The work of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is vital for the United Nations. NGOs are more involved than ever in global policymaking, often contributing with invaluable information, regional influence, and effective advocacy. However, sometimes they lack the capacity and knowledge to engage efficiently with UN human rights mechanisms, often failing to understand the system and the best ways to address issues on the global agenda.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process put in place in 2006 through which the human rights records of all 193 Member States are evaluated. The UPR is a genuine state-driven interactive dialogue that provides an opportunity for States to explain what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.
Simavi, an independent international non-profit organization, reached out to us to get our support for a project. They asked us to develop a workshop for their implementing partners working on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities for girls in schools in Tanzania. The project's objective was to capacitate their team to develop a UPR stakeholder report for the Human Rights Council and present the document before the UN. They intended to highlight concerns about the country's compliance with its international human rights obligations since its last UPR round in 2016. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way of our plans as we were preparing our trip.
We came up with a plan B by developing an online Human Rights Lecture Series. This would allow us to capacitate and support the Simavi team from a distance and, additionally, to enable any civil society organizations from around the world to access the material and tools! We established a partnership with the University of Amsterdam and put together a seven-lecture journey, each between 15-20 min, and their corresponding supporting materials.
The series was launched during an interactive online event in the presence of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
By being at the forefront and standing up for the most vulnerable, NGOs play an instrumental role in supporting the UN’s objectives. This Lecture Series will allow NGOs from all over the world to get involved with human rights and use their voice to influence human rights monitoring processes at the UN. We loved working with our Simavi and UvA colleagues and with the team of talented videographers that made it all possible. You can watch the trailer for the Human Rights Lecture Series here, and the Lecture Series itself here.