We are an organisation established in 1989 by the members of the Helsinki Committee in Poland.
Our mission is - the development of the human liberties and rights culture, both domestically and abroad.
Since 2007 we have Consultative Status with the United Nation's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Human Rights Training Centre
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The Human Rights Training Centre is the title of a programme, which, until now, has been elaborating and offering courses that teach the particular methods of efficient activity in the public interest, and preparing lecturers and trainers, who could implement these programmes.
The programmes were intended mainly for activists from non-governmental organisations and active human rights defenders from countries, in which political changes are taking place. We also conducted programmes intended for state monitoring institutions (ombudsman offices, Human Rights Commissions appointed by presidents) and the members of missions carried out by intergovernmental organisations.
Up till now, we have organised courses for students from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Stan, Latvia, Moldova, Russia (along with special programmes for Chechnya), Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan., the Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
As part of the School, we also carry out long-term programmes, which include various types of activity aimed at consolidating human rights movements in certain countries. During the period in question, we implemented such projects, among others, in Russia (2001, 2002), Ukraine (2001) and the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Apart from this, we have organised two-week courses about human rights, in particular the tools used to protect them, for employees of ombudsman offices (among others in the Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Georgia).
The HRTC programmes, which have been elaborated and are being implemented, are:
1. 1. Human Rights Monitoring
Monitoring is one of the activities that support political changes. It is imbedded in the organisations strategy of activity in chosen areas (e.g.: the right to a trail, freedom of speech, children's rights, the prison system). The programme includes: planning a monitoring project, the means of implementing it (the techniques of gathering and verifying information) and making use of the results (elaborating data, writing a report and distributing it throughout the country or abroad). Special emphasis is placed on the precise definition of the monitoring objectives, which should, in theory, serve to solve a strictly defined problem.
2. Public actions
The objective of this programme is teaching, how to plan and carry out campaigns in the public interest, which are assumed to effect a broad social group. The programme teaches, among others, how to skilfully set objectives, elaborate strategic campaigns, and techniques used to gain allies, co-operation with the media, rules concerning the handling of group informational campaigns (rallies, marches), as well as the means of exerting direct pressure without resorting to violence.
The programme's aim is to simultaneously deliver knowledge about the philosophy and practical examples of resorting to civil disobedience, and to present the experiences of well-known movements based on the philosophy of acting without the use of violence.
3. Resolving conflicts and negotiations with the authorities
This programme is intended for recipients, who, while dealing with human rights, are confronted with conflicts with the authorities. It teaches, how to skilfully analyse the conflict, determine the sides involved and their interests. It points out many different ways of dealing with the conflict. Next, it prepares us for the handling of negotiations (bilateral and multilateral), while focusing our attention on the role of communication and emotions. Great emphasis is placed on the procedures, used during the negotiations with authorities, although the programme also delivers knowledge about negotiations between equal partners.
4. The strategy and techniques of human rights education
This programme teaches us about planning the strategy of educational activities concerning personal and political rights, including: defining the objectives of education, choosing the groups of recipients and elaborating the plans for particular educational activities. This programme prepares us for the construction of programmes that take into consideration the specific nature of educating different social, age or professional groups. It also includes a review of the most commonly used methods of education and the rules concerning the evaluation of implemented programmes. It delivers information about the group process and the difficulties that may be encountered, while teaching human rights.
5. Legal actions
The programme mainly includes strategic litigation, meaning the intentional, planned handling of court cases, leading to the change in the interpretation of the existing law or removal of bad regulations from the legal system (by proving their inconsistency with the constitution or with the ratified international agreements) by securing the decisions of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal, the European Human Rights Tribunal, as well as the Council of Europe Committee against Torture. Apart from strategic litigation, the programme also teaches the rules of applying individual legal aid to victims of human rights violations. The programme is usually adapted to the legal system of the state, in which it is carried out.
6. Procedures outside the court, the preparation of reports
The programme teaches the methods used to convince political decision makers to conduct important, from the human rights point of view, changes in the commonplace activity of state organs or the legal system. It shows us, how to make sure that our reports reach the national or international parliament (the European Parliament, The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly or the government - directly or through the proper agencies of intergovernmental organisations (the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OSCE).
7. Strategic planning
It teaches, how to build a long-term strategy of activity for a non-government organisation through the skilful selection of objectives, defining the priorities, proper selection of the methods of activity, the mutual supplementation and support of the projects, carried out by the organisation, as well as the adaptation of the organisation's structural and financial development plans to these objectives.
The teachers/trainers of the Human Rights Training Centre
The finest graduates of the School on Human Rights, who have co-operated with the Foundation for years, and posses in-depth knowledge from the chosen areas of human rights, as well as experience in working in support of their protection (for example: performing monitoring, as well as legal and educational activities), are the School's teachers/trainers/experts. The new trainers are being taught on an individual basis, through their gradual involvement in activities supervised by more experienced colleagues.
Apart from courses that teach how to perform, for example: the monitoring of the abidance of strictly defined human rights, or the situation of people, who belong to particular groups, we will also offer courses that teach, how to build the strategy and a detailed plan of actions aimed at solving strictly defined social problems, meaning the simultaneous use of different techniques of activity (conducting the monitoring, the campaigns, resolving conflicts) in order to protect certain rights and liberties, e.g.: freedom of speech, the right to a fair trail, or the improvement of the situation in closed institutions across a given region or country.
Currently, we are working on further educational materials, which will be used during the courses carried out by the Human Rights Training Centre and other HFHR programmes.
Among the trainers/experts of the Human Rights Training Centre are employees and co-workers of the Foundation - the graduates of the School on Human Rights, who possess knowledge in the particular domains of the subject matter of human rights, as well as experience in activities in support of human rights protection (e.g. carrying out monitoring, legal and educational activities). In order to educate new trainers, we organised 8 seminars for the graduates of the HFHR School on Human Rights, who previously expressed the desire to co-operate with the Human Rights Training Centre programme. Some of them later received individual training through their gradual involvement in the work under the supervision of more experienced colleagues. Thanks to this, the base of trainers is systematically growing, and we have also begun its "internationalisation" by adding the graduates of the Advanced Course for NGO Leaders. The first ones have already carried out classes.
We organise the courses both as part of the Foundation's own projects, as well as at the request of other organisations - intergovernmental (e.g. OSCE) and non-government (e.g. the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Memorial). In recent years, we have carried out courses, among others, for the employees of ombudsman offices in Russia, Georgia and Ukraine, the heads of the regional Human Rights Committees in Russia, employees from the office of the Russian Federation President's Special Plenipotentiary on Human Rights and Freedoms in Chechnya, employees of the OSCE Mission in Chechnya.