SPP Supports Development of Ombudsperson Staff From Across Europe
Senior and mid-level National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) staff were part of a practical training at the first NHRI Academy convoked by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and organized jointly with the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and the School of Public Policy (SPP) at Central European University, in Budapest on 23 – 27 June 2014.
Participants representing 34 NHRIs from across the wider European region discussed and sought more effective solutions to challenges in their work to promote and protect human rights more effectively. "NHRIs contribute to the implementation of internationally recognized human rights standards on a national level, and are therefore ODIHR's natural allies and principal partners in strengthening respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in the OSCE area," Snježana Bokulić, Head of ODIHR Human Rights Department said at the opening of the Academy. "They are a fundamental pillar of the human rights architecture."
Bernhard Knoll, Director of Professional Development at SPP, said: "The Academy created an environment for sharing good practice among peers, and facilitated cooperation between NHRIs and other organizations working in the field of human rights."
Beyond the obvious networking benefits, the Academy's objectives were to strengthen the capacity of participants in four key areas:
(1) bringing institutions closer in line with the Paris Principles as regards their independence;
(2) mainstreaming gender into their work;
(3) conducting monitoring of human rights, including social and economic rights, more effectively; and
(4) interacting more effectively with UN bodies, with the aim of strengthening the implementation of international human rights standards on the national level.
"The Academy was a venue for exchange and networking, but also a place for introducing new approaches in the field of human rights protection," said Vyacheslav Tolmachev, Counselor to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation. "I am grateful to the Academy that it provided the opportunity to clarify some of my questions, such as interacting with the international human rights bodies."
NHRIs had been invited to nominate trainers for particular sessions as well as members of their staff for participation in the Academy. The success of this week's programme may lead to it becoming an important annual event and part of strategic cooperation between ENNHRI, ODIHR, and SPP.