x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UN human rights centre opens in Doha; UAE on hand

The centre aims to promote greater understanding and awareness about human rights issues around the region, including the UAE.

ABU DHABI // As the UN launches its first regional human rights centre in Doha, a delegation from the UAE is participating in a workshop on what the office will bring to the Middle East. Navi Pillay, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, opened the UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region yesterday in the Qatari capital. The centre aims to promote greater understanding and awareness about human rights issues around the region, including the UAE.

Fateh Azzam, the regional representative for Ms Pillay's office, described it as a "resource centre". "This is the first regional centre of its kind and will focus on training, documentation and increasing knowledge and capacity for governments and civil society," he said in a phone interview from Doha. The purpose is not to document human rights violations, Mr Azzam said, adding that the regional office in Beirut fills that role.

Rather, the centre will provide resources, including information on UN mechanisms, international treaties, laws and studies relating to human rights. It also has a reference library and training material available in both Arabic and English. The centre will focus on training delegations from 25 Arab and Asian countries. Government institutions, non-governmental organisations and human-rights experts from those countries can access information and receive training on human rights and the international system set up to protect them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs delegation is among participants from around the region taking part in two days of training. "Basically we are giving them a general overview of UN mechanisms, which will be a learning experience and a way for the participants to exchange ideas," said Renaud Detalle, the acting head of the centre. A group of law graduates from Abu Dhabi took part in a human rights course at a UN centre in Geneva last year and another batch are expected to travel to the Swiss city for similar training next month. In the future, such training could be carried out at the centre in Doha.

The idea for the centre was first presented by the Qatari government in 2004; it was approved by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2005. zconstantine@thenational.ae