The United Nations Security Council has recognised that the realization of human rights is essential for building and keeping peace, as evidenced by the Security Council’s consistent inclusion of robust human rights mandates for peace missions. OHCHR partners with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Political Affairs (DPA) and Field Support (DFS) to ensure that H uman Rights Components of UN peace missions are adequately staffed, resourced and provided with the policy, tools and guidance they need to operate in increasingly complex environments and deliver on Security Council mandates. To this end, in 2011 OHCHR, DPKO, DPA and DFS concluded a policy on the integration of human rights in UN Peace Operations and Political Missions.
A Human Rights Component’s mandated activities are derived from the Security Council resolution establishing the peace mission. Generally, the work of Human Rights Components includes:
- daily monitoring, investigating, documenting and reporting on the human rights situation;
- advocating with local and national authorities, engaging civil society and national governments in order to prevent and ensure redress for violations of human rights;
- reporting publicly on human rights gains and gaps;
- ensuring that peace processes promote justice and equity;
- building human rights capacities and institutions;
- mainstreaming human rights into the work of the UN peace mission as well as that of all UN programmes and activities in the country.
The Head of the Human Rights Component serves as the human rights adviser to the Head of Mission and as the representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the mission area, which means he/she reports simultaneously to the head of the peace mission and the High Commissioner.
OHCHR supports human rights components of peace missions through providing strategic planning, policy and expert advice, technical assistance and operational support. OHCHR is engaged with DPKO, DPA and DFS from the design of a peace mission, to its start-up, through transitions and eventually drawdown. As new crises evolve, OHCHR participates in inter-departmental technical assessments and human rights mandate definition for the creation of a new peace mission, defines human rights priorities and identifies start-up teams of human rights officers with the right expertise for early deployment. OHCHR participates in UN strategic assessments during mission reconfigurations and works with UN partners to ensure continuity during the exit of a UN peace mission and its Human Rights Component. More broadly, OHCHR develops human rights methodology, training and guidance for Human Rights Components and works to mainstream human rights in UN policies on the maintenance of international peace and security. OHCHR also uses extra-budgetary resources financed through Member States’ voluntary contributions to fund human rights technical cooperation activities and project-based staff costs in some peace missions, where possible and/or necessary.
In 2014, there were 15 UN peacekeeping operations and political missions mandated by the UN Security Council to promote, protect and monitor human rights. These missions in Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur (Sudan), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo (Serbia), Liberia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan have dedicated human rights components, comprising nearly 900 Human Rights Officers and support staff who implement the mission’s human rights mandate, including through working with other components to mainstream human rights in the overall work of the mission .
Details on the work of individual human rights components of UN peace missions can be found in the relevant sections of the OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017.