MRM Guiding Principles

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2869/Kate Holt
A woman sits beside the bed of her son, who is being treated for a bullet wound in a hospital on the grounds of the Burundian Contingent of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping force, in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.


  • Understand the basic principles of child rights monitoring (best interest of the child, impartiality, humanity, respect for the mandate, etc.), and be aware that - at a minimum - the action or inaction of staff must do no harm to anyone.
  • Be aware of the rules and principles governing the conduct of humanitarian staff.
  • Understand and be aware of some of the ethical challenges and other dilemmas that may arise in the conduct of human rights work.
Participants MRM Staff
Session 1. Brainstorming on basic principles of monitoring
2. Participatory exercise on dilemmas
Time required 60 minutes
Venue requirements Large space - can be the main training room, if it is possible to move tables to create a large space in the middle
Equipment - Laptop, Projector
- MRM Principles on Flip Chart
- Wide non-transparent tape
Resource person(s) 1 person with knowledge of the topic and with practical experience working in a field presence
Training materials - PPT presentation "Principles, Challenges and Dilemmas in Child Rights Monitoring"
- MRM Field Manual Section E "Guiding Principles"
Documents for participants Annexe VII of the MRM Field Manual: MRM Guiding Principles [PDF]
- Copy of PPT (3 slides per page for note taking)
- Secretary-General Bulletin, Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, ST/SGB/2003/13 [PDF]
- OHCHR Monitoring Manual (2001), chapter V [PDF]
- Summary of Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Researching, Documenting and Monitoring Sexual Violence in Emergencies [PDF]
- Dos & Don't: Reporting and Interpreting Data on Sexual Violence from Conflict-Affected Countries
Access to materials All the training material are included in Folder Module 6: MRM Guiding Principles

Pre-session Preparations

  • In the PowerPoint presentation, slides 4 -12 have slides presenting dilemmas to be addressed; slides 13 - 17 have additional slides targeted towards coordinator training. Select the dilemma slides that are most appropriate for your context and the participants.
  • Once you have selected appropriate slides, prioritise as you will probably not have time for them all and will need to judge the time allowed depending on the extent of discussion generated by each slide. 
  • Clear a space in the middle of the main training room, which fits all participants (standing) with a good view on the screen.
  • Draw a visible line on the floor using the tape (of a colour/material contrasting with the floor) from the screen to the back of the room, so that the space is divided vertically when facing the screen.
  • Project the slides on the screen and check if they are visible from the back of the room.
  • Prepare a flipchart with the principles of human rights monitoring listed so you can refer to during the exercise - see slide 2.

Session Sequence

  1. Introduction to the principles (15 minutes)

    Brainstorming: Ask participants to name the principles and values that guide the work in monitoring and reporting

    Slide 2 illustrates the key principles - discuss if there are any areas that participants are not clear on.

    Draw attention on and distribute a copy of the SG Bulletin on SEA [PDF] highlight the main concepts (section 3) and that all staff have an obligation to report any concern or suspicions regarding sexual exploitation or sexual abuse of another UN staff.

    Slide 3 depicts additional principles and values for human rights work, deriving from:

    1. General UN standards, principles and values
    2. Basic principles of human rights monitoring

    It is suggested that, there is no need (and time) to explain and clarify each item on the slide. You can perhaps pick 4 or 5 principles and ask participants to explain what they mean.

    For example, you can ask them to explain the difference between the principles of "impartiality" and "objectivity". Be aware that some participants regularly confuse "impartiality" with "neutrality".

  2. Participatory exercise on dilemmas (45 minutes)


    1. Ask participants to move in the cleared space in the middle of the room and then read the initial assumption of the dilemma exercise:

      "You are a humanitarian worker in a UN or NGO field office, in a country where a peace agreement putting an end to many years of conflict has just been signed... ... how are you going to act in the following situations?"

    2. Now ask all participants to stand on the line drawn on the floor (have at least one foot touching it), while you explain the instructions of the exercise.
    3. Explain that you are going to present them a few dilemmas that may be faced by MRM staff in the field, for which there is no clear-cut answer, and for which they must take a decision.
    4. Once a dilemma is presented, participants need to decide their action and move either to the right or the left of the line on the floor and position themselves in the room. Explain that these are fictitious scenarios and that in a real situation they would have more elements helping them to take a decision, but for this exercise they just have the information provided on the slides.
    5. All participants need to move at the same time, so that they are not influenced by the decisions of their colleagues. No participant is allowed to remain on the line. The more they are convinced of their decision, the farther they should move away from the central line to the extremes of the room.

      Tip: Place on the wall a flipchart paper with the key principles of human rights monitoring and remind participants to think about which principles apply to the different dilemmas when they make their choice.

    6. Once all participants are positioned away from the line, ask participants on one side of the line why they placed themselves there. Try to get a few opinions from different people in that group before giving the floor to participants on the other side of the line, who will have counter-arguments.
    7. Allow about 10 minutes for discussions for each scenario. Normally participants would identify the main issues, but to stimulate discussions, you can also play the devil's advocate and ask challenging questions on their selection to both groups.
    8. Tell participants that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Highlight the main principles of monitoring that relate to the dilemma before moving on to the next one.
    9. Ask participants if they have had a similar dilemma how they resolved it.
    10. Ensure that all participants are back in the middle of the room with one foot on the line before reading aloud the next dilemma.

    Tip: If you are short of space this can be done at the tables where participants are seated and they can raise hands. However, it is good facilitation to get people moving as much as possible, thereby vary the day and keep people engaged.

    Tip: If you have not been able to present all your intended dilemmas during this session, you can use some of them in the next days as energisers. Leave the line on the floor and if you need to stimulate participants for example after lunch, you can ask them to stand up and go through one dilemma that was not used.

Back to top