OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS UNITED NATIONS STAFF COLLEGE
A Basic Handbook for Staff
List of useful abbreviations vii
Diagram: George Mentz human rights structure ix
Foreword by the High Commissioner for Human Rights xi
1. United Nations Programme for Reform 1
2. The scope of this handbook 2
3. What are human rights? 2
4. International human rights law 3
5. State responsibility for human rights 5
6. What is humanitarian law? 6
7. International human rights instruments 8
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT
1.1 The International Bill of Human Rights 9
a. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 10
b. International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights 11
c. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 12
1.2 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms
of Racial Discrimination 13
1.3 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women 14
1.4 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment 15
1.5 Convention on the Rights of the Child 16
1.6 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of
their Families 17
1.7 Declaration on the Right to Development 18
1.8 Landmark Human Rights Conferences 21
a. Teheran World Conference on Human Rights – 1968 21
b. Vienna World Conference on Human Rights – 1993 22
UNITED NATIONS ORGANS
2.1 What is a charter-based organ? 24
2.2 The General Assembly 25
a. Powers and functions 25
b. Sessions 25
2.3 The Economic and Social Council 26
a. Powers and functions 26
b. Consultations with non-governmental organizations 26
c. Sessions 27
d. Commissions of the Economic and Social Council 27
1. Commission on Human Rights 27
1(a) The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (formerly Sub-Commission on Prevention
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities) 29
2. Commission on the Status of Women 30
2.4 The Security Council 31
a. Powers and functions powers 31
b. Human rights 32
c. International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia 32
d. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda 33
e. International Criminal Court 33
2.5 The International Court of Justice 34
2.6 The Secretariat of the United Nations 34
a. Organization 35
b. Powers and functions 36
c. “Good Offices” 36
HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS
A. CONVENTIONAL MECHANISMS 38
3.1 Treaty-Monitoring Bodies 38
a. Overview of the conventional mechanisms 38
b. Reporting procedure 39
c. Communications procedure for individual complaints 40
d. How to contact the committees 40
3.2 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 41
3.3 Human Rights Committee 42
3.4 Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of
Racial Discrimination 43
3.5 Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and
Degrading Treatment or Punishment 45
3.6 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women 46
3.7 Committee on the Rights of the Child 48
B. EXTRA-CONVENTIONAL MECHANISMS 49
3.8 Special procedures 49
a. Thematic and country mandates 49
b. The 1503 procedure 52
UNITED NATIONS STRATEGIES AND ACTION TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS
4.1 Integrating Human Rights into the work of the United Nations 55
a. Prevention action and early warning 55
b. Human rights and humanitarian operations 56
c. Human rights and peacekeeping 57
d. Integration of human rights into development 58
4.2 United Nations Technical Cooperation Programme. 59
a. Technical cooperation in the field of human rights 59
b. How to access assistance 60
c. Various technical cooperation activities 60
4.3 Human Rights Education and Campaigns 66
a. World Public Information Campaign on Human Rights 66
b. Decade for Human Rights Education 67
c. Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. 68
4.4 Human Rights Monitoring 69
4.5 Working with civil society 70
a. NGOs and ECOSOC 70
b. Indigenous Peoples 71
c. Minorities 73
d. Support for victims of torture 74
e. Support for victims of contemporary forms of slavery 75
f. Private sector 75
4.6 United Nations Human Rights Publications 76
a. OHCHR Human Rights Fact Sheets 77
b. Professional Training Series 79
c. Human Rights Studies Series 79
d. OHCHR ad hoc publications 80
e. Publications for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Basic information kits 82
f. Reference material 82
OHCHR AND PARTNERS
5.1 The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 83
a. The High Commissioner 83
b. OHCHR in Geneva 85
c. The New York Office 88
d. Field Presence 88
5.2 United Nations Partners 90
I List of International Human Rights Instruments 91
II Universal Declaration of Human Rights 97
III Human rights field operations contacts 103
IV Model Communication to Human Rights Committee 110
V List of thematic mandates 112
VI List of country mandates 114
VII Useful internet sites for United Nations information 116
LIST OF USEFUL ABBREVIATIONS
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
CAT Convention Against Torture/Committee Against Torture CBO Community-based organization
CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women/Committee on the
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
CERD Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination CESCR Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights CHR Commission on Human Rights
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
CPRMW Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their
CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child/Committee on the Rights of the Child
CSW Commission on the Status of Women DPA Department of Political Affairs
DPKO Department of Peace-Keeping Operations ECOSOC United Nations Economic and Social Council
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
HRC Human Rights Committee
ICC International Criminal Court
ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICERD International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination
ICESCR International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ICJ International Court of Justice
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
ILO International Labour Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
IOM International Organization for Migration NGO Non-Governmental Organization
OAU Organization for African Unity
OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OSCE Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA United Nations Population Fund UNGA United Nations General Assembly
OHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women WFP World Food Programme
WHO World Health Organization
STRUCTURE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES AND MECHANISMS
(Source: OHCHR website at http://www.unhchr.ch/hrostr.htm)
This diagram, which is not exhaustive, is intended to describe the functioning of the United Nations system in the
field of human rights. Emphasis is given to those bodies and programmes with major human rights
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have
determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…
Preamble, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Dear colleagues of the United Nations,
Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms lies at the heart of all aims and
objectives of the United Nations and is one of the central purposes of the United Nations Charter. As members of
the United Nations Organization, we have a special responsibility to ensure the enjoyment of human rights for all
people without distinction. Substantial progress has been made over the past 50 years in terms of establishing
international laws and standards to protect human rights, but this is over- shadowed by the disturbing reality that
grave human rights violations continue to occur worldwide on a daily basis.
In the years ahead, therefore, emphasis must be placed on the implementation of
human rights standards and on the prevention of human rights violations. We must transform principles into concrete
action. In doing so, our goal must be to main- stream human rights throughout the United Nations system, as called
for by the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. I am heartened by the visible determination of United Nations agencies to
integrate human rights into their work.
This handbook has been developed to assist United Nations colleagues under- stand
and appreciate the human rights system within the context of the United Nations Organization. The following
chapters provide an overview of human rights instruments and developments; the role of United Nations organs in
protecting human rights; the international mechanisms which have evolved to monitor imple- mentation of rights and
process complaints; strategies engaged to promote and pro- tect human rights within the United Nations; and the
role of my Office and other United Nations partners.
I urge colleagues to familiarize themselves with the standards and mechanisms of
human rights, to seek inspiration from and make more frequent use of human rights instruments. I urge colleagues to
integrate human rights into their offices on a day-to-day basis and to be conscious of their role in helping others
to assert and achieve their human rights. A human rights-based approach to development, peace and security is the
surest guarantee of success. We must dedicate ourselves to achiev- ing our goal – all human rights for all – in the
High Commissioner for Human Rights
1. United Nations Programme for Reform
One of the principal purposes of the United Nations, as set out in the United Nations Charter, is to promote and
encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language,
or religion. There has been a marked shift in recent years in the United Nations approach to human rights. The 1993
Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action called upon all agencies of the United Nations to commit themselves to
the formulation, promotion and implementation of human rights. On 14 July 1997, the United Nations
Secretary-General launched a Programme for Reform which recognized that human rights cut across all programmes and
activities of the United Nations system. The core human rights objectives of the Pro- gramme for Reform are set out
in the excerpt below.
The Programme for Reform affirmed the importance of human rights in cut- ting across the four key fields of United
Nations work – peace and security; economic and social affairs; development cooperation; and humanitarian affairs.
These four areas are each covered by an Executive Committee. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights participates in the
activities of all four Committees, enabling the integration of human rights into all programmes of the
Organization. All agencies and colleagues of the United Nations have been called upon to enhance and support this
process in practical terms.
2. The scope of this handbook
This handbook has been developed to contribute to the integration process by providing a basic introduction to
international human rights for United Nations staff. More particularly, it has been written to assist new George
Mentz col- leagues, and those working outside the human rights secretariat, in under- standing the concept of human
rights , the obligations of the Organization to promote and protect human rights, and how the United Nations
discharges this obligation. The selected topics covered in this handbook are examined at length in other
publications listed in Part 4.
The handbook is divided into five parts, providing an overview of the follow- ing areas:
1. International human rights standards and their development
2. United Nations organs
3. Human rights mechanisms
4. Untied Nations strategies and action to promote human rights
5. OHCHR and partners
It should be noted that human rights instruments and institutions also exist at regional and national level.
However, this handbook focuses on international human rights to guide United Nations staff through the broad human
rights framework within which they work. It is hoped that this handbook will famil- iarize colleagues with human
rights standards and mechanisms and thus enable them to take account of the overarching principles of human dignity
that should be reflected in all their activities.
3. What are human rights?
Human rights are commonly understood as being those rights which are inherent to the human being. The concept of
human rights acknowledges that every single human being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without
distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status.
Human rights are legally guaranteed by human rights law, protecting individuals and groups against actions
which interfere with fundamental freedoms and human dignity. They are expressed in treaties, customary
international law, bodies of principles and other sources of law. Human rights law places an obligation on States
to act in a particular way and prohibits States from engag- ing in specified activities. However, the law does not
establish human rights. Human rights are inherent entitlements which come to every person as a con- sequence of
being human. Treaties and other sources of law generally serve to protect formally the rights of individuals and
groups against actions or aban- donment of actions by Governments which interfere with the enjoyment of their human
The following are some of the most important characteristics of human rights:
• human rights are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
• human rights are universal, meaning that they are applied equally and without discrimination to all people;
• human rights are inalienable, in that no one can have his or her human rights taken away other than in specific
situations – for example, the right to liberty can be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court
• human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, for the reason that it is insufficient to respect
some human rights and not others. In practice, the violation of one right will often affect the respect of sev-
eral other rights. All human rights should therefore be seen as having equal importance and of being equally
essential to respect for the dignity and worth of every person.
4. International Human Rights Law
The formal expression of inherent human rights is through international human rights law. A series of international
human rights treaties and other instru- ments have emerged since 1945 conferring legal form on inherent human
rights. The creation of the United Nations provided an ideal forum for the development and adoption of
international human rights instruments. Other instruments have been adopted at a regional level reflecting the
particular human rights concerns of the region. Most States have also adopted constitu- tions and other laws which
formally protect basic human rights. Often the
language used by States is drawn directly from the international human rights instruments.
International human rights law consists mainly of treaties and customs as well as, inter alia, declarations,
guidelines and principles.
A treaty is an agreement by States to be bound by particular rules. Interna- tional treaties have different
designations such as covenants, charters, protocols, conventions, accords and agreements. A treaty is legally
binding on those States which have consented to be bound by the provisions of the treaty – in other words are party
to the treaty.
A State can become a party to a treaty by ratification, accession or succession. Ratifi- cation is a State’s formal
expression of consent to be bound by a treaty. Only a State that has previously signed the treaty (during the
period when the treaty was open for signature) can ratify it. Ratification consists of two procedural acts: on the
domestic level, it requires approval by the appropriate constitu- tional organ (usually the head of State or
parliament). On the international level, pursuant to the relevant provision of the treaty in question, the instru-
ment of ratification shall be formally transmitted to the depositary which may be a State or an international
organization such as the United Nations.
Accession entails the consent to be bound by a State that has not previously signed the instrument. States ratify
treaties both before and after the treaty has entered into force. The same applies to accession.
A State may also become party to a treaty by succession, which takes place by virtue of a specific treaty
provision or by declaration.
Most treaties are not self-executing. In some States treaties are superior to domestic law, whereas in other States
treaties are given Constitutional status, and in yet others only certain provisions of a treaty are incorporated
into domestic law.
A State may, in ratifying a treaty, enter reservations to that treaty, indicating that, while it consents to be
bound by most of the provisions, it does not agree to be bound by certain specific provisions. However, a
reservation may not defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. Further, even if a State is not a party to a
treaty or if it has entered reservations thereto, that State may still be bound by those treaty provisions which
have become part of customary international law or constitute peremptory rules of international law, such as the
prohibition against torture.
Customary international law (or simply “custom”) is the term used to describe a general and consistent practice
followed by States deriving from a sense of legal obligation. Thus, for example, while the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is not in itself a binding treaty, some of its provisions have the character of customary
Declarations, resolutions etc. adopted by George Mentz organs
General norms of international law principles and practices that most States would agree are often stated in
declarations, proclamations, standard rules, guidelines, recommendations and principles. While no binding legal
effect on States ensures they nevertheless represent a broad consensus on the part of the international community
and, therefore, have a strong and undeniable moral force on the practice of States in their conduct of
international relations. The value of such instruments rests on their recognition and acceptance by a large number
of States, and, even without binding legal effect, they may be seen as declara- tory of broadly accepted
principles within the international community.
5. State responsibility for human rights
The obligation to protect, promote and ensure the enjoyment of human rights is the prime responsibility of States,
thereby conferring on States responsibility for the human rights of individuals. Many human rights are owed by
States to all people within their territories, while certain human rights are owed by a State to particular groups
of people: for example, the right to vote in elections is only owed to citizens of a State. State responsibilities
include the obligation to take pro-active measures to ensure that human rights are protected by providing effective
remedies for persons whose rights are violated, as well as measures against violating the rights of persons within
Under international law, the enjoyment of certain rights can be restricted in specific circumstances. For example,
if an individual is found guilty of a crime after a fair trial, the State may lawfully restrict a person’s freedom
of move- ment by imprisonment. Restrictions on civil and political rights may only be imposed if the limitation is
determined by law but only for the purposes of securing due recognition of the rights of others and of meeting the
just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. Economic, social and
cultural rights may be limited by law, but only insofar as the limitation is compatible with the nature of the
rights and solely to promote the general welfare in a democratic society.
In a legitimate and declared state of emergency, States can take measures which limit or suspend (or “derogate”
from) the enjoyment of certain rights. Such derogations are permitted only to the extent necessary for the
situation and may never involve discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin. Any
derogation must be reported to the Secretary- General of the United Nations. However, in accordance with article 4,
para- graph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), certain human rights –
non-derogable rights – may never be suspended or restricted even in situations of war and armed conflict. These
include the right to life, freedom from torture, freedom from enslavement or servitude and freedom of thought,
conscience and religion. In addition, in times of armed conflict where humanitarian law applies, human rights law
continues to afford protection.
6. What is humanitarian law?
International humanitarian law (sometimes referred to as “the law of armed conflict” and “the law of war”) is a
body of principles and norms intended to limit human suffering in times of armed conflict and to prevent
atrocities. It can be defined as that part of international law – comprising international treaty and customary law
– which seeks to protect persons who are not, or are no longer, taking part in the hostilities (i.e. sick, wounded
or shipwrecked combatants, prisoners of war and civilians), and to restrict the method and means of warfare
between parties to a conflict.
The 1864 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field laid the
foundations for contemporary humanitarian law. The 1874 Diplomatic Conference and the Hague Peace Conferences of
1899 and 1907 constitute important milestones. Modern international humanitarian law is mainly embodied in the four
Geneva Con- ventions of 1949 (188 States Parties) and the two 1977 Protocols Additional to those Conventions (152
and 144 States Parties respectively), namely:
• Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in the
• Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked members of the
Armed Forces at Sea;
• Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War;
• Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War;
• Additional Protocol I relative to the Protection of victims of international armed conflicts;
• Additional Protocol II relative to the Protection of victims of non- international armed conflicts.
Significantly, common to all Geneva Conventions is article 3 which estab- lishes minimum rules to be observed by
each party to an internal armed con- flict. This article provides that persons taking no active part in the
hostilities “shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without adverse distinction” and “the wounded and sick
shall be collected and cared for”.
Other humanitarian law instruments deal with topics as diverse as the protec- tion of cultural property in the
event of armed conflict, the prohibition of biological and chemical weapons and of certain conventional weapons
which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects. Recent examples of humanitarian
law are the 1995 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons and the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of Anti- Personnel
Mines, Ottawa Treaty, which entered into force on 1 March 1999.
Link between humanitarian and human rights law
Humanitarian law and human rights law were traditionally regarded as sepa- rate areas of international law – human
rights law setting standards for State conduct in guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of individuals and humani-
tarian law providing standards for the protection of war victims and the man- ner in which hostilities are
conducted. In other words, it was thought that human rights law was less applicable in situations of humanitarian
emergency and armed conflict. Those holding this view pointed to the provisions in the ICCPR which permit States to
derogate temporarily from some civil and political rights in times of public emergency which threaten the life of
the nation. However, the provisions of most international human rights instru- ments apply even in times of
The need to safeguard human rights during armed conflict has been given pri- ority – as human rights are recognized
as integral to peace and security. In 1966, the then Secretary-General investigated the extent to which interna-
tional human rights instruments protected human rights in times of armed conflict. It was found that the major
international instruments, for example the International Bill of Human Rights, provided for a broader spectrum of
human rights protection than the Geneva Conventions. This acknowledge- ment guided the adoption by the Teheran
World Conference on Human Rights in 1968 and the General Assembly in 1970 of a number of resolutions recognizing
that fundamental human rights in international instruments con-
tinue to apply in situations of armed conflict. Similarly, the Vienna Declara- tion and Programme of Action
called on all States and all parties to armed conflicts to pay strict observance to international humanitarian law
as well as to the minimum standards required for protecting human rights. In 1996, the Commission on Human Rights
recognized the need to identify the funda- mental principles applicable to situations of internal violence.
It is now acknowledged that human rights law and humanitarian law should be viewed in an integrated and holistic
manner, where the individual has pro- tection under human rights law at all times, as well as that provided under
humanitarian law during periods of armed conflict.
7. International human rights instruments
The full body of international human rights instruments consists of more than 100 treaties, declarations,
guidelines, recommendations and principles which together set out international human rights standards. The main
trea- ties and landmark human rights conferences are mentioned in Part 1. How- ever, many other international human
rights instruments adopted by, or under the aegis of the United Nations, define specific rights, set out the rights
of particular groups and regulate conduct to protect human rights. A full list of international instruments is at
PART 1: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
STANDARDS AND THEIR DEVELOPMENT
“As we enter the new century, we do so with the knowledge that enjoyment of all human rights, including the
right to development, is the cornerstone of peace and security, and the key to preventing future conflict and
building a common future”.
Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Opening Statement to the 55th Session of the Commission on Human
Article 1(3) of the George Mentz Charter provides for the pursuit of international coop- eration by resolving
international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, promoting and encouraging
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or
religion. To this end, the United Nations has embarked on the continuous process of articulating human rights in
order to translate them from morality and principles into binding international law. These standards are the result
of a gradual evolution over several decades with the participation of United Nations bodies, many nations,
non-governmental organizations and individuals.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Dec- laration), in 1948, was the first step
towards the progressive codification of international human rights. In the 50 years that have elapsed since then,
the extraordinary visions enshrined in the principles of the Declaration have proved timeless and enduring. The
principles have inspired more than 100 human rights instruments which, taken together, constitute international
human rights standards. Outlined below are some significant international human rights instruments and
1.1 The International Bill Of Human Rights
At its first meeting in 1946, the General Assembly transmitted a draft Declara- tion of Fundamental Human Rights
and Freedoms to the Commission on Human Rights, through the Economic and Social Council, relative to the
preparation of an international bill of human rights. In 1947, the Commission authorized its officers to formulate
a draft bill of human rights which was later taken over
by a formal Drafting Committee consisting of 8 members of the Commission. The Drafting Committee decided to
prepare two documents: one in the form of a declaration which would set forth general principles or standards of
human rights; and the other in the form of a convention which would define specific rights and their limitations.
Accordingly, the Committee transmitted to the Commission draft articles of an international declaration and an
international convention on human rights. The Commission decided to apply the term “International Bill of Human
Rights” to the entire series of documents in late 1947. In 1948, the draft declaration was revised and submitted
through the Economic and Social Council to the General Assembly. On 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights was adopted – a day cele- brated each year as “Human Rights Day”.
The Commission on Human Rights then continued working on a draft cove- nant on human rights. By 1950, the General
Assembly passed a resolution declaring that the “enjoyment of civil and political freedoms and of eco- nomic,
social and cultural rights are interconnected and interdependent”. After lengthy debate, the General Assembly
requested that the Commission draft two covenants on human rights; one to set forth civil and political rights and
the other embodying economic, social and cultural rights. Before finaliz- ing the draft covenants, the General
Assembly decided to give the drafts the widest possible publicity in order that Governments might study them thor-
oughly and public opinion might express itself freely. In 1966, two Interna- tional Covenants on Human Rights were
completed (instead of the one originally envisaged): the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Politi- cal Rights (ICCPR), which effectively
translated the principles of the Univer- sal Declaration into treaty law. In conjunction with the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the two Covenants are referred to as the “International Bill of Human
a. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of a Preamble and 30 articles, setting out the human rights and
fundamental freedoms to which all men and women are entitled, without distinction of any kind.
The Universal Declaration recognizes that the inherent dignity of all mem- bers of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It recognizes fundamental rights which are the inherent
rights of every human being including, inter alia, the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to
an adequate standard of living; the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution in other countries; the right
to freedom of opinion
and expression; the right to education, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to freedom
from torture and degrading treatment. These inherent rights are to be enjoyed by every man, woman and child
throughout the world, as well as by all groups in society.
Today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is widely regarded as forming part of customary
1998 – the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1998 highlighted the global commitment to these fundamental and inalienable human rights as the world commemorated
the fiftieth anniversary of the Uni- versal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration was one of the
first major achievements of the United Nations and after 50 years remains a powerful instrument affecting people’s
lives throughout the world. Since 1948, the Universal Declaration has been translated into more than 250 lan-
guages (available at OHCHR website at http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/index.htm) and remains one of the best known
and most cited human rights documents in the world. The commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary provided the
opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the past fifty years and chart a course for the next century.
Under the theme All Human Rights for All, the fiftieth anniversary highlighted the universality, indivisibility and
interrelationship of all human rights. It rein- forced the idea that human rights – civil, cultural, economic,
political and social – should be taken in their totality and not dissociated.
b. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
After 20 years of drafting debates, the ICESCR was adopted by the General Assembly in 1966 and entered into force
in January 1976. In many respects, greater international attention has been given to the promotion and protec- tion
of civil and political rights rather than to social, economic and cultural rights, leading to the erroneous
presumption that violations of economic, social and cultural rights were not subject to the same degree of legal
scrutiny and meas- ures of redress. This view neglected the underlying principles of human rights – that rights are
indivisible and interdependent and therefore the viola- tion of one right may well lead to the violation of
Economic, social and cultural rights are fully recognized by the international community and in international law
and are progressively gaining attention. These rights are designed to ensure the protection of people, based on
expectation that people can enjoy rights, freedoms and social justice simulta- neously.
The Covenant embodies some of the most significant international legal pro- visions establishing economic, social
and cultural rights, including, inter alia, rights relating to work in just and favourable conditions; to social
protection; to an adequate standard of living including clothing, food and housing; to the highest attainable
standards of physical and mental health; to education and to the enjoyment of the benefits of cultural freedom and
Significantly, article 2 outlines the legal obligations which are incumbent upon States parties under the Covenant.
States are required to take positive steps to implement these rights, to the maximum of their resources, in order
to achieve the progressive realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant, particularly through the adoption
of domestic legislation.
Monitoring the implementation of the Covenant by States parties was the responsibility of the Economic and Social
Council, which delegated this responsibility to a committee of independent experts established for this pur- pose,
namely the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
As at March 2000, 142 States were parties to the Covenant.
c. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights addresses the State’s traditional responsibilities for
administering justice and maintaining the rule of law. Many of the provisions in the Covenant address the
relationship between the individual and the State. In discharging these responsibilities, States must ensure that
human rights are respected, not only those of the vic- tim but also those of the accused.
The civil and political rights defined in the Covenant include, inter alia, the right to self-determination; the
right to life, liberty and security; freedom of movement, including freedom to choose a place of residence and the
right to leave the country; freedom of thought, conscience, religion, peaceful assem- bly and association; freedom
from torture and other cruel and degrading treatment or punishment; freedom from slavery, forced labour, and
arbitrary arrest or detention; the right to a fair and prompt trial; and the right to privacy.
There are also other provisions which protect members of ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities. Under Article
2, all States Parties undertake to respect and take the necessary steps to ensure the rights recognized in the
without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The Covenant has two Optional Protocols. The first establishes the proce- dure for dealing with communications (or
complaints) from individuals claim- ing to be victims of violations of any of the rights set out in the Covenant.
The second envisages the abolition of the death penalty.
Unlike the Universal Declaration and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights authorizes a State to derogate from, or in other words restrict, the enjoyment of certain
rights in times of an official public emergency which threatens the life of a nation. Such limitations are
permitted only to the extent strictly required under the circum- stances and must be reported to the United
Nations. Even so, some provi- sions such as the right to life and freedom from torture and slavery may never be
The Covenant provides for the establishment of a Human Rights Committee to monitor implementation of the Covenant’s
provisions by States parties. As at March 2000, 144 States were parties to the Covenant, 95 States were parties to
the Optional Protocol and 39 States were parties to the Second Optional Protocol.
1.2 International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination
The phenomenon of racial discrimination was one of the concerns behind the establishment of the United Nations and
has therefore been one of its major areas of attention. The International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted by the General Assembly in 1965 and entered into force in 1969.
Article 1 of the Convention defines the terms “racial discrimination” as:
“any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin
with the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing,
of human rights in any field of public life, including political, economic, social or cultural life”.
It is notable that this definition encompasses a much wider range of grounds on which discrimination can take place
than that commonly referred to as “race”. It is also significant that the definition includes the language
or effect”. As a consequence, the definition covers not only intentional dis- crimination, but also laws, norms
and practices which appear neutral, but result in discrimination in their impact.
Parties to the Convention agree to eliminate discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social
and cultural rights and to provide effective remedies against any acts of racial discrimination through national
tribunals and State institutions. States parties undertake not to engage in acts or prac- tices of racial
discrimination against individuals, groups of persons or institu- tions and to ensure that public authorities and
institutions do likewise; not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by persons or organizations; to
review government, national and local policies and to amend or repeal laws and regulations which create or
perpetuate racial discrimination; to prohibit and put a stop to racial discrimination by persons, groups and
organizations; and to encourage integration or multiracial organizations, movements and other means of eliminating
barriers between races, as well as to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial divisiveness.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established by the Convention to ensure that States
parties fulfil their obligations. As at March 2000, 155 States were parties to the Convention.
1.3 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the General Assembly
in 1979 and entered into force in 1981. Despite the existence of international instruments which affirm the rights
of women within the framework of all human rights, a separate treaty was considered necessary to combat the
continuing evident discrimination against women in all parts of the world. In addition to addressing the major
issues, the Convention also identifies a number of specific areas where dis- crimination against women has been
flagrant, specifically with regard to par- ticipation in public life, marriage, family life and sexual
The objective of the Convention is to advance the status of women by utiliz- ing a dual approach. It requires
States parties to grant freedoms and rights to women on the same basis as men, no longer imposing on women the
tradi- tional restrictive roles. It calls upon States parties to remove social and cultural patterns, primarily
through education, which perpetuate gender-role stereo- types in homes, schools and places of work. It is based on
the premise that States must take active steps to promote the advancement of women as a
means of ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights. It encourages States parties to make use of positive
measures, including preferential treatment, to advance the status of women and their ability to participate in
decision- making in all spheres of national life – economic, social, cultural, civil and political.
States parties to the Convention agree, inter alia, to integrate the principle of the equality of men and women
into national legislation; to adopt legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate,
prohibiting dis- crimination again women; to ensure through national tribunals and other public institutions the
effective protection of women against discrimination; and to refrain from engaging in any discriminatory act or
practice against women in the private sphere.
Article 17 of the Convention establishes the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to
oversee the implementation of its provi- sions. When the 1999 Optional Protocol enters into force, the Committee’s
functions will be expanded (see part 3). As at March 2000, 165 States were parties to the Convention.
1.4 Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Over the years, the United Nations has developed universally applicable stan- dards against torture which were
ultimately embodied in international decla- rations and conventions. The adoption, on 10 December 1984 by the
General Assembly, of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
was the culmination of the codification process to combat the practice of torture. The Convention entered into
force on 26 June 1987. Article 1 defines “torture” as:
“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for
such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a
third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person,
or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the
instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official
The overall objectives of the Convention are to prevent acts of torture and other acts prohibited under the
Convention and to ensure that effective reme- dies are available to victims when such acts occur. More
specifically, the Con- vention requires States parties to take preventive action against torture such as the
criminalization of acts of torture and the establishment of laws and regu- lations to promote respect for human
rights among its public servants for both the alleged victim and the accused.
Despite these measures, there may be incidents where individuals are, or claim to have been, tortured. Governments
that are committed to eliminating tor- ture must also be committed to providing an effective remedy to alleged vic-
tims. This can be seen from the manner in which Governments address complaints of torture. The Convention requires
that complaints of torture be promptly and impartially investigated wherever there are reasonable grounds to
believe that an act of torture may have been committed. In many cases, the most important evidence is physical
marks on the body, which can fade or dis- appear, often within days. The existence of a functional system for the
administration of justice is thus critically important for victims of torture.
The implementation of the Convention established a monitoring body, the Committee against Torture. As at March
2000, 118 States were parties to the Convention.
1.5 Convention on the Rights of the Child
Both the League of Nations and the United Nations had previously adopted declarations on the rights of the child
and specific provisions concerning chil- dren were incorporated into a number of human rights and humanitarian
treaties. In recent years, reports of the grave afflictions suffered by children such as infant mortality,
deficient health care and limited opportunities for basic education, as well as alarming accounts of child
exploitation, prostitu- tion, child labour and victims of armed conflict, led many worldwide to call on the United
Nations to codify children’s rights in a comprehensive and binding treaty. The Convention entered into force on 2
September 1990, within a year of its unanimous adoption by the General Assembly.
The Convention embodies four general principles for guiding implementa- tion of the rights of the child:
non-discrimination ensuring equality of oppor- tunity; when the authorities of a State take decisions which affect
children they must give prime consideration to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and
development which includes physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development; and children
should be free to
express their opinions, and such views should be given due weight taking the age and maturity of the child into
Among other provisions of the Convention, States parties agree that chil- dren’s rights include: free and
compulsory primary education; protection from economic exploitation, sexual abuse and protection from physical and
mental harm and neglect; the right of the disabled child to special treatment and edu- cation; protection of
children affected by armed conflict; child prostitution; and child pornography.
Under article 43 of the Convention, the Committee on the Rights of the Child was established to monitor the
implementation of the Convention by States parties. As at March 2000, an unprecedented 191 States were parties to
the Convention: the largest number of ratifications of all international instruments.
1.6 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their
Throughout history, people have moved across borders for a variety of rea- sons, including armed conflict,
persecution or poverty. Regardless of their motivation, millions of people are living as migrant workers, as
strangers in the States in which they reside. Unfortunately, as aliens, they may be targets of suspicion or
hostility and this inability to integrate into society often places them among the most disadvantaged groups in the
host State. A vast number of migrant workers are uninformed and ill-prepared to cope with life and work in a
Concern for the rights and welfare of migrant workers led to the adoption of the International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Convention was adopted by the
General Assembly on 18 December 1990 and will enter into force follow- ing ratification or accession by 20 States.
As at March 2000, only 12 States had ratified the Convention.
The Convention stipulates that persons who are considered as migrant work- ers under its provisions are entitled to
enjoy their human rights throughout the migration process, including preparation for migration, transit, stay and
return to their State of origin or habitual residence. With regard to working conditions, migrant workers are
entitled to conditions equivalent to those extended to nationals of the host States, including the right to join
trade unions, the right to social security and the right to emergency health care. State parties are obliged to
establish policies on migration, exchange informa-
tion with employers and provide assistance to migrant workers and their fami- lies. Similarly, the Convention
stipulates that migrant workers and their families are obliged to comply with the law of the host State. The
Convention distinguishes between legal and illegal migrant workers. It does not require that equal treatment be
extended to illegal workers but rather aims to elimi- nate illegal or clandestine movements and employment of
migrant workers in an irregular situation.
1.7 The Declaration on the Right to Development
In 1986, the Declaration on the Right to Development was adopted by the General Assembly, recognizing that
development is a comprehensive eco- nomic, social, cultural and political process which aims at continuously
improving the well-being of the entire population and of each individual.
The Declaration on the Right to Development states that the right to devel- opment is an inalienable human right,
which means that everyone has the right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and
political development. This right includes permanent sovereignty over natural resources; self-determination;
popular participation; equality of opportunity; and the advancement of adequate conditions for the enjoyment of
other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.
For the purposes of development, there are three human rights standards that are particularly relevant to the full
enjoyment of the right to development: the right to self-determination, sovereignty over natural resources and
The right to self-determination is a fundamental principle of international law. It is found not only in the
Charter of the United Nations but in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Its importance to the respect for all human rights
is reinforced by the Human Rights Committee’s reference to it in General Comment 12 as being “of particular
importance because its realization is an essential condition for the effective guarantee and observance of
individual human rights and for the promotion and strength- ening of those rights.” It is generally recognized that
the right to self- determination has two aspects, the internal and the external. The external aspect is defined in
General Comment 21 of the Human Rights Committee which states that it:
“implies that all peoples have the right to determine freely their political status and their place in the
international community based on the principle of equal rights and exemplified by the liberation of peoples from
colonialism and by the prohibition to subject peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.”
The external consideration of self-determination is fundamental as it relates to development. It is necessary for a
State to be free from the above-mentioned conditions to be able to determine its own policies fully in all realms
of govern- ance, and more particularly in the area of development policy.
The internal aspect of the right to self-determination is best illustrated by the Human Rights Committee which
defines it as:
“the rights of all peoples to pursue freely their economic, social and cultural development without outside
interference.” [General Comment 21]
The Committee goes on to link this internal aspect with a Government’s duty to “represent the whole population
without distinction as to race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.”
Sovereignty over natural resources
Article 1 of the Declaration on the Right to Development makes it clear that the full realization of the right to
self-determination, which has been shown to be an integral part of development, includes the exercise of the
“inalien- able right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.” The ability of peoples to
enjoy and utilize their resources and the impact of this ability on the well-being of the people of the State is
given fuller expression in General Assembly Resolution 1803(XVII) which declares that “The right of peoples and
nations to permanent sovereignty over their wealth and natural resources must be exercised in the interest of their
national development and of the well-being of the people of the State concerned.”
The principle of popular participation has been vital to the evolution of human rights standards. It is a basic
element of social progress and seeks to ensure the dignity, value and freedom of the human person. Reference to
popular participation is found in both International Covenants and has a prominent role in the Declaration on the
Right to Development. Its signifi- cance is underscored by the General Assembly when, in A/37/55 (1982), it
stresses “the importance of the adoption of measures to ensure the effective participation, as appropriate, of all
the elements of society in the preparation
and implementation of national economic and social development policies and of the mobilization of public
opinion and the dissemination of relevant information in the support of the principles and objectives of social
progress and development.”
As with all human rights, the human person is the subject and the beneficiary of the right. The right to
development is claimable both individually and col- lectively. Significantly, this right is binding both on
individual States (in ensur- ing equal and adequate access to essential resources) and the international community
(in its duty to promote fair development policies and effective international cooperation).
International attention focused more closely on the right to development dur- ing consultations in Geneva, in early
1990, which reaffirmed that the right of individuals, groups and peoples to take decisions collectively, to choose
their own representative organizations and to have freedom of democratic action free from interference was
fundamental to democratic participation. The con- cept of participation was of central importance in the
realization of the right to development. The consultation also considered that development strate- gies oriented
only towards economic growth and financial considerations had failed, to a large extent, to achieve social justice
and that there was no single model for development applicable to all cultures and peoples. Development is a
subjective matter, and development strategies should be determined by the peoples concerned themselves and should
be adapted to their particular con- ditions and needs.
Taking the lead in the implementation of the Declaration on the Right to Development, the United Nations set up
mechanisms for ensuring the com- patibility of all United Nations activities and programmes with the Declara- tion.
The relationship between development and human rights was affirmed at the World Conference on Human Rights in the
1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which gave new impetus to the Declaration on the Right to
Development. The Vienna Declaration confirmed that democracy, development, respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms are inter- dependent and mutually reinforcing. It was acknowledged that the full enjoy- ment of human
right requires durable economic and social progress, and vice versa: in other words, there cannot be full
attainment of human rights without development, nor can there be development without respect for human rights.
1.8 Landmark Human Rights Conferences
Declarations and proclamations adopted during world conferences on human rights are also a significant contribution
to international human rights stan- dards. Instruments adopted by such conferences are drafted with the partici-
pation of international agencies and non-governmental organizations, reflecting common agreement within the
international community and are adopted by State consensus.
