Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring - Chapter II: The Local Context


Chapter II: The Local Context

Appendix to Chapter II: OHCHR Country Framework


1. As discussed in Chapter I - "Introduction", this Training Manual and any training programme based on it need to be supplemented for use in each human rights field operation in light of the operation's context -- including its mandate, the factual circumstances, and the policy judgement of its leadership.

2. This chapter outlines the information which must be assembled about the context, including the specific mandate and country circumstances in order to supplement this Training Manual and to prepare for the training of HROs and others staff.

3. Each human rights field operation receives its terms of reference or mandate from the authorizing UN body (e.g., the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)) or on the basis of an agreement between the UN and the host country. Accordingly, the first step would be to acquire and carefully study a copy of the Security Council resolution, UN agreement with the Government, and/or other document establishing the human rights field operation.

4. The mandate can be understood in the light of previous mandates given to human rights field operations and the way they have been interpreted and applied. Chapter III. "Applicable International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: the framework", and Part III -"The Monitoring Function" track the interpretation given to the mandate of earlier human rights operations and the relevant provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law. After studying the precise terms of reference, it should be possible to supplement those chapters. It may also be possible to remove or exclude from training those elements of the chapters which are not relevant.

5. Furthermore, before the UN has established most human rights field operations, it has fielded a preparatory or assessment mission to the expected site for a short period to develop recommendations in regard to the needs which are evidenced, precise terms of reference for the operation to respond to those needs, staffing requirements, expected budget, time scale for mounting the operation, overall design for the operation, relationship of the human rights component with other UN and international operations in the country, and other significant aspects of the planning. The report of that needs assessment will assist in interpreting the mandate, including its monitoring aspects, as well as developing information about the factual context in which the operation will be working.

6. In addition to very carefully focused assessment of the mandate, HROs would benefit from background information about the country and its human rights situation. Accordingly, from the needs assessment and from other sources, information about the following subjects should be collected and summarized for presentation to new HROs:

-- geography (including topography, climate, and maps);

-- brief history of the country;

-- economy (structure, production, fields of employment, unemployment);

-- population (including distribution, relevant ethnic and other composition, significant expatriate groups, see also refugees below);

-- governmental system:

-- constitution;

-- legal system;

-- national, regional, provincial, and local structures of Government:

-- legislative structures;

-- judicial system;

-- human rights commissions or Ombudsman offices;

-- defence forces and internal security forces;

-- prison structures (persons held, staff, facilities, practices);

-- criminal justice and law enforcement:

-- penal code;

-- criminal procedure code and practice;

-- political system and situation;

-- religions and related tensions;

-- languages and related tensions;

-- the situation of groups needing special protection, including women, children, minorities, disabled, indigenous people, and other;

-- internal influences, including militia, revolutionary movements, ethnic conflicts, etc.;

-- the status, number, and situation of refugees and internally displaced persons (both from inside and outside the country);

-- culture and customs (relevant to work of HROs);

-- anniversary dates of political, historical, or other significance;

-- how the human rights operation and other international agencies have been or are expected to be perceived by the local population;

-- ratifications or other adherences to human rights and other relevant treaties (including the UN Charter and privileges and immunities of the UN);

-- other international organizations present in the country;

-- international, national, and local human rights and similar nongovernmental organizations (e.g., women's associations, youth organizations, minorities associations) in the country; and

-- other information about the human rights situation.

7. These topics can be the subject of brief written summaries and/or oral presentations during training sessions. Much information on the above topics can be found in the "Country Frameworks" prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which may need to be supplemented - for purposes of training - with additional and direct sources of information on the country and topics concerned. The outline of the Country Frameworks, with its annexed checklist of standards, is contained in Appendix I to this Chapter. Should the Country Framework not be available from OHCHR, the outline provides useful guidance for the collection of the information needed for the training.

8. The above materials may require more than photocopying and sometimes translation. For example, the HROs should not only receive a copy of the criminal procedure code, but also an analysis of areas where the local law falls short of international standards. Another document might explain in simple terms how the criminal justice system actually functions, including the procedures for investigation, arrest, detention, interrogation, release pending trial, trial, appeal, etc.

9. In developing the information mentioned above and producing brief summaries for use in training, it will be useful to gather a number of documents, which should then become part of a library/resource room for the central office and area offices of the field operation:

-- this Training Manual and the related training guide;

-- copies of the mandate of the field operation (in relevant languages);

-- a set of international human rights instruments and other relevant norms (possibly also in the local language, if different from the field operation's working language);

-- any agreements between the operation and the local or national authorities authorizing access for HROs and their other activities (these agreements should show the signature of the authorities in all relevant language versions);

-- any agreements between the field operation, the ICRC, the UNHCR, and other organizations, and/or any agreement between the field operation's Headquarters and any other UN or international organization present in the country of operation;

-- the needs assessment report which preceded the operation;

-- maps of the country and relevant areas, cities, provinces, etc.;

-- a copy of the country's Constitution, criminal code and criminal procedure codes;

-- other relevant statutes and treaties;

-- an organogramme or other explanation of the national and local administrative structures;

-- an organogramme or other explanation of the judicial system;

-- an organogramme or other explanation of the police and prison structures;

-- a list of local non-governmental organizations dealing with human rights issues;

-- copies of UN, governmental, and nongovernmental reports about the human rights situation;

-- copies of relevant newspaper clippings; and

-- mandate and methods of work of any United Nations human rights mechanism relevant to the country of operation (High Commissioner for Human Rights, treaty body, Special Rapporteurs - both thematic and country).

10. After this Training Manual has been supplemented in light of the mandate, circumstances, and the judgement of the human rights operation leadership and as the operation gets established, a number of additional documents should be prepared and made available to HROs, the central office library, and area offices:

-- supplementary training material for the country of operation;

-- an organogramme and reporting channels of the field operation;

-- any standard operating procedures, administrative guidelines, codes of

conduct, and field directives issued by the operation;

-- contact information for the central office and area offices;

-- a supply of relevant reporting and other forms;

-- summaries about the context of the operation (identified above);

-- appropriate external reports produced by the operation;

-- any press releases issued by the operation; and

-- organogramme of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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