OHCHR country engagement strategy in Uganda is shaped by the need to respond to two distinct situations. In northern Uganda , the 19-year conflict has not only led to gross human rights violations, it has also caused mass internal displacement. The people of the affected districts need immediate emergency protection, which requires systematic human rights monitoring, reporting and analysis, and a strengthened national capacity to address abuses.
In the sub-region of Karamoja, in northeastern Uganda , the traditional culture of cattle rustling, with its increasingly violent modern expressions, persistent Government neglect, and an unsuccessful disarmament programme have led to serious security concerns, human rights violations, violence, and a total lack of protection for civilians. Administration of justice structures, law enforcement institutions, and other central Government services are virtually non-existent in the sub-region. As a result, a parallel system of traditional justice, based on reprisals and revenge, has emerged instead.
In response to this situation, and in line with the new strategic direction set out in the High Commissioner's Plan of Action, OHCHR established a start-up operation in Uganda in June 2005. At present, OHCHR Uganda's main office is located in Kampala , with a regional office in Gulu as well as district offices in Kitgum, Pader and Lira. New sub-offices have recently been opened in Soroti (Teso) and Moroto (Karamoja).
OHCHR aims to see increased attention at the policy level to the human rights of affected populations. OHCHR will also help to design policies relating to transitional justice, essential for combating impunity, and fostering reconciliation, and will help to build the capacity of national actors, especially in the Government, to meet Uganda 's obligations under international human rights treaties.
In the conflict-affected districts of northern Uganda , OHCHR will help to develop stronger national and local capacities to monitor and respond to human rights violations. This work will be done within the framework of the consolidated humanitarian action plan (CHAP) and as part of the consolidated appeals process 2006 (CAP) for Uganda . District human rights officers will train and mentor OHCHR-funded national human rights monitors from the Uganda Human Rights Commission and implement human rights technical cooperation and capacity-building activities with local counterparts.
The monitors will be located in each of the civil-military cooperation cells that will be established in the northern districts. In addition to their principal monitoring responsibility, they will facilitate coordination between the office and the main national institutions responsible for ensuring the protection of civilians in northern Uganda , namely the army, police, and civil society. In partnership with United Nations agencies active in humanitarian protection in northern Uganda , which include the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), OHCHR's district human rights officers will share skills and knowledge, engage in technical cooperation activities, and build the capacity of national institutions in charge of protecting civilians.
In an effort to ensure accountability by developing a sustainable human rights reporting culture and corresponding follow-up mechanism, OHCHR will work closely with both local Government authorities and central Government district representatives to improve their capacity to respond to human rights violations and protection challenges in an emergency setting. By building the protection capacity of local civil society actors, OHCHR aims to establish a safety network for human rights defenders.
In the Karamoja sub-region, OHCHR will explore ways to enhance the protection of civilians, combat impunity, help to restore security through community-based mechanisms, and facilitate inter-ethnic dialogue on peace and human rights education. These activities will be conducted in partnership with the UN Country Team (UNCT), which is deepening its engagement in Karamoja in response to the Government's Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Programme (2006-2008).
At the same time, in other parts of Uganda , OHCHR will work with other development partners in human rights technical cooperation and capacity-building activities within the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2006-2010. OHCHR will take the lead, in cooperation with bilateral donors, the UNCT, and the Uganda Human Rights Commission, to promote a human rights-based approach to policy-making, legislative action, and development programming at the national level. This will involve building the central Government's capacity to meet its obligations under international and regional human rights treaties on the basis of broad national consultations. OHCHR will facilitate Government follow-up action on recent treaty-body concluding observations and advocate with policy-makers on pertinent human rights and protection issues, including issues arising from the human rights monitoring work conducted in the northern districts.
In implementation of the Secretary-General's Action 2: strengthening human rights in the UN system, OHCHR will take the lead to strengthen the UNCT's human rights capacity by providing training, developing tools, and fostering inter-agency coordination and joint programmes.