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Working together for human rights in the Euro-Atlantic region

Cooperation and joint action in promoting democracy, rule of law, human rights, non-discrimination and gender equality in the Euro-Atlantic region are the main objectives of the joint declaration signed between the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR).

In Geneva, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and the Director of the OSCE ODIHR Janez Lenarčič signed a joint declaration on 12 June that provides a general framework for enhancing the co-operation between the two organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights.

According to the declaration, OHCHR and the OSCE ODIHR will cooperate in assisting governments of the 57 OSCE participating States in the implementation of recommendations of international human rights mechanisms, including the human rights treaty monitoring bodies, the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, and the Universal Periodic Review.

“The UN human rights standards and the OSCE human dimension commitments are mutually reinforcing and need to be promoted in a synergic manner,” said UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay.

“I therefore believe that increased cooperation between OHCHR and the ODIHR is critical for promotion and protection human rights in the OSCE region,” said Pillay, adding that earlier similar model for collaboration was established with the Council of Europe.

Pillay stressed that the joint declaration will strengthen existing cooperation and open new avenues between the two organizations both at the level of the headquarters and in the field. She also mentioned her plans to address the OSCE Permanent Council in July and participate in the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on freedom of expression.

The OSCE, the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization established in 1975, has a long-standing relationship with the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Office, and actively contributes to the Universal Periodic Review by submitting information related to its Member States.

Previously, OHCHR and OSCE ODIHR cooperated in various thematic areas, such as human rights education, combatting trafficking in persons, legislation review, and non-discrimination. Cooperation and dialogue was also established between the two organizations’ field presences in Central Asia, South Caucasus, eastern and southern Europe and most recently in Ukraine, where the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission regularly exchange information and cooperate closely.

The UN Human Rights Office is also working to increase cooperation and dialogue between international and regional human rights mechanisms in all other regions, through joint activities, including joint missions and focal points within each respective organization, in order to maximize the potential for information sharing and synergy between international and regional human rights mechanisms.

12 June 2014

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