​​​​​How we make a difference 2017

Stand up for human rights to – and through - health
Human rights cannot be fully enjoyed without health, nor can health be fully realized without the dignity upheld by human rights. A new report launched by a group of UN experts calls on Governments to stand up for the human rights to health through health by taking concrete actions to deliver on existing promises to fund, protect and expand health care provision.
Stand up for human rights to - and through - health
A report by the High-Level Group on health and human rights calls for tangible action to advance the right to health of all, in particular women, children and adolescents. Health workers, as human rights defenders, can play an indispensable role in making this happen.
Towards a global compact on migration
A huge step forward for migrants, as UN Member States begin discussions to reach a new international agreement in 2018 to uphold the human rights of migrants. “We have effectively broken the barrier of silence,” say human rights expert on migration François Crepeau.
Landmark partnership with Microsoft
The UN Human Rights Office's five-year agreement with Microsoft is an opportunity to develop and use advanced technology to better predict, analyse and respond to critical human rights situations, and highlights the private sector's role in helping advance human rights globally.
Violence and insecurity spreading in CAR
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expresses grave alarm over the expanding attacks by armed groups against the civilian population in several parts of the Central African Republic in recent months, as well as attacks against UN peacekeepers in the southeast.
High Commissioner Zeid visits Uzbekistan
High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the human rights reforms initiated by the new administration in Uzbekistan could, if successfully implemented, have a transformational impact on the country's future.
Moves to impeach Nepal Chief Justice an assault on human rights
Zeid urges the Government in Nepal to respect the independence of the judiciary, and withdraw what appears to be a politically motivated impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, Sushila Karki.
War-weary civilians at imminent risk of further violence
Women, children and men who fled violence in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan in the most horrifying circumstances are now trapped in Aburoc town, at imminent risk of gross human rights violations and inter-ethnic violence.
New mobile app puts human rights at your fingertips
Users who wish to stay informed about human rights can stay better informed directly on their phone via the new UN Human Rights Office app, available for both Apple and Android phones.
People of African Descent: doing more time for less crime
People of African descent face similar types of rights violations perpetrated by State institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. Their cries for justice can still be heard.
Zeid calls for justice after more mass graves discovered in DRC
The DRC Government must ensure there is a transparent and independent investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses by all parties, Zeid says, after 17 further mass graves are found in the Kasais.
Migrants face border closures and exclusion, amid rising hostility
Rights defenders joined the UN Human Rights Office in calling on the Human Rights Council to strengthen protections for migrants and support development of a rights-based global compact for migration.
Rape chants lay bare campaign of terror by Burundi militia
A chilling video of Imbonerakure militia members in Burundi chanting a call to impregnate or kill opponents is an alarming indication of the militia's campaign of fear and terror, Zeid warns.
Escalating erosion of the right to health is a critical human rights issue
Healthcare is not a privilege; it is a right, and it requires public policy. It is also a lever for everyone's economic, social and political advancement.
Beirut Declaration enhances role of religions in promoting human rights
Finding common ground among diverse faith groups results in a new multi-faith initiative to protect religious freedom and uphold human rights.
Protecting the rights of detainees in Syria
Protection of detainees and the disappeared in Syria was the focus of a recent panel discussion held during the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The discussion focused on the experiences of former detainees as well as providing some ways forward.
Dangers of undermining international law and institutions
We must stand up for the principles and institutions which protect us from chaos; or will our generation trigger a return to injustice, hate, war, imperialism and the oppressive exercise of naked power? - Zeid
Hunted for their body parts
The killing of human beings and the use of their body parts in amulets and potions in “traditional medicine” and in witchcraft is a crime, says the UN expert on the rights of people with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero.
Preserve separation of powers, Zeid urges Venezuela
Zeid stresses the importance of the separation of powers for democracy and human rights, as he urges Venezuela’s Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers.
Protection of civilians paramount as ISIL intensifies use of human shields
High Commissioner Zeid urges Iraqi and Coalition forces to scrupulously respect international humanitarian law, to avoid loss of civilian lives, particularly given ISIL's cowardly strategy of using civilians as human shields.
Access to essential medicines is a fundamental element of the right to health
“Millions are unable today to access essential medicines not due to any inherent lack of these commodities, but to entirely man-made policy deficits and entrenched practices,” said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore at a panel discussion on access to medicines during the recent UN Human Rights Council.
Two years of war, 13,000 civilian casualties in Yemen
The violent deaths of refugees fleeing yet another war, of fishermen, of families in marketplaces, millions of people desperate for their basic rights to food, water, health and security - this is what the conflict in Yemen looks like two years after it began.
Your views matter: Help the UN Human Rights Office define its strategic direction for 2018-2021
The UN Human Rights Office is defining its strategic direction for the next four years and would appreciate your input. Please take a brief survey to help us make the best strategic choices to stand up for human rights.
Eliminating racial discrimination to build trusting societies
The UN Human Rights Council commemorates the International Day against Racial Discrimination with a debate on racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.
Target hate speech and hate crimes, Zeid urges States
Hate speech and hate crimes make it necessary for us all to take a stand against racism and xenophobia, Zeid says in a call to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
National Human rights institutions link international law to local action
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussien speaks with Beate Rudolf, chair of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions during a recent meeting in Geneva. NHRIs provide an integral link between international human rights law and their countries.
Undoing slavery's legacy of injustice and discrimination
The International Decade for People of African Descent, which will run until 2024, aims to honour and restore the dignity of people of African descent by raising awareness and sparking real change.
International, impartial, independent: hope for accountability in Syria
Probably tens of thousands of people are currently detained in Syria. In a sense the entire country has become a torture chamber - a place of savage horror and absolute injustice.
