The UNIOGBIS Human Rights mandate is established in UN Security Council Resolution 2512 of 28 February 2020 (paragraph 5 (b)), which requests “UNIOGBIS and the Special Representative” to Assist national authorities and stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights as well as undertaking human rights monitoring and reporting activities”.
In its resolution 2512 (2020), the Security Council urges the Bissau-Guinean authorities to take all necessary measures to promote and protect human rights, end impunity, ensure due process, including through the protection of witnesses, and conduct transparent, independent and credible investigations into human rights violations and abuses, including gender-based violence and gender discrimination, in accordance with national and international law, and identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable (paragraph 22).
The Security Council also calls on the Government of Guinea-Bissau, with international and regional support, to take steps to ensure early warning and prevention of, and accountability for human rights violations, with particular focus on freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and the condemnation of hate speech and incitement to violence and the prohibition of incitement to imminent violence (paragraph 23).
Finally, the Security Council calls on the Government of Guinea-Bissau to strengthen their national system for the promotion and protection of human rights, including by establishing an independent National Human Rights Institution, compliant with the Paris Principles (paragraph 24).
Deriving from resolution 2512 (2020),the work of the Human Rights Section of UNIOGBIS comprises five major elements: (1) human rights mainstreaming in the work of UNIOGBIS; (2) human rights mainstreaming in the work of the United Nations Country Team; (3) assisting national authorities and other stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights; (4) undertaking human rights monitoring activities; (5) undertaking human rights reporting activities.
It is also guided by the United Nations policy on the integration of human rights in UN Peace Operations and Political Missions. The Head of the UNIOGBIS Human Rights Section also serves as the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guinea-Bissau.
In order to carry out its human rights mandate, UNIOGBIS requires the full cooperation of the Government of Guinea-Bissau in the following areas;
(a) Freedom of movement in any part of the country, including to restricted areas, as required;
(b) Freedom of inquiry, in particular with regard to:
(i) Contacts with central and local authorities of all branches of power;
(ii) Private contacts with representatives of civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, other private institutions and the media;
(iii) Confidential and unsupervised contact with witnesses and other private persons, including persons deprived of their liberty, considered necessary to fulfil the mandate;
(iv) Access to all prisons, detention centres and places of interrogation as considered necessary to fulfil the mandate; and
(v) Full access to all documentary materials relevant to the human rights mandate, including its protection aspects.
(c) Assurances that no person or group of persons, whether acting in their official or individual capacities, who cooperate, seek to cooperate, or have cooperated with the United Nations in connexion with its human rights work will, for that reason, suffer intimidation, threats, harassment or punishment, be subjected to judicial proceedings or to any other kind of reprisals, and that any measures that could deter such cooperation will be avoided. These assurances should apply during and after the presence of UNIOGBIS in the country.
The UNIOGBIS Human Rights Section pursues an overall strategy to implement its mandate in the area of human rights. This strategy focuses the Section’s programmatic approach on targeted human rights monitoring, reporting and advocacy, capacity-building and institution-building as well as technical cooperation. UNIOGBIS Human Rights also focuses on aspects of women’s rights, including enhancing equality and countering discrimination, as well as on youth and persons with disabilities. In order to achieve its mandate, UNIOGBIS engages with national actors in strategic partnerships on the following areas:
• Human rights monitoring, assessment and reporting
Human Rights monitoring is a central tool in responding to human rights concerns and crises, identifying causes of human rights concerns and developing possible solutions, promoting accountability and deterring further human rights violations. Human rights monitoring can also play a preventive role as monitoring the conduct of duty bearers and reinforces their accountability.
UNIOGBIS Human Rights monitoring activities focus on freedom of expression, including the prohibition of incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination; freedom of peaceful assembly, political and public participation rights; the rights of persons deprived of liberty, and emblematic human rights cases.
The Human Rights Section of UNIOGBIS carries out an ongoing analysis and evaluation of the information gathered through monitoring to identify and understand the root causes of conflicts, the nature and causes of human rights violations and abuses, the challenges in the functioning of State institutions, the impact of legislation and government policies, capacity building needs’ assessment of State officials and civil society organizations, among others. The assessment undertaken contributes to help designing appropriate strategies and actions to provide remedies to violations and abuses, assistance to victims and durable solutions to human rights challenges and pressing concerns.
UNIOGBIS human rights-related public reports are available in the following areas:
The Human Right to Health (https://uniogbis.unmissions.org/en/human-rights-reports)
Political and Public Participation Rights (https://uniogbis.unmissions.org/en/human-rights-reports)
• Strengthening the capacity of State institutions to protect and promote human rights
UNIOGBIS human rights provides technical assistance and advice to State institutions on international human rights standards, on State engagement with human rights mechanisms, including regarding implementation of the recommendations made by UN bodies, and for the inclusion of human rights in reform processes. For example, regarding constitutional reform, the Universal Periodic Review (2020) of the Human Rights Council recommended to Guinea-Bissau to finalize the revision of the Constitution and ensure it is aligned with the country’s human rights treaty obligations. UNIOGBIS-Human Rights advocates for the implementation of this recommendation.
Moreover, in line with the call made by the Security Council in its resolution 2512 (2020), UNIOGBIS Human Rights advocates for the strengthening of the national system for the promotion and protection of human rights, including by establishing an independent National Human Rights Institution, compliant with the Paris Principles.
