26-27 June 2013, New York, USA - The two day seminar commenced with Yvonne Lodico, Head of UNITAR New York introducing Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office, OHCHR New York to the gathered participants. Ms Sheriff delved into the issue of human rights treaties whose beauty she said lies in their ability to change with the times. Ms. Sheriff told the participants that the state was ultimately responsible for upholding the rights of its citizens.
Linnea Arvidsson, illustrated how the OHCHR supports human rights mechanisms wherever it has a presence in the world. She noted that “the most important criteria for the OHCHR is that the government wants it there.” Fred Kirungi, Public Information Officer at OHCHR New York, demonstrated how diplomats could use the OHCHR website to gain access to information unavailable to the general public.
James Turpin and Dominique Bush discussed how peace and security are interlinked with human rights. Mr. Turpin also explained linkages among the treaties in the UN Human Rights Treaty System. Ben Majekodumni facilitated a practical exercise aimed at teaching the participants how to integrate human rights standards into a UN resolution.
Nicolaus Schultz explained inter alia how “thematic mandates are more controversial as some countries are singled-out”. Nouhoum Sangare, Human Rights Officer, listed protection of dignity, help in guiding policy-making and fostering accountability as some of the advantages of mainstreaming human rights into the area of development. Ms. Arvidsson carried out a simulation exercise along the East River to demonstrate the need to integrate human rights in the development process of a country – to ensure that all people have a chance of living a better life.
Lastly, the Assistant Secretary-General Ivan Simonovic engaged in a dialogue with participants. He informed the participants that “all the main organs of the UN should serve as advocates for human rights.” Furthermore, he noted that the OHCHR has briefed the Security Council eleven times this year alone, more than in the previous 17 years combined.