#ACHPR59 | Civil society training ahead of African Commission’s 59th session


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Highlights of a fruitful weekend spent with over 20 African human rights defenders gathered to gain more knowledge and share lessons about engaging with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 

ISHR just concluded a 2-day training for African human rights defenders in Banjul, the Gambia, and co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS).

A diverse range of participants from all over Africa came to learn but also share experiences and good practices during this intensive event held prior to the NGO Forum linked to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) session.

The aim was to provide civil society actors with knowledge as well as practical tools to strengthen their advocacy strategies and activities in both regional and international mechanisms.

The training’s first day was therefore dedicated to the international human rights system so participants got an overview of the global context in which they would operate. It also provided a recap on the historical background, founding documents and relevant organs of the UN system and a particular emphasis was put on the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures.

Participants heard tips about how to liaise, share information, get accredited to participate in the sessions and meetings of the UN mechanisms. This was also a good time for experience sharing as some participants already familiar with the system could tell others about the challenges they have faced and how they were able to overcome them.

Sunday 16 October was the actual training day on the African human rights mechanisms. Participants learnt more about the African Charter, the landmark document that set up the mandate of the African Commission based in Banjul. Participants benefited from the insights and experience of Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou, the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of Human Rights Defenders. Ms Alapini-Gansou was kind enough to facilitate an entire session on the issue and individually and comprehensively respond to any questions and concerns by the participants. 

Throughout the training, group workshops were organised so participants could have a taste of what to expect in those human rights platforms, propose strategies and build bridges and network among themselves. They also developed advocacy strategies to ensure that their countries submit initial, periodic or combined reports to the African Commission as required by the African Charter. 

Certificates were handed out at the closing session from HE Mr Attila Lajos, European Union Ambassador in the Gambia.

Given the overwhemingly positive reception, it is anticipated that such a training will from now on be held on an annual basis, on the margins of the African Commission’s session.

See highlights of the training on Twitter @ISHRglobal and @ISHR_fr using 


  • Africa
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • Reprisals and intimidation
  • United Nations
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights