In an effort to build stronger coordination among its African partners, FI has been conducting a series of regional training workshops across the continent to mobilise partners in the field to engage with UN human rights mechanisms, and to provide a space for partners to share the issues they face in their work. This has allowed for networking and new collaborations. The workshops coincide with various country reviews by these mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Treaty Bodies.
From October 9 to 13, 2015, FI lead a workshop in Tanzania, for the East Africa region, focusing on economic, social, and cultural rights. Thirty partners attended, hailing from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia. The workshop went over the basics about ESC rights, and provided participants with the necessary tools to be able to document cases of rights violations in ways that can be used and highlighted at the UN. It aimed to emphasize the vital role that FI’s partners have in promoting economic, social, and cultural rights in their communities and in the region as a whole.
The workshop also encouraged these human rights defenders and civil society actors to exchange experiences, network, and explore possible collaborations. It was a good opportunity for FI to connect them to and train them further on relevant UN mechanisms, so that their work, and FI’s work, can have a greater outreach and influence decision makers at national and international levels.
Participants left the workshop with new knowledge and consolidated partnerships. Many felt empowered to work beyond their specific areas, analysing the situations they face through their newly acquired lens of economic, social, and cultural rights. Many stated that workshops like these remind them of the value of their work in the fight for justice and peace, and fans the flames of their common commitment to defending human rights.