Civil society groups in Western Bahr El Ghazal receive human rights training from UNMISS
WAU - “We believe that civil society organizations play a critical role in monitoring human rights violations,” said Antonina Atieno Okuta, a Human Rights Officer working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Wau.
Antonina was speaking at a capacity-building session facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping mission for some 25 representatives from various civil society groups, including six women.
The interactive training, delivered by the mission’s Human Rights Division, dealt with empowering participants to monitor, document and report on possible human rights violations that occur within their neighborhoods, communities and professional sectors. Additionally, they were also sensitized on international human rights laws.
“I found the workshop immensely useful,” declared Lina Amabele, a child protection assistant working with an organization called Hold the Child. “It was fascinating learning the details about human rights laws and principles and how we can effectively gather information in situations where these essential rights are not being upheld,” she continued.
“It is valuable knowledge and I’ll be sure to trickle down whatever I’ve learnt to all my colleagues, especially when it comes to child rights which, I now realize is an inescapable aspect of the entire human rights spectrum. This is directly relevant to my work and I’m sure I’ll be able to do my job far more effectively now,” she averred enthusiastically.
For Pascal Aleu Dimo, another participant who works with Volunteers Humanitarian Organization (VHO), civil society organisations are the benign watchdogs in any society because they work closely with communities at the grassroots to raise awareness on several critical issues.
Pascal says he believes that the training will empower him to be more effective when he outreaches to communities.
“Many of the community members I meet every day have no awareness of their rights. So, it is incumbent upon us as members of civil society to educate them and raise as much awareness as possible. This training has provided me with many useful tips that will definitely make a positive impact on the people I meet,” he stated.
“As civil society organizations, it’s not enough for us to know about human rights. We must ensure that every person we meet is as knowledgeable as we are. Upholding human rights is a collective responsibility and the only way to do this is also through building partnerships—with state and national authorities plus law enforcement agencies,” continues Pascal. “Human rights need a whole-of-society approach and the UNMISS training has solidified this important fact for me.”
This initiative is in line with the mission’s mandated goal of preventing, monitoring and reporting on human rights violations across South Sudan.