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EU Heads Urges NGOs to Increase Sustainability

Published:Wednesday | July 22, 2015 | 5:54 PMKeisha Hill
Chargé d’affaires of the European Union delegation in Jamaica, Jesus Orus Baguena.

leaders and managers from more than 80 diverse organisations recently attended a one-day capacity-building seminar on the importance of NGOs, under the theme, 'Essential Strategies and Tools for NGO Sustainability in 2015 and Beyond', in Kingston, presented by the Rights Awareness Programme (RAP), funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by the British Council and Rise Life Management.

According to Jesus Orus Baguena, head of Cooperation at the European Union in Jamaica, NGOs have become essential actors in the social field, particularly in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.

"NGO's engage in regular dialogue with public authorities with a view to ensuring better implementation of initiatives and policies in the country. Therefore it is important that they remain viable," Baguena said.

Baguena reiterated that the European Union sees human rights as universal and indivisible. It actively promotes and defends them within its borders and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries.

"The European Union is founded on a strong engagement to promote and protect human rights, democracy and rule of law, worldwide, as sustainable peace, development and prosperity cannot exist without respect for human rights. This commitment underpins all internal and external policies of the European Union," Baguena said.

Other seminar presenters indicated the declining availability of grant funding and a shift in positioning of international funding agencies, highlighting the need for strengthening NGOs and their sustainability for capacity building.

Essential to survival

"Repositioning our organisations for sustainability is essential to our survival and ability to continue to serve our missions and constituencies," said Sonita Abrahams, executive director, RISE Life Management Services, and co-implementing agency of the RAP project.

In 2013, RISE Life Management Services and the British Council embarked on a partnership for the implementation of a project for the strengthening of Human Rights and Democracy in Jamaica.

Funded by the European Union, the Rights Awareness Programme (RAP) seeks to foster awareness and promote a culture of human rights and democracy in Jamaica.

Harold Malcolm, human rights consultant for RAP, further reiterated the significance of the role of NGOs in promoting a culture of human rights. "Human rights are indivisible and, as NGOs, it is important that human rights are incorporated in the work that you do."

He charged leaders and managers to be involved in the process of protecting human rights and aid in advancing democracy.

Rights Awareness Programme (RAP) was founded in response to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2012 Report on the situation of human rights in Jamaica with the objective of increasing the awareness and understanding of human rights, build the capacity of civil society organisations and promote a culture of human rights and democracy across the nation.