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1. The present report outlines progress achieved since the last report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/10/54).
II. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and national human rights institutions
2. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) accords priority to the establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) with due regard for the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles) adopted by the General Assembly (resolution 48/134, annex). OHCHR is also engaged in improving United Nations system-wide coordination on NHRIs, and supports their increased participation in the United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms. OHCHR encourages the sharing of good practices among NHRIs, supports the strengthening of their regional networks, and facilitates their access to United Nations country teams and other relevant partners.
3. During the reporting period, OHCHR continued to support the building of strong NHRIs and to increase the effectiveness of their regional coordinating bodies. Since 2008, the NHRI fellowship programme has hosted staff from A-status NHRIs from States such as Australia, El Salvador, the Republic of Korea and Togo. This programme has enabled the fellows to gain knowledge of and experience with the United Nations human rights system. It has also been beneficial for OHCHR, in terms of both substantive expertise and the consolidation of contacts with staff from national institutions. OHCHR has issued a new call for candidates for 2010. Through this programme, up to four staff members from NHRIs will be selected to work in the National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section of OHCHR for a period up to 12 months.
4. NHRIs compliant with the Paris Principles are essential to national human rights protection systems and are important counterparts for OHCHR. They can play a crucial role in promoting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level, a role which is increasingly recognized by the international community. This role was highlighted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the opening of the Ninth International Ombudsman Institute World Conference in Stockholm in June 2009. The High Commissioner noted that NHRIs are central elements of a strong national human rights protection framework that also requires an independent judiciary, effective parliamentary oversight mechanisms, fair administration of justice, a dynamic civil society and free and responsible media.
5. Middle East and North Africa
60. OHCHR assisted in the organization of the fifth Conference of the Arab National Human Rights Institutions, held in Amman on 8 and 9 March 2009, on “Elections in the Arab World and Their Impact on Human Rights”. A total of 80 participants, including representatives of the NHRIs of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, as well as of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. NGOs, international organizations and United Nations agencies attended and adopted a document to assist NHRIs in implementing a human rights-based approach during elections.
61. The United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region, in Qatar, held an inaugural workshop on the international human rights system in Doha on 27 and 28 May 2009. A total of 60 participants, including representatives of the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Algeria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory attended the workshop.