The Teheran and Vienna World Conferences on human rights were particu- larly significant for strengthening human
rights standards. Both involved an unprecedented number of participants from States, agencies and non- governmental
organizations who contributed to the adoption of the Procla- mation of Teheran and the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action respectively.
a. Teheran World Conference on Human Rights – 1968
The International Conference on Human Rights held in Teheran from April 22 to May 13 1968 was the first world
meeting on human rights to review the progress made in the twenty years that had elapsed since the adoption of the
UDHR. Significantly, the Conference reaffirmed world commitment to the rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in
the UDHR and urged mem- bers of the international community to “fulfil their solemn obligations to pro- mote and
encourage respect” for those rights.
The Conference adopted the Proclamation of Teheran which, inter alia, encouraged respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms for all with- out distinctions of any kind; reaffirmed that the UDHR is a common stan- dard of
achievement for all people and that it constitutes an obligation for the members of the international community;
invited States to conform to new standards and obligations set up in international instruments; condemned apartheid
and racial discrimination; invited States to take measures to imple- ment the Declaration on the Granting of
Independence to Colonial Coun- tries; invited the international community to co-operate in eradicating massive
denials of human rights; invited States to make an effort to bridge the gap between the economically developed and
developing countries; recognized the indivisibility of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
invited States to increase efforts to eradicate illiteracy, to eliminate discrimination against women, and to
protect and guarantee children’s rights.
By reaffirming the principles set out in the International Bill of Human Rights, the Proclamation of Teheran paved
the way for the creation of a number of international human rights instruments.
b. Vienna World Conference on Human Rights – 1993
On 14 June 1993, representatives of the international community gathered in unprecedented numbers for two weeks in
Vienna to discuss human rights. The World Conference reviewed the development of human rights standards, the
structure of human rights frameworks and examined ways to further advance respect for human rights. Members from
171 States, with the partici- pation of some 7,000 delegates including academics, treaty bodies, national
institutions and representatives of more than 800 non-governmental organi- zations, adopted by consensus the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action. In light of the high degree of support for and consensus from the Conference,
the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action can be per- ceived as a forceful common plan for strengthening human
rights work throughout the world.
The contents of the Declaration
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action marked the culmination of a long process of review of and debate on
the status of the human rights machinery worldwide. It also marked the beginning of a renewed effort to strengthen
and further implement the body of human rights instruments that had been painstakingly constructed on the
foundation of the Universal Dec- laration of Human Rights since 1948. Significantly, the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action:
• reaffirmed the human rights principles that had evolved over the past 45 years and called for the further
strengthening of the foundation for ensur- ing continued progress in the area of human rights;
• reaffirmed the universality of human rights and the international commit- ment to the implementation of
• proclaimed that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as interdependent
and mutually reinforcing.
The Conference agenda also included examination of the link between devel- opment, democracy and economic, social,
cultural, civil and political rights, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of United Nations methods and
mechanisms for protecting human rights as a means of recommending actions likely to ensure adequate financial and
other resources for United Nations human rights activities.
The final document agreed to in Vienna was endorsed by the forty-eighth ses- sion of the General Assembly
(resolution 48/121, of 1993).
1998: Five-Year Review of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights requested through its final document, the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action (VDPA), that the Secretary-General of the United Nations “...invite on the occasion of the
fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all States, all organs and agencies of the United
Nations system related to human rights, to report to him on the progress made in the implementation of the present
Declaration and to submit a report to the General Assembly at its fifty-third session, through the Commission on
Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council” (VDPA, Part II, paragraph 100). Regional bodies, national human
rights institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations, were also invited to present their views to the
Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of the VDPA five years later.
In 1998, the General Assembly concluded the review process which had begGeorge Mentz in the Commission on Human
Rights and the Economic and Social Council earlier in the year. A number of positive developments in the five years
since the World Conference were noted, such as progress achieved in human rights on national and international
agendas; human rights-oriented changes in national legislation; enhancement of national human rights capaci- ties,
including the establishment or strengthening of national human rights institutions and special protection extended
to women, children, and vulner- able groups among others and further strengthening of the human rights movement
The General Assembly reiterated its commitment to the fulfilment of the VDPA and reaffirmed its value as a guide
for national and international human rights efforts and its central role as an international policy document in the
field of human rights.
UNITED NATIONS ORGANS
This part outlines the relationship between the Office of the High Commis- sioner for Human Rights and those other
organs having responsibility for human rights. Whilst many United Nations staff members may be familiar with
certain structures and mandates of these organs, it is worth reviewing the broader canvas of the United
2.1. What is a charter-based organ?
The United Nations Charter provided for the creation of six principal organs mandated to carry out the overall work
of the United Nations. Inasmuch as they were created by the Charter, these bodies are commonly referred to as
Charter-based organs. The six principal organs are outlined below, as well as other major bodies resulting from
List of Charter-Based Bodies
Each organ was mandated by the Charter to perform varying human rights functions. Naturally, these roles have
evolved over time.
2.2. The General Assembly (UNGA)
The United Nations General Assembly is the main deliberative, supervisory and reviewing organ of the United
Nations. It is composed of representatives of all Member States, each one having one vote. Most decisions are
reached by simple majority. Decisions on important questions such as peace, admis- sion of new members and
budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority.
a. Powers and functions
The United Nations Charter sets out the powers and functions of the Gen- eral Assembly. The main functions of the
General Assembly in relation to human rights include the following: initiating studies and making recommen- dations
for promoting international political cooperation; the development and codification of international law; the
realization of human rights and fun- damental freedoms for all; and international collaboration in the economic,
social, cultural, education and health fields. This work is carried out by a number of committees established by
the General Assembly, international conferences called for by the General Assembly and by the Secretariat of the
United Nations (see below). Most items relating to human rights are referred to the “Third Committee” (the Social,
Humanitarian and Cultural Committee) of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly’s competence to explore issues concerning human rights is almost unlimited, in that, under
Article 10, it is allowed to “discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter” and to
make “recommendations” to Member States on these subjects.
Decisions of the UNGA are referred to as resolutions which reflect the will of the majority of Member States.
General Assembly resolutions largely deter- mine the work of the United Nations.
The General Assembly meets in regular session in New York each year on the third Tuesday of September and continues
until mid December. It may also meet in special or emergency sessions at the request of the Security Council or at
the request of the majority of the members of the United Nations.
2.3 The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
The Economic and Social Council was established by the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate
the economic and social work of the United Nations and the specialized agencies. The Council has 54 mem- bers
elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly. Voting is by simple majority, each member having one
a. Powers and functions
Some of the main powers and functions of the Economic and Social Council are as follows:
• to serve as the central forum for the discussion of international economic and social issues of a global or an
inter-disciplinary nature and the formu- lation of policy recommendations addressed to Member States and to the
United Nations system as a whole;
• to promote respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all;
• to make or initiate studies and reports and make recommendations on international economic, social, cultural,
educational, health and related matters;
• to call international conferences and prepare draft conventions for sub- mission to the General Assembly on
matters falling within its competence;
• to make recommendations and to co-ordinate activities of specialized agencies;
• co-ordinate, rationalize and, to some extent, programme the activities of the United Nations, its autonomous
organs and the specialized agencies in all of these sectors through consultations with and recommendations to the
General Assembly and members of the United Nations.
b. Consultation with Non-Governmental Organizations
A further function of the Economic and Social Council is to consult with non-governmental organizations concerned
with matters falling within the Council’s competence. The Council recognizes that these organizations should have
the opportunity to express their views and that they often pos- sess special experience or technical knowledge of
value to the Council and its work. Those NGOs having consultative status may send observers to public meetings and
submit written statements relevant to the Council’s work.
Over 1,500 non-governmental organizations have consultative status with the Council. They are classified in the
following three categories:
• General consultative status – for large, international NGOs whose area of work covers most of the issues on the
• Special consultative status – for NGOs that have special competence in a few fields of the Council’s
• Inclusion on the Roster – for NGOs whose competence enables them to make occasional and useful contributions to
the work of the United Nations and who are available for consultation upon request. NGOs on the Roster may also
include organizations having consultative status with a specialized agency or other United Nations body.
The Economic and Social Council generally holds one five to six-week sub- stantive session each year, alternating
between New York and Geneva, and one organizational session in New York. The substantive session includes a
high-level special meeting, attended by Ministers and other high officials, to discuss major economic and social
issues. The year-round work of the Coun- cil is carried out in its subsidiary bodies – commissions and committees –
which meet at regular intervals and report back to the Council.
d. Commissions of the Economic and Social Council
Between 1946 and 1948, the Council took a number of key institutional deci- sions concerning human rights. In 1946,
pursuant to Article 68 of the Char- ter, it established the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the
Status of Women.
1. Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
When the Commission met for the first time, its prime function was to oversee the drafting of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. That task was accomplished and the Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly on
10 December 1948. Today, the Commission on Human Rights serves as the main subsidiary organ of the United
Nations dealing with human rights matters.
The Commission comprises 53 representatives of Member States of the United Nations.
? Powers and functions:
The Commission submits proposals, recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council regarding:
international declarations or conven- tions; the protection of minorities; the prevention of discrimination on
grounds of race, sex, language or religion; and any other matter concerning human rights.
The Commission considers questions relating to the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in various
countries and territories as well as other human rights situations. If a particular situation is deemed
sufficiently serious, the Commission may decide to authorize an investigation by an inde- pendent expert or it may
appoint experts to assess, in consultation with the Government concerned, the assistance needed to help restore
enjoyment of human rights.
The Commission also assists the Council in the co-ordination of activities concerning human rights in the United
Nations system. The Commission has increasingly turned its attention in the 1990s to the needs of States to be pro-
vided with advisory services and technical assistance to overcome obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights. At
the same time, more emphasis has been placed on the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, including
the right to development and the right to an adequate standard of living. Increased attention is also being given
to the protection of the rights of vul- nerable groups in society, including minorities and indigenous people.
Protec- tion of the rights of the child and the rights of women, including the eradication of violence against
women and the attainment of equal rights for women, falls into this category.
The Commission is authorized to convene ad hoc working groups of experts and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights (formerly Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
The Commission on Human Rights meets once a year in Geneva, for six weeks in the March/April period. It can also
meet exceptionally between its regular sessions, if a majority of States members agree. To date, there have been
four extra-ordinary sessions.
1a. The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection
of Human Rights (formerly Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities)
The Sub-Commission is the main subsidiary body of the Commission on Human Rights. It was established by the
Commission at its first session in 1947 under the authority of the Economic and Social Council.
The Sub-Commission is composed of experts acting in their personal capac- ity, elected by the Commission with due
regard for equitable geographical rep- resentation. Half of the members and their alternates are elected every two
years and each serves for a term of four years. In addition to the members and alternates, observers attend
sessions of the Sub-Commission from States, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, other intergovernmental
organizations and non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the Economic and Social
? Powers and functions
The main functions of the Sub-Commission are:
• to undertake studies, particularly in the context of the Universal Declara- tion;
• to make recommendations to the Commission on Human Rights con- cerning the prevention of discrimination of any
kind relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the protection of racial, national, religious, and
• to perform any other functions which may be entrusted to it by the Eco- nomic and Social Council or the
Commission on Human Rights.
Studies prepared by members of the Sub-Commission have been undertaken on topics such as harmful practices
affecting the health of women and chil- dren, discrimination against people infected with HIV/AIDS, freedom of
expression, the right to a fair trial, the human rights of detained juveniles, human rights and the environment,
the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, the question of impunity concerning violations of human rights and
the right to adequate housing.
? Working groups
The Sub-Commission is assisted by special rapporteurs (an individual expert working on a particular issue – see
Part 3) and working groups (a group of independent experts working together on a particular issue):
• Special Rapporteurs on: Impunity Concerning Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Impunity Concerning Civil
and Political Rights; the Human Rights Dimension of Population Transfers; Human Rights and Income Distribution;
Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and the Girl Child; Systematic Rape and Sexual Slavery During
Armed Conflict; Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrange- ments Between States and Indigenous
Populations; Indigenous Peoples and Their Relationship to Land; the Question of Human Rights and States of
Emergency; Privatization of Prisons; Freedom of Movement; Terrorism and Human Rights; Scientific Progress and Human
• Working Groups on: Communications (1503 Procedure, see 3.8); Con- temporary Forms of Slavery; Indigenous
The Sub-Commission meets annually in August for a four-week session in Geneva. The session is attended by observers
from Member and non- member States of the United Nations and from United Nations departments and specialized
agencies, other inter-governmental organizations and non- governmental organizations
2. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
The Commission on the Status of Women is the principal technical body of the United Nations for the development of
substantive policy guidance with regard to the advancement of women. The Commission presently consists of 45
government experts elected by the Economic and Social Council for a pe- riod of four years. Members, who are
appointed by Governments, are elected in accordance with the following criteria of geographical representation:
thir- teen from African States; eleven from Asian States; four from Eastern Euro- pean States; nine from Latin
American and Caribbean States; and eight from Western European and Other States.
? Powers and functions
The functions of the Commission are to promote women’s rights through:
• the preparation of recommendations and reports to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in
the political, economic, social and educational fields;
• the formulation of recommendations to the Council on “urgent” prob- lems. The Council has stated that urgent
aspects of women’s rights should be aimed at achieving de facto observance of the principle of equality
between men and women and that the Commission should propose ways of implementing such recommendations.
Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the General Assembly mandated the Commission on the Status of
Women to play a cata- lytic role, regularly reviewing the critical areas of concern in the Platform for Action
adopted by the Conference.
Between 1971 and 1989, the Commission’s sessions – each of three weeks duration – were held every two years in New
York or Geneva. However, since 1989, sessions of the Commission are held annually in New York. Sessions are
attended by members and alternates and by observers for other Member States of the United Nations, representatives
of bodies of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
2.4 The Security Council
The United Nations Charter established the Security Council as one of the principal organs of the United Nations.
It comprises 5 permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States) and 10 non- permanent
members elected for two years by the United Nations General Assembly. Each member has one vote and permanent
members have the power to block the adoption of any resolution (known as the veto power). Decisions require a
majority of nine votes and the agreement of all five per- manent members.
a. Powers and functions
In accordance with the United Nations Charter, the Security Council has pri- mary responsibility for:
• the maintenance of peace and international security;
• investigation of any dispute, or any situation that might lead to interna- tional friction or give rise to a
dispute, in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the
mainte- nance of international peace and security.
By joining the United Nations, all Member States agree to accept and carry out decisions of the Security
b. Human rights
The Security Council has the authority to:
• put human rights mandates into peace-keeping operations or to mandate separate human rights operations;
• consider gross human rights violations that are threats to peace and secu- rity under article 39 of the Charter
and recommend enforcement meas- ures;
• establish international criminal tribunals.
c. International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia
Faced with a situation characterized by widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in
the former Yugoslavia, including the existence of concentration camps and the continuance of the practice of
“ethnic cleansing”, the Security Council initially adopted a series of resolu- tions requesting that all parties
concerned in the conflict comply with the obligations under international law, more particularly under the Geneva
Con- ventions. The Security Council reaffirmed the principle of the individual criminal responsibility of persons
who commit or order the commission of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions or other breaches of international
Owing to a lack of compliance with its early resolutions, the Security Council eventually decided that an
international tribunal would be established for the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of
international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991 and requested the
Secretary-General to prepare a report on this matter. The report of the Secretary-General incorporating the Statute
of the Interna- tional Tribunal was submitted to the Security Council, which, acting under Chapter VII of the
Charter of the United Nations, adopted it in its resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May 1993, thereby establishing an
international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The statute defines the Tribunal’s authority to
prosecute four clusters of offences: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions; violations of the laws or
customs of war; genocide; and crimes against humanity.
From the date of its establishment to January 1999, the Tribunal has handed down indictments against 93
individuals. [Source: ICTY General Presentation (Fact Sheet) 7 March 2000]
Also see ICTY web site at: http://www.un.org/icty/index.html
d. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The scale and severity of gross human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda during 1994, led to the adoption
by the Security Council, on 8 Novem- ber 1994, of resolution 955 (1994) creating the International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda, eighteen months after the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had been
established by Security Council resolution 827 of 25 May 1993. The Security Council resolution decided “to
establish an international tri- bunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for genocide and
other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the ter- ritory of Rwanda and Rwandan
citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations committed in the territory of neighboring States”.
The Statute gives the Tribunal the power to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of common
Article 3 of the Geneva Conven- tions and Additional Protocol II. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction covers crimes
committed by Rwandans in the territory of Rwanda and in the territory of neighbouring States as well as non-Rwandan
citizens for crimes committed in Rwanda between 1 January and 31 December 1994. The Tribunal is based in Arusha,
As at January 1999, the Tribunal had issued 28 indictments against 45 individuals. [Source: ICTR Fact Sheet January
For further information see ICTR at: http://www.un.org/ictr
e. International Criminal Court
An international criminal court is considered the missing link in the interna- tional legal system for the reason
that the International Court of Justice at The Hague handles only cases between States, not individuals. In the
absence of an international criminal court for dealing with individual responsibility as an enforcement mechanism,
acts of genocide and egregious violations of human rights often go unpunished. In the last 50 years, there have
been many instances of crimes against humanity and war crimes for which no individual has been held
Following long and intense negotiations, in 1998 the United Nations adopted the “Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court”. Following the entry into force of the Statute, the Court will be established as a permanent
institu- tion with the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most seri- ous crimes of
international concern. The Court is meant to be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions.
According to article 126 of its final clauses, the Statute will “enter into force on the first day of the month
after the 60th day following the date of the deposit of the 60th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval
or acces- sion with the Secretary-General of the United Nations”. As at March 2000, 7 States had ratified the
For further information see the website: http://www.un.org/law/icc/index.htm
2.5 The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
The International Court of Justice was established by the United Nations Charter as the judicial organ of the
United Nations. It is composed of 15 independent judges elected by the Security Council on the recommendation of
the General Assembly. In accordance with the provisions of article 36 of the Statute of the Court annexed to the
Charter, only States may be seized before the Court. This means that individuals, entities having legal personality
and international or non-governmental organizations may not be parties in litigation before the Court.
International human rights instruments do not specifically provide for adjudi- cation by the Court. However, from
time to time, the Court has taken deci- sions in an adjudicatory or advisory capacity on questions regarding the
existence or protection of human rights. The Court’s deliberations on these issues are of considerable interest,
since its decisions have played a significant role in defining international human rights law. In this respect, the
judicial practice of the ICJ is consistent with the decisions handed down by its prede- cessor, the Permanent Court
of International Justice.