Serious rights violations in southeast Turkey
The displacement of thousands of people and the wholesale destruction of neighbourhoods in southeast Turkey during Government security operations are detailed in a UN report.
'We need to protect each other and stand up for what we believe in'
"At times such as these, human rights are too important to be left to governments alone. We must also act, in our own lives, to uphold human rights," High Commissioner Zeid tells the FIDHR film festival in Geneva.
Children at forefront of climate action urge focus on child rights
“The battle against climate change is one that we can’t afford to lose because it’s the greatest threat to our survival,” 16-year-old Kehkashan Basu told the Human Rights Council.
High Commissioner delivers his Global Update to the Human Rights Council
“All together – or fall together”: High Commissioner Zeid highlights countries where positive reforms are underway – and warns of others where escalating crises threaten men and women around the world .
Backlash against women's rights hurts us all - Zeid
Zeid calls for us all to stand up for women's rights as the world marks International Women's Day on 8 March, warning that advances in women's equality should nowhere be taken for granted.
A girl's education comes first, marriage will follow later
Thanks to her human rights training, a pupil prevents an early marriage and stands up for girls’ education.
Attacks on Syrian civilians and aid workers in Aleppo were war crimes
“The scale of what happened in Aleppo is unprecedented,” the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, issuing its new report. The Commission found war crimes were committed by government forces and opposition groups in the brutal battle to control Aleppo.
“We have much to lose” High Commissioner Zeid tells Human Rights Council
Without commitment to fundamental human rights, to the dignity and worth of the human person and to the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, our world will become chaos, misery and warfare. 
New agreement on activities between Mexico and the UN Human Rights Office
The Office looks forward to assisting Mexico in meeting challenges to human rights, including impunity.
Zeid calls for immediate halt to DRC killings
Zeid calls on the DRC Government to act amid credible allegations of massive human rights violations in the DRC, including people being targeted by soldiers for their alleged affiliation with a local militia.
Libya Gaddafi regime trial: Missed opportunity for justice
UN report makes key recommendations for the Libyan justice system, finding that the trial of 37 members of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime fell short of international standards.
Conflict and violence are the offspring of human rights violations
At a major human rights conference in the Arab region, Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore speaks to the power of human rights to prevent conflicts and rebuild broken societies.
Film festival: the road to safety
The 2017 edition of the Global Road Safety Film Festival marks 10 years of raising awareness of safety of the world’s road and preventing road traffic casualties and injuries.
Ukraine conflict: End impunity for sexual violence
“What’s the point of saying what happened to me? No one will punish them.” UN report documents how survivors of sexual assault in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine are often denied justice.
Life in a political earthquake: The stabilising force of human rights
Standing up for human rights is the best answer to spreading protectionism, nationalism and apparent attempts to undermine international law: Zeid
Investment in human rights today makes for prevention tomorrow
The UN Human Rights Office launches a 253M USD funding appeal, urging States and private donors to support its work, through its 60 field presences and partnerships with others, to bolster human rights protections in an uncertain world.
"Stand up and join the struggle to uphold human rights"
At the ISFIT student festival in Norway, Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore urged students from all over the world to uphold the vital principles of equality, justice, dignity and respect.
Civilians in Yemen caught between warring parties
Civilians were trapped and targeted during fighting in Al Mokha, and there are real fears that the situation will repeat itself in the port of Al Hudaidah, to the north of Al Mokha, where air strikes are already intensifying, Zeid warns.
Record number of child casualties in Afghanistan
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2016. More children than ever have been killed, blinded, crippled while playing with unexploded ordnance negligently left behind by parties to the conflict.
Devastating cruelty against Rohingyas in Myanmar
A mother witnessing her child’s murder as she herself was being gang-raped is one of many shocking accounts of violence and violations told to UN Human Rights staff by Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar.
Commemorating the victims of the Holocaust
As we honour the victims of the Holocaust, we must also acknowledge the need to prevent the recurrence of anti-Semitism and all forms of racial and religious hatred and discrimination today.
ISIL ‘deliberately targeting’ civilians in eastern Mosul
ISIL continues to target civilians in parts of Mosul recaptured by Iraqi forces with shelling and improvised explosive attacks, and reportedly shooting people attempting to flee the areas it still controls.
Azimjan Askarov verdict in Kyrgyzstan ‘deeply troubling’
The decision by a court in Kyrgyzstan to uphold a life sentence against political activist and journalist Azimjan Askarov highlights serious shortcomings in the country’s judicial system, Zeid says.
Victim to victor: the story of Souleymane Guengueng
Souleymane Guengueng is one of the victims of torture who has demanded justice for the atrocities they endured under the dictatorship of Chad’s Hissène Habré.
Civilians in South Sudan live under constant risk of mass atrocities
A UN report details grave human rights violations, including killings and gang rapes, committed in Juba in July 2016. Six months later, there remains widespread impunity, as abuses continue unabated.
Davos: Business leaders must stand up for human rights
High Commissioner Zeid calls on business leaders at Davos to use their considerable influence to stand up for human rights and to join in the fight to defend the global values that are currently under threat.
Engaging in critical dialogues for human rights and peace in Mali
Members of an armed separatist group listen to a presentation by the UN Human Rights and Protection Division in Ber, northern Mali. The meeting is part of a critical strategy to engage extremist groups in human rights dialogue, said Division Director Guillaume Ngefa.
Minority rights must be top priority in humanitarian crisis
Conflicts driven by sectarian ideologies fuel discrimination and abuse against minorities, targeting groups like the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq.
Best practices to achieve “virtuous cycle for human rights progress"
The UN Human Rights Office releases two new publications aimed at helping Governments improve human rights reporting and implementation.
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