27 11 2008




16 – 27 March 2009

Geneva, Switzerland


Applications are now being called for the Advanced Geneva Training Course on International Human Rights Law and Advocacy to be held in Geneva from 16 to 27  March 2009.


Deadline for applications: 1 December 2008




For the last 20 years the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) has provided practical  human rights training to human rights defenders and human rights organizations around the  world, assisting to develop their capacity to access and use international human rights procedures,  standards and mechanisms. Over 500 human rights defenders from over 110 countries have so far participated in ISHR trainings.


The main objective of this course is to empower human rights organizations by training their representatives to effectively use the United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms. The course  is designed for experienced human rights defenders and organizations that have the capacity to  use the international human rights systems in their work. The course takes place over a period of three and a half week alongside the 10th session of the Human Rights Council (the Council).


Providing human rights defenders with an opportunity to experience first-hand the UN human  rights mechanisms in action.


Main characteristics of the course


The Advanced Geneva Training Course (AGTC) is offered once a year at the time of the March session of the Council. The emphasis of the course is on interactive learning. It addresses the theoretical and practical aspects of international human rights law, the procedures and practices of the UN human rights mechanisms and the role of NGOs to improve implementation of human rights treaties and standards. The course is based on an experiential approach and will use adult  education learning principles. The practical and interactive training will be facilitated by pedagogies such as role-plays, debates, group discussions and presentations by participants. This will be supplemented by informal learning through the attendance of meetings and seminars.


Participants also have the opportunity to engage and meet with relevant actors present in Geneva during the Council such as government delegations, academics, national, regional and international NGOs, independent experts, different national human rights institutions and UN officials.


Besides providing participants with an introduction to the role and functioning of the UN system, the AGTC will also include lectures on lobbying and advocacy techniques. By the end of the course participants will have broad knowledge and competencies in relation to:


• International human rights law and practice;

• the UN human rights system;

• the Human Rights Council;

• the system of special procedures to the Council (Special Rapporteurs, independent experts, working groups etc.);

• the eight UN human rights treaties and their monitoring bodies

• the role and functions of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);

• national human rights institutions;

• NGOs and the UN system;

• regional human rights systems;

• strategic advocacy and lobbying at the international level;

• the use of the network of contacts emanating from the course.


Structure of the course


The AGTC is divided into three parts. The first consists of a comprehensive introduction to the UN system and its general structure, with an emphasis on the newly created Human Rights Council and the process through which it was created.


Participants then assess the different UN human rights mechanisms bodies through presentations  and interactive discussion with a variety of experts from OHCHR, Special Rapporteurs, treaty monitoring body and NGO members, with particular focus on the practical opportunities for using the international human rights mechanisms. The course will also provide space for ‘testimony’ presentations by participants themselves as a means of sharing experience and expertise within the group. During the two weeks, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the 10th session of the Council.


Finally, building on the skills participants acquire during the course, each will develop an action- project and debate on what they have learned and experienced.


Outcome and follow-up


The AGTC is aimed at strengthening the skills and knowledge of NGOs, human rights defender sand national human rights institutions. The expected outcomes include:


• Broad knowledge of the role and functions of UN human rights mechanisms, their special mechanisms and other key actors within the international human rights process,

• Producing effective submissions to these bodies,

• Developing strategic advocacy for lobbying at the international level and for aiming to ensure the implementation of relevant resolutions/recommendations at the national level;

• Enhanced contribution of NGOs and NHRIs to the improvement of the national regulatory framework for human rights;

• Increased interaction and dialogue between the network of contacts of national, regional and international NGOs, institutions and government agencies for the promotion and protection of human rights.


Participants are also required to develop and implement two projects after they have completed the course:


• A training course in their own country or region of work, to ensure that their new  expertise is transmitted to other members of their organisation and networks;

• A project to use one of the UN mechanisms discussed during the course.


Our organisation maintains close relations with participants and sends them our analytical reports  on UN meetings, as well as briefings on forthcoming sessions.


Target groups


Approximately 20 participants from around the world will attend the course. The intended beneficiaries of this course are participants who are expected to:


• Have been actively involved for five or more years in a national or international human  rights/development/humanitarian NGO or National Human Rights Institutions;

• Have a basic knowledge of and experience in international human rights law and the regional and/or international human rights system;

• Be working in an organization with a capacity to use national, regional and international human rights systems;

• Be presently at least in a middle management position in the organization;

• Be proficient in written and spoken English, as the course will be conducted in English

• Represent an organization that may wish to collaborate with ISHR in the future.




Participants should send their application by 1 December 2008. This should include the  completed application form, CV (two pages maximum) and two letters of recommendation (one from their organization presenting their candidacy, and expressing the commitment of the organization to using the international human rights system).


In the selection process, balance among participants is sought in terms of gender, geographical regions and human rights issues addressed by their organization. Participants are asked to report to ISHR after 3 and 12 months on activities carried out as a result of the training.


The cost of the course is approximately 8,000 CHF (including accommodation, per-diems, health  insurance, and airfare). All participants are responsible for ensuring their own funding for the course, although the International Service for Human Rights will provide support in the participant’s fundraising process. Subject to funding, ISHR may be able to offer a limited number of scholarships. In this regard we will consider, among other criteria, the efforts of the candidate towards securing his/her own funding.  We kindly ask you to e-mail your application to All documents should be attached in WORD or PDF format. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can also send it by post to the address below. Please only submit through one method. Any enquiries can also be addressed to


International Service for Human Rights


Rue de Varembé 1

P.O. Box 16

CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland

Tel: (+41) 22 919 71 00

Fax: (+41) 22 919 71 25




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