Latin American LGBT activists participated in a training on the effective use of human rights mechanisms

Human rights defenders can make good use of available mechanisms. The international human rights instruments of the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) offer opportunities to realise changes in the treatment of key populations by national governments. In February 2014, in Costa Rica, COC Netherlands and its Costa Rican partner CIPAC implemented a training for activists.

Staff of all Latin American partners in Bridging the Gaps’ LGBT project were invited to participate in the training, viz. AHMNP from Panama, Esmules from El Salvador, and Equidad from Ecuador. Also a number of LGBT activists from Bolivia, Honduras, and Nicaragua took part, since their countries will be up for a Universal Periodical Review (UPR) in the same rounds as the Bridging the Gaps partners. The UPR involves an evaluation of the human rights records of the United Nations (UN) member states.

Action plan

Activist Sasha from Panama informs Dutch Diplomat Floris van Eijk on human and health rights of the trans community in Panama.

Activist Sasha from Panama informs Dutch Diplomat Floris van Eijk on human and health rights of the trans community in Panama.

The training consisted of three elements: knowledge, skills, and practical planning. Knowledge was shared on, for example, how human rights defenders can use the UPR process to advocate for better health and rights with their governments. Skills training focused on finding recommendations that the participants’ countries would accept in previous rounds, and writing down good recommendations. All participants left with an action plan to be implemented, which were developed during workshops. They worked on identifying, in time, the next steps they should take to make effective use of the UPR process in the coming two years. COC Netherlands will support their implementations.


The trainees practiced two minute statements in front of the camera. They did role-play exercises with a diplomat of the Netherlands embassy, whom was asked to respond in a typical manner seen when lobbying diplomats in Geneva. During this practical training, the participants did a huge effort, and it was evaluated as an essential learning element.

Getting the nerves of having only two minutes, makes you aware that you have to choose – either to explain a few topics well, or many in too little time. You do not want to fail, since the rights and health of LGBT people depend on you one of the participants

The training was concluded with a visit to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has its seat in San José, Costa Rica. All participants are now back in their home countries, and will work on their UPR process in the coming period. Costa Rica will be up for review this summer. CIPAC successfully supports activists to identify human right situations that are still at stake in Costa Rica. We will keep you informed on this process via

 (Text by Arjos Vendrig, COC Nederland)

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