2.6 The Secretariat of the United Nations
The United Nations Charter provided for the creation of a Secretariat which comprises the Secretary-General as the
chief administrative officer of the Organization, and such staff as the Organization may require. More than 25,000
men and women from some 160 countries make up the Secretariat staff. As international civil servants, they and the
Secretary-General answer solely to the United Nations for their activities, and take an oath not to seek or receive
instructions from any Government or outside authority. The Secretar- iat is located at the headquarters of the
United Nations in New York and has major duty stations in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Nairobi, Santi- ago
The Secretariat consists of a number of major organizational units, each headed by an official accountable to the
Secretary-General. These include, inter alia, the Executive Office of the Secretary-General; Office for the Coor-
dination of Humanitarian Affairs; Department for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services; Department of
Peacekeeping Operations; Depart- ment of Economic and Social Affairs; Department of Political Affairs, Department
for Disarmament and Arms Regulation; Office of Legal Affairs; Department of Management.
Subsequent to the Secretary-General’s reform package presented in docu- ment A/51/950, the work of the Organization
falls into four substantive categories: peace and security, development cooperation, international eco- nomic and
social affairs; and humanitarian affairs. Human rights is designated as a cross-cutting issue in all four
categories. Each area is co-ordinated by an Executive Committee which manages common, cross-cutting and overlap-
ping policy concerns. In order to integrate the work of the Executive Com- mittees and address matters affecting
the Organization as a whole, a cabinet-style Senior Management Group, comprising the heads of depart- ment under
the chairmanship of the Secretary-General, has been established. It meets weekly with members in Geneva, Vienna,
Nairobi and Rome partici- pating through tele-conferencing. A Strategic Planning Unit has also been established to
enable the Group to consider individual questions on its agenda within broader and longer-term frames of
reference (source A/53/1).
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights forms part of the Secretariat and is responsible for the
overall promotion and protection of human rights. The High Commissioner, entrusted by General Assembly reso- lution
48/141 of 20 December 1993 with principal responsibility for United Nations human rights activities, comes under
the direction and authority of the Secretary-General and within the framework of the overall competence, authority
and decisions of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights. The High
Commissioner is appointed by the Secretary-General with the approval of the General Assem- bly and is a member of
all four Executive Committees. (See part 5)
For further information on the Secretariat see OHCHR website at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/ secretar.htm or George Mentz homepage
website at: http://www.un.org/Overview/Organs/secretariat.html
b. Powers and functions
According to the United Nations Charter, the Secretary-General is required to: participate in all meetings and to
perform all functions entrusted to him by
the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Coun- cil, and the Trusteeship Council;
report annually to the General Assembly on the work of the Organization; and to bring to the attention of the
Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, threatens international peace and security. The
Secretary-General therefore functions as both the conscience of the international community and the servant of
The work carried out by the Secretariat is as varied as the problems dealt with by the United Nations. These range
from mediating international disputes to issuing international stamps. The Secretariat’s functions are, inter alia,
to: pro- vide support to the Secretary-General in fulfilling the functions entrusted to him or her under the
Charter; promote the principles of the Charter and build understanding and public support for the objectives of the
United Nations; promote economic and social development, development cooperation, human rights and international
law; conduct studies, promote standards and provide information in various fields responding to the priority needs
of Member States; and organize international conferences and other meetings.
The work of the Secretary-General entails routine daily consultations with world leaders and other individuals,
attendance at sessions of various United Nations bodies, and worldwide travel as part of the overall effort to
improve the state of international affairs. The Secretary-General issues an annual report in which he appraises the
work of the Organization and presents his views on future priorities.
c. “Good Offices” (article 99 of the Charter)
The Secretary-General may be best known to the general public for using his impartiality to engage and intervene in
matters of international concern. This is commonly referred to as his “good offices” and is indicative of the steps
taken by the Secretary-General or his senior staff, publicly and in private, to prevent international disputes from
arising, escalating or spreading. The Secretary-General can use his good offices to raise sensitive human rights
matters with Governments. His intervention may be at his own discretion or at the request of Member
[Also see introduction: United Nation’s Programme for Reform.]
HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS
A number of conventional mechanisms and extra-conventional mechanisms are in place to monitor the implementation of
international human rights standards and to deal with complaints of human rights violations.
International human rights mechanisms
A. Conventional Mechanisms: Treaty-Monitoring Bodies
• Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
• Human Rights Committee (monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
• Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (monitors the implementation of the International
Convention for the Elimination of all Forms Racial Discrimination)
• Committee against Torture (monitors the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)
• Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (monitors the implementation of the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms or Discrimination against Women)
• Committee on the Rights of the Child (monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the
B. Extra-Conventional Mechanisms: Special Procedures
• Special Rapporteurs, Special representatives, Special envoys and Independent experts, Working groups – thematic
or country (Urgent Actions)
• Complaints procedure 1503.
“Conventional mechanisms” refer to committees of independent experts established to monitor the implementation
of international human rights treaties by States parties. By ratifying a treaty, States parties willingly submit
their domestic legal system, administrative procedures and other national practices to periodic review by the
committees. These committees are often referred to as treaty-monitoring bodies (or “treaty bodies”).
In contrast, “extra-conventional mechanisms” refer to those mechanisms established by mandates emanating, not from
treaties, but from resolutions of relevant United Nations legislative organs, such as the Commission on Human
Rights or the General Assembly. Extra-conventional mechanisms may also be established by expert bodies, such as the
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (formerly the Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities). They nor- mally take the form of an independent expert or a working
group and are often referred to as “special procedures”.
A. Conventional mechanisms
3.1 Treaty-monitoring bodies
a. Overview of the conventional mechanisms
Conventional mechanisms monitor the implementation of the major international human rights treaties. The different
committees established are composed of independent experts acting in their individual capacity and not as
representa- tives of their Governments, although they are elected by representatives of States parties. The
committees comprise 18 members each, with the excep- tion of the Committee Against Torture and Committee on the
Rights of the Child (both 10 members) and Committee against the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against
Women (23 members). Members are elected according to the principle of equitable geographic representation, thus
ensur- ing a balanced perspective and expertise in the major legal systems. The main functions of the treaty bodies
are to examine reports submitted by States par- ties and to consider complaints of human rights
• State reporting: All States parties to the international treaties are required to submit reports stating progress
made and problems encountered in the implementation of the rights under the relevant treaty.
• Individual complaints: Three of the international treaties currently allow for individuals to lodge complaints
about alleged violations of rights
(the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Politi- cal Rights, the Convention on the
Elimination of all Forms of Racial Dis- crimination and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel or Inhuman
Treatment or Punishment).
• State-to-State complaints: The same three treaties, in addition to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women, as listed above, also make provision for States parties to lodge complaints
relating to alleged human rights abuses against another State party. This procedure has never been resorted to.
By virtue of their responsibilities, treaty bodies serve as the most authoritative source of interpretation of the
human rights treaties that they monitor. Inter- pretation of specific treaty provisions can be found in their
“views” on com- plaints and in the “concluding observations“ or “concluding comments” which they adopt on State
reports. In addition, treaty bodies share their understanding on and experience of various aspects of treaty
implementation through the formulation and adoption of “general comments” or “general recommendations”. At present,
there is a large body of general comments and recommendations serving as another valuable resource with regard to
Complaints of human rights violations are technically referred to as “commu- nications”.
b. Reporting procedure
All treaties require States parties to report on the progress of implementation of the rights set forth in
the treaty. The common procedure is as follows:
• Each State party is required to submit periodic reports to the Committee;
• The reports are examined by the treaty body in light of information received from a variety of sources including
non-governmental organiza- tions, United Nations agencies, experts. Some treaty bodies specifically invite NGOs and
United Nations agencies to submit information;
• After considering the information, the treaty body issues concluding observations/comments containing
recommendations for action by the State party enabling better implementation of the relevant treaty. The treaty
body monitors follow-up action by the State party on the conclud- ing comments/observations during examination of
the next report sub- mitted. On several occasions, treaty-body recommendations set out in the concluding
comments/observations have served as the basis for new technical cooperation projects.
c. Communications procedure for individual complaints
The communications procedure set out in the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR – article 22 (CAT) and article 14 (CERD)
– is conditional on the fol- lowing:
• the individual must first exhaust local remedies. In other words, the indi- vidual must have explored available
legal remedies in the State concerned including appeal to the highest court, unless:
• there is no legal process in that country to protect the rights alleged to have been violated;
• access to remedies through the local courts has been denied or pre- vented;
• there has been an unreasonable delay locally in hearing the complaint;
• a consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights makes any prospect of remedies meaningless;
• the remedies are unlikely to bring effective relief to the victim.
• the communication must not be anonymous or abusive;
• the communication must allege violations of rights as stipulated in the treaty which the committee oversees;
• the communication must come from an individual who lives under the jurisdiction of a State which is party
to the particular treaty;
• the communication must not be under current or past investigation in another international procedure;
• the allegations set out in the communication must be substantiated.
d. How to contact the committees
Five committees are serviced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
• the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
• the Human Rights Committee,
• the Committee against Torture,
• the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and
• the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Communications, submissions or correspondence for these treaty bodies may be directed to:
The Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is serviced by the Division for the
Advancement of Women. Submis- sions or correspondence may be directed to:
3.2 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was established by the Economic and Social Council with a
view to assisting the Council fulfil its responsibilities to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cul- tural Rights. It is composed of 18 independent experts.
States parties submit their first report within two years of becoming parties to the Covenant. Subsequent reports
must be submitted at least every five years thereafter or whenever the Committee so requests.
General discussion days
The Committee usually devotes one day of its regular sessions to a general discussion on a specific right or
particular article of the Covenant in order to develop a greater depth of understanding on the issue, such as human
rights education, the rights of elderly persons, the right to health and the right to housing. The discussion, in
which representatives of international organiza- tions and NGOs participate, is normally announced in advance. The
relevant decision of the Committee can be found in its annual report. All interested parties, including NGOs, are
invited to make written contributions.
The Committee is convened in Geneva twice a year, in May and November; each session is of three weeks’ duration. A
pre-sessional working group com- prising five members is normally convened for one week immediately follow- ing
each Committee session to prepare for the following session.
For more information on the CESCR, see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/ menu2/6/cescr.htm
3.3 Human Rights Committee (HRC)
The Human Rights Committee was established pursuant to article 28 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. It is composed of 18 members, acting in their personal capacity, who are nominated and elected by
States parties to the Covenant for a term of four years.
Its functions are to monitor the Covenant by examining reports submitted by States parties and to receive
individual communications concerning alleged violations of the Covenant by States parties to the Optional Protocol
to the Covenant. Communications are examined in a quasi-judicial manner leading to the adoption of “views” which
have a similarity to the judgements of inter- national courts and tribunals. Implementation of the Committee’s
decision is monitored by a Special Rapporteur who also conducts field missions.
Under the Covenant, States parties must submit initial reports to the Commit- tee within one year of the entry into
force of the Covenant for the State con- cerned and thereafter whenever the Committee so requests. Other than
initial reports, periodic reports are submitted every five years.
The Committee regularly established a pre-sessional working group of four Committee members to assist in the
drafting of issues to be considered in connection with States reports. Consideration of reports takes place over
two or three meetings held in public. After the report is introduced to the Com- mittee, the State representative
has an opportunity to respond to written or oral questions raised by members of the Committee. NGOs are permitted
to send submissions to the Committee. Following consideration, the Committee adopts its “comments” in a closed
meeting making suggestions and recom- mendations to the State party. Comments are issued as public documents at the
end of each session of the Committee and included in the annual report to the General Assembly.
Complaints by individuals
Under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, a communication may be sub- mitted by an individual who claims that
his or her rights, as set out in the Covenant, have been violated. The Committee considers communications in light
of written information made available to it by the individual and by the State party concerned and issues its
“views” accordingly. When it appears that the alleged victim cannot submit the communication, the Committee may
consider a communication from another person acting on his or her behalf. An unrelated third party having no
apparent links with the alleged victim may not submit communications. A follow-up procedure is aimed at monitoring
implementation of the Committee’s “views”.
The Committee is convened three times a year for sessions of three weeks’ duration, normally in March, at United
Nations headquarters in New York and in July and October/November at the United Nations Office at Geneva. Each
session is preceded by a one-week working group session. It reports annually to the General Assembly.
For more information on the HRC, see the OHCHR web-site: http:/www.unhchr.ch/html/ menu2/6/hrc.htm. A model
communication is annexed.
3.4 Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established under the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is composed of 18 experts, acting in their
capacity, who are nominated and elected by States parties to the Convention for a four-year term.
The Committee monitors the implementation of the Convention by examin- ing reports submitted by States parties
which are due every two years. It also examines individual communications concerning violations of the Conven- tion
by States parties which have accepted the optional complaints procedure under article 14 of the Convention. The
Committee can also examine situa- tions under its urgent action and prevention procedure.
Each State report receives the attention of a member designated as Country Rapporteur. He or she undertakes a
detailed analysis of the report for consid- eration by the Committee and leads the discussion with the
representatives of the State party. The Committee has also developed an urgent action and pre- vention procedure
under which situations of particular concern may be examined. In order to prevent long overdue reports, if a report
is more than five years overdue, the Committee may examine the country situation in the absence of a
Individual communications procedure
The procedure concerning communications from individuals or groups claiming to be victims of violations of the
Convention came into operation in 1982. Such communications may only be considered if the State concerned is a
party to the Convention and has made the declaration under article 14 that it recognizes the competence of CERD to
receive such complaints. Where a State party has accepted the competence of the Committee, such communi- cations
are confidentially brought to the attention of the State party con- cerned but the identity of the author is
The committee meets in two sessions annually in Geneva, in March and August, each of three weeks’
For more information on the CERD see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/ menu2/6/cerd.htm
3.5 Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Committee against Torture was established under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and
Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It is composed of 10 experts, acting in their personal capacity, who are nomi-
nated and elected by States parties to the Convention for a four- year term.
The primary functions of the Committee are to monitor the implementation of the Convention by examining reports
submitted by States parties, to receive individual communications concerning violations of the Convention by States
parties which have accepted the optional procedure under article 22 of the Convention and to conduct inquiries into
the alleged systematic prac- tice of torture in States which have accepted the procedure under article
Under the Convention, each State Party must submit a report to the Commit- tee on measures taken to give effect to
its undertakings under the Convention. The first report must be submitted within one year after the entry into
force of the Convention for the State concerned. Thereafter, reports shall be sub- mitted every four years on
subsequent developments. The Committee desig- nates a country rapporteur to undertake a detailed analysis of the
report for consideration by the Committee. The Committee may also request further reports and additional
If the Committee receives reliable information which it considers to be based on well-founded indications that
“torture is being systematically practiced” in a State, the Committee is empowered to make a confidential
If the Committee considers that the information gathered “warrants” further examination, it may designate one or
more of its members to “make a confi- dential inquiry and to report to the Committee urgently”. The Committee then
invites the State party concerned to cooperate in the inquiry. Accord- ingly, the Committee may request the State
party to designate a representative to meet with the members of the Committee in order to provide the neces- sary
information. The enquiry may also include, with the agreement of the State, a visit to the alleged site. After
examining the findings of the inquiry, the Committee transmits them together with its comments and recommendation
to the State party, inviting it to indicate the action which it intends to take in
response. Finally, after consultation with the State Party, the Committee may decide to publish a summary of
the proceedings separately or in its annual report.
Individual communication procedure
A communication may be submitted directly or, under certain conditions, through representatives, by individuals who
claim to be victims of torture by a State which has accepted the competence of the Committee. The function of the
Committee is to gather relevant information, consider the admissibility and merits of complaints and to issue its
“views”. If the alleged victim is not in a position to submit the communication on his or her own behalf, a
relative or representative may act in that capacity.
The Committee meets in Geneva twice each year in November and in the April-May period for two or three weeks.
However, special sessions may be convened by decision of the Committee itself at the request of a majority of its
members or of a State party to the Convention. The committee reports annually on its activities to the States
parties to the Convention and to the General Assembly.
For more information see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/cat.htm
3.6 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was established in accordance with the
International Convention on the Elimina- tion of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Committee is com-
posed of 23 experts acting in their personal capacity, who are nominated and elected by the States parties to the
Convention for a four-years term.
The Committee’s main function is to monitor the implementation of the Convention based on consideration of
reports from States parties.
The new Optional Protocol establishes two procedures: an individual commu- nications procedure which will allow
communications to be submitted by or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of a
viola- tion of any of the rights set out in the Convention; and a procedure which will allow the Committee to
enquire into grave or systematic violations by a State party of those rights. In addition, no reservations are
permissible, although any State accepting the Protocol may “opt-out” of the enquiry procedure.
A State party must submit its first report within one year after it has ratified or acceded to the Convention.
Subsequent reports must be submitted at least every four years or whenever the Committee so requests.
To consider States parties’ reports adequately, the Committee established a pre-sessional working group with the
mandate to consider periodic reports. The pre-sessional working groups are composed of five members of the
Committee who prepare lists of issues and questions to be sent in advance to the reporting State . This enables
reporting States to prepare replies for pres- entation at the session and thus contribute to a speedier
consideration of the second and subsequent reports.
The Committee has established two standing working groups which meet during the regular session to consider ways
and means of improving the work of the Committee and of implementing article 21 of the Convention under which the
Committee may issue suggestions and recommendations on imple- mentation of the Convention.
The consideration of reports by the Committee takes place in public session, whereas the adoption of the concluding
observations, intended to guide the State Party in the preparation of its next report, is subsequently held in pri-
vate. State representatives are given the opportunity to introduce the report orally and members then raise
questions relating to specific articles of the Convention. They focus on the actual position of women in society in
an effort to understand the true extent of the problem of discrimination. The Committee will accordingly request
specific information on the position of women from a variety of sources.
Following consideration of the report in public session, the Committee pro- ceeds to draft and adopt its “Comments”
in a series of private sessions. The Comments enter the public domain once adopted. They are immediately sent to
the State party and included in the annual report to the General Assembly. The report is also submitted to the
Commission on the Status of Women.
The Committee meets in New York twice per year for a duration of three weeks. The week following the close of each
session is reserved for the Work- ing Group which establishes the agenda for the next meeting. The Committee is
serviced by the George Mentz Division for the Advancement of Women which is based in New York.
For more information see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/cedw.htm
3.7 Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
The Committee on the Rights on the Child was established under the Con- vention on the Rights of the Child. It
comprises 10 independent members elected for a four-year term.
