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How we make a difference 2015

Climate change is a human rights issue
A human rights-based approach to climate change would render climate policy more effective because it would identify and satisfy the most pressing needs of vulnerable people, said Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
White Ebony
The exhibition “Blanc Ebène – White Ebony” at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, raises awareness of the human rights of persons living with albinism through 30 images by photographer Patricia Willocq.
Expert says key housing rights responsibility lie with local authorities
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, is concerned about the billions of people worldwide living in inadequate housing. In her report at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council she called on States to guarantee access to justice and effective remedies for violations of this right.
For a better inclusion of women’s rights in detention in Senegal
A new report by the Regional Office for West Africa of the UN Human Rights Office highlights how women in Senegal are particularly affected by detention.
Experts in Argentina 35 years after
To mark the 35th anniversary of its creation, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances hosted its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Group was created to investigate disappearances specifically in the wake of massive human rights violations in Argentina. The meeting marked the Working Group’s 105th session.
Surge in ‘stunningly vicious' attacks on albino children in East Africa, UN rights chief warns
The United Nations human rights chief expressed revulsion at a recent spike in gruesome attacks against people with albinism in several East African countries.
Honouring Women Human Rights Defenders
Being a human rights defender can mean extraordinary acts and risks, which can multiply if that defender is a woman. A campaign by the UN Human Rights Office has highlighted the work done by these defenders and encouraged solidarity with them.
Member States must enforce human rights amid rising tide of extremism – UN rights chief
Speaking to the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein warned of the “real danger” that opinion-leaders and decision-makers would “lose their grasp” of the values that States built 70 years ago “to ward off the horror of war.”
A matter of life and death: improving access to medicines worldwide
Two billion people across the globe currently don’t have access to essential medicines. International health care campaigners and other experts met in Geneva to discuss ways of making life-saving drugs available to more people at an affordable price.
‘No evidence death penalty deters any crime,’ senior UN official tells Rights Council
Despite progress in recent years to universally abolish the death penalty, major challenges persist, Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said today in his opening remarks to the UN Human Rights Council on the third day and final day of meetings.
Protecting and promoting minority rights in Kyrgyzstan
Utkir Dzhabbarov believes that learning how to better use the UN human rights instruments and mechanisms is key to help improve the lives of ethnic minority communities in Kyrgyzstan. Dzhabbarov, who belongs to the Uzbek minority community in Kyrgyzstan, was a participant in the UN Human Rights Office Minority Fellowship Programme.
Political consensus urgent to protect human rights, Ban tells opening session of UN council
The UN has the mandates and tools it needs to prevent human rights violations”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the opening of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the world must be “completely principled and cunning in its collective attempt to defang” violent extremists.
States must renew dedication to inalienable human rights
The near daily news of atrocities and needless human suffering at the hands of terrorists and others demands a stronger and more inspired leadership from Member States toward upholding human rights, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his comments at the opening of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Rights of people with disabilities cannot be ignored in development agenda, UN experts
“No one should be left behind if we want to ensure a fully inclusive society for all,” the group of three UN human rights experts said in a statement, urging international negotiators and all UN Member States to firmly include the human rights of persons with disabilities in the new development framework.
UN rights experts describe ‘unconscionable’ suffering of Syrians in four-year conflict
Four UN human rights experts briefed the Security Council today on a new report into human rights and humanitarian law violations in Syria, saying unthinkable crimes continue occurring daily, with victims' voices in danger of being lost amid the horrors of the conflict.
Climate change impacts enjoyment of human rights
Recognizing the intrinsic link between human rights and climate change, experts on both issues took part in the “Climate Justice Dialogue.” The Dialogue, which took place in Geneva in early February, aimed to strengthen the links between human rights and climate change action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Paris later this year. The Dialogue was sponsored by the UN Human Rights Office and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
Rise in unregistered marriages in Kyrgyzstan called “worrying”
Unregistered marriages are on the rise in Kyrgyzstan. The marriages, usually performed by a local religious leader, can put the women who participate in them at risk by undermining their rights and economic position, according to the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central Asia. The office is working with local NGOs, and government officials to raise awareness of and to help curb the practice.
Attacks against girls’ education on the increase
A new report by the UN Human Rights Office looks at the increase in attacks against girls accessing education. The study, by the Women’s Human Rights and Gender section, found an increase in the number of attacks specifically aimed at girls trying to go to school. It makes recommendations for prevention and reparations.
“We need people with PH D level compassion”
“We need people who are kind. People with PhD level compassion,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his remarks during a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. as part of an event looking into the causes of atrocities.
Fashion used to show human rights
“We invite you to wear your human rights 365 days every year,” said Liliana Valina, Human Rights Adviser with the UN Human Rights Office. She is referring to wearing clothing designed as part of the Derechos Humanos, Son Para Protegerte (Human rights, they are protecting you) campaign, which used fashion to help raise awareness of human rights issues.
Helping to inform and improve the lives of Afro-Nicaraguans
Shaun Carol Campbell Bush believes that Nicaraguans of African descent need to be more proactive to have their rights recognized. As a participant in the UN Human Rights Office Minority Fellowship programme, she believes she will learn how to use human rights mechanisms to assist her community to do this.
Fellow raises awareness of Yezidi Iraqi plight
Yezidi activist Nareen Shammo tells the story of the plight of her people in war-ravaged parts of Iraq at the UN Human Rights Office.
Traditional slavery: Said and Yarg’s story
Brothers Said and Yarg both inherited the status of ‘slave’. They had no choice but to obey their master’s orders and were not allowed to go to school. They were also frequently subject to beatings. They were eventually able to escape and with the assistance of two anti-slavery organisations, they have been able to pursue legal action against their former master and begin their schooling.
Taking a human rights approach to psychosocial disability
Getting the issues concerning persons with psychosocial disabilities or mental health problems dealt with from a human rights perspective has been the focus of work by the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe. A recent event of the “Forgotten Europeans” series looked at human rights challenges faced by these groups.
Rebuilding Lives After Torture – Ahmed’s Story
Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Amin, executive director of WCHAN – Trauma Rehabilitation and Training Center of Iraq, counsels torture victims from across the country and from neighbouring Syria.
Religious and belief tolerance necessary for workplace
Religious practice in the workplace needs to be accommodated to ensure all employees are free to exercise this human right, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief says. To do this, Heiner Bielefeldt calls on employers and employees should establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.
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