Jul 31, 2018

UNPO and CWHP Host 2-Day Hmong Advocacy and Human Rights Training

On 28 and 29 July 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in cooperation with the Congress of World Hmong People (CWHP), organised a 2-day advocacy and human rights for aspiring and seasoned Hmong activists. Taking place in Minneapolis-St Paul, the training brought together more than seventy members of the Hmong community in the United States who gained valuable insights into how to develop advocacy strategies and communicate them more effectively and deepened their knowledge of international institutions.

Following introductions by CWHP representatives James Her and Gymbay Moua, the first session of the interactive workshop was dedicated to a closer look on definitions of key terms used in international human rights advocacy, such as “advocacy”, “lobbying” and “people”. Participants were then introduced to the “Theory of the Case”, a concept primarily used by lawyers, but which also has great significance for civil society advocacy.

After this theoretical introduction into the subject matter, the following sessions discussed effective ways to narrow down and systematize real life cases by identifying key issues and realistic, achievable goals. The first day’s concluding session outlined key targets of human rights advocacy, namely the UN human rights system and affiliated bodies, treaties and mechanisms, regional organizations such as European Union and ASEAN, states and fellow civil society organisations.

After a recap of the topics discussed on the previous day, Sunday’s training sessions placed special emphasis on how to most effectively communicate identified issues and goals, both in written and spoken form. In addition, participants gained key insights into the importance of social media tools to promote and broadcast their advocacy work beyond the reach of traditional media outlets. The last session was dedicated to the discussion of security considerations which – given the tragic increase of reprisals and states’ attempts to disrupt human rights defenders’ work – should constitute a key element of all civil society advocacy. During the concluding discussion of the two-day training programme, participants were able to raise questions not otherwise covered during the workshop and exchange views and ideas for future activities.