Human Rights Week at IFA, the Institut Français d’Afghanistan

Defending Human Rights Defenders

7-10 December 2014


“Human rights defenders in Afghanistan and the challenges of their work:

How to improve the protection of human rights in Afghanistan”



Four morning sessions devoted to capacity-building workshops and exchanges with international (FIDH) and national experts, drawing on the example of the morning sessions conducted during the 2013 Human Rights Week. Participants will be 50 to 60 representatives from Afghan NGOs active in the defense of human rights, upper-level university students, journalists, academics, and others engaged in the protection of human rights in Afghanistan.


Four afternoon public debates around specific themes involving the protection of human rights to facilitate an exchange of experiences and good practices by a number of government and CSO personalities with a vested interest (each one to be followed by a Question & Answer session with the public). Each round table will open with the intervention of an Ambassador supporting the HRW.


Four cultural events open to the public: an Art exhibition, an evening of film screenings, an evening of poetry and prose readings for peace, a closing concert and the awarding of the Simorgh Peace Prize (this year’s prize solicited contributions from musicians and composers), continuous film screening and distribution of 5000 new books by Armanshahr Publishing.


morning workshops

55 participants have confirmed their presence (50% women); they include human rights and women’s rights activists and B.A. level students

In collaboration with international and Afghan human rights experts:

International trainers     Ms. Michelle Kissenkoetter (Director of FIDH Asia Bureau)

Afghanistan trainers       Mr. Seyyed Aliunnaqi Amini (Associate protection officer UNHCR) with the collaboration of Mr. Seyed Reza Hussaini (Human Rights Officer, UNAMA)

afternoon public debates with Q/A with the public

 evening cultural events







From 8:30am to 12am Training upon “Recognized and unrecognised rights”: Which rights must we priorities, protect, and promote, and why?


Some rights are already recognised by the state but still need to be protected, and other rights (e.g. some economic, social and cultural rights) have yet to be enshrined in national legislation and need to be promoted. This workshop will examine the following questions:

1) Which rights are enshrined in Afghanistan’s constitution and legislation, and which rights (as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have yet to be recognised under Afghan law?

2) How does advocacy work differ when promoting “recognised” rights versus “unrecognised” rights?

3) Which subset of rights are a priority, and why? – Brain storming session with participants


From 1pm to 3:30pm  Public debate on “Women’s political participation and safeguarding achievements”

Questions & Answers session with the public


From 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.   Cocktail opening ceremony and welcome reception at the Institut Français d’Afghanistan (IFA).


Inauguration of an art exhibition on the theme of Human rights proposed by IFA. Presentation and distribution by Armanshahr Publishing of its new books upon human rights (5000 new books to be distribute during the four days). Screening of best films on the theme of women’s rights, selected from the Herat International Women’s Film festival 2014 will be shown in IFA Video Box by Armanshahr.





From 8:30am to 12am Training upon “Human rights advocacy at the local level: best practices from around the world”

Engaging in effective local advocacy, particularly in a country in transition such as Afghanistan, involves many target groups, tools, and strategies. This session will provide participants with an opportunity to learn from successful campaigns in other “countries in transition” and to share what they see as the main challenges to successful advocacy at the local and national level in Afghanistan. This workshop will include:


1) A sharing of best practices from other countries by guest speakers and through pre-recorded videos of prominent human rights defenders from the FIDH network;

2) A sharing of best practices by participants in the room, and a discussion of the main challenges they face when trying to engage in local advocacy. Participants will have the chance to share suggestions for addressing these challenges.


Note 1: information gathered about the main challenges facing NGOs trying to engage in local and national advocacy can serve as the basis for a follow-up workshop/training session with practitioners on tools and strategy-building for overcoming challenges to successful advocacy.



From 1pm to 3:30pm  Public debate upon “The role of media and social networks in the defense of human rights and democratic processes”


Question & Answers session with the public



From 4pm to 5:30pm   Cultural event: Projection of the best films and documentaries selected from the second “International Women’s Film Festival-Herat 2014”





From 8:30am to 12am  Training upon “International human rights mechanisms: how to make them work for you”


There is a general lack of understanding amongst Afghan NGOs of which international mechanisms have jurisdiction in Afghanistan, how they work, and how local NGOs can engage with them. In order to help counter the feeling of isolation felt by much of Afghan civil society, and to improve the quality of cooperation between Afghan NGOs and international human rights bodies, this workshop will aim to explain:


1) Which international mechanisms are relevant to the protection and promotion of human rights in Afghanistan (e.g. conventions signed and ratified by Afghanistan, international bodies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the International Criminal Court);

2) The mandates, jurisdictions, roles, and responsibilities of these mechanisms, and the responsibility of the Afghan state vis-à-vis each of these bodies; and

3) How to effectively engage these mechanisms: ways NGOs can submit information, ask for formal interventions, and better cooperate with international bodies.


Note 1: in this session we will have a third Instructor: Mr Seyed Ali Hussaini, Human Rights Officer (UNAMA), who will introduce charter-based and treaty-based mechanisms, OHCHR, UN Universal Periodic Review, and give a short introduction of UNAMA’s Human Rights Unit and Afghanistan’s responsibility vis-à-vis these mechanisms.

Note 2:  this introductory workshop can also be built upon in a series of follow-up training sessions with NGO practitioners that go into greater technical detail on tools for international advocacy such as how to properly prepare submissions for different UN human rights bodies (e.g. for the UN Universal Periodic Review or the Complaints Procedure of the OHCHR), or how to write press releases that will be more effective with international media.


From 1pm to 3:30pm   Public debate upon “What does Transitional Justice mean to Afghans? Going beyond intentions and acting practically to build peace at the national level”

Question & Answers session with the public

 From 4pm to 5:30pm  Cultural event: Poetry and Prose for Peace: readings from works promoting peace, women’s rights, tolerance and multiculturalism




From 10:30am to 12am           Training on “How to protect human rights defenders in their work?”

Human rights defenders (HRDs) are essential to keeping governments accountable to their constituents with regard to the protection of citizens’ rights, and around the world we are seeing increased targeting of HRDs by governments and non-state actors. There are some tools and strategies available for helping to protect HRDs at risk, so this workshop will aim to:


1) Identify the risks faced by HRDs and some of the common tools used by governments and others to monitor, threaten, and repress HRDs;

2) Identify tools that can be used at the local and international levels to counteract and respond to threats and attacks against HRDs (e.g. engaging the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in cases of harassment, or how to document threats and attacks in order to effectively request interventions by international mechanisms);

3) The role of different actors and groups, such as the media and student groups, in helping protect HRDs and creating national and local platforms and networks to enhance advocacy.


From 1pm to 3:30pm   Public debate upon “Defending human rights and women’s rights defenders against repression and the arbitrary exercise of power by state and non-state violent actors”

Question & Answer session with the public


From 4pm to 5:30pm   Cultural event: Closing concert and the awarding of the Simorgh Peace Prize followed by a cocktail

Ce message est également disponible en : French, Persian