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Course 4E: Human Rights Monitoring
23 September - 15 December 2002

Facilitators: Ben Majekodunmi and David Weissbrodt

This distance learning course provides participants practical guidance on how to monitor human rights and is specifically a generic pre-deployment course for human rights monitors. Participants will be introduced to the doctrine and methodology of human rights monitoring, primarily as developed through the work of, and to be applied by United Nations (UN) human rights field operations. The course addresses applicable international human rights and humanitarian law; approaches to identifying human rights violations, information-gathering, interviewing, visits to persons in detention, visits to displaced persons in camps, monitoring the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, trial observation, monitoring children's rights, monitoring economic, social and cultural rights, preparation of reports, interventions with local authorities and other follow-up.

The course involves 60 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction with students and instructors/facilitators and assignments, and is offered over a three-month period, beginning on 23 September 2002. E-mail will be the main medium for the course, although participants will need to have periodic access to the Web. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required reading, prepare interim and final assignments and participate in group discussions. The main course text will be the Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring (United Nations, 2001) authored by the facilitators of the course. The maximum number of participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Attendance.

Course outline

Week 1: Introduction and Context
Week 2: Applicable International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Week 3: The Monitoring Function: Basic Principles of Monitoring
Week 4: Identification and Prioritization of Efforts Regarding Human Rights Violations
Week 5: Information-Gathering
Week 6: Interviewing
Week 7: Visits to Persons in Detention
Week 8: Visits to Internally Displaced Persons and/or Refugees in Camps
Week 9: Trial Observation and Monitoring the Administration of Justice
Week 10: Monitoring Children's Rights
Week 11: Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Week 12: Following-Up and Reporting: Following-Up and Seeking Corrective Action
Week 13-15: Final assignments

About the instructors/facilitators

Ben Majekodunmi grew up in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Nigeria, completing his university education in law and politics in the UK, Portugal and France. He joined the United Nations in 1994 with the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva; worked with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) field operation to Rwanda (1994 to 1996); with UNICEF's Country Office in Burundi (1997) and the UNICEF International Child Development Center in Florence (1998). He re-joined OHCHR in 1999 and is currently based in Geneva.

Professor David Weissbrodt has taught at the University of Minnesota Law School since 1975 and is now the Fredrikson & Byron Professor of Law. He regularly teaches International Human Rights Law and other subjects. Weissbrodt has authored a dozen books and monographs as well as more than 120 articles principally about international human rights. He has also written articles on fact-finding, trial observation, investigating torture, etc.

Professor Weissbrodt has engaged in human rights monitoring/fact-finding in Canada, Congo, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Qatar, the Philippines, Rwanda, and the United States. He has helped to train UN human rights monitors in Croatia and Haiti. He has also helped to establish and continues to work with several international human rights organizations in Minnesota, including the Center for Victims of Torture, the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center. As a member of the UN Sub-Commission and its Working Group on the Working Methods and Activities of Transnational Corporations, Professor Weissbrodt was asked to prepare draft UN human rights principles for companies. In August 2000 Professor Weissbrodt was also named the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of non-citizens. In 2001 Weissbrodt was elected Chairperson of the UN Sub-Commission.

Who should apply

The course is particularly intended for those presently responsible for human rights monitoring in UN field operations or who want to work in UN human rights monitoring but may also be useful to other human rights monitors. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use.


The course tuition fee is US$ 485. Scholarships are available for applicants from Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America/Caribbean.


The application deadline for this course was Friday, 23 August 2002. We are no longer accepting applications.

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