How we make a difference 2016

Film on fair housing features international human rights law
A new film highlights the case of Seljatin Burgazi and 60 other Roma families, who were saved from eviction through the use of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Human rights need protection during humanitarian crises
In Liberia the UN Human Rights Office led an initiative to ensure people’s rights were protected during the Ebola crisis. This initiative and the cross-cutting work of the Office during humanitarian crises will be showcased at the World Humanitarian Summit, taking place from 23-24 May in Istanbul, Turkey.
Why we fight: campaigning for LGBT Equality
To bring attention to the fight against discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people across the world, the United Nations Human Rights Office has commissioned “Why we Fight” a film showcasing why people choose to stand up against LGBT discrimination.
Migrant children face grim human rights conditions in Greece
During a recent monitoring mission on the situation of migrants and refugees in Greece, the UN Human Rights Office met with migrant children and found serious violations to their human rights.
Australia: the rights of two deaf citizens violated
The Australian Government violated the rights of two deaf people, who when they were called up for jury service, were refused the support they needed, UN experts found.
Refugee crisis in Europe triggers torture victim’s painful past
Vive Žene, an organization supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, maintains Azra’s sense of family years after the terror of her captivity during the Bosnian war.
Hidden wounds
Excision remains firmly anchored in the traditions of 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Recovered identity: a reunion mends years of pain in Argentina
In Argentina, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, a civil society organization supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, makes best use of DNA bank to help Guillermo find his true family.
Women’s rights body rules on Russian banned jobs list complaint
A UN women’s rights committee calls on Russia to amend a list of 458 jobs and 38 industries prohibited to women.
Foreign fighters: emerging challenge for human rights
With an estimated 30,000 people fighting in armed conflicts outside their country of residence, States need guidance and information on how to deal with this emerging trend and its implications for communities.
HC Zeid speaks out against hatred and violence at Cleveland law school
Accepting a award for Global Justice at the Cox International Law School in Cleveland, High Commissioner spoke out on hatred and incitement to violence by "overripe bullies". "There is a road to violence," he said. "And hate speech is on that road."
Experts share challenges of healing children affected by torture
A unique workshop organized by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture spotlights resilience in treating children and halting trauma through generations.
Shadow of caste and its stigma continue to violate all aspects of human rights
At least 250 million people worldwide still face some form of discrimination based on caste or similar systems of inherited status, according to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues Rita Izsák-Ndiaye.
Measuring human rights to support sustainable development
Traditional data collection has seldom been able to support inequality reduction policies to benefit the most vulnerable. A human rights-based approach to data can help States attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Respecting human rights is key to prevent and counter violent extremism
Violent extremism is a diverse phenomenon and not exclusive to any region, nationality or religion, so fighting it needs a unified approach, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told a conference on violent extremism, being held in Geneva.
Experts unite to end human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity
In a historic joint dialogue, African, Inter-American and UN rights experts call for concerted efforts to end human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
From horror to healing
A young Syrian girl who was able to deal with the traumatizing physical and psychological effects of torture is one of the many stories featured in a new brochure produced by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
Making DPRK accountable for human rights violations
In his last report to the Human Rights Council, Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, called for the creation of an expert panel to help ensure accountability for crimes against humanity committed in the country.
Homelessness: surviving at the peripheries
Homelessness is not a personal failure but the consequence of the systemic denial of the rights of homeless people, says UN expert on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha.
Vanuatu: translating human rights standards into actions
Vanuatu government officials have learned how to prepare to report on how they help women achieve their rights.
New digital technologies produce unprecedented levels of child abuse material online
As communication technology evolves at a rapid pace, the technology itself has created a rise in demand for child pornography and an alarming growth of new forms of child sexual exploitation.
UN Anti-racism expert answers questions in live online discussion
Anti-racial discrimination champion and member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Gay McDougall will take questions on how to make the fight against racial discrimination more relevant worldwide, during a live online discussion on social networking platform Reddit.
UN Fund for Victims of Torture plays a role in landmark ruling for indigenous women in Guatemala
The UN Fund for Victims of Torture, along with local civil society actors, provides support to victims whose testimonies helped convict two former military members of crimes against humanity in Guatemala.
Paying the price for climate change in human health
After recounting the devastating impacts of climate change on health during a Human Rights Council event, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore called for urgent action. “We know that change is urgent, necessary, possible and for our children’s children’s sake, we must make change doable.”
Nigeria creates a military Human Rights Desk
The creation of a Human Rights Desk by the Nigerian army, and a review of the forces’ Code of conduct and Rules of Engagement, represent an unprecedented breakthrough.
Terrorized, killed, raped and starving: the fate of civilians in South Sudan’s continued civil war
The fate of civilians in South Sudan has worsened considerably in the last nine months, as Government forces and affiliated militia deliberately target civilians for killing, rape and starvation, a newly released UN Human Rights Office report states.
South Sudan report: Widespread human rights violations and abuses
A new report on South Sudan describes “in searing detail” a multitude of horrendous human rights violations, including a Government-operated “scorched earth policy,” and deliberate targeting of civilians for killing, rape and pillage.
