Training for Thailand on the UN Human Rights Mechanisms
On 8.-12. November, a training workshop on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Mechanisms took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the week, five participants from Thailand deepened their knowledge of the UN Human Rights Mechanisms, focusing on the Universal Periodic Review.
Illustration photo: Julie Viker Aanensen/NCHR
A rare, practitioner’s insight into the functioning of the UN human rights institutions based in Geneva
The training workshop, co-organised by the NCHR and the Geneva Academy, was designed for Thai academics and educators involved at university-level teaching or other education programs on UN Human Rights mechanism. However, this year we also included one government official from the Thai Ministry of Justice.
The goal of the workshop was to enhance the participants’ capacity in engaging with the human rights discourse through teaching-learning activities, academic research, and other forms of engagement, aiming to improve implementation of human rights recommendations. Through lectures led by experts from academic institutions, UN agencies and organisations directly involved in UN Human Rights Mechanisms in Geneva; online attendance of the Universal Periodic Review session of Thailand; and insider’s discussion on how academia can engage with UN human rights mechanisms, the participants gained a rare, practitioner’s insight on the UPR process and UN Treaty Bodies.
Extensive program on the UN system
The training aimed to include both theory and practice through engagement with leading experts on UN Human Rights Mechanisms. The workshop took place in conjunction with Mr. Miloon Kothari’s executive course “The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability”, which included participants from ten countries. Due to the on-going pandemic, the participants had the opportunity to participate digitally. Mr. Kothari, a human rights- and social policy expert and the former Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, introduced the participants to the UPR process and how to draft better UPR recommendations, termed SMART recommendations, which also included group sessions. The participants also had the opportunity to attend a private meeting with the ambassador Rongvudhi Virabutar and other diplomats of the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
The online attendance of Thailand’s UPR session was followed by a panel on stakeholders, which involved representatives from civil society organisations. The workshop further included a panel with UN agencies, including UN women, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNHCR. In order to provide the Thai academics with training on the UN treaty bodies, they had an insightful lunch meeting with the Secretary of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Dr. Marie Joseph Ayissi.
The last days of the workshop focused on civil society’s role after a UPR session, which addressed key thematic areas such as gender equality and the use of national action plans. Insights were provided by UPR Info and the OHCHR. Ambassadors Felix Baumann from Switzerland and Indra Mani Pandey from India further discussed how state actors make recommendations and engage with civil society.
The experts emphasised the important role of academia and civil society, including on how to engage with the UPR process and treaty bodies.
On Friday 12. November, the participants were awarded a certificate for their active engagement and contribution to the training workshop. Miloon Kothari and Felix Kirchmeier, executive director of Geneva Human Rights Platform at Geneva Academy, held the closing ceremony.
The training workshop was the first physical training organised by the NCHR workshop that took place since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 and is part of a cooperation between the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Law) and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.