The Office of The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Liberia has ended a two day intensive training with staffs of the National Legislature. The session brought together over 20 staffers from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate under the banner Legislative Staff Human Rights Association (LSHRA) and among other things help enhanced the capacity of the Legislative staffs in promoting and mainstreaming gender and human rights principles and standards in law mankind and reform process. The LSHRA, according to the association representative, Mrs. Bibianna Blay, was established with support of the former UNMIL Human Rights Protection Service to specifically support Lawmakers in reviewing legislation and identifying human rights and gender gaps as well as support the National Legislature in tracking implementation of Liberia National, Regional, and International Human Rights commitment and obligations. Speaking on behalf of the OHCHR Country Representative Christian Mukosa was Atty. Leetor Williams, OHCHR, Human Rights officer, who call on the participants not to only focus their contribution on the passage of laws but to ensure that gender and Human Rights are mainstream in their work. “Ensure that laws passed will also focus on the prevention of violence, nondiscrimination, addressing impunity and ending violence against women and girls”, she emphasized. Madam Williams at the same time urged the participants to see the venture in ending violence against women and girls, harmful practices, general GBV and sexual and reproductive health rights as an immense contribution to national duty which requires dedication and sacrifices. “You have to ensure the integration of Human Rights and gender at the full front of your work with major and key focus on law reform, she told the participants. The OHCHR Human Rights officer also reaffirmed her institution’s commitment to ensure that rights and convention agreed to under the UN auspices are implemented to protect and promote Human Rights especially for the most vulnerable. She moreover, encouraged the participants to avoid business as usual in their daily work but to help support Liberia in its quest to meet up with national, regional and international obligations, principles and standards. Something she however, stated can only be done by commitment and sustained advocacy. The interactive training session organized by the OHCHR under the United Nations Spotlight initiative in ending violence against women and girls was held in Ganta, Nimba County. Also speaking at the program was the Superintendent of Nimba County Nelson Korquoi who stressed that putting women issues now at the center of the table is key to national development. He indicated that unlike before, women should be empower to the core because, they are agents of positive and impactful change makers in any society. Superintendent Korquoi who sees the session as a key one to government’s decentralization and women empowerment initiative and drive was also quick to challenge the participants mainly women to now seized every available opportunity in order to empower themselves for the betterment of the nation. According to the training lead facilitator, D. Melvin Nyanway, OHCHR Human Rights Officer, consistent advocacy can make a greater impact in the society. “You just need to remain engaged and it takes one person to begin the process in order to make the require difference”, he encourage the active and attentive participants during his deliberation. Mr. Nyanway urged the participants to see Human Rights issues as everybody business as such it is key for collective and networking approaches in order to achieve the desire goals or objectives. Presenting on the topic “overview of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights mandates and the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative joint project”, he derailed the participants on the structures, mandates, and workings of both the UN Human Rights Office and the INCHR as well as the Spotlight joint project purpose, focus and target. At the same time, Participants at the end of the session agreed to remain engaged in flagging as well as support their principles, the Lawmakers, in mainstreaming gender and human rights issues in their workings for the betterment of the National Legislature and the population in general. The two days session among other things looked at topic such as “Human Rights and gender mainstreaming, Practical tool to address key human rights and gender concerns, Legislative Gender and Human Rights checklist, Effective human rights advocacy, a tool of engagement to end VAWG”. Other important topics highlighted by the facilitators included: “Human Rights and Human Rights Laws, Recognizing, Respecting , and incorporating international human rights laws/instructions in the decision and actions of the Legislature , as well as Understanding international human Rights mechanism, Civil Society engagements with the National Legislature, and The Liberia ongoing law reform processes: LRC engagement with the LSHRA”. The training was characterized by excellent facilitation, discussion including group works and presentations, networking as well as active and full participations from staffs of the National Legislature, something the facilitators commended to the core. Facilitators at the two days event included Lead facilitator D. Melvin Nyanway, Atty. Leetor Williams both of the OHCHR , a representative from the Law Reform Commission, and Adama Dempster, renowned Human Rights Defender and Secretary General of the CSO Human Rights Advocacy Platform. The two days activities ended with the elaboration of a comprehensive Revised TOR and Road map for submission to the Legislature for endorsement to legitimize the working and structure of the LSHRA at the National Legislature and strengthen their network and Legislative support.
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