Children draw rights and freedoms
An 11-year-old from Samoa and a 15-year-old from Pakistan are the global winners of the UN Human Rights Office poster contest to design a poster for the 50th Anniversary of the Human Rights Covenants campaign.
Changing our subconscious maps the way to equality
Sexism is deeply rooted in our unconscious, said Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore. “We grow up with these internal maps that lead to a bias that can be said to be unconscious. We have to own our responsibility to confront and dismantle those toxic maps.”
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid presents his annual report to the Human Rights Council
The UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced concerns about the harassment and the violations of the rights of human rights defenders in the past year.
A call to unite the two covenants on human rights
Calling the division between civil and political rights from cultural, economic, and social ones “artificial” speakers urged States to unify the current two human rights laws.
International Women's Day 2016
Improving gender parity is the focus for this year's International Women's Day which has the theme "Planet 50-50 by 2030: step it up for gender equality."
Ukraine: over three million civilians lack access to human rights
A new UN Human Rights Office report on Ukraine reveals violations and abuses of human rights through the accounts of witnesses and victims, especially in the areas controlled by the armed groups.
The right to development – development done right
Widening poverty gaps, food shortages, climate change, economic crises, armed conflicts, rising unemployment continue to confront our world.
High Commissioner calls for end to pressure on human rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on States and others to relieve the pressure and suffering on people caused by continued human rights violations.
Voices of despair in Libya
A new UN Human Rights Office report on Libya documents the chilling stories of victims and witnesses which describe widespread human rights violations and abuses committed by both State and non-State actors.
Libya report: Widespread human rights violations and abuses
A new UN Human Rights Office report on Libya documents the chilling stories of victims and witnesses which describe widespread human rights violations and abuses committed by both State and non-State actors.
Human rights goes digital in Tajikistan
For the first time, people in Tajikistan are now able to gain access to vital human rights information with a new website launched by the Tajikistan government with the support of the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central Asia.
In Senegal, knowing your rights can save from abuses
Being involved in human rights clubs in high schools in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, where students discuss human rights issues relevant to their daily lives, has saved young girls from rights abuses.
Out of sight, out of mind: deaths in detention in Syria
Syrian men, women, and children have been transferred to one of the dozens of official or secret Government-run detention facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. Thousands of them have been killed while in custody.
Policing human rights in Myanmar
UN human rights officers travel the length and breadth of Myanmar to train over 1,000 police officers on the best practices that drive human rights-based policing.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, UN panel finds
The founder of the WikiLeaks website, has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said.
Human Rights experts find racial discrimination in the USA alive and thriving
“The ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes France, chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent at the end of an 11-day mission to the USA.
New stamps promoting LGBT equality worldwide unveiled at UN
The UN Postal Administration unveiled a set of six commemorative stamps to promote UN Free & Equal – a global UN campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality launched and led by OHCHR.
A story of courage to commemorate the Holocaust
“We must never allow another Shoah [Holocaust],” said survivor Paulette Angel-Rosenberg during a ceremony at the United Nations in Geneva to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Angel-Rosenberg shared her experience as a young Jewish girl living in France during the Second World War.
Human Rights conference in Central Asia
Central Asian countries discuss good practices and challenges in implementing recommendation of UN human rights mechanisms in a conference which took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Fact-finding mission to US looks at human rights condition of African Americans
The Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent (WGPAD) visits the United States to gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation.
Exhibit and book celebrate contributions of people of African descent
An exhibition and a book to promote the Decade for People of African Descent was unveiled recently at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Peru compensates woman in historic UN Human Rights abortion case
The Government of Peru has agreed to pay compensation to a woman who was denied access to legal abortion services, as part of the first UN Human Rights Committee ruling on an abortion case.
Fiji police receive vital human rights training to improve public image
In an effort to integrate human rights in all aspects of police work, the Fiji Police Force participated in a workshop on human rights provided by the UN Human Rights Regional Office for the Pacific.
UN human rights chief calls on Thai Government to probe scores of enforced disappearances
Calling on Thailand to criminalize enforced disappearance in line with international standards, the High Commissioner urged the Government to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared.
Yemen: civilian casualties top 8,100 as airstrikes and shelling continue, UN reports
Civilians are suffering a “terrible toll” in the fighting tearing Yemen apart, with casualties now topping 8,100, nearly 2,800 of them killed, the UN reported.
Wrecked Lives, Corporate Losses & Sluggish Growth: the Real Cost of Discrimination
Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people hurts people, companies and nations is the message of a new UN Free & Equal Campaign video narrated by Star Trek Actor Zachary Quinto.
UN chief calls on Iran, Saudi Arabia to avoid further exacerbating tensions after executions
In his call to Saudi Foreign Minister, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his opposition to capital punishment and his disappointment at the execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. Speaking to Iranian Foreign Minister, Mr. Ban urged him to take the necessary measures to protect diplomatic facilities.
UN officials 'deeply dismayed' by Saudi executions, urge commuting all death sentences
Top UN officials have expressed deep dismay over yesterday's executions by Saudi Arabia of 47 people, including Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, and called on the country's authorities to commute all death sentences.
Stories by year
Related links