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FOCUS June 2006 Volume 44

National Human Rights Commission Capacity- building

Jefferson R. Plantilla

Human rights education is not only for educators. By incorporating human rights education into the different functions of a national human rights institution, every activity of the institution would support the goal of promoting human rights. Staff members doing tasks such as investigation of human rights violations complaints or review of laws based on human rights standards are therefore enabled to contribute to the human rights education function of their institution

This is the gist of the recent training workshop for the staff of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nepal. Equitas[1] and the NHRC launched a three-year capacity-building project for the NHRC staff in 2003. While the first part of this program focused on capacity building in the area of economic, social and cultural rights, the project began its focus on human rights education capacity-building in 2005. They held the first workshop under this part of the project in March of that year to help increase the capacity of senior NHRC staff to conduct effective human rights education activities. In May 2006, they held the second workshop. The project was developed in the context of the NHRC's human rights education priorities as set out in its Strategic Plan (2004-2008)

NHRC Strategic Plan

The NHRC adopted in December 2003 the Strategic Plan (2004-2008) to guide the implementation of its mandated functions. As the NHRC Chairperson puts it, the Strategic Plan (2004-2008)

is a powerful instrument to guide the NHRC in executing its duties and responsibilities in accordance with the aspirations of its statute and the stakeholders. Hence, the multiyear and annual work plan of the NHRC in the future will be prepared on the basis of this document and their implementation will be jointly reviewed by the Members and the staff.
The Strategic Plan provides mission and vision statements as well as six core values that should guide the operations of the NHRC

The mission of the NHRC is stated as follows:

Our mission is to develop a culture of human rights in the country by taking a leading role as an independent and impartial national institution for the protection and promotion of human rights in accordance with universally recognized human rights principles.

The six core values are equality, impartiality, accessibility, accountability, transparency, and independence and autonomy. To ensure that these values are properly applied, the Strategic Plan provides that

A five-member-committee comprising of one of the members and four staff members representing different ethnic background[s] will review the progress on implementation of the above values every six months. They will report to the Commission with specific recommendations in the areas needing improvements, if any. An external audit of the values will be conducted annually to examine the level of implementation of the values by the Commission and to suggest ways and means of institutionalising the values.

The Strategic Plan includes an analysis of the major human rights issues in Nepal and the response of the NHRC to the situation through eight strategic objectives (complete with key priority areas and expected results).[2]

Under Strategic Objective 7 on human rights education, the key priorities are the:

  • Inclusion of human rights education in school curriculum and in non-formal education packages
  • Inclusion of human rights education as core subject in the staff-training program of the Ministry of General Administration, or of the appropriate ministry in-charge of staff training
  • Facilitating the proper preparation of government officers with quasi-judicial responsibilities to enable them to undertake their tasks in accordance with the international human rights standards
  • Education and awareness-raising of activities for key policymakers, Regional Administrators and Chief District Officers
  • Dissemination of human rights information to public officials and professional groups
  • Facilitating the proper training of security and army personnel before deployment to active duty, and follow-up training to reinforce the knowledge and behavioral changes
  • Application of international human rights standards in handling cases
  • Undertaking high impact promotional work on selected cases and on emerging human rights issues.[3]

In addition, other Strategic Objectives of the Strategic Plan contain human rights education and training activities

To be able to effectively implement the human rights education components of the Strategic Plan, training would be needed. Thus the Equitas-NHRC project has an important role to play. The project is complemen- tary to other capacity-building projects implemented with other partner institutions.[4]

Training of Trainers II Workshop

The Training of Trainers II Workshop was held on 17- 21 May 2006 in Nepal. The workshop aimed to build the capacity of the NHRC staff to undertake effectively and with confidence the human rights education activities under the Strategic Plan. The workshop focused on skills that "are not only necessary for staff of the Commission's Promotions Division and the NHRC Training Coordinator, but also for key persons in other divisions of the NHRC who will be involved in human rights education activities and workshop development where the topic of the workshop relates to his/her area of work."[5]

Workshop objectives[6]

The workshop activities placed emphasis on designing and implementing practical human rights education activities and programs within the context of the NHRC's mandate, Strategic Plan, and divisional work- plans. It was expected that by the end of this workshop, participants should be able to:

  1. Identify the components of effective human rights education programs and activities and how to incorporate them in their work
  2. Plan and design effective human rights education activities for specific target groups
  3. Facilitate human rights education programs more effectively by drawing on methods, techniques, skills and attitudes developed and practiced during the workshop
  4. Apply effective techniques for reflecting on their practice as human rights educators
  5. Use a variety of methods for evaluating human rights education programs.

A specific outcome of the workshop was the development of human rights education activities by the participants for specific target groups

Another outcome of the workshop was the creation of an inter-divisional core group of NHRC staff with the capacity to plan, design and conduct human rights education activities within a collaborative environment

Workshop Outline

Several senior NHRC staff who were in the March 2005 Training of Trainers Workshop on human rights education attended the May 2006 workshop along with many other NHRC staff who regularly work with them. Most of the participants thus had an understanding of the steps for designing effective human rights education. The workshop activities, therefore, served as a "refresher" for some participants and yet offered something new for everyone. Participants from the March 2005 workshop were actively engaged as co-facilitators to reinforce their skills as human rights educators

Resource persons were also brought in to provide views and information at different segments of the workshop.[7] They provided comments to the presentations of the participants, as well as offered insight in regard to relevant human rights education programs and activities undertaken by other organizations and institutions in the region

For further information please contact: Ms. Sneh Aurora, Program Officer, National Institutions, EQUITAS, 1425 Rene Levesque West, Suite 407, Montreal CANADA H3G 1T7; ph (1- 514) 954-0382, ext. 32; fax (1- 514) 954-0659; e-mail:;


1. Equitas is the new name of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. Its full name is Equitas - International Centre for Human Rights Education

2. See full text of the Strategic Plan (2004-2008) in

3. Based on Strategic Plan (2004-2008), page 28

4. See for example the capacity development project for the 2002-2007 period with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and several countries as partners. See webpage for further information

5. Human Rights Education and Promotion - Training of Trainers II - Workshop Manual, Equitas and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nepal, 2006

6. Ibid., page 4

7. There were 2 resource persons - Jefferson R. Plantilla of HURIGHTS OSAKA, and Felicia Yeban of the Philippine Normal University.