A look back at 5 years of International Volunteering with the PRODEF

Our volunteer cooperation programme, “Protection of the Rights of Children, Women and Other Vulnerable Communities” (PRODEF) ended this year. After 5 years, more than 70 volunteers have been deployed in partner organisations working for the protection of human rights in 9 countries. This is an opportunity for us to review this first experience of volunteer cooperation for the Bureau.

Several Canadian organisations participated in different ways in the Volunteer Cooperation Program (PCV), initiated and funded by World Affairs Canada. At the IBCR, we have chosen to partner with Avocats sans frontières Canada (CBSA) on the “Protection of the Rights of Children, Women and Other Vulnerable Communities” (PRODEF) project, also in collaboration with the Barreau du Québec.

” My experience in Costa Rica as a legal advisor reminded me of the reasons that led me to want to work in human rights. The contact with young people from less favoured communities and the possibility of providing them with training on their fundamental rights fills the exercise of my profession with meaning. Sharing knowledge with the partner is also a privilege that allows us to grow together. “Testimony of a former volunteer with Fundación Paniamor in Costa Rica

Read the story of Karina, Henry or Rocío, who went to Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica and Colombia respectively, on missions to support children’s rights with local partner organisations.


The objectives of the project

The first project of its kind conducted by the IBCR, PRODEF aimed to address important challenges such as the insufficient protection of children’s rights, impunity, inequality in the exercise of rights and discriminatory practices, limited access to justice, corruption… To this end, volunteers have been deployed to bring specialized technical skills and methodologies (in law, communication, social work or organisational management) to partner organisations to support the prevention, promotion, protection and defence of human rights in the countries concerned.

Between 2015 and 2020, more than 70 volunteers have been deployed by the CBSA-IBCR consortium to partner organisations in 9 countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Morocco, Peru and Tunisia). They have thus helped improve the situation of thousands of women, children and youth from marginalized communities by strengthening their rights and access to justice.

26 development workers have been deployed by the IBCR, with a total of 36 mandates.


The results

Increased protection of the rights of 24,906 people, including 4,128 women and 17,221 children, thanks to the support of volunteers.

9,207 people made aware of their rights, including 5,194 women and girls

Better legal representation for more than 4,186 victims of human rights violations, including 2,126 women and girls.

More than 300 cases dealt with before international bodies in connection with serious human rights violations (enforced disappearances, human trafficking, genocide and sexual violence…).

More than 31 legislative proposals have been drawn up in favour of the rights of children, young people and women;

Approximately 1,808 people, including 858 women trained in partner organisations.


What’s next? 

PRODEF is now over, but we continue to work with local partners to ensure the sustainability of volunteer cooperation. A new volunteer cooperation project, specific to the IBCR, starts this year and will run for a period of 7 years. This new project, details of which will be announced very soon, will involve 33 partners in 11 countries.

More information here

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“[…] Nobody claims to be able to change the world. But some people have dared to imagine it, to wish it and to project themselves into a fairer, more just society. This battle is far from over, but it is a noble one, because it emanates from a people who speak for the people, from organisations dedicated to asserting the rights of this people, with a single objective: to live better alone in order to live better together. “Dorra Bannouri, former volunteer worker with the Amal association for the family and the child in Tunisia