2010-08-05 KENYA

Human rights advocacy

A joint Training program, sponsored by Franciscans International, was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, from 26th – 28th June. The presenters were Mr Peter Maragu, NPI ? Africa, Br Brian Bond, Edmund Rice International (ERI), Br Jim Jolley, Foundation for Marist Solidarity International (FMSI), and Mr Morse Flores from Franciscans International (FI). The Course was held at the Franciscans Family Centre, Nairobi. The participants, a group of around fifty or so, most from the Franciscan family, with four from the Marist Brothers, four from Edmund Rice International and two from Pax Romani.

The First morning was about ?Healing and Reconciliation?. Peter Maragu was the presenter for this part of the course. He began his session with the assurance that there is no religion in the world that supports violence, yet the history of Africa is dotted with violence. Tensions, which often erupt into violence or civil war often stem from ethnic differences between tribes or groups. Depending on what tribe you belong to, or where you come from, often determines what you can do!

Peter spoke about ?conflict analysis? as a way forward to overcome tensions and conflicts between groups. Such analysis includes identifying the ?actors?, identifying the motivation for an individual?s/group?s actions, and to know where and when to intervene. Conflict analysis is a practical process of examining and understanding the reality of conflict from a variety of perspectives. His point for the morning was that to define a better future, we must know the mistakes and influences from the past that can influence future directions. An interesting point he made was that peace-building is a bit like a market: there are buyers and sellers ? you have got to have both for some sort of settlement, i.e. the other group has something that you want, and you have something that they want. There are usually ?trade-offs? when negotiating for peace!

The remaining two days of the course focused on developing the skills necessary for human rights advocacy groups to follow-up on the recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Kenya. As most were uninitiated in the world of the United Nations, the presenters, Br Jim and Br Brian, began by explaining how this mysterious ?other world? of the UN functions, particularly with regards the mechanism of the UPR. Armed with this new information, the participants examined the recommendations made to Kenya at its UPR and then fine-tuned the list down to a manageable number for follow-up. Br Brian provided a number of interesting and entertaining role plays to emphasize some of the UN processes.
Six interest groups were formed around the these headings: the Right to Food and Water, the Right to Health – including HIV/AIDS, the Right to Education, the Right to Adequate Housing, and the Condition of Prisons and the Treatment of Prisoners. Br Jim provided a template for developing an Advocacy Action Plan for the groups and much of the remaining time was spent in these small groups developing their plan, having chosen two or three key recommendations from Kenya?s Review. By the end of the trainings session the groups were well advanced in formulating what they wanted to do over the next two or three years to help bring about the policy changes necessary to improve the impoverished situations of each of these focus areas. They all came away knowing when their next meeting would be and what the agenda was for them to keep the process moving along.

The last hour or so of the course focused on initial preparations for drafting a report to be submitted by FI for the review of Kenya by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Kenya is to be reviewed by CEDAW in November this year. This session was facilitated by Morse Flores.

An interesting aside: at the start of the three days, the participants were given a pre-test, based on the material that was to be covered during the training course. The average score was 8.3 out of 40. This was not unexpected, as most were unfamiliar with the UPR and the Mechanisms of the UN. They were given the same test at the end of the course and the average score jumped to 30.7! A remarkable improvement in three days! All participants were awarded a ?certificate of attendance? for all their hard work. Congratulations to all, and our thanks go to Franciscan International for hosting this training program.

Br Jim Jolley – FMSI


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