UNIOGBIS Human Rights has published, among others, the following tools in Portuguese to help to strengthen the ability of the State to promote and protect human rights:
Guide on Human Rights for the Armed Forces
Compendium on Basic Instruments of Human Rights
Compendium on texts on National Mechanisms on Human Rights
Practical Guide on Human Rights
Human Rights and Elections
All documents are available at: https://uniogbis.unmissions.org/en/human-rights-reports
• Enhancing and protecting civic space and participation
UNIOGBIS Human Rights supports initiatives to promote inclusive participation in processes that promote political stability and reconciliation. Such initiatives include working with broader Bissau-Guinean civil society to strengthen their understanding of, and effective participation in, reconciliation and related initiatives.
In line with the calls made by the Security Council on Guinea-Bissau, UNIOGBIS Human Rights provides support to the State to take steps to ensure early warning and prevention of, and accountability for, Human Rights violations, with particular focus on freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and the condemnation of hate speech and incitement to violence and the prohibition of incitement to violence.
UNIOGBIS-Human Rights is also contributing to enhance and protect the civic space by increasing the ability of human rights defenders to assess risks of human rights violations, identify actual human rights violations and propose ways to address their underlying causes. Enhancing human rights defenders’ ability to demand accountability from the State is essential for stability, lasting peace and sustainable development.
The Human Rights Defenders Network of Guinea-Bissau (HRDN) was formalized in 2017, with the technical and financial support of UNIOGBIS and OHCHR, and is composed of around 900 human rights defenders, including 343 women, from 61 organizations countrywide. UNIOGBIS Human Rights trained defenders on human rights monitoring and more recently mentored them to test an early warning system through human rights monitoring during the legislative and presidential electoral cycles in 2019.
The OHCHR practical guide on Human Rights for civil society is available in Portuguese at:
• Advancing Sustainable Development through Human Rights
UNIOGBIS Human Rights has worked to build national capacities to prioritize the elimination of discrimination and the reduction of inequalities, using disaggregated data to identify the most vulnerable with a view to uphold the principle of “leaving no one behind”, which underpins the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, UNIOGBIS Human Rights has provided technical advice to national authorities for the mainstreaming of human rights into strategic planning processes, including the strategic and operational plan (“Terra Ranka”) during 2014-2015, in the context of the process to align it with the Agenda 2030, the Agenda 2063, the SAMOA pathway and the document “A New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States”. UNIOGBIS Human Rights also provided trainings sessions on Human Rights Indicators and a Human Rights-Based Approach to Data for civil servants, State institutions, and representatives of civil society organizations.
• A table on Human Rights and the SDGs is available at: https://uniogbis.unmissions.org/en/human-rights-and-gender-mainstreaming
• Human Rights Education
In 2017 the Human Rights Section established a partnership with the Ministry of Education and its Institute of Educational Development (INDE) for the implementation of the World Programme on Human Rights Education and the incorporation of Human Rights in primary school curricula within the context of ongoing curricular reform efforts. Such partnership was established, among others, to assist national authorities to implement some of the recommendations made to Guinea-Bissau during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review “to continue its efforts to improve the national education system and to include human rights education in the school curricula”. (A/HRC/29/12, UPR 2015)
As a result of these partnerships, many education actors have been trained, and activities have also been undertaken to sensitize children about their rights in the schools of Bissau. Moreover, the following package of education tools has been elaborated in a collaborative effort between UNIOGBIS, OHCHR and the INDE:
• Illustrated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Primary School Children in Guinea-Bissau
• Reference on Education for citizenship, human rights and peace in Guinea-Bissau
• Practical Guide on Education for citizenship, human rights and peace for primary education in Guinea-Bissau
• Serial Album for the Teaching of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Guinea-Bissau.
• Coordination and integration of Human Rights in the work of the United Nations
UNIOGBIS Human Rights chairs the United Nations Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) of the United Nations Country Team which is one of the coordination, implementation and monitoring mechanisms established by Partnership Framework between Guinea-Bissau and the United Nations (2016-2020). The WGHR has the following functions:
(1) Serve as a platform of coordination of initiatives on the promotion and protection of human rights among United Nations entities, international and regional partners and national stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau.
(2) Serve as a platform of dialogue, information and knowledge-sharing aimed at facilitating a Human Rights-Based Approach to programming and to development cooperation, and to foster the implementation of various human rights-related policies and to encourage common human rights messaging.
(3) Serve as a forum to enhance cooperation with international human rights mechanisms, and to the extent possible with regional human rights bodies and mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies and specialized WGHR, the Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review and the treaty bodies.
The Terms of Reference of the WGHR are available at: https://uniogbis.unmissions.org/en/human-rights-and-gender-mainstreaming
Gender Unit, located at the Office of the SRSG, together with PAS, ROLSI and HRS has been working with women organizations and CSOs on their political empowerment. This effort contributed to the issuance of the Canchungo Declaration in 2014, embraced by all state institutions and set the tone for implementing gender equality in Guinea-Bissau. The Declaration was released at an event chaired by the President of the Republic and received wide media attention, mobilized by PIU. The Women’s Political Platform, other CSOs and the Ministry for Women Affairs trained by Gender Unit, PAS and HRS have also drafted a bill on quotas for women at the ANP. Upcoming training on lobbying and advocacy techniques, will help these organization push for the bill’s adoption next year.
ROLSI pioneered initiatives to promote gender balance and mainstreaming in defence, security and criminal justice institutions. There are associations of women in uniformed institutions, which replicated to civil society initiatives, e.g., women jurists. In addition, Women and youth representatives are systematically invited to multiple SSR debates. Gender responsive perspectives are being pushed forward in defence, security and criminal justice areas through advocacy on fast-track promotion and agreement on quotas for women in new recruitments.
The joint work of mission components aims at turning women into agents of peacebuilding in their respective communities, while addressing the gender gap that exists in all levels of society and State Institutions, including armed and security Forces, Government and Parliament.