Human Rights NGOs: Working for a Better Tomorrow [Archives:1998/38/Law & Diplomacy]

September 21 1998

Organized by the Human Rights Information and Training Center in collaboration with USIS, a seminar for NGOs working on human rights was held in Sanaa during September 12-13. The event was attended by the Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Information, and the American Ambassador to Sanaa, Ms. Barbara Bodine. The seminar aimed at enhancing cooperation among NGOs working in the field of human rights.
Yemeni human rights NGOs have to confront a lot of problems that hinder their work:
1- Restriction of NGO activity to urban areas like Sanaa;
2- Government apprehension to-wards NGO work and interference with their job;
3- Lack of administrative skills among NGO members;
4- Absence of a clear-cut strategy and funding;
5- Weak civil-society culture;
6- Lack of interaction by governmental institutions, particularly information and education organisations;
7- Lack of coordination among the NGOs themselves;
8- Absence of a law to organize NGO work;
9- Lack of clear-cut goals.
A brief description of the NGOs which attended this symposium, is provided below:
1. Supreme Human Rights National Committee
This is a governmental body, which seeks to address human rights issues. Yemen signed all international conventions/agree-ments concerning human rights. This committee was established by Law No. 20 of 1998.
The committee is headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Director of the Presidency Office as deputy chairman; the Ministers of Legal & Parliamentary Affairs, Justice, Insurance & Social Affairs, and Interior; the Attorney General and the chairman of the Political Security Office.
2. Yemeni Organization for Defending Human Rights & Democratic Liberties
This is a non-governmental organization established in compliance with a license granted by the Ministry of Social Affairs according to Decree No. 47 of 1992.
The organization aims at defending human rights and democratic liberties, raising public awareness of law and human rights with reference to the international as well as the local laws. It also aims at training activists working in this field, giving with special emphasis on political rights.
3. Abeer Center for Child Culture
Abeer Center for Child Culture, headquartered in Aden, is a non-governmental and independent. It was officially licensed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, according to decree No. 25 dated 25 March 1998. It functions mainly by organizing studies and research related to the rights of children.
4. Yemeni Center for Helping Victims of Violence and Torture
This NGO is mainly concerned with the victims of violence and torture. It provides them with medical treatment and psychological support regardless of the source of violence.
The center aims at:
1- Educating people regarding the dangers of violence and torture in society.
2- Coordinating with organizations and individuals concerned with violence and torture in order to mobilize efforts aimed at helping victims.
3- Holding seminars to highlight the dangers of violence on the community, and launching campaigns to stop violence and torture.
4- Documenting the different cases of violence and torture, studying the reasons and motives behind them.
5- Supporting local and international efforts aimed at stopping violence and torture.
5. Yemeni Women Union
This union started social work among Yemeni women in the 1950s. It grew in the 1960s when women’s committees were formed in parts of the southern governorates.
In 1990, the Yemeni Women’s First General Conference was convened as an umbrella for all organizations working for women. And thus was created the present union.
The union has branches almost all over the country. Its main concern is to help integrate women in the economic, social, political and cultura life of the nation.
Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Assistant Managing Editor,
Yemen Times.