Democracy and Human Rights Project Sudan


In an effort to address the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Friends of Africa International designed a three-phased project on the “Capacity Building of Local Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations, Lawyers and pro-Democracy Activists from Darfur Region (Western Sudan) on Human Rights and Democracy in Africa” . This project was designed to equip the human rights lawyers and activists, civil society organizations (CSO), and pro-democracy activists with the right tools to effectively approach the issues that face them. The overall goal of the project was to enable civil society groups within Darfur to fully understand and utilize existing human rights platforms in order to effectively engage the major problems and issues facing Darfur. Ultimately, this would allow for sustainable solutions to be obtained within the region through the efforts and endeavors of those people within the region itself.

First Phase of Project: Banjul 2006

The first phase of the project hosted about eight participants from civil society groups from El Fasher, Geneina, Nyala and Khartoum. Friends of Africa International, Inc. (FAI) and Darfur Relief and Documentation Center, DRDC conducted training sessions and organized informal briefings with the participants from Sudan and representatives from various human rights groups. This first phase was planned to coincide with the 40th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia, November 12 – 29, 2006, The NGO Forum and the 13th African Human Rights Book Fair.

The idea was to enable the participants to attend these public Forums. The ACHPR is the main intergovernmental regional body entrusted with the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the continent of Africa. Each year, an increasing number of African governments and civil society groups take part in the Commission’s bi-annual sessions. The presence of African and international civil society organizations, mainly from Europe and North America during these sessions played a major role in mobilizing public opinion of African governments, organizations and individuals about the tragic human rights and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

Just before the African Commission sessions, the Banjul-based African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies organize NGO forums which includes the participation of NGOs from Africa and the Diaspora, international human rights NGOs, representatives of National Human Rights Institutions in Africa and other stakeholders in the human rights arena including regional and international agencies. During the NGO forum, there was a special session on the situation in Darfur where civil society delegates from Sudan gave an update about the recent developments in the Darfur region. In addition, the 13th African Human Rights Book Fair was also organized simultaneously with the NGO Forum where participants freely made available, publications and other materials on the situation in Darfur for display and distribution. Among other things, the participants were exposed to the various human rights mechanisms available to seek redress on various violations and abuses that the people of Darfur have suffered and continue to suffer until today. They were further introduced to effective ways of using the media in human rights advocacy, etc.

During the training program in Banjul, the Sudanese government delegation held informal briefings with the group of NGOs and human rights lawyers from Darfur. The Darfur activists also met with representatives from various African NGOs. It was believed that the Sudanese delegation attending the commission was the largest Sudan delegation to the Commission in history. In addition to networking with like-minded regional and international human rights NGOs and civil society groups, the Darfur delegates raised the question of human rights violations as well as the humanitarian situation in Darfur with members of the African Commission and with the representatives of States parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

It was initially planned that the second phase would be a three-day training program in Darfur where the trained participants from the first phase would act as co-facilitators at the training of other human rights NGOs in Darfur. However, this phase was re-considered in the light of the fact that only two of the participants from the Banjul training have practical experience of undergoing human rights training themselves. No one of the participants had attended any of the “training of trainer” programs in the past. More so, at least two participants have indicated that it was their first time of ever traveling out of Sudan to a foreign country. Hence the need to further conduct more training bringing in more civil society groups as well as the participants already trained in Banjul.

Second Phase of Project: Khartoum 2008

The second phase of Capacity Building of Local Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations, Lawyers and pro-Democracy Activists from Darfur Region (Western Sudan) on Human Rights and Democracy in Africa focused on training civil society groups located within the Darfur region and those working on Darfur issues based outside Darfur. The training took place at the Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), Khartoum, on May 8-10, 2008. The 3-day training workshop started with over fifty-five participants from different parts of Sudan including Darfur (Geneina, Nyala & El Fasher), Southern Sudan, Khartoum North, and Nubian communities, representing a wide spectrum of individuals including lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, and civil society groups, including those already trained during the first phase of the project in Banjul, 2006.

In its work, FAI seeks to forge a solid ground for cooperation and partnership with local and national associates as well as with international and regional NGOs, governmental and inter-governmental institutions from different parts of the world. Therefore, the immediate beneficiaries of this phase of the project were the over fifty-six participants selected for training. They were educated on the international and regional human rights systems and received training on how to properly and effectively operate within these systems in order to make progress in the region. Additionally, by providing these participants with education and training that they would use to improve the human rights and socio-economic standing of all the people in their region, this project ultimately intends to have many of the people in the region as beneficiaries of its work. The services provided to the program participants was predominantly in the form of education and training, presentations, case studies and discussions.

The training included but was not limited to the following topics:

  • Education on the existing international and regional human rights treaties and platforms, notably the United Nations, the African Union, and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
  • Education on how these systems are organized and how they function to promote and protect human rights.
  • Education and training on how regional civil society groups can properly and effectively utilize these systems in order to promote and protect human rights within the groups’ particular region (in this instance, the Darfur region).
  • Education and training on how to send complaints to the African Commission and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Education and training in networking with like-minded NGOs.
  • Education and training in the effective use of the media in human rights advocacy.
  • Discussions on Refugees Rights, Sudanese Legislation, Democracy and Good governance, etc.

Third Phase of Project (Monitoring and Evaluation or the M & E Phase): Khartoum/Darfur 2008

The third phase of the project otherwise referred to as the M & E phase include design of evaluation questionnaires, informal briefing with participants, research and analysis of data, and preparation and compilation of final results concerning monitoring and evaluation. Friends of Africa International visited and interviewed some of the participants that attended one or more phases of the training project. FAI held informal briefings with the NGOs and gave them post workshop questionnaires in addition to the post workshop evaluation that was completed at the end of the training in Khartoum. One of the recurring issues on the evaluation and assessment was the need to engage in training programs and attend the commission sessions to enable them become well informed and acquire more practical experience in the field. Some of the participants indicated that there is need to continue with the training since that was the first time they were exposed to a comprehensive human rights training. The evaluation and review process for the project was important not only for the purposes of reporting to the donors the results of the program, but also as a means of maintaining continued contact in the region to ensure that the training program achieved its goals of sustainable improvements in the areas of human rights, democracy, and socio-economic empowerment.