Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia
Terms of reference / Legal authority
The Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia (HROAG) was established on 10 December 1996 following Security Council Resolution 1077 (1996) of 22 October 1996. As mandated by that resolution, the Office is jointly staffed by OHCHR and the OSCE, in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two organizations on 29 April 1997. The Human Rights Office forms part of the DPKO United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), under the authority of the Head of Mission of UNOMIG.
HROAG's mandate was approved by the UN Security Council and spelled out in the Programme for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Abkhazia (Annex 1 to the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council regarding the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia dated 15 April 1999, S/ 1996/284). The mandate of the Human Rights Office is to monitor the human rights situation in Abkhazia and to protect the human rights of the population of Abkhazia, Georgia, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to promote the respect for human rights and to contribute to a safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons, to establish direct contacts in Abkhazia so as to improve the human rights situation and to report on human rights developments.
HROAG carries out monitoring of human rights in order to help strengthen the rule of law in Abkhazia, Georgia, and to support the return of internally displaced persons under safe and dignified conditions. Monitoring done by the Office includes collection of first-hand information directly from witnesses and other reliable sources, analysis of the development of the legal system, and key institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights.
In addition, monitoring of the human rights situation is carried out through HROAG's office in mid-town Sukhumi and by regular visits of HROAG staff throughout Abkhazia, Georgia and in particular to the Gali district adjacent to the cease-fire line. The Office addresses the relevant authorities in order to redress the violations, whenever appropriate.
Donations of HR publications are made to libraries through Abkhazia, Georgia, as is distribution of publications identified for HR depository libraries.
Regular meetings are held with the Georgian authorities in Tbilisi as well as with the Abkhaz de facto authorities related to the human rights situation.
The work of the Office included the implementation of the OHCHR Technical Co-operation Project, which was completed in February 2002. Activities planned under the project included the translation of the International Bill of Human Rights into the Abkhaz language; training courses on UN human rights teaching in higher education; establishment of two human rights depository libraries; training courses on teaching in the area of administration of justice; training courses on human rights and capacity development for NGOs mass media; scholarships for officials, educators, NGO and mass media representatives for further in-depth study of human right.
Since one of the major objectives of HROAG is to contribute to a safe and dignified return of internally displaced persons and refugees through improvement of the human rights situation in the Gali district, HROAG has increased its activities in the that district. Thus, HROAG actively worked from Sukhumi to address the needs for human rights protection of the Gali population and support local NGOs by carrying out regular visits on a weekly basis. In operative paragraph 18 of its res. 1554 (2004) adopted on 29 July 2004, the Security Council "call[ed] again upon the Abkhaz side to agree to the opening as soon as possible of the Gali branch of the human rights office in Sukhumi and to provide security conditions for its unhindered functioning".
Ongoing and upcoming programmes include the following:
human rights training programme for the local law enforcement agencies offered for implementation in the Sukhumi militia school;
Legal advisory services to the local population and monitors court trials and pretrial detention facilities;
Human rights awareness and capacity-building through the implementation of the OHCHR Assisting Communities Together programme aimed at the nongovernmental sector;
Facilitation of a number of projects sponsored by other international donors and governments;
Human rights training for school children;
Broadcast of television programmes on human rights;
Management training for local NGOs dealing with human rights;
Production of a puppet theatre show based on Abkhaz legends, with human rights elements incorporated, targeting children.
Phone: 1-212-96 3-9566 + D/Tone - Ext. 6173