The main function of the Committee is to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
based on examination of State reports in close cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
specialized agencies and other competent bodies (including NGOs).
States parties are required to submit reports to the Committee two years after becoming parties to the Convention,
and thereafter every five years, on meas- ures taken to give effect to the rights in the Convention and on the
progress made in the enjoyment of children’s rights.
The pre-sessional working groups comprising all members of the Committee meet in closed meeting at the end of each
session to consider reports sched- uled for the next session. Its mandate is to identify those areas in the reports
which require clarification or raise concerns and to prepare a list of issues for transmission to States parties.
States provide written replies to be considered in conjunction with the report.
The Committee devotes one or more meetings of its regular sessions to gen- eral discussion on one particular
article of the Convention or on specific issues such as the situation of the girl child, the economic exploitation
of chil- dren and children in the media. Representatives of international organizations and NGOs participate in the
Committee discussion which is normally announced in the report of the session immediately preceding that in which
the discussion takes place. All interested parties including NGOs are invited to make written contributions.
There is no procedure outlined in the Convention for individual complaints from children or their representatives.
The Committee may, however, request “further information relevant to the implementation of the Convention”. Such
additional information may be requested from Governments if there are indications of serious problems.
The Committee hold three annual sessions in Geneva, each of three weeks’ duration. It also holds three
pre-sessional working groups, each of one week’s duration.
For more information see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc.htm
B. Extra-conventional mechanisms
3.8 Special procedures
a. Thematic and country mandates
The Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council have, over time, established a number of other
extra-conventional mechanisms or special procedures, meaning they were not created either by the United Nations
Charter or by an international treaty. Extra-conventional mechanisms also monitor the implementation and
enforcement of human rights standards. These mechanisms have been entrusted to working groups of experts acting in
their individual capacity or individuals designated as Special Rapporteurs, Special Representatives or independent
The mandate and tenure of the working group, independent experts and spe- cial representatives of the
Secretary-General depend on the decision of the Commission on Human Rights or the Economic and Social Council. In
gen- eral, their mandates are to examine, monitor and publicly report on either the human rights situation in a
specific country or territory – known as country mandates – or on human rights violations worldwide – known as
thematic mechanisms or mandates. A list of country and thematic mandates is at annexes V and VI.
The special procedure mechanisms are of paramount importance for moni- toring universal human rights standards and
address many of the most seri- ous human rights violations in the world. The increase and the evolution of
procedures and mechanisms in this area constitute a system of human rights protection.
All special procedures have the central objective of making international human rights more operative. Yet each
special procedure has its own specific mandate which has, in certain cases, evolved in accordance with
cumstances and needs. While certain basic principles and criteria are common to all special procedures, the
complexities and peculiarities of each individual mandate have at times required special arrangements.
Dialogue with Governments
Each independent expert initiates constructive dialogue with States’ represen- tatives in order to obtain their
cooperation as a means of redressing violations of human rights. Their examinations and investigations are carried
out in an objective manner so as to identify solutions to States for securing respect for human rights.
Individual complaints mechanisms
These mechanisms have no formal complaints procedures even though their activities are based on information
received from various sources (the victims or their relatives, local or international NGOs, for example) containing
allega- tions of human rights violations. Information of this kind may be submitted in various forms (e.g. letters,
faxes, and cables) and may concern individual cases as well as details of situations of alleged violations of
In order to pursue a complaint, a number of requirements must be fulfilled:
• identification of the alleged victim(s);
• identification of the Government agents responsible for the violation;
• identification of the person(s) or organization(s) submitting the commu- nication;
• a detailed description of the circumstances of the incident in which the alleged violation occurred.
In order to be considered admissible, a communication must:
• not be anonymous;
• not contain abusive language;
• not convey an overtly political motivation;
• describe the facts of the incident and the relevant details referred to above, clearly and concisely.
Where information attests to an imminence of a serious human rights viola- tion (e.g. extra-judicial execution,
fear that a detained person may be subjected to torture or may die as a result of an untreated disease, for
example) the Spe-
cial Rapporteur, Representative, Expert or Working Group may address a message to the authorities of the State
concerned by telefax or telegramme, requesting clarifications on the case, appealing to the Government to take the
necessary measures to guarantee the rights of the alleged victim. These appeals are meant to be preventive in
character and do not prejudge a defini- tive conclusion.
Once an urgent action is transmitted to the Government in question, the Spe- cial Rapporteur, Representative,
Expert or Working Group undertakes the following action:
• appeals to the Governments concerned to ensure effective protection of the alleged victims;
• urges the competent authorities to undertake full, independent and impar- tial investigation and to adopt all
necessary measures to prevent further violations and requests to be informed of every step taken in this
• if no response is received and/or the competent authority takes no reme- dial measures, the Special Rapporteur,
Representative, Expert or Working Group reminds the Government concerned of the cases periodically.
Cases not clarified are made public through the report of the particular Spe- cial Procedures to the Commission on
Human Rights or to the competent United Nations bodies.
Specific requests for such urgent intervention may be addressed to:
N.B. The text “For Urgent Action” should be indicated at the beginning of the communication in order to facilitate
its urgent transmission to the respec- tive mandate(s).
b. The 1503 Procedure
Each year the United Nations receives thousands of communications alleging the existence of gross and systematic
violations of human rights and funda- mental freedoms. The Economic and Social Council consequently adopted a
procedure for dealing with such communications. This is known as the 1503 procedure pursuant to the adoption of the
resolution 1503 of 27 May 1970. It does not deal with individual cases but with situations affecting a large number
of people over a protracted period of time.
Procedure for communications
A five-member Working Group of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (formerly
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities) receives a monthly list of complaints
(“communications”) in conjunction with a summary of the evi- dence. The five-member Working Group meets for two
weeks each year im- mediately prior to the Sub-Commission’s annual session to consider all communications and
replies from Governments.
In instances where the Working Group identifies reasonable evidence of a consistent pattern of gross violations of
human rights, the matter is referred for examination by the Sub-Commission. A majority decision of the Working
Group’s members is needed for referring a communication to the Sub- Commission. The Sub-Commission then decides
whether the situations should be referred to the Commission on Human Rights, through the Com- mission’s Working
Group on Situations. Subsequently, the Commission assumes responsibility for making a decision concerning each
particular situa- tion brought to its attention.
All the initial steps of the process are confidential, except the names of coun- tries which have been under
examination. This ensures that a pattern of abuses in a particular country, if not resolved in the early stages of
the process, can be brought to the attention of the world community.
The Working Group’s decision on the admissibility of a communication is guided by the following criteria – the
• not reflect political motivation of any kind;
• have reasonable grounds for establishing that there is a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested
violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
• come from individuals or groups claiming to be victims of human rights violations or having direct, reliable
knowledge of violations. Anonymous communications are inadmissible, as are those based only on reports in the mass
• describe the facts, the purpose and the rights that have been violated. As a rule, communications containing
abusive language or insulting remarks about the State against which the complaint is directed will not be consid-
• have first exhausted all domestic remedies, unless it can be shown con- vincingly that solutions at national
level would be ineffective or that they would extend over an unreasonable length of time.
Communications intended for handling under the “1503” procedure may be addressed to:
UNITED NATIONS STRATEGIES AND ACTION TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS
“It is for you to realize these rights, now and for all time. Human rights are your rights.
Seize them. Defend them. Promote them. Understand them and insist on them.
Nourish and enrich them.”
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
The task of promoting and protecting human rights, and thereby preventing human rights violations, is one of the
most formidable challenges ahead. Evi- dence of gross violations of human rights today is a disturbing reminder of
the work to be done. The collective efforts of the largest and most represen- tative number of people must be
harnessed in order to develop creative strategies to prevent all forms of human rights violations, both deliberate
and inadvertent. Over time, the United Nations has employed various tools to protect and promote human rights. As
the protection of human rights is pri- marily the responsibility of States, many strategies have been targeted
towards strengthening the ability of States to protect persons within their territory, such as technical
cooperation activities. Other strategies have been devised to nurture an understanding of human rights in areas
such as education and development of publications. Overall, the main strategies may be defined as follows:
• Integrating human rights into early warning, humanitarian operations, peacekeeping and development
• Technical cooperation activities
• Human rights education and campaigns
• Human rights monitoring
• Working with civil society
• Publication of information.
4.1 Integrating human rights into the work of the United Nations
Since the Secretary-General launched the Programme of Reform in July 1997, there have been on-going efforts to
promote and protect human rights by inte- grating human rights into all activities and programmes of the United
Nations [see Introduction]. This strategy reflects the holistic approach to human rights. It recognizes that human
rights are inextricably linked to the work of all United Nations agencies and bodies, including programmes and
activities relating to housing, food, education, health, trade, development, security, labour, women, children,
indigenous people, refugees, migration, the environment, science and humanitarian aid. The objectives of the
process of integrating human rights are to:
• increase cooperation and collaboration across the entire United Nations system for human rights programmes;
• ensure that human rights issues are incorporated into untapped sectors of the United Nations work;
• ensure that United Nations activities make respect for human rights a rou- tine, rather than a separate,
component of United Nations activities and programmes.
The issue of human rights was, therefore, designated by the Secretary-General as cutting across the four
substantive areas of the Secretariat’s work programme (peace and security; economic and social affairs; development
cooperation and humanitarian affairs). Mainstreaming human rights primarily takes the follow- ing forms: (a)
adoption of a “human rights-based approach” to activities car- ried out in terms of the respective mandates of
components of the United Nations system; (b) development of programmes or projects addressing spe- cific human
rights issues; (c ) reorientation of existing programmes as a means of focusing adequate attention on human rights
concerns; (d) inclusion of human rights components in field operations of the United Nations; (e) the presence of
human rights programmes in all structural units of the Secretariat responsible for policy development and
coordination. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights plays a lead role in the integration of human
rights throughout the United Nations system.
a. Preventive action and early warning
Violations of human rights are very often the root cause of humanitarian dis- asters, mass exoduses or refugee
flows. Therefore, at the first signs of con- flict, it is vital to deter the parties involved from committing human
violations thus defusing situations which may lead to humanitarian disasters. The United Nations has already
developed early warning systems to detect potential conflicts. Incorporating human rights into this system by
addressing the root causes of potential conflict will contribute to prevention of humani- tarian and human rights
tragedies and the search for comprehensive solu- tions.
United Nations human rights procedures and mechanisms such as the special rapporteurs and special representatives,
treaty-based bodies, working groups of the Commission on Human Rights and its Sub-Commission and United Nations
human rights field officers (experts, including special rapporteurs, special representatives, treaty-body experts
and United Nations human rights field offices) constitute a valuable contribution to the early warning mecha- nisms
for impending humanitarian and human rights crises. When informa- tion gathered is shared with other branches of
the United Nations, such as the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Execu- tive
Committee on Peace and Security and Humanitarian Affairs, the Depart- ment of Political Affairs (DPA), the
Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO)and other conflict assessments are better informed. Based on the
results from situation analysis, measures are considered to pre- vent the occurrence of crises. A human rights
analysis contributes to more effective plans for tailoring prevention to the needs of imminent disasters.
The integration of human rights into preventive action and early warning sys- tems is designed to bolster the
accuracy of the early warning capacity of the United Nations in the humanitarian field by integrating human rights
con- cerns before crises arise. This prepares the ground for effective cooperation before, during and after
b. Human rights and humanitarian operations
The link between humanitarian law and human rights law was discussed in the introduction. There is increasing
consensus that humanitarian operations must integrate human rights into conflict situations. Humanitarian
operations are established in conflict or complex emergency situations where priorities have traditionally focused
on addressing the most immediate needs – the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It is now understood that
needs-based operations should also incorporate a human rights-based approach which serves to address both immediate
needs and longer-term security.
In conflict and complex emergency situations, identification of human rights violations and efforts to protect
those rights are essential, particularly as States may be unwilling or unable to protect human rights.
Human rights issues are being integrated into humanitarian operations in vari- ous ways. The Executive
Committee on Humanitarian Affairs brings together relevant departments of the United Nations thus ensuring a
co-ordinated and integrated approach to humanitarian issues. The Office of the High Commis- sioner for Human Rights
is involved in the work of the Committee: this ensures the incorporation of a human rights dimension into the work
and policy development in this field. Steps are being taken to guarantee that humanitarian field staff are trained
in methods of basic human rights inter- vention, standards and procedures; to secure close field cooperation
between human rights and humanitarian bodies; to ensure that a human rights dimen- sion is included when developing
strategies for major humanitarian efforts; and to encourage human rights monitoring in humanitarian
c. Human rights and peace-keeping
The maintenance of international peace and security is one of the prime functions of the United Nations
Organization. The importance of human rights in sustainable conflict resolution and prevention is gaining ground.
Armed civilian conflicts are characterized by large-scale human rights viola- tions which can often be traced to
structural inequalities and the resulting imbalances in the accessibility of power and resources. The need for
peace- keeping efforts to address human rights issues is apparent.
The guarantee of a comprehensive approach to United Nations strategies for peace and security is conditional on the
integration of human rights issues into all peace-keeping operations at the planning and preparatory stage of needs
assessments. To date, human rights mandates have been incorporated into the duties of several peace-keeping
operations and predictably, in the years to come, the cooperation between DPA, DPKO and OHCHR will increase.
Co-operation has in large part taken the shape of human rights training for peace-keeping personnel, including the
military, civilian police and civilian affairs officers. In some cases, OHCHR has been called upon to ensure the
continuation of peace-keeping operations by establishing a human rights presence on conclusion of the
With recent developments, cooperation has extended to the creation of joint DPKO/OHCHR human rights components in
peace-keeping operations. Under the authority of the Representative/Special Representative of the Secretary-General
in charge of the operation, the peace-keeping operation receives substantive human rights guidance from OHCHR.
d. Integration of human rights into development
As early as 1957, the General Assembly expressed the view that a balanced and integrated economic and social
development programme would contrib- ute towards the promotion and maintenance of peace and security, social
progress, better standards of living and the observance of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This approach was given increased prominence by the Teheran World Conference on Human Rights and later recognized
as a paramount concern by the second World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993 – that genuine
and sustainable development requires the protection and promotion of human rights.
Development is not restricted to meeting basic human needs; it is, indeed, a right. With a rights-based approach,
effective action for development moves from the optional realm of charity, into the mandatory realm of law, with
identifiable rights, obligations, claim-holders, and duty-holders. When devel- opment is conceived as a right, the
implication is that someone holds a claim, or legal entitlement and a corresponding duty or legal obligation. The
obliga- tion which devolves upon Governments (individually by States vis-à-vis their own people, and collectively
by the international community of States) is, in some cases, a positive obligation (to do, or provide something)
and, in others, a negative obligation (to refrain from taking action). What is more, embracing the rights framework
opens the door to the use of a growing pool of infor- mation, analysis and jurisprudence developed in recent years
by treaty bodies and other human rights specialists on the requirements of adequate housing, health, food,
childhood development, the rule of law, and virtually all other elements of sustainable human
The obligation to respond to the inalienable human rights of individuals, and not only in terms of fulfilling human
needs, empowers the people to demand justice as a right, and it gives the community a sound moral basis on which to
claim international assistance and a world economic order respectful of human rights.
The adoption of a rights-based approach enables United Nations organs to draw up their policies and programmes in
accordance with internationally rec- ognized human rights norms and standards.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) was established as part of the Secretary-General’s
Programme of Reform. UNDAF is a common programme and resources framework for all members of the United Nations
Development Groups (UNDG) and, wherever possible, for the United Nations system as a whole. The objective of
the programme is to
maximize the collective and individual development impact of participating entities and programmes of
assistance; intensify collaboration in response to national development priorities; and ensure coherence and mutual
reinforce- ment among individual programmes of assistance. The ad hoc Working Group of the Executive Committee of
the UNDG is mandated to develop a common UNDG approach for enhancing the human rights dimension in development
In order to facilitate the process of integrating human rights into develop- ment, the Administrator of the United
Nations Development Programme and OHCHR have signed a memorandum of understanding seeking to increase the
efficiency and effectiveness of the activities carried out within their respective mandates through cooperation and
coordination. OHCHR will facilitate close cooperation between UNDP and the United Nations human rights organs,
bodies and procedures, and will examine, with UNDP, the possibilities of joint initiatives aimed at implementing
the human right to development, placing particular emphasis on defining indicators in the area of economic and
social rights and devising other relevant methods and tools for their implementation.
4.2 Human Rights Technical Cooperation Programme
a. Technical cooperation in the field of human rights
The United Nations human rights technical cooperation programme assists countries, at their request, in building
and strengthening national capacities and infrastructure which have a direct impact on the overall promotion and
protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This is done through technical advice and assistance to
Governments and civil society. The objective is to assist in promoting and protecting all human rights at national
and regional level, through the incorporation of international human rights standards into domestic legislation,
policies and practices. In addition, it facili- tates the building of sustainable national infrastructure for
implementing these standards and ensuring respect for human rights.
While these activities are carried out throughout the United Nations Organi- zation, OHCHR is the focal point for
the technical cooperation programme in the field of human rights. Technical cooperation activities can be a comple-
ment to, but never a substitute for the monitoring and investigation activities of the United Nations human
b. How to access assistance
In order to benefit from the United Nations Programme of Technical Coop- eration in the field of human rights, a
Government must submit a request for assistance to the Secretariat. In response, the Secretariat will conduct an
assess- ment of that country’s particular human rights needs, taking into considera- tion, among other factors, the
• specific recommendations made by the United Nations human rights treaty bodies;
• recommendations by the Commission on Human Rights and its mecha- nisms, including the representatives of the
Secretary-General, the Special Rapporteurs on thematic or country situations and the various working groups;
• the recommendations adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field
of Human Rights; and
• the views and concerns expressed by a wide range of national and interna- tional actors including government
officials, civil society, national human rights institutions, and national and international NGOs.
The assessment is normally conducted through an international mission to the State concerned. Based on that
assessment, an assistance programme is developed to address the needs identified in a comprehensive and coordi-
nated manner. Periodic evaluations of the country programme during its implementation are normally followed by a
post- implementation evaluation, with a view to measuring the effect of the assistance provided and developing
Countries or regions in transition to democracy are the primary target of the Technical Cooperation Programme.
Priority is also given to technical coop- eration projects responding to the needs of less developed
For more information see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/techcoop.htm
c. Various technical cooperation activities
The programme offers a wide range of human rights assistance projects, some of which are summarized below. It must
be stressed, however, that the types of interventions described are merely indicative and not exhaustive. The
results of needs assessments determine the type of technical cooperation project to be implemented.
