Ashgabat, 13 September 2010 – More than 160 officials from Turkmen governmental institutions and public associations at the local level enhanced their knowledge about the UN human rights system in a series of workshops in all five regions of Turkmenistan from 17 to 28 August 2010. The workshops were held in Mary, Turkmenabad, Dashoguz, Balkanabad and Ak Bugday within the framework of the EU/UNDP/OHCHR project “Strengthening the National Capacity of Turkmenistan to Promote and Protect Human Rights.”
“The workshops provided participants with an opportunity to learn about international human rights standards and to reflect on their application at the national and local level,” says Peter Hosking, a human rights lawyer and trainer from New Zealand who facilitated the workshops together with experts from the Turkmen National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.
The workshops looked at the functioning of the UN treaty body system and reviewed the rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Turkmenistan, as well as international human rights treaties ratified by Turkmenistan, the preparation of reports by Turkmenistan to UN human rights mechanisms and follow-up to recommendations from these mechanisms.
Participants also focused on the human rights approach as a useful tool for planning and delivery of services at the local level. “Using a human rights approach at the local government level can help to improve services, ensure they reach everybody, promote participation by the people in the decisions that affect them and increase accountability,” Hosking said.
To this effect, participants discussed and identified human rights issues that they believe are of particular importance for their respective regions, such as the rights of specific groups like women, children and persons with disabilities, and specific social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights. Participants also expressed interest in receiving more information and training about these issues and learning more about the implementation of international human rights instruments in Turkmenistan and other countries.
The project “Strengthening the National Capacity of Turkmenistan to Promote and Protect Human Rights” is implemented in partnership with Government of Turkmenistan. The overall objective of the project is to engage the Government of Turkmenistan on its duty and capacity to comply with its international human rights standards and to improve the knowledge and capacity of rights holders to claim their rights.
In 2010, the project conducted human rights workshops for over 300 duty bearers in all regions of Turkmenistan. Workshops have also been held for members of the working group of the Interdepartmental Commission on ensuring Turkmenistan's compliance with its international human rights obligations. These focused on international standards related to the status and functioning of national human rights institutions and on reporting under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture. In addition, the project has organized a study visit to Geneva for members of the Interdepartmental Commission to observe the functioning of the UN human rights system.