merged 1 Handbooks for Engagement with the UN System and the AU HRC
UN Civil Society Hand  Book ( OHCHR)

About the Handbook

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society is addressed to the civil society actors who, every day in every part of the world, contribute to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.

A Handbook for NGOs (2006)—this comprehensively updated and revised second edition puts United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms at its centre. Speaking to all civil society actors, including but not only non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Handbook explains how civil society can engage with various United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms. It is the hope of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that this Handbook will enable more people to enjoy and make claim to their human rights through these bodies and mechanisms.

Who are civil society actors?

For the purposes of this Handbook, civil society actors are individuals who voluntarily engage in forms of public participation and action around shared interests, purposes or values that are compatible with the goals of the United Nations. This Handbook addresses civil society actors concerned with the promotion and protection of universal human rights

Download the UN Civil Society Hand book 

A simple guide to UN treaty Bodies (ISHR)

About the Handbook

ISHR’s Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies provides an overview of the UN human rights treaty body system and the different ways human rights defenders can make use of it to further their human rights causes. The guide also provides information on the relationship between the treaty bodies and other UN human rights mechanisms, relevant developments related to the harmonisation of the working methods of the treaty bodies, and a glossary and e-resources for further reference.

Download the Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies 


Reprisals Handbook (ISHR)

About the Handbook

All persons have the right to communicate with international and regional human rights mechanisms and to be safe and protected from intimidation and reprisals associated with such communication.

ISHR’s Reprisals Handbook is aimed first and foremost at human rights defenders who interact with regional and international human rights systems.

It highlights the risks that you, as defenders, can face from interacting with international and regional human rights systems, and suggests ways in which you can leverage these systems to provide some degree of protection for yourselves and promote accountability for perpetrators of acts of intimidation or reprisal. In doing so it does not aim to provide a fully comprehensive protection solution, but rather to complement measures that you should also take at the national level.

The handbook focuses, in particular, on the UN human rights system, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.

The Handbook is available in English, Arabic and French, with further translations to come.

Download the Reprisals Handbook

Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs

About the Handbook

ISHR is pleased to launch today its Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs- an essential resource for all non-governmental organisations looking to ‘get past the gatekeeper’ and obtain UN consultative status as a means to engage effectively with its human rights system.

The UN Committee on NGOs is the body through which all NGO applications for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) accreditation with the UN human rights system must pass. This Committee is one of the least transparent and accountable bodies in the UN. ISHR has witnessed first-hand the difficulties that many human rights organisations face in navigating this process.

This handbook is a response to an intense need for information and explanations about decision-making in the Committee and the overall process of obtaining ECOSOC accreditation. Scores of NGOs have requested ISHR for help with the application and review process.

This handbook is a small contribution to assist those NGOs that wish to participate in the work of the UN. Without them, the UN human rights system would simply no longer function.

Download the Practical Guide to the UN Committee on NGOs.


Road map to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

About the Road Map

The Road map for civil society engagement: State reporting procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights outlines a programme through which civil society organisations (CSOs) can maximise their impact while engaging with the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). The document provides information, describes challenges and shares tips based on concrete experiences by CSOs working with the ACHPR.

The Road map for civil society engagement is set out to give a user-friendly step-by-step ‘tour’ of each phase of the engagement process, including post-implementation follow-up. It represents a joint effort by Association Justice, Peace and Democracy, Conectas Human Rights, and the International Service for Human Rights.

Download the Road Map The Road Map For Civil Society Engagement To AU-HPR 


All texts are from the summaries of the Handbooks – collated by The OPRO Advocacy team.



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