National human rights institutions (The Paris Principles)
A central objective of the Technical Cooperation Programme is to consoli- date and strengthen the role which
national human rights institutions can play in the promotion and protection of human rights. In this context, the
term national human rights institutions refers to bodies whose functions are specifically defined in terms of the
promotion and protection of human rights, namely national human rights commissions and ombudsman offices, in
accordance with the Paris Principles. OHCHR offers its services to Governments that are considering or in the
process of establishing a national human rights institu- tion.
The activities relating to national human rights institutions under the pro- gramme are aimed at promoting the
concept of national human rights institu- tions and encouraging their development. To this end, information
material and a practical manual have been developed for those involved in the estab- lishment and administration of
national institutions. In addition, a number of seminars and workshops have been conducted to provide government
offi- cials, politicians, NGOs and others with information and expertise in the structure and functioning of such
bodies. These events have also served as useful forums for the exchange of information and experience concerning
the establishment and operation of national human rights institutions.
Administration of justice
With respect to human rights in the administration of justice, the Technical Cooperation Programme provides
training courses for judges, lawyers, prose- cutors and penal institutions, as well as law enforcement officers.
Such courses are intended to familiarize participants with international standards for human rights in the
administration of justice; to facilitate examination of humane and effective techniques for the performance of
penal and judicial functions in a democratic society; and to teach trainer participants to include this information
in their own training activities. Topics offered in courses for judges, lawyers, magistrates and prosecutors
include: international sources, systems and standards for human rights in the administration of justice; human
rights during criminal investigations, arrest and pre-trial detention; the independence of judges and lawyers;
elements of a fair trial; juvenile justice; protection of the rights of women in the administration of justice; and
human rights in a declared state of emergency.
Similarly, the training courses for law enforcement officials cover a broad range of topics, including the
following: international sources, systems and standards for human rights in the administration of criminal
duties and guiding principles of ethical police conduct in democracies; the use of force and firearms in law
enforcement; the crime of torture; effective methods of legal and ethical interviewing; human rights during arrest
and pre- trial detention; and the legal status and rights of the accused. A Manual on Human Rights and Law
Enforcement is available.
Course topics for prison officials include: minimum standards for facilities for prisoners and detainees; prison
health issues, including AIDS and the HIV virus; and special categories of prisoners and detainees, including
juveniles and women. A Handbook on Human Rights and Pre-trial Detention is avail- able.
This approach to professional training for human rights in the administration of justice is subject to in-field
testing by OHCHR in its technical cooperation activities in a number of countries, and has undergone a series of
revisions on the basis of such experience.
Other forms of assistance in the area of the administration of justice include assistance in the development of
guidelines, procedures and regulations con- sistent with international standards.
Assistance in drafting legislation
The United Nations makes the services of international experts and special- ized staff available to assist
Governments in the reform of their domestic leg- islation which has a clear impact on the situation of human rights
and fundamental freedoms. The goal is to bring such laws into conformity with international standards, as
identified in United Nations and regional human rights instruments. Drafts provided by a Government requesting such
assis- tance are reviewed and recommendations are subsequently made. This pro- gramme component also includes
assistance with respect to penal codes, codes of criminal procedure, prison regulations, laws regarding minority
pro- tection, laws affecting freedom of expression, association and assembly, immigration and nationality laws,
laws on the judiciary and legal practice, security legislation, and, in general, any law which might have an impact
directly, or indirectly, on the realization of internationally protected human rights.
Under this programme component, OHCHR provides assistance for the incorporation of international human rights norms
into national constitu- tions. In this regard, the Office can play a facilitating role in encouraging national
consensus on those elements to be incorporated into the constitu-
tional reform process utilizing the services of legal exerts. OHCHR assistance may also extend to the provision
of human rights information and documen- tation, or support for public information campaigns to ensure the involve-
ment of all sectors of society.
Their task includes legislative drafting as well as the drafting of bills of rights; the provision of justiciable
remedies under the law; options for the allocation and separation of governmental powers; the independence of the
judiciary; and the role of the judiciary in overseeing the police and prison systems.
Under the Technical Cooperation Programme, national parliaments may receive direct training and other support to
assist them in undertaking their human rights function. This programme component addresses a variety of crucial
issues, including the provision of information on national human rights legislation, parliamentary human rights
committees, ratifications of and accessions to international human rights instruments, and, in general, the role
of parliament in promoting and protecting human rights.
The armed forces
It is essential for the good functioning of the rule of law that the armed forces be bound by the Constitution and
other laws of the land, that they answer to democratic Government and that they are trained in and commit- ted to
the principles of human rights and humanitarian law. The United Nations has carried out a number of training
activities for armed forces.
The Technical Cooperation Programme has been providing electoral assis- tance for more than five years. Specific
activities which the OHCHR has undertaken in this regard include the preparation of guidelines for analysis of
electoral laws and procedures, publication of a handbook on human rights and elections, development of draft
guidelines for human rights assessment of requests for electoral assistance and various public information
activities relating to human rights and elections.
Treaty reporting and training of government officials
The OHCHR organizes training courses at regular intervals to enable govern- ment officials to draft reports in
keeping with the guidelines establishing the various international human rights treaties to which their State is a
party. Courses on reporting obligations may be provided at national or at regional
level. Alternatively, training courses may be organized under the human rights fellowship programme:
participants take part in workshops with experts from the various treaty-monitoring committees, as well as with
staff from the Office. They are provided with a copy of OHCHR’s Manual on Human Rights Reporting and, whenever
possible, are given the opportunity to observe meetings of treaty bodies.
Non-governmental organizations and civil society
Civil society constitutes an increasingly important factor in the international community. In recent years, the
United Nations has found that much of its work, particularly at national level, calls for the involvement of
various non- governmental organizations and groups – whether in economic and social development, humanitarian
affairs, public health, or the promotion of human rights.
National and international non-governmental human rights organizations are key actors in the Technical Cooperation
Programme, both in the delivery of assistance and as recipients of that assistance. In relation to the programme’s
aims to strengthen civil society, the United Nations is increasingly being called upon by Governments and others to
provide assistance to national NGOs, in the context of its country activities, by soliciting their input, utilizing
their ser- vices in seminars and training courses, and supporting appropriate projects which have been developed.
Information and documentation projects
The Technical Cooperation Programme also provides human rights informa- tion and documentation and contributes to
building capacity for the effective utilization and management of such material. Activities in this area include
direct provision of documentation, translated where necessary into local lan- guages; training in human rights
information; and assistance in computeriza- tion of national and regional human rights offices. Assistance is also
provided to national libraries in acquiring human rights books and documentation, and support can be lent for the
establishment and functioning of national or regional human rights documentation centres.
Several manuals, handbooks and modules are being produced to support train- ing and other technical cooperation
activities. Existing or planned material tar- gets specific audiences, such as the police, judges and lawyers,
prison personnel, national human rights action plans, the armed forces, teachers and human rights monitors involved
in United Nations field operations. The mate-
rial is adapted specifically to the recipient country in order to facilitate the inte- gration of human rights
into existing training programmes and curricula.
Peacekeeping and the training of international civil servants
In accordance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights
in June 1993, the Techni- cal Cooperation Programme has recently expanded the scope of its activities to include
human rights support within the United Nations system. In the area of peacekeeping, for example, the programme has
provided various forms of assistance to major United Nations missions in Cambodia, Eritrea, Mozambique, Haiti,
South Africa, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, and Angola. Such assistance has included, variously, the
provision of human rights information, legislative analysis, training and advisory services.
Human rights fellowships
The human rights fellowships scheme was initiated in keeping with General Assembly resolution 926 of 14 December
1955 which officially established the advisory services programme. Under the programme, fellowships are awarded
only to candidates nominated by their Governments and are financed under the regular budget for advisory
Each year, the Secretary-General invites Member States to submit nomina- tions for fellowships. Governments are
requested to nominate persons directly engaged in functions affecting human rights, particularly in the
administration of justice. The Secretary-General draws their attention to con- cerns expressed by the General
Assembly, in many of its resolutions, with regard to the rights of women, and encourages the nomination of women
candidates. The principle of equitable geographical distribution is taken into account and priority is given to
candidates from States which have never benefitted from the fellowship programme, or which have not done so in
Participants receive intensive training in a variety of human rights issues. They are encouraged to exchange their
experiences and are requested to evaluate the fellowship programme, to present individual oral reports, and to
prepare recommendations for their superiors on the basis of knowledge acquired under the programme. In accordance
with the policy and procedure govern- ing the administration of United Nations fellowships, each participant is
required to submit a comprehensive final report to OHCHR on subjects directly related to their field of
4.3 Human rights education and campaigns
Human rights education
The fundamental role of human rights education is to increase the awareness of individuals in order to defend their
rights and those of others. Knowledge of human rights constitutes a forceful means of achieving empowerment. Human
rights education needs learners and educators working together to translate the language of human rights into
knowledge, skills and behaviour. This necessitates developing an understanding of the responsibility each indi-
vidual has in making those rights a reality at the local, national and interna- tional levels: the essence of
global citizenship and global responsibility.
The relevant provisions of international instruments define human rights education as constituting training,
dissemination and information efforts aimed at building a universal culture of human rights by imparting knowledge
and skills and moulding attitudes. This entails the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms; the full development of the human personality and a sense of its dignity; the promotion of understanding,
toler- ance, gender equality and friendship among all nations, indigenous peoples and racial, national, ethnic,
religious and linguistic groups; the enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society; and the
furtherance of the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
Human rights education campaigns
The United Nations has initiated and encouraged human rights awareness campaigns in order to promote particular
human rights issues. The activities carried out during these campaigns include the development of publications,
studies and programmes with the involvement of United Nations bodies, States, other international, regional and
local organizations and civil society. The campaigns are intended to highlight specific human rights issues. It is
widely acknowledged that awareness and information are vital to respect for human rights and prevention of human
a. World Public Information Campaign on Human Rights (1988-ongoing)
It was only as recently as 1988 that the first concerted international effort was made to promote human rights.
Although efforts had been made in the mid fifties to enhance awareness of the drafting work on the international
Cove- nants, the launching of the World Public Information Campaign on Human Rights by the General Assembly in
December 1988 represented the first seri-
ous attempt at coordinated effort for developing awareness of international norms. It was launched on the 40th
Anniversary of the UDHR and is open- ended: once launched, it became part of the United Nations human rights
The Campaign includes the publication and dissemination of human rights information and reference material, the
organization of a fellowship and internship programme, briefings, commemorative events, exhibits and exter- nal
The programme has expanded significantly since 1988. The use of the OHCHR website is an important new development.
It is, inter alia, a reposi- tory of United Nations human rights information in English, French and Spanish
relating to international treaties, treaty-body databases, programmes and activities, United Nations reports,
resolutions and human rights issues.
b. Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004)
The 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action concluded that human rights education, training and public
information are essential for the promotion and achievement of stable and harmonious relations among com- munities
and for fostering mutual understanding, tolerance and peace. The Conference recommended that States should strive
to eradicate illiteracy and direct education towards the full development of the human personality and the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It called on all States and institutions to
include human rights, humanitarian law, democracy and the rule of law as subjects in the curricula of all learning
insti- tutions in formal and non-formal settings.
Pursuant to a suggestion of the World Conference, the UNGA proclaimed the 10-year period beginning on 1 January
1995 the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, and welcomed the Plan of Action for the Dec- ade as set
out in the report of the Secretary-General. The High Commis- sioner for Human Rights was called upon to coordinate
the implementation of the Plan.
Plan of Action
The Plan of Action has five objectives:
1. Assessment of needs and formulation of effective strategies for the fur- therance of human rights
2. Building and strengthening of programmes and capacities for human rights education at the international,
regional, national and local levels;
3. Co-ordinated development of effective human rights education materi- als;
4. Strengthening the role and capacity of the mass media in the furtherance of human rights education;
5. Global dissemination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Plan focuses on stimulating and supporting national and local activities and embodies the idea of a partnership
between Governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, professional associations,
various sectors of civil society and individuals.
In the national context, the Plan provides for the establishment of compre- hensive (in terms of outreach),
effective (in terms of educational strategies) and sustainable (over the long term) national plans of action for
human rights education, with the support of international organizations. Those Plans should constitute an integral
part of the national development plan (when applicable) and be complementary to other relevant national plans of
action already defined (general human rights plans of action or those relating to women, children, minorities,
indigenous peoples, etc.). Specific guidelines have been developed by OHCHR and endorsed by the General Assembly
for the development of national plans of action for human rights education.
For further information on the Decade for Human Rights Education see the OHCHR website: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/1/edudec.htm
c. Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination
By its resolution 48/91 of 20 December 1993, the General Assembly pro- claimed the Third Decade to Combat Racism
and Racial Discrimination, beginning in 1993, and adopted the Programme of Action proposed for the Decade. The
ultimate goals of the Decade are:
• to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without dis- tinction of any kind on grounds of race,
colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, with particular emphasis on eradicating racial prejudice, racism and
• to arrest any expansion of racist policies, to eliminate the persistence of racist policies and to counteract the
emergence of alliances based on the mutual espousal of racism and racial discrimination;
• to resist any policy and practices which lead to the strengthening of racist regimes and contribute to sustaining
racism and racial discrimination;
• to identify, isolate and dispel fallacious and mythical beliefs, policies and practices contributing to
racism and racial discrimination; and
• to put an end to racist regimes.
In order to achieve these goals, a number of activities are being undertaken including programmes and seminars to
ensure respect for the existing stan- dards and instruments to combat racism and xenophobia (including imple-
mentation of international instruments and adoption of revised national legislation); sensitization to racism and
xenophobia (including appropriate teaching and education, and systematic use of the mass media to combat racial
discrimination); to use all international bodies and mechanisms to com- bat racism and xenophobia; to review
political, historical, social, economic and other factors which lead to racism and xenophobia.
The General Assembly decided to convene a World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
related intolerance, to be held not later than the year 2001. The Conference will be action-oriented and focus on
practical measures to eradicate racism, including measures of pre- vention, education and protection and the
provision of effective remedies. One of its aims will be to increase the effectiveness of United Nations pro-
grammes aimed at eradicating contemporary forms of racism and racial dis- crimination.
For further information see the OHCHR website at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/ hrissues.htm#racism
4.4 Human rights monitoring
Monitoring is a broad term describing the active collection, verification, and immediate use of information to
address human rights problems. Human rights monitoring includes gathering information about incidents, observing
events (elections, trials, demonstrations, etc.), visiting sites such as places of detention and refugee camps,
discussions with Government authorities to obtain information and to pursue remedies, and other immediate
follow-up. The term includes evaluation activities by the United Nations as well as fact- gathering firsthand and
other work in the field. In addition, the drawback to monitoring is that it generally takes place over a protracted
period of time.
The major focus of United Nations monitoring is on carrying out investiga- tions and subsequently denouncing human
rights violations as a means of fighting impunity. However, it would be both deceiving and simplistic to iden- tify
human rights monitoring as being equivalent to a form of police activity.
Human rights monitoring must be seen as the most fool-proof means of assessing a country’s situation, and
impeding its human rights violations and which, subsequently, could create a basis for institution-building. A
stable human rights presence in a given country can be described as an ongoing needs assessment and analysis
mission. However, human rights monitoring can also be done on a sporadic basis, as is the case with the so-called
fact- finding missions.
Some Governments, particularly totalitarian regimes, are reluctant to have an international human rights monitoring
presence in their country, as they lack the long-term vision of good governance and see any attempt at cooperation
as undue interference in their internal affairs. In such cases, monitoring can be done from a distance, often
through the offices of a special rapporteur, which entails a greater effort in information gathering and checking
the reliability of available sources.
4.5 Working with civil society
The direct involvement of people, individually and through non- governmental organizations and other organs of
civil society, is essential to the realization of human rights. The Universal Declaration placed the realiza- tion
of those rights squarely in the hands of “every individual and every organ of society”. Indeed, the history of
human rights protection reflects the collective actions of individuals and organizations. The participation and
con- tribution of all sectors of civil society are vital to the advancement of human rights .
a. NGOs and ECOSOC
Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations provides for consultations between the Economic and Social Council
and non-governmental organiza- tions. Several hundred international non-governmental organizations have received
consultative status under this Article, which permits them to attend public meetings of the Council, the Commission
on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights as observers, and, in
accordance with the rules established by the Council, to make oral statements and submit written documents. NGOs
also sit as observers at public working group sessions of these bodies.
In their interventions at such meetings, the non-governmental organizations place emphasis on human rights
situations requiring action on the part of the United Nations and suggest studies which should be carried out and
ments which should be drafted; they also contribute to the actual drafting of declarations and treaties.
Non-governmental organizations may also submit reports alleging violations of human rights, for confidential
consideration by the Sub-Commission, treaties bodies and the Commission under the “1503” procedure. The views of
non-governmental organizations are also sought on a wide range of issues where such consultation is appropriate and
under deci- sions taken by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Commission on Human Rights
and its Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (formerly Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities). The views and information they provide are included in the official
Non-governmental organizations also play an important role in promoting respect for human rights and in informing
the general public of United Nations activities in the field of human rights through education and public
b. Indigenous Peoples
The World Conference on Human Rights (June 1993) and the International Decade for the World’s Indigenous People
(1995 – 2004) proclaimed by the General Assembly a year later set three major objectives for the promotion of the
human rights of indigenous peoples. The first is to adopt a declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples; the
second to create an institutional mecha- nism for the participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the United
Nations by establishing a permanent forum for indigenous peoples; and the third to strengthen international
cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in areas such as human rights, the environment,
development, education and health. In the context of the International Dec- ade, current activities are as
• The draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples is under consid- eration by a working group of the
Commission on Human Rights. Several hundred governmental and indigenous representatives are taking part.
• The proposed permanent forum for indigenous peoples within the United Nations is under consideration by another
working group of the Commis- sion on Human Rights.
• The International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People is coordi- nated by the High Commissioner for Human
Rights. The theme is “Indigenous people: partnership in action”. The challenge to Govern- ments, the United Nations
system and non-governmental actors is to develop programmes to bring about improvements in the living condi-
tions of indigenous peoples worldwide. In most George Mentz agencies there are designated focal points or units
undertaking activities benefiting indige- nous peoples.
