Towards Effective Training

Since 1996, the Network has worked to promote organisational learning from development and field experience by those mandating, funding or deploying such missions - whether inter-governmental organisations or states. This is founded on promoting sustainable partnership with, and accountability to, the host society.

Over the years IHRN has contributed through:

  • Facilitating co-operation among inter-governmental bodies such as the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and EU;
    • Advising on, designing and delivering IHRN training for inter-governmental organisations such as for the OSCE in Croatia for the EU expanded role in Civilian Crisis Management; for the EUMM Mission in Georgia or for the UK contingent to EULEX Kosova mission ;
    as well as
      • Being commissioned to conduct independent participatory evaluations applying human rights based criteria of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability. This includes evaluations of major sectoral reform processes, of international field missions in conflict contexts or evaluation of global programmes such as those of the Danish Institute for Human Rights commissioned by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
      • Conducting independent research.

        The challenge remains to assess whether, and to what extent, such interventions are achieving their objectives and contributing to sustainable change. Where such success is identified, the challenge remains to systematically apply the identified lessons elsewhere.

        1.    Research

        The study, Towards Effective Training For Field Human Rights Work, is a review of the training provided in major human rights operations in the 1990s (Haiti, Cambodia, Rwanda, El Salvador, former Yugoslavia, etc). It makes concrete recommendations regarding who should be trained - including management and local staff - in what, when, and by whom. It also highlights the need for distillation of better field practice, systematically fed into organisational learning and ultimately future training. Almost ten years on, the findings and recommendations remain all too relevant today. In particular, the absence of systematic organisational learning remains a major weakness at the heart of international human rights fieldwork. This publication was launched by Mary Robinson, then President of Ireland, in 1996. Towards Effective Training for Human Rights Fieldwork, by Karen Kenny. Available in English full text

        In addition, the article What is Effective Training, by Karen Kenny presents practical checklists and tips for planning and organising a process of NGO training for human rights work and identifies the role which workshops can play. It explains the key principles of effective adult education (especially the need for training to be practice-oriented and participatory), and provides guidance for applying these principles. The aim is to stimulate participants to actively identify their own training needs and empower them to ensure their training is designed, delivered and followed-up with their effective participation.

        2.    Facilitating co-operation

        Since its establishment IHRN has worked to raise awareness of the importance of co-operation and co-ordination among key fielding organisations: UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and EU.

        In 1999, as part of this process, IHRN policy advocacy contributed to key actors coming together to discuss and seek to address these issues: the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. For the first time, these actors discussed common fieldwork challenges and held a pilot generic training course together, held in Venice.

        3.    Evaluating field missions

        • Rwanda - OHCHR and EC

          IHRN was commissioned to advise the European Commission regarding design of its evaluation of the HRFOR field mission (1996, team provided).

          • Colombia - OHCHR

            IHRN was commissioned to independently evaluate the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Colombia at the request of six donor states (2002, team provided). For background, see Evaluation.

            4.    Advice on training for IGOs

            IHRN has contributed to the design of policy and delivery of operational training by OHCHR, the OSCE, international military personnel in Sweden, Switzerland and the UK as well as by international field missions.

            • Croatia - OSCE

              As part of the advocacy of the findings of Towards Effective Training, IHRN was commissioned to advise the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe on the training needs of the hundreds of officials who would join the expanded OSCE mission to Croatia in 1997. The team was led by Karen Kenny and included Paul LaRose Edwards and Brian McKeown.

              • EU in Civilian Crisis Management

                The EU's first international human rights operation was a contribution of personnel to the UN Human Rights Operation in Rwanda up to 1997. In 2003, the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina succeeded the International Police Task Force.

                Since 2003, in preparation for future EU-fielded international civilian missions, the EU has funded pre-mission generic training in thirteen member states and planned rosters of stand-by EU civilian experts. IHRN has made a number of recommendations regarding this approach as part of its on-going advocacy of effective field training - and the related imperative that such training be based on organisational learning and accountability for impact.

                The European Commission and member states funded fourteen pilot courses in a range of related topics (including rule of law, democratisation). In 2004 IHRN was also commissioned to design, and lead the delivery of, a pilot pre-mission human rights training course.It focussed on substantive human rights field skills including participatory approaches to human rights monitoring, structural diagnosis of root causes, human rights education and promotion, capacity-building as well as influencing development policies and programmes for change. The course was commissioned by Peaceworkers UK on behalf of UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the European Commission.

                  • Georgia - EU and Council of Europe

                        In November 2008 IHRN was commissioned by the Council of Europe to provide training support to the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM). An IHRN team provided training on monitoring methodologies in EUMM Field Offices and developed a handbook for use by Mission monitors in 2009.