OHCHR, CSO Reinforce Human Rights Commitment in Local Communities

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Partial view of participants at the recently ended training on CEDAW Shadow report

— Ends training in CEDAW shadow report         

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in collaboration with the Civil Society Platform with support from the UN/EU Spotlight Initiative, has ended a series of three separate pieces of training on the Convention Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Shadow Report Writing and Advocacy.

The training began in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County on the 16th of March 2021 and later moved to Ganta, Nimba County on the 19th and ended in Senji, Grand Cape Mount on the 24th of the same month, bringing together participants from Montserrado and Cape Mont Counties.

Adama K. Dempster, Secretary-General of the CSO-Platform, in his opening remarks told participants that OHCHR is working with the CSO Platform to draft Liberia’s CEDAW Shadow report and provide a clear understanding about writing a shadow report for those CSOs’ workers who have not had the opportunity to participate in the process.

Dempster said the training is basically to access, collect data, and capacitate participants to have a shadow report written for Liberia.

He disclosed that at the end of the series of three meetings, the CSO Platform, with support from the OHCHR, will reinforce human rights commitment in the various counties through local communities’ human rights groupings that will enable more coordination.

Dempster said further that the training is also intended to establish better networking that will enable quick access to information about how violation can be reported in an accurate manner.   

Francis Igiriogu, OHCHR human rights officer, in a PowerPoint presentation, said the purpose of reporting on the CEDAW treaty is to share and provoke affirmative action, whether as a preventive measure so that a response measure can be taken since the government signed the agreement.

Igiriogu said Liberia being a state party to the CEDAW treaty is under the legal obligation to implement the right set up by the treaty, adding that it is the responsibility of CSOs to hold the government’s feet to the fire to ensure that they follow the entire rule in the agreement.

He said if the government refused to provide its report on any of the agreements, the CSO can go ahead and present their report to the international committee of independent experts, indicating “that is why the CSO should ensure that all the information they are presenting to the international committee of independent experts is factual, backed by data and accuracy.”

Igiriogu noted that the international committee of ‘independent experts’ members are elected by colleagues but they serve in an individual capacity each and acting independently, and impartial in occurrence with their conscience with the terms of the treaty and in the interest of the treaty.

He said Liberia, being a party state to all of the ‘nine core human rights treaties body,’ except one, has never produced a member on any of the independent experts, adding, “Liberia cannot be a member of the CEDAW committee because FGM has not been decriminalized. That shows that the treaty has not been upheld in Liberia yet.”

When questioned by participants about the punishment a country would get for not upholding any of the treaties, Igiriogu said, “Human Rights is all about diplomacy, so there is no definite punishment but countries can sometimes withdraw aid or impose sanctions which will have a direct impact on the citizens.”

“That is why, before an individual from a particular country becomes a member of any treaty body, you have to convince other members to vote in your interest by your human rights record in the state,” Igiriogu said.

During the training, participants told OHCHR and the CSO-Platform that it is important to include local community residents as mentors because they  always have firsthand information about happenings at the local levels.

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