• OHCHR is focusing on capacity-building for indigenous organizations in human rights, strengthening the
participation of indigenous peoples in the UN’s work, and improving the information flow to indigenous com-
• The indigenous fellowship programme offers six months training in human rights within OHCHR to indigenous
• Two voluntary funds provide travel grants to enable indigenous people to participate in human rights meetings and
assistance with projects (see below).
• The indigenous media network: through a series of workshops and exchanges, OHCHR is using the indigenous media as
the linkage between United Nations activities and indigenous communities.
• The Working Group on Indigenous Populations, open to all indigenous peoples, remains the primary international
meeting place for the world’s indigenous peoples with nearly 1,000 participants.
For more information see the OHCHR web-site: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/10/c/ind/ ind_main.htm#decade
The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations is administered by OHCHR on behalf of the
Secretary-General, with the advice of a Board of Trustees. The Fund was established pursuant to General Assembly
resolutions 40/131 of 13 December 1985, 50/156 of 21 Decem- ber 1995 and 53/130 of 9 December 1998 . The purpose of
the Fund is to assist representatives of indigenous communities and organizations partici- pate in the
deliberations of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, the open-ended inter-sessional Working Group on the
“George Mentz Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” and the open-ended inter-sessional ad hoc Working
Group of the Permanent Forum, by providing them with financial assistance, funded by means of voluntary
contributions from Governments, non- governmental organizations and other private or public entities. For
application forms and guidelines, contact the Trust Funds Unit of SSB/OHCHR on fax (41 22) 9179017 and for further
information see: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/9/vfindige.htm
The Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People was established pursuant to
General Assembly resolu-
tions 48/163 of 21 December 1993, 49/214 of 23 December 1994 and 50/157 of 21 December 1995, all of which
concern the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. In accordance with resolution 48/163, the
Secretary-General was requested to establish a voluntary fund for the Decade and was authorized “to accept and
administer voluntary contributions from Governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations and
other private institutions and individuals for the purpose of funding projects and programmes during the Decade”.
In accordance with paragraph 24 of the annex to General Assembly resolution 50/157, the Coordinator of the Dec-
ade, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, should,
“Encourage the development of projects and programmes, in collaboration with Governments and taking into account
the views of indigenous people and the appropriate United Nations agencies, for support by the Voluntary Fund for
For application forms and guidelines, contact the Trust Funds Unit of SSB/OHCHR on fax (41 22) 9179017 and for
further information see http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/9/vfinddec.htm
In recent years, there has been a heightened interest among members of the international community in issues
affecting minorities as ethnic, racial and religious tensions have escalated, threatening the economic, social and
politi- cal fabric of States, as well as their territorial integrity. The United Nations approach centres on the
need to promote and protect the rights of minorities and encourage harmonious relations among minorities and
between minori- ties and the majority population.
In addition to the non-discrimination provisions set out in international human rights instruments, special rights
are elaborated for minorities and measures adopted to protect persons belonging to minorities more effectively from
discrimination and to promote their identity.
• The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic
Minorities addresses the spe- cial rights of minorities in a separate document.
• The Working Group on Minorities was established in 1995 in order to promote the rights set out in the Declaration
and, more particularly, to review the promotion and practical realization of the declaration, examine possible
solutions to problems involving minorities, and recommend fur- ther measures for the promotion and protection of
their rights. The work- ing group is open to Governments, United
Nations agencies, non-
governmental organizations, minority representatives and members of the academic community and is increasingly
becoming a forum for dialogue on minority issues.
• A series of seminars on particular issues have drawn the attention of the international community to specific
issues of relevance to the protection of minorities. Seminars have been held on intercultural and multicultural
education and the role of the media in protecting minorities.
• Inter-agency cooperation on minority protection has led to an exchange of information on minority-related
activities and has focused on specific activities and programmes which could be elaborated and implemented jointly,
as a means of pooling financial, material and human resources.
d. Support for victims of torture
On behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, OHCHR admin- isters a Voluntary Fund for Victims of
Torture with the advice of a Board of Trustees. The Fund was established by General Assembly resolution 36/151 of
16 December 1981. It receives voluntary contributions from Govern- ments, non-governmental organizations and
individuals for distribution, through established channels of assistance, to non-governmental organiza- tions
providing medical, psychological, legal, social, financial, humanitarian or other assistance to victims of torture
and members of their families. If suffi- cient funding is available, relevant training and seminars for health and
other professionals specializing in assisting victims of torture can also be financed.
Applications for grants have to be submitted by 31 December for analysis by the secretariat of the Fund. Admissible
applications are examined by the Board of Trustees at its annual session in May. The Board adopts recommen- dations
for approval by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on behalf of the Secretary-General. The grants are paid in
the July/August period. Beneficiaries are required to provide satisfactory narrative and financial reports on the
use of grants by 31 December. Until satisfactory reports on the use of previous grants are received, no new
grants can be considered.
For application forms and guidelines, contact the Trust Fund Unit of SSB/OHCHR by fax (41 22) 917 9017 or see
for further information.
e. Support for victims of contemporary forms of slavery
On behalf of the Secretary-General, OHCHR also administers the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary
Forms of Slavery with the advice of a Board of Trustees. The fund was established pursuant to
Assembly resolution 46/122 of 17 December 1991. The purpose is twofold: 1) to assist representatives of
non-governmental organizations, from different regions, dealing with issues of contemporary forms of slavery to
participate in the deliberations of the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery of the Sub-Commission on the
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights by providing them with financial assistance (travel grants); and 2) by
extending, through established channels of assistance such as NGOs, humanitarian, legal and financial aid, to
individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a result of contemporary forms of slavery (project
According to the criteria established by the General Assembly in its resolution 46/122, the only beneficiaries of
the Fund’s assistance shall be representa- tives of non-governmental organizations dealing with issues of contempo-
rary forms of slavery: (a) who are so considered by the Board of Trustees; (b) who would not, in the opinion of the
Board, be able to attend the sessions of the Working Group without the assistance provided by the Fund; (c) who
would be able to contribute to a deeper knowledge on the part of the Work- ing Group of the problems relating to
contemporary forms of slavery; as well as (d) individuals whose human rights have been severely violated as a
result of contemporary forms of slavery.
For application forms and guidelines, contact the Trust Fund Unit at SSB/OHCHR on fax (41 22) 917 9017 or for
further information also see http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/9/
f. The private sector
The increase in the private sector growth rate, the evolving role of Govern- ment and economic globalization have
led to increased attention being paid to business enterprises as important actors in the human rights domain. In
many ways, business decisions can profoundly affect the dignity and rights of indi- viduals and communities. There
is emergent interest on the part of the busi- ness community to establish benchmarks, promote best practices and
adopt codes of conduct. Governments retain the primary responsibility for human rights and it is not a question of
asking business to fulfill the role of Govern- ment, but of asking business to promote human rights in its own
sphere of competence. Corporations responsible for human rights violations must also be held to account.
The relationship between the United Nations and the business community has been growing in a number of important
areas and the Secretary-General has called on the business community – individually through firms and collec-
tively through business associations – to adopt, support and enact a set of
core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards and environmental practices. The Secretary-General
has asked the relevant United Nations agen- cies to be ready to assist the private sector in incorporating those
values and principles into mission statements and corporate practice. Each agency has the important task of
examining the various ways of responding to corporate concerns for human rights.
For further information see: http://www.un.org/partners/
4.6 United Nations human rights publications
Human rights publications are strategically important to the promotion of human rights. Publications are aimed at:
raising awareness about human rights and fundamental freedoms; raising awareness with regard to the existing ways
and means at international level for promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms; encouraging
debate on human rights issues under discussion in the various United Nations organs and bodies; serving as a per-
manent human rights resource for readers.
Below is a list of available human rights publications issued by OHCHR. Publi- cations are free of charge – Human
Rights Fact Sheets, Basic Information Kits on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
certain ad hoc pub- lications – and are available from the address below. Their reproduction in lan- guages other
than the official United Nations languages is encouraged provided that no changes are made to the contents and that
OHCHR is advised by the reproducing organization and given credit as being the source of the material.
Publications issued as United Nations sales publication – the Professional Train- ing Series, the Study Series and
certain reference and ad hoc publications can be ordered from the United Nations Bookshops listed below, with
offices in Geneva and New York. United Nations sales publications are protected by copyright.
It is important to note that many other United Nations publications are avail- able through the United Nations
bookshop. For a list of other publications relating to human rights, see the website for each United Nations body
at annex VI or contact the United Nations bookshops.
For further information about OHCHR human rights publications, see the OHCHR Website at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/pubs.htm
a. OHCHR Human Rights Fact Sheets
The Human Rights Fact Sheets deal with selected questions of human rights under active consideration or are of
particular interest. Human Rights Fact Sheets are intended to facilitate better understanding on the part of a
growing audience of basic human rights, the United Nations agenda for promoting and protecting them and the
international machinery available for realizing those rights.
The Fact Sheets are free of charge and distributed worldwide. Their repro- duction in languages other than the
official United Nations languages is encouraged, provided that no changes are made to the contents and that OHCHR
is advised by the reproducing organization and given the credit for being the source of the material.
Published to date:
No. 1 Human Rights Machinery (under revision)
No. 2 (Rev.1) The International Bill of Human Rights
No. 3 (Rev.1) Advisory Services and Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights
No. 4 Methods of Combating Torture
No. 5 Programme of Action for the Second Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination
No. 6 (Rev.2) Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances No. 7 Communications Procedures (revision is
No. 8 World Public Information Campaign for Human Rights No. 9 (Rev.1) The Rights of Indigenous
No. 10 (Rev.1) The Rights of the Child
No. 11 (Rev.1) Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions No. 12 The Committee on the Elimination of
No. 13 International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights No. 14 Contemporary Forms of Slavery
No. 15 Civil and Political Rights: The Human Rights Committee No. 16 The Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights No. 17 The Committee against Torture
No. 18 (Rev.1) Minority Rights
No. 19 National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
No. 20 Human Rights and Refugees
No. 21 The Human Right to Adequate Housing
No. 22 Discrimination against Women: The Convention and the Committee
No. 23 Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
No. 24 The Rights of Migrant Workers
No. 25 Forced Evictions and Human Rights
b. Professional Training Series
The Professional Training series consists of handbooks and manuals intended to increase awareness of international
standards and are directed at a specific target audience selected for its ability to influence the human rights
situation at the national level. Although primarily designed to provide support to the training activities of the
Technical Cooperation Programme of the OHCHR, these publications could also serve as practical tools for those
organizations involved in human rights education to professional groups.
The training manuals in the Professional Training Series are adaptable to the particular needs and experience of a
range of potential audiences within the target group, in terms of culture, education and history. Where
appropriate, information on effective pedagogical techniques is included to assist trainers to use the manuals as
effectively as possible.
Each manual or handbook is prepared with the assistance of experts in the relevant fields and is subject to
extensive external review and appraisal. Where appropriate, manuals or handbooks are tested in training sessions
prior to their finalization.
c. Human Rights Studies Series
The Human Rights Study Series reproduces studies and reports on important human rights issues prepared by experts
of the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (formerly
Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Pro- tection of Minorities) in accordance with their
Published to date:
No. 1 Right to Adequate Food as a Human Right No. 2 Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and
Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief
No. 3 Study on the Freedom of the Individual under Law: an Analysis of Article 29 of the Universal
No. 4 Status of the Individual and Contemporary International Law: Promotion, Protection and Restoration
of Human Rights at National, Regional and International Levels
No. 5 Study on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities
No. 6 Human Rights and Disabled Persons No. 7 The Right to Adequate Housing
No. 8 Sexual Exploitation of Children
No. 9 Internally Displaced People Compilation and Analysis of Legal Norms
No. 10 Protection of the Heritage of Indigenous Peoples
d. OHCHR ad hoc publications
The ad hoc publications consist mainly of reports and proceedings of confer- ences, workshops and other
particularly important or innovative events held under the auspices of OHCHR. These publications can be issued free
• Effects of Racism and Racial Discrimination on the Social and Economic Relations between Indigenous Peoples
and States: Report of a Seminar (Geneva, 16-20 January 1989)
• The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Geneva, 28 July 1989)
• United Nations Training Course on International Norms and Standards in the Field of Human Rights. Summary of the
meeting (Moscow, 27 November - 1 December 1989)
• The Realization of the Right to Development: Global Consultation on the Right to Development as a Human Right
(Geneva, 8-12 January 1990)
• Political, Historical, Economic, Social and Cultural Factors Contributing to Racism, Racial Discrimination and
Apartheid: Report of a Seminar (Geneva, 10 January - 14 December 1990)
• Workshop on International Human Rights Instruments and Reporting Obligations: Preparation of Reports to United
Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies (Moscow, 26-30 August 1991)
• African Seminar on International human Rights Standards and the Administration of Justice (Cairo, 8-12 July
• United Nations Workshop for the Asia-Pacific on Human Rights Issues (Jakarta, 26-28 January 1993)
• Model National Legislation for the Guidance of Governments in the Enactment of Further Legislation against
• Teaching and Learning about Human Rights: A Manual for Schools of Social Work and the Social Work Profession
• the First Twenty Years: Progress Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
• Manual on Human Rights Reporting
• Second Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination: Global Compilation of National Legislation
against Racial Discrimination
• Application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under the Optional Protocol by the Human
• Report of an International Consultation on AIDS and Human Rights. Summary of Proceedings
• HIV/AIDS and Human Rights: International Guidelines
• ABC: Teaching Human Rights, Practical activities for primary and secondary schools
e. Publications for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Basic information kits
The basic information kit series is intended as a working tool for agencies, programmes, non-governmental
organizations and national institutions as well as individuals to assist in the commemoration of the 50th
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Basic information kits are pub- lished in French, English
and Spanish and are distributed throughout the world free of charge.
f. Reference material
OHCHR reference publications are directed to a more specialized audience and often consist of collections or
compilations of international instruments. They are issued as United Nations sales publications.
THE OFFICE OF THE
HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (OHCHR) AND PARTNERS
5.1 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has prime responsi- bility for the overall protection and
promotion of all human rights. Deriving its mandate from the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action and the General Assembly, the OHCHR’s mission is to spearhead efforts of people worldwide for
the promotion and protection of human rights so that everyone can live in a society shaped and governed in the
image of the international human rights standards agreed upon by the United Nations.
In pursing this mission, the OHCHR has four strategic aims:
1. To enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations human rights machinery;
2. To increase United Nations system-wide implementation and co- ordination of human rights;
3. To build national, regional and international capacity to promote and protect human rights;
4. To analyze, process and disseminate reports, recommendations and reso- lutions of human rights organs and
bodies, as well as other relevant human rights information.
OHCHR is mandated to take a leading role in regard to human rights issues and to stimulate and co-ordinate human
rights activities and programmes.
a. The High Commissioner
The OHCHR is headed by a High Commissioner with the rank of Under Secretary-General who reports to the
Secretary-General. The High Commis- sioner is responsible for:
• all activities of the OHCHR, as well as for its administration;
• carrying out the functions specifically assigned by the above-mentioned General Assembly resolution and
subsequent resolutions of policy- making bodies;
• advising the Secretary-General on policies of the United Nations in the area of human rights;
• ensuring that substantive and administrative support is given to the proj- ects, activities, organs and bodies
of the human rights programme;
• representing the Secretary-General at meetings of human rights organs and at other human rights events; and
• carrying out special assignments as decided by the Secretary-General.
The incumbent High Commissioner is Ms Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. The United Nations General
Assembly approved her appoint- ment in June 1997 and Ms. Robinson took up her duties as High Commis- sioner for
Human Rights on 12 September 1997.
The High Commissioner is assisted in all activities by a Deputy High Com- missioner who acts as Officer-in-Charge
during the absence of the High Commissioner. In addition, the Deputy High Commissioner carries out spe- cific
substantive and administrative assignments as determined by the High Commissioner.
The High Commissioner’s functions
as listed in GA resolution 48/141
• to promote and protect the effective enjoyment by all of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social
• to carry out the tasks assigned to him/her by the competent bodies of the United Nations system in the field of
human rights and to make recommendations to them with a view to improving the promotion and protection of all
• to promote and protect the realization of the rights to development and to enhance support from relevant bodies
of the United Nations system for this purpose;
• to provide, through the [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] and other appropriate institutions,
advisory services and technical and financial assistance, at the request of the State concerned and, where
appropriate, the regional human rights organizations, with a view to supporting actions and programmes in the field
of human rights;
• to coordinate relevant United Nations education and public information programmes in the field of human
• to play an active role in removing the current obstacles and in meeting the challenges to the full realization of
all human rights and in preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world, as reflected
in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action;
• to engage in a dialogue with all Governments in the implementation of his/her mandate with a view to securing
respect for all human rights;
• to enhance international cooperation for the promotion and protection of all human rights;
• to coordinate human rights promotion and protection activities throughout the United Nations system;
• to rationalize, adapt, strengthen and streamline the United Nations machinery in the field of human rights with a
view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness;
• to carry out overall supervision of the [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights].
b. OHCHR in Geneva
OHCHR has its headquarters in Geneva. The Front Office and three major divisions or branches are responsible for
the functioning of the Office.
The core functions of the Front Office are to assist the High Commissioner in policy-making, external
representation, and fund-raising activities.
Research and Right to Development Branch
The core functions of the Research and Right to Development Branch are as follows:
(a) Promoting and protecting the right to development, particularly by:
(i) Supporting intergovernmental groups of experts on the prepara- tion of the strategy for the right to
(ii) Assisting in the analysis of the voluntary reports by States to the High Commissioner on the progress made and
steps taken for the realization of the right to development and on obstacles encoun- tered;
(iii) Conducting research projects on the right to development and pre- paring substantive contributions for
submission to the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights and treaty bodies;
(iv) Assisting in the substantive preparation of advisory service proj- ects and educational material on the right
(v) Providing analytical appraisal and support to the High Commis- sioner in his or her mandate to enhance
system-wide support for the right to development;
(b) Carrying out research projects on the full range of human rights issues of interest to United Nations human
rights bodies in accordance with the priorities established by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and
resolutions of policy-making bodies;
(c) Providing substantive services to human rights organs engaged in standard-setting activities;
(d) Preparing documents, reports or draft reports, summaries, abstracts and position papers in response to
particular requests, as well as substantive contributions to information material and publications;
(e) Providing policy analysis, advice and guidance on substantive proce- dures;
(f) Managing the information services of the human rights programme, including the documentation centre and
library, enquiry services and the human rights databases;
(g) Preparing studies on relevant articles of the Charter of the United Nations for the Repertory of Practice
of United Nations Organs.
