NHRI representatives from OSCE region gain skills & exchange experiences at the 2017 NHRI Academy in Poland

Participants at the 2017 NHRI Academy

The 4th edition of the NHRI Academy came to an end on 2nd June, after a week of training and exchanging good practice among NHRI staff from over 27 countries, from Northern Ireland to Mongolia. Jointly organised by ENNHRI and OSCE/ODIHR, the Academy focused this year on the promotion of human rights in challenging contexts and the role of NHRIs in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the opening session, prof. Beate Rudolf, GANHRI Chair, highlighted that the NHRI Academy “is about the participants: it is thanks to their staff that NHRIs can carry out their work and can make a difference in human rights promotion and protection on the ground”.

In the first half of the Academy programme, the participants explored the opportunities for NHRIs to communicate effectively within their institutions and with external stakeholders. The importance of building bridges with human rights defenders and cooperating with State authorities were also dealt with.

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The second half of the training was devoted to monitoring and implementing the SDGs from a human rights based perspective. Birgitte Feiring, from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, recalled that “the true value lies in sharing experiences”. Debbie Kohner and Alan Miller highlighted how ENNHRI, respectively GANHRI, can provide avenues for NHRIs to bridge human rights and the SDGs on the national, regional and global level.

Participants also discussed a Human Rights Based Approach to SDGs within various thematic areas, including economic/social equality, rights of persons with disabilities, and gender equality.

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The Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar, delivered a compelling speech about the challenging conditions and human rights issues currently facing Poland, and explained the different working methods and mission of his mandate.

On the last day, the participants reflected on the lessons learnt and developed a plan for passing on acquired knowledge and skills during the Academy to colleagues at their respective NHRIs. Participants also highlighted their interest in continued learning from each other, which will be facilitated through the NHRI Academy online area and other follow-up activities.

Trainers this year included representatives from OSCE/ODIHR, UNDP, UN Women, OHCHR, FRA, GANHRI, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Ukraine Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.

The NHRI Academy differs from existing human rights trainings and short-term courses in such a way that it focuses exclusively on the unique role of NHRIs. Its long-term aim is to provide a standing resource for the continuing professional de¬velopment of staff at NHRIs, and to foster the development of professio¬nal networks for NHRIs in the OSCE region.

The Academy provided training for over 100 NHRI staff members since its first edition in 2014.