In 2007, building on ongoing work across all of its programmes, ODIHR established a Focal Point for Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The Focal Point closely monitors the situation of human rights defenders and NHRIs in the OSCE region and promotes and protects their interests.
The Focal Point's work is carried out in close co-operation and consultation with other international organizations and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly the Council of Europe, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (including the UN Secretary General's Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders), the Dublin-based international NGO Frontline and the International Federation for Human Rights.
Through its reports on human rights defenders in the OSCE region in 2007 and 2008, the Focal Point has identified areas of priority based on the trends and patterns monitored:
(i) On the basis of its Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly , ODIHR conducts monitoring programmes in several countries. Within these programmes, human rights defenders are trained, in accordance with international standards on freedom of assembly, to build their capacity to monitor and report on freedom of assembly.
(ii) In order to assist human rights defenders at risk, the Focal Point further encourages and supports the establishment of networks of human rights defenders and may address individual cases, where appropriate.
(iii) The Focal Point aims to strengthen the relationship between NHRIs and civil society and supports the creation and functioning of newly established institutions.
(iv) The Focal Point provides guidance, advice and technical assistance to NHRIs designated as National Preventive Mechanisms under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.