x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UN launches Doha human rights centre

The region's first United Nations human rights centre was launched today in Doha by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

ABU DHABI // The region's first United Nations human rights centre was launched today in Doha by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UN Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region was officially opened to promote greater understanding and awareness about human rights issues around the region, including the UAE. Fateh Azzam, regional representative for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 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 within governments and civil society," he said, shortly after the launch. The centre will cover the human rights training needs for the 25 Arab and Asian countries. Government institutions, non-governmental and civil society organisations from those countries will be able to access information and receive training on human rights and the international system set up to protect those inalienable rights.

Mr Azzam said the centre would also provide resources, including UN mechanisms, international treaties and studies relating to human rights. The information at the centre will be available in languages used around the region. A workshop on UN human rights mechanisms is being held to coincide with today's launch, with delegates from the UAE taking part. The idea for the centre was first mooted by the Qatari government in 2004, and approved by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2005. The centre has also gained support from the GCC and the Arab League, according to OHCHR.

OHCHR, which is based in Geneva, is part of the UN Secretariat and mandated to promote and protect human rights around the world. The office currently maintains a presence in forty countries. zconstantine@thenational.ae