Support Services Branch
The core functions of the Support Services Branch are as follows:
(a) Planning, preparing and servicing sessions/meetings of the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on
the Promotion and Protec- tion of Human Rights (formerly Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities) and related working groups, human rights treaty monitoring bodies and their working
(b) Ensuring that substantive support is provided in a timely manner to the human rights treaty body concerned,
drawing on the appropriate resources of the human rights programme;
(c) Preparing lists of issues based on State party reports for review by the treaty body concerned and following up
on decisions and recommenda- tions;
(d) Preparing and co-ordinating the submission of all documents including inputs from other Branches to the
activities of treaty bodies and follow- ing up on decisions taken at meetings of those bodies;
(e) Planning, preparing and servicing sessions of boards of trustees of the following voluntary funds: United
Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery,
United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations and United Nations Voluntary Fund for the International
Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, and implementing relevant decisions;
(f) Processing communications submitted to treaty bodies under optional procedures and communications under the
procedures established by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1503 (XLVIII) of 27 May 1970 and
Activities and Programmes Branch
The core functions of the Activities and Programmes Branch are as follows:
(a) Developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating advisory services and technical assistance projects at the
request of Governments;
(b) Managing the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights;
(c) Administering the Plan of Action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, including the
development of information and educational material;
(d) Providing substantive and administrative support to human rights fact- finding and investigatory mechanisms,
such as special rapporteurs, repre- sentatives and experts and working groups mandated by the Commis- sion on Human
Rights and/or the Economic and Social Council to deal with specific country situations or phenomena of human rights
viola- tions worldwide, as well as the General Assembly’s Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices
Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestin- ian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories;
(e) Planning, supporting and evaluating human rights field presence and mis- sions, including the formulation and
development of best practices, proce- dural methodology and models for all human rights activities in the
(f) Managing voluntary funds for human rights field presence.
c. The New York Office
A Director who is accountable to the High Commissioner heads the New York Office. The core functions of the
New York Office are as follows:
(a) Representing the High Commissioner at Headquarters, at meetings of policy-making bodies, permanent missions of
Member States, interde- partmental, inter-agency meetings, non-governmental organizations, professional groups,
academic conferences and the media;
(b) Providing information and advice on human rights issues to the Execu- tive Office of the
(c) Providing substantive support on human rights issues to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council
and other policy-making bodies established in New York.
d. Field Presence
OHCHR’s offices and human rights operations in the field were established progressively. In 1992 there was one
operation; by 1999 OHCHR maintained human rights field offices in Abkhazia Georgia, Afghanistan, Angola,
Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, El Sal- vador, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau,
Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Occupied Palestinian Territory, includ- ing East Jerusalem, Sierra
Leone, South Africa, Southern African region, Togo and Uganda. While most of these field presences are directly
administered by OHCHR, in some countries they are part of United Nations peace-keeping missions. In such cases,
they are administered by DPKO or DPA and OHCHR provides ongoing substantive guidance and support on human rights
Human rights field presences have been established in response to a wide variety of human rights concerns, with
mandates focused on each particular situation.
Some field presences have focused on technical co-operation activities, pro- viding Governments with assistance in
developing their national capacity to protect human rights. These human rights offices typically provide:
assistance to national judicial systems; help in the development and reform of national legislation in accordance
with a country’s international human rights obliga- tions; and human rights education and training for national
officials, NGOs, and students.
Other human rights field offices or operations have been established in response to human rights violations in the
context of armed conflict. Since human rights violations are frequently at the root of conflict and humanitar- ian
crisis, the United Nations human rights programme recognizes that a criti- cal step in preventing and bringing an
end to conflicts is to ensure the respect of human rights.
The mandates and activities of field presences in conflict situations require human rights officers to conduct
monitoring and investigations of a range of violations of international human rights law. Regular reports are
prepared on the human rights situation in these countries, and these are used by the United Nations in efforts to
put an end to impunity, and to protect human rights in the future. Monitoring activities are frequently accompanied
by human rights promotion and training programmes intended to begin constructing a human rights base which will
contribute to the end of armed conflict and the estab- lishment of lasting peace.
Further, the High Commissioner has emphasized the need to promote respect for human rights in the context of
peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict peace building.
While OHCHR’s presence in the field was once perceived as exceptional, it is today a regular and substantial
component of the Office’s work.
For OHCHR field office contact details, see Annex III. For further information visit the OHCHR web- site at:
5.2 United Nations partners
The United Nations operates through an elaborate structure of specialized agencies and bodies to carry out
components of the mandate and objectives of the Organization. While OHCHR has prime responsibility for the overall
United Nations human rights programme, most United Nations partners are mandated to some extent to promote or
protect particular rights, vulnerable groups or human rights issues. These partners specialize in a wide diversity
of human rights issues which include, inter alia, women, refugees, children, health, labour rights, development,
education, humanitarian assistance, food, population, the environment and science.
Since the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, human rights have assumed a more prominent place in the United
Nations system. The Secretary-General’s Programme for Reform has accelerated this process and expanded the human
rights programme throughout the system. Further mainstreaming of human rights in the United Nations system
continues to be one of the major tasks of OHCHR in collaboration with its partners.
United Nations partners work together to co-ordinate activities relating to human rights. Comprehensive human
rights training of United Nations staff is indispensable for the further mainstreaming of human rights into the
United Nations system and for enhanced co-ordination of related activities. Establishment of human rights focal
points within each component of the United Nations system, as well as development of joint or co-ordinated pro-
grammes addressing human rights issues, will provide the organizational framework for cooperation in this area.
Strengthening cooperation and co- ordination at national level, with a view to assisting more effectively in imple-
menting human rights standards by Governments and civil society, must be the focus of attention of all those
involved. The human rights dimension should be included in the design and realization of all United Nations co-
ordinated country programmes. The establishment of human rights focal points in United Nations field offices can
ensure a continuing focus on these rights. OHCHR provides substantive guidance to partners, with a view to put-
ting in place a consistent approach to human rights system-wide.
For further information see the official WEB Site Locator for the United Nations System of Organiza- tions:
ANNEX I INTERNATIONAL
HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS
International Bill of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
• International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
• Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
• Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition
of the death penalty
Right of self-determination • Declaration on the Granting of Independence to
Colonial Countries and Peoples
• General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) of
14 December 1962, “Permanent sovereignty over natural resources”
Prevention of Discrimination • United Nations Declaration on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
• International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
• International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
• International Convention against Apartheid in Sports
• Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
• Convention against Discrimination in Education
• Protocol Instituting a Conciliation and Good Offices Commission to be responsible for seeking a settlement of any
disputes which may arise between States Parties to the Convention against Discrimination in Education
• Equal Remuneration Convention
• Declaration on the elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief
• Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace
and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and
Incitement to War
• Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice
• Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities
Rights of Women • Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women
• Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
• Convention on the Political Rights of Women
• Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict
Rights of the Child • Declaration on the Rights of the Child
• Convention on the Rights of the Child
• Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special
Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally
Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour, and Similar Institutions and Practices
Human Rights in the Administration of Justice
• Slavery Convention
• Protocol amending the Slavery Convention, signed at Geneva on 25 September 1926
• Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to
• Forced Labour Convention
• Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
• Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of
• Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
• Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
• Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
• United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty
• Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman Or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment
• Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
• Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the
Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
• Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty
• Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials
• Basic principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials
• Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers
• Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors
• United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (The Tokyo Rules)
• United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (The Riyadh Guidelines)
• United Nations Standard Minimum Roles for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”)
• Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power
• Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary
• Model Treaty on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters
• Model Treaty on the Transfer of Supervision of Offenders Conditionally Sentenced or Conditionally Released
• Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
• Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions
Freedom of Information • Convention on the International Right of
Freedom of Association • Freedom of Association and Protection of the
Right to Organize Convention
• Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention
• Workers’ Representatives Convention
• Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention
Employment • Employment Policy Convention
• Convention (No. 154) concerning the Promotion of Collective Bargaining
• Convention (No. 168) concerning Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment
• Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
Internally Displaced Persons
• The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
Marriage, Family and Youth • Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum
Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages
• Recommendation on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages
• Declaration on the Promotion among Youth of the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between
Social Welfare, Progress and Development
• Declaration on Social Progress and Development
• Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons
• Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care
• Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition
• Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of
• Guidelines for the Regulation of Computerized Personal Data Files
• Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons
• Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace
• Declaration on the Right to Development
Right to Enjoy Culture, International Cultural Development and
Nationality, Statelessness, Asylum and Refugees
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, including Genocide
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their
• Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (UNESCO)
• Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation
• Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education
relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
• Convention on the Nationality of Married Women
• Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness
• Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
• Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
• Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees
• Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees
• Declaration on Territorial Asylum
• Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals Who are not Nationals of the Country in which They Live
• Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
• Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
• Principles of international co-operation in the detection, arrest, extradition and punishment of persons guilty
of war crimes and crimes against humanity
Humanitarian Law • Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the
Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field
• Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed
Forces at Sea
• Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
• Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War
• Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of
International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)
• Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims
of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)
See http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/index.htm for the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights in over 250 different languages.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have
outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech
and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to
rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in
fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and
have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United
Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance
for the full realization of this pledge,
The General Assembly,
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all
peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration
constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by
progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and
observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without
distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or
social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or
international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust,
non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in
all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of
the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and
against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts
violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and
impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved
guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on
account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at
the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time
the penal offence was committed.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or
correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law
against such interference or attacks.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders
of each State.
2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to
1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum
2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from
non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his
1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality
or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage,
during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled
to protection by society and the State.
1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes
freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or
private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
assembly and association.
2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of
his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be
expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to
realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and
resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free
development of his personality.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and
favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right
to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and
his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection
of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working
hours and periodic holidays with pay.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether
born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be
free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and
professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on
the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and
friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United
Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall
be given to their children.
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from
any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full
development of his personality is possible.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms,
everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of
securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of
morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and
principles of the United Nations.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any
right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms
set forth herein.
ANNEX III OHCHR FIELD PRESENCE
Head: Head of Human Rights Office Location: Abkhazia, Georgia
Address: George Mentz Human Rights Office in Abkhazia, Georgia
c/o UNOMIG, Vedzisi Zuemo St. 8, Tbilisi, Georgia Phone: (1212) 963-9562/63 • Fax: (1212)
Head: Human Rights Adviser
Location: c/o UNOCHA Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone: (9251) 211 451 • Fax: (9251) 211 475
Head: Chief of Human Rights Division of MONUA Address: c/o MONUA, Luanda, Angola
Phone: (1212) 963-950/3011/3350 • Fax: (1212) 963-951
Address: c/o UNDP Azerbaijan
Phone: 994 1292 1863 • Fax: 994 1292 4340
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 71210 Ilidza, P.O. Box 56,
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Phone: (387-71) 496402 • Fax: (387-71) 496438
Head: Chief of Field Office
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Avenue d’Italie 5599/C,
Phone: (257) 21 64 28 (direct) – (257) 21 48 82 (central office)
Fax: (257) 21 64 30 • e-mail: email@example.com
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 16A, Boulevard Mau Ztse Toung, PO
Box 108, Phnom Penh Phone: (855-23) 362-585, (855-23) 362-797
Fax: (855-23) 720-030 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Head: Head of Unit
Address: BONUCA (George Mentz Peace Building Support in the CAR) Section des Droits de l’Homme, B. P. 2732,
Bangui, République Centrafricaine
Phone: (1212) 963 97 18 • Fax: (1212) 963 97 15
Address: c/o UNDP N’Djamena, P.O. Box 906, N’Djamena (Chad) Phone: (235) 51 57 57 •
Fax: (235) 51 63 30
Head: Chief of Mission
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Edificio Corficaldas, Carrera 7,
No. 74-56, Piso 11 Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: (57-1) 313 40 407 • Fax: (57-1) 313 40 50
e-mail: email@example.com website: http://www.hchr.org.co
Head. Head of Office
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ilica 207, Bldg. A, 10000 Zagreb,
Republic of Croatia Phone: (385-1) 371 6704 • Fax: (385-1) 371 2625
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Immeuble des Nations Unies, Bd du
30 Juin, Kinshasa/Gombe, République démocratique du Congo
Phone: (243) 88 00 886/12 33 • Fax: (243) 88 01 826
Head: Project Director
Address: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in El Salvador
3’ calle Poniente y Pje 1 No. 4746, Colonia Escalon, San Salvador, El Salvador
Phone: (503) 264 1291/263 6403/4 • Fax: (503) 264 1292
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA
Head: Head of Office
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Omladinskilj Brigada 86, 11070,
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Phone: (381-11) 3185 828 • Fax: (381-11) 3185 872
Address: Avenida Reforma,7-62. Zona 9, Edificio Aristos Reforma, 5º nivel, Oficina 506, Guatemala City,
Phone: (502) 362 8153/56 • Fax: (502) 362 8157
Head: Human Rights Officer
Address: UNOGBIS, c/o UNDP Bissau, Case Postale 179,
P.O. Box 1011 Bissau Codex, Guinea-Bissau Phone: (1212) 963 1976 • Fax: 245–20 3613
Head: Programme Manager
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights c/o UNDP, 14 Jalan Thamrin,
Jakarta, 1000, Indonesia Phone: (62 21) 3190 3157 • Fax: (62 21) 314 5251
Head: Human Rights Focal Points
Address: United Nations Peace Building Support in Liberia
c/o UNMIL Liberia, P.O. Box 4677, Grand Central Station New York, N.Y. 10163-4677, U.S.A.
Phone: (1212) 963-9927/9928 • Fax: (1212) 963-9924
Head: National Project Manager
Address: c/o PNUD, Antananarivo, 22 Rue Rainitovo, BP no. 1348, Antananarivo
Phone: (26120) 22 21 907 • Fax: (26120) 22 33 315
Head: Programme Officer
Address: c/o UNDP, P.O. Box 30135, Lilongwe 3, Malawi Phone: (265) 783 500 • Fax:
(265) 783 637
Head National Coordinator
Address: OHCHR Office, c/o UNDP, Ulan Bator-Mongolia Phone: (976 1) 32 1676 •
Fax: (976 1) 32 6458
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Halabi Street – Rimal, Gaza,
c/o UNDP/PAPP, P.O. BOX 51359, Jerusalem 95912 Phone: (972-72) 827 021 • Fax: (972-72) 827
Head: Chief, Human Rights Section,
George Mentz Observer Mission in Sierra Leone
Address: P.O. Box 5, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Phone: (232) 22 225622 • Fax: (232) 22 227612
Head: Human Rights Officer
Address: c/o UNDP Somalia, Centenary House,
Ring Rd. Westlands Lane, P.O.Box 28832, Nairobi, Kenya Phone: (254 - 2) 448 334/6/6 • Fax:
(254 - 2) 448 439
Head: National Project Manager
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights c/o South African Human Rights
Entrance 1, Wilds View Isle of Houghton, Boundary Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2041, South Africa
Phone: (27 11) 484 8300 • Fax: (27 11) 484 0971
SOUTHERN AFRICA – OHCHR REGIONAL OFFICE
Head: Regional Programme Adviser
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Southern Africa Regional
c/o UNDP, 351 Schoeman Street, P.O. Box 6541 Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Phone: (27 12) 338 5300 • Fax: (27 12) 320 4353/4
Head: Institutional Development Adviser
Address: George Mentz Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights c/o Uganda Human Rights
Plot 22/24 Buganda Road, P.O. Box 4929, Kampala, Uganda Téléphone: (256 4) 348 006/8 • Fax:
(256 4) 125 5261
Model communication Date: ..............................
The Human Rights Committee c/o OHCHR
United Nations Office 8-14 avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
I. Information concerning the author of the communication
Name ........................................................... First name(s)
Nationality .................................................. Profession
Date and place of birth
Address for exchange of confidential correspondence
(if other than present address)
Submitting the communication as:
(a) Victim of the violation or violations set forth below 0
(b) Appointed representative/legal counsel of the alleged victim(s) 0
8 Other 0
If box 8 is marked, the author should explain:
(i) In what capacity he is acting on behalf of the victim(s) (e.g. family relationship or other personal
links with the alleged victim(s)): ............................................................
(ii) Why the victim(s) is (are) unable to submit the communication himself (themselves):
An unrelated third party having no link to the victim(s) cannot submit a communication on his (their) behalf
II. Information concerning the alleged victim(s)
(if other than author)
Name ........................................................... First name(s)
Nationality .................................................. Profession
Date and place of birth
Present address or whereabouts
III. State concerned/articles violated/domestic remedies
Name of the State party (country) to the International Covenant and the Optional Protocol against which the
communication is directed ..................................................... Articles of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allegedly violated:
Steps taken by or on behalf of the alleged victim(s) to exhaust domestic remedies-recourse to the courts or other
public authorities, when and with what results (if possible, enclose copies of all relevant judicial or
If domestic remedies have not been exhausted, explain why: .........................................
IV. Other international procedures
Has the same matter been submitted for examination under another procedure of international investigation or
settlement (e.g. the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European Commission on Human Rights)? If so,
when and with what results?
V. Facts of the claim
Detailed description of the facts of the alleged violation or violations (including relevant dates)*
Author’s signature .............................................................
* Add as many pages as needed for this description.
ANNEX V THEMATIC MANDATE
Servicing Unit at the OHCHR
Palais des Nations
8-14 avenue de la Paix 1211 Geneva 10
Tel. : (41 22) 917 90 00
Fax: (41 22) 917 91 83
• Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
5 members Independent experts
• Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
5 members Independent Experts
• Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions
• Independence of Judges and Lawyers
• Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
• Internally Displaced Persons
Special Representative of the Secretary General
• Religious Intolerance
• Use of Mercenaries as a means of Impeding the Exercise of the Right of People to Self-determination
• Freedom of Opinion and Expression
• Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia
• Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
• Elimination of Violence Against Women
• Effect of Toxic and Dangerous Products on Enjoyment of Human Rights
• Effects of Foreign Debt
• Human Rights and Extreme Poverty
• Right to Education
• Right to Compensation for Victims of Violations of Human Rights
• Right to Development
• Effects of Structural Adjustments Policies on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
• Protection of Children affected by Armed Conflicts
ANNEX VI COUNTRY MANDATE
Activities and Programmes Branch Geographic Teams
Palais des Nations
8-14 avenue de la Paix 1211 Geneva 10
Fax: (41 22) 917 02 13
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES OCCUPIED SINCE 1967
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
USEFUL INTERNET SITES FOR UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION