25th Annual Program 2016 - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, February 18th – March 5th, 2016

 

25th Annual Program Report 

 

 

The Diplomacy Training Program’s 25th Annual Human Rights and Peoples’ Diplomacy Training for Human Rights Defenders in the Asia-Pacific was held in Sri Lanka ( Colombo & Kandy ). Twenty two human rights defenders from Nepal, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Fiji and Sri Lanka attended this eighteen day program of intensive learning, sharing and skills building.

DTP acknowledges  with appreciation Malathy Bavananthan and staff of the Centre on Human Rights and Development, Ruki Fernando (INFORM); Father Nandana and the staff and volunteers of the Human Rights Organisation (Kandy); Deepika Udagama, staff, volunteers and students of Peradeniya University; Mr Sivaprasagam from Human Development Organisation (Kandy). 

The DTP program took place at a time of hope in Sri Lanka, with a recently elected government exploring constitutional change to guarantee human rights and engaging with the UN and international efforts to bring accountability and justice to victims and to build a future of peace and respect for human rights. The program drew from Sri Lanka’s community of experienced human rights defenders and provided an opportunity for exchanging experiences and perspectives on impunity and accountability, transitional justice and reconciliation, protecting human rights defenders and claiming human rights in authoritarian and repressive environments. 

DTP trainers are experienced and highly respected local, regional and international human rights leaders, academics, diplomats, media and UN professionals who understand and support DTP’s philosophy of participatory training.  Trainers, presenters and facilitators in the program included: DTP Board Member, Professor Andrew Byrnes; Dr Deepika Udagama; Professor Savitri Goonesekere; Mr Ratnavale; Ruki Fernando; P.P. Sivaprasagam; Kumadini Samuel, Joshua Cooper, Arul Prakkash; Sayeed Ahmad; Ambika Satkunanathan; Sunthararaja Vathana. Niranjala Arulnandhy; Pradeep Wagle, and Juan Fernandez.  High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson kindly hosted an afternoon tea for the participants.  DTP records and acknowledges its thanks to them all.

The program began with a focus on human rights, international human rights standards and mechanisms and principles and strategies involved in human rights fact finding and documentation.  The program then explored some of the specific issues that participants were working on – the rights of women, the rights of Indigenous peoples, the human rights of migrant workers and transitional justice. There was a strong focus on practical advocacy strategies and participants had the opportunity to apply program content in practical exercises including engaging the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, a group role play on the Universal Periodic Review and in meetings with the diplomatic representatives of Australia, the USA, UK, Switzerland and Norway. While the program provided time and space for sharing information, ideas, strategies and resources and for establishing networks for continued solidarity  amongst the participants there were also sessions which focused developing communication strategies to share human rights issues more broadly and on building regional and international solidarity.