – India

The Indian Government took the unprecedented step to issue a permanent invitation to the thematic procedures (end 2011). However, the recommendations of the two Special Rapporteurs who visited India (human rights defenders and summary executions) led to negative Governmental reactions. The mendacious allegations by certain Indian groups, that the Rapporteurs would have visited certain regions/States (which they did not visit, e.g. Manipur), did not improve this climate. Moreover, strong restrictive measures were also taken against many human rights organizations, preventing them to receive foreign funding.

After the disappointing outcome of India’s UPR review, Women in Governance(WinG) decided to organize during the 21st session of the HR-Council a side-event on violence against women in India. GHR facilitated its preparation and provided advice and orientation. The event took place on 12 September. It was animated by four former trainees in the Geneva Course and by participants in GHR Courses in North-East India.