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United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South West Asia and the Arab Region. Overview. DOHA CENTRE MANDATE. The Centre was created at the behest of the State of Qatar and a number of member Sates .

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United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South West Asia and the Arab Region


doha centre mandate
  • The Centre was created at the behest of the State of Qatar and a number of member Sates.
  • The opening of the Centre in Doha was the result of a host country agreement between the Office of the High Commissioner and the State of Qatar in 2008.
  • The Centre is an outfit of and functions in accordance with the internal structures of OHCHR
  • The Centre’s broad mandate was defined (under A/Res/60/153 ) as such: “to undertake training and documentation activities according to international human rights standards and to support such efforts within the region by Governments, United Nations agencies and programmes, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.” The detailed mandate of the Centre is included in this host country agreement which was concluded between OHCHR and the State of Qatar.
mandate cont d
Mandate Cont’d
  • The Mandate covers 25 countries (Arab region and 3 SW Asian countries)
  • Documentation: (enhancing HR Knowledge)
    • Determination of info needed and the process for acquiring such info
    • Development and collection of documents containing the needed HR information (HR Knowledge)
    • Organization of information for accessibility purposes
    • Timely provision of needed information
  • As noted earlier, the Centre is a unit of a bigger organization (OHCHR) that specializes in a wider and a more comprehensive HR documentation.
  • (See HURIDOCS’ What is Documentation)
initial objectives
  • Strengthening a human rights culture
  • Building human rights expertise
  • Promote human rights through active learning, provision of advisory services on curricula design and dissemination of information
  • Activities that target ministry officials, national human rights institutions, secretariats of intergovernmental organizations, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, students, professional groups, and NGOs identified by the regional and other field offices
  • Increase the capacity of the judiciary, law enforcement officials, members of parliaments and their staff, and other actors to apply human rights standards in their work
  • Develop and provide information and documentation systems on human rights and disseminate information through various media outlets
  • Training and documentation projects to raise awareness about human rights and foster research with civil society actors, universities, research and training centres, and media organizations
  • Advocate for the ratification of core human rights treaties, the withdrawal of reservations, and the implementation of and follow-up on reporting obligations and concluding observations
  • A library and an Arabic website established for the region
  • Human rights information disseminated through regional media
  • Encourage civil society organizations and academics to publish high-quality reports on specific human rights issues and assist in translating and disseminating them
  • Centre was officially inaugurated in May of 2009
  • Started regular activities in November 2010 following the recruitment of its Head.
  • January 2011 “Arab Awakening” and/or “Arab Spring” begins
  • Events reaffirmed need for strengthening the HR training and documentation capacity in the regions covered by the Centre
  • Arab Awakening also reaffirmed challenges facing the Centre
key achievements

The following presentation focuses mainly on the documentation aspects of the Centre’s mandate.

  • The following points represent an outline for a future comprehensive documentation strategy to be developed for the Centre.
  • The points are adapted from UNESCO materials and enriched through internal discussion within the Centre.
  • Is there a need for a Documentation Centre?
    • UNGA Resolution is prompted by the obvious need
    • “Arab Awakening” reinforced the idea
    • Weak HR knowledge in the Arabic and Persian languages.
    • Has MOJ carried out any form of needs-assessment?
    • Importance of coordination with key entities with a HR mandate, e.g. NHRIs, Universities, NGOs etc.
  • Wider consultation on mandate and future policies
    • Wide consultation was held in Doha – September 2010
    • Continues to carry out consultations on major activities
  • Location
    • Traditional (consider condition, security, furniture, floor plan, Etc.)
    • Global (more focus on digital library and production of public materials) – Why was Doha chosen?
documentation cont d
Documentation Cont’d
  • Decide on what to collect
    • Paper vs. Digital materials (OHCHR will focus mainly on the collection of digital materials at first and then on digitizing collected paper materials in accordance with copy rights restrictions)
    • Information that will assist with the development of a comprehensive database of expertise
    • Where to get the materials (choice will have budgetary implications)
      • Subscriptions and data base access (Lexus Nexus, West Law, EIU, etc.)
      • Identification of suppliers
    • Start with affordable (free) materials, e.g. UN, WB, INGOs, NGOs, etc.
  • Decide on circulation vs. reference
    • Circulation = Access
    • OHCHR anticipates two levels of access: (1) internal for OHCHR (e.g. expertise database etc.) and 2) External (which might further be divided into public vs. membership based)
    • OHCHR develops and distributes (both physically and electronically) a substantive number of resources (e.g. manuals, references, policy papers, fact sheets etc.)
documentation cont d1
Documentation Cont’d
  • Develop a budget
  • Develop fundraising strategy
  • Recruitment of staff
    • Staff vs. volunteers
    • Clear job descriptions
    • Full time translators vs. sourcing out
  • Develop rules and procedures
organization and management
Organization and Management
  • Possible Collections:
    • Digital materials: credibility and other policy issues
    • Books and periodicals (high cost of HR/Legal books)
    • Audiovisual materials (if not available in digital format).
    • Newspaper clippings
  • Classification and cataloguing
  • Circulation
  • IT needs
  • Evaluation and Statistics
  • Capacity development of staff
  • Improvement in the quality of human rights (and legal!) knowledge is a long term endeavour that is labour intensive and requires a considerable amount of human and financial resources – (note the high cost of procuring legal resources)
  • There are a number of challenges relating to translation of materials into the working languages.
  • Updating (including adaptability) of materials
  • Quality control (esp. of Internet materials)
  • The creation of the Centre has heightened many expectations that OHCHR will be able to respond to various documentation needs.