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Civil Society

‘During my next two years in office, I intend to pay particularly close attention to states’ relationships with, and treatment of, human rights defenders, journalists and other key members of civil society. Human rights will not improve much without the direct participation of a robust, free and independent civil society….’ 

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, October 2012

Every day in every part of the world, civil society contributes to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. Whatever they call themselves -- human rights defenders, human rights NGOs, bar associations, student clubs, trade unions, university institutes, bloggers, or charities working with discriminated groups -- civil society actors work for a better future and share the common goals of justice, equality, and human dignity.

OHCHR's cooperation with civil society remains a strategic priority because it bolsters our shared objectives, helps to address our mutual concerns, and supports the Office’s human rights mission and initiatives.

A dynamic, diverse and independent civil society, able to operate freely, knowledgeable and skilled with regard to human rights, is a key element in securing sustainable human rights protection in all regions of the world.

OHCHR is dedicated to building knowledge and skills about international human rights standards among civil society actors, and promoting civil society participation in decision-making processes.

OHCHR is also dedicated to protecting civil society space. Countries have the primary responsibility to protect civil society actors, but when their space, or they themselves, are at risk because of their work to advance human rights, the international community, including OHCHR, has a shared responsibility to support and protect them

You may access this page in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish
(A-C-F-R-S)

Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society

Handbook for Civil Society cover The essential reference to understanding what UN human rights mechanisms are and how to contribute to and benefit from their work.

Download the handbook in A-C-E-F-R-S. You can also download one chapter at a time.  

The Handbook is also available in English and French CD-Roms in DAISY and Braille formats for persons with visual and print disability.

 

 

Download OHCHR’s series of practical guides for civil society:

United Nations Human Rights Council - A Practical Guide for NGO Participants United Nations Human Rights Council - A Practical Guide for NGO Participants
What you need to know about attending the Human Rights Council.
Available in A-C-E-F-R-S
United Nations Human Rights Council - A Practical Guide fUniversal Periodic Review - A Practical Guide for Civil Society Universal Periodic Review - A Practical Guide for Civil Society
What you need to know about attending the Universal Periodic Review Working Group.
Available in A-C-E-F-R-S
Social Forum of the Human Rights Council - A Practical Guide for Civil Society Social Forum of the Human Rights Council - A Practical Guide for Civil Society
What you need to know about attending the Social Forum.
Available in A-C-E-F-R-S
Human Rights Funds, Grants and Fellowships - A Practical Guide for Civil Society Human Rights Funds, Grants and Fellowships - A Practical Guide for Civil Society
What you need to know about training and funding opportunities for human rights.
Available in A-C-E-F-R-S
How to Follow Up on United Nations Human Rights Recommendations - A Practical Guide for Civil Society src= How to Follow Up on United Nations Human Rights Recommendations - A Practical Guide for Civil Society
What you need to know about your contribution to the implementation of recommendations of human rights mechanisms
Available in A-C E-F-R-S

Order your copies of guides and publications from publications@ohchr.org

Human Rights videos

What is it? Two Minute Introductory videos on human rights
[For subtitles in more than 15 languages, click on "cc" in the YouTube viewer.]

What is a Human Right?
An introduction to human rights, and the UN’s work to promote and protect human rights.
[Transcript in txt]

What is the Human Rights Council?
An introduction to the UN Human Rights Council.
[Transcript in txt]

What is a Human Rights Treaty Body?
An introduction to the UN human rights treaty bodies.
[Transcript in txt]

Quick links

CSO Net


CSO Net - United Nations Civil Society Network
News - Calendar of Meetings - NGO Database - Best Practices
How to apply for ECOSOC status

 


About us

The Civil Society Section is the unit in OHCHR dedicated to strengthening engagement between civil society and the United Nations human rights programme.

OHCHR Civil Society Section
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Telephone: + 41 (0)22 917 9656
Email: civilsociety@ohchr.org

Download the Civil Society leaflet:
Arabic - Chinese - English - French - Russian - Spanish

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