Under the Host Country Agreement signed in February 2020, the Uganda Country Office will undertake a range of activities including:
- Advising and assisting the Government of Uganda on policies, programmes and measures for the promotion and protection of human rights in Uganda;
- Strengthening the capacity of human rights institutions, civil society organisations and other relevant actors to promote and protect human rights;
- Advising and supporting the Uganda Human Rights Commission in the implementation of international human rights norms and standards and outcomes of the human rights ‘mechanisms’; (these include the UN human rights Treaty Bodies; the individual UN independent experts known as Special Procedures; as well as the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council — a peer review of the human rights records of every UN Member State that takes place once every four years);
- Monitoring the human rights situation in Uganda in partnership with the Uganda Human Rights Commission;
- Providing training activities on the international human rights system for Government officials of interested States in the region, as well as national human rights institutions and civil society organisations.
In implementing its mandate, OHCHR in Uganda is guided by the following parameters:
- Contribute to national efforts aimed at promoting respect for and observance of human rights law through provision of advice, capacity building and assistance to the competent authorities in relation to strategies, programmes and measures to promote and protect human rights in the country.
- Observe the human rights situation in the country and inform the competent authorities to enable them take appropriate and timely action on order to address any human rights concerns that might arise.
- Provide advice and capacity building to competent authorities, national institutions, civil society organizations and individuals regarding the promotion and protection of human rights, including the use of national and international human rights protection mechanisms and human rights education programmes.
- Issue public reports and statements as and when determined by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Such reports shall be shared with the government prior to publication and take into consideration their views and observations.
The UN Human Rights Office in Uganda is working closely with national partners, including relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the National Council for Disability, as well as CSOs. The Office cooperates closely with the UN Resident Coordinator and UN sister agency under the UN Sustainable Development Framework (2020-2025), which is aligned to the third phase of the National Development Plan (NDPIII).
In carrying out its mandate, OHCHR in Uganda is engaging on five thematic Pillars:
1) Enhancing and Protecting Civic Space and People’s Participation:
Under Enhancing and Protecting Civic Space and People’s Participation, OHCHR provides technical cooperation and capacity building to the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), law enforcement agencies, civil society and the media in developing appropriate interventions in addressing identified human rights knowledge, skills and capacity needs.
OHCHR supports the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) in implementing its mandate in accordance with the Paris principles. In this framework, OHCHR provides technical cooperation to the UHRC to organize human rights capacity building activities for state institutions and for the UHRC staff members. OHCHR conducts periodical coordination meetings with UHRC Central Office, Karamoja and northern Uganda. OHCHR supports the Karamoja Regional Protection Cluster. OHCHR supports UHRC Early Warning mechanisms, as well as to organize human rights activities to raise awareness on relevant human rights issues.
Jointly with UHRC, over the years, OHCHR is building capacity on human rights issues, and particularly on public freedoms, for military and law enforcement agencies, especially the Uganda Peoples´ Defence Forces (UPDF) and Uganda Police Force (UPF). These processes are progressively resulting in demonstrated improvement in their awareness of human rights and institutional response to violations by their respective human rights directorates. OHCHR has committed to continue following up on the application of the Public Order Management Act (POMA) of 2013 and other laws which have been a subject of public debate as it relates to the enjoyment or denial of right to assembly, association, expression, the right to political participation and related human rights issues. OHCHR in Uganda continues to monitor, document, report and engage with UHRC and authorities on pertinent and emerging human rights issues.
OHCHR has significantly contributed to the enhancement of the capacity and coordination of Civil Society networks and women human rights defenders to monitor, document, report and advocate on relevant human rights issues, including on public freedoms and on gender mainstreaming.
2) Combating impunity:
Combating impunity through support to the Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) by developing a curriculum and training judges on the justiciability of Economic Social and Cultural (ESCR) rights. Judges now effectively adjudicate ESCR claims and issue meaningful remedies for ESCR violations.
OHCHR supported the launch of the Network of Public Interest Litigators (NETPIL) in Uganda, and also supported the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) to develop witness protection guidelines, and a review of the complaints’ mechanism. OHCHR has supported the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda to revise its rules of procedure and evidence to include special measures for the protection and handling of victims and witnesses, especially Gender Based Violence (GVB) survivors and children.
OHCHR has also conducted training for the UPF, UPDF and Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) to integrate human rights protection in their operations. OHCHR has sustained its support towards implementation of the roadmap for the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act (PPTA) and recorded a decrease in complaints. OHCHR continues to support the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) to strengthen its human rights mechanisms, offer technical assistance to the human rights violations documentation project and support the Conflict Documentation Project.
OHCHR continues to support the judiciary and CSOs in building their capacity to adjudicate and litigate ESCR claims, support JSI to roll out the ESCR curriculum to Magistrates, State Attorneys and ESCR experts as well as providing litigation support to legal networks.
3) Integrating Human Rights in sustainable development:
OHCHR has engaged with the National Planning Authority, the Uganda Human Rights Commission and other partners to build the capacity on Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) for different representatives in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including at local government level.
OHCHR continues to provide technical support to Government, CSOs and UNCT on human rights issues in connection with the implementation of NDP III, UNSDCF and other joint UN programmes.
Some examples of OHCHR Uganda’s engagements include the following:
- OHCHR is supporting the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) and other partners to advance on the draft National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP on BHR), in line with relevant recommendations under the 2016 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) supported by the Government. The move towards developing a NAP on BHR comes at a critical moment, as Uganda is increasing its efforts related to industrialization under its National Development Plan III.
- On 28 June 2019, four key Ugandan national institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Human Rights to Data, seeking to “Leave No One Behind” in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Uganda. The MoU, developed with the support by OHCHR, establishes cooperation between the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), UHRC, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), and National Planning Authority (NPA). In a joint statement following the signature, the four institutions made an open commitment to “work cooperatively in applying a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to data collection, analysis and dissemination”, underscoring the need for this approach to “help improve the quality of service delivery by relevant stakeholders for the benefit of the population.”
- OHCHR provided support to the Government SDG Focal Point, who leads coordination efforts around SDG implementation in the country. UN Human Rights participated in meetings of the SDG Task Force, thereby emphasizing the need to draw on recommendations by human rights mechanisms in implementing the SDGs. In April 2019, OHCHR, together with the UHRC, issued a new version of its booklet containing the 2016 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations accepted by Uganda, The booklet was distributed widely to Government officials, civil society and the wider public in an effort to show the linkages between human rights and the SDGs.
- OHCHR continued to assist the Ministry of Health in advancing a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) to ensuring maternal health rights and reducing preventable maternal mortality, in line with SDGs 3 on health and SDG5 on gender equality. A draft multi-sectoral strategy on HRBA to maternal health was developed in consultations with partners, and was piloted in five districts so as to further refine the measures outlined therein. OHCHR will continue to support the adoption and implementation of the strategy, once adopted. In addition, a case digest was developed to guide in particular local government officials and health workers on obligations related to maternal health rights.
4) Countering Discrimination:
Countering Discrimination through strengthening of capacity and support to the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), UPF, Civil Society networks dealing with women’s rights, including people living with albinism. OHCHR has supported the MGLSD in developing a multi-sectoral framework to report, and track Government’s implementation of international obligations and in preparing the mid-point CEDAW and CEDAW country report.
Civil Society networks have been supported to advocate for the implementation of CEDAW concluding observations. OHCHR prepares and supports legal analysis of laws and supports stakeholders to advocate for their non-adoption or amendment. OHCHR continues to focus on capacity building, technical assistance and monitoring of emblematic cases of discrimination.
OHCHR collaborates with national authorities especially the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to build their technical and functional capacity to enable them fulfil their primary mandate relating to countering discrimination, inequality and exclusion. OHCHR supports the EOC and the MGLSD in monitoring and reporting on Uganda’s implementation of CEDAW obligations.
OHCHR continues to work with the District Council on Persons with Disability and support CBOs and community leaders in advocacy efforts to raise awareness of discriminatory practices and laws and provide technical assistance to national institutions and CSOs through review and analysis of legislations and policies.
5) Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms` outcomes:
Under this Thematic Pillar, OHCHR strengthens the capacity of state institutions, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and civil society to engage, according to their respective roles, with international human rights mechanisms.
OHCHR supports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the UHRC in organizing capacity building activities for the Inter-ministerial Human Rights Committee on the reporting processes to international human rights mechanisms, including the Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council.
OHCHR supported the UHRC to develop a human rights search engine/database to support Government in the compilation and follow up in the implementation of human rights recommendations by international, regional and national human rights mechanisms. OHCHR also supports the process of capacity building of different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government Administration to interact with the database/search engine.
In the framework of the UN Programme on Human Rights Education, OHCHR supports human rights promotional activities in higher institutions of learning or universities. OHCHR provides technical cooperation and capacity building activities to civil society networks aimed at strengthening and coordination for the elaboration of civil society reports to international human rights mechanisms, and in particular to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council, to the Treaty Bodies, and to the UN Special Procedures.