Preventing violations and strengthening protection of human rights, including in situations of conflict and insecurity

The maintenance of international peace and security is one of the purposes of the United Nations Charter. Violence and conflict undermine sustainable development. Human rights violations are at the root causes of conflict and insecurity which, in turn, invariably result in further violations of human rights. As such, action to protect and promote human rights has inherent preventive power while rights-based approaches to peace and security bring this power to efforts for sustainable peace. The human rights normative framework also provides a sound basis for addressing issues of serious concern within or between countries that, if left unaddressed, may lead to conflict. Human rights information and analysis is a tool for early warning and early targeted action that has not yet been used to its full potential.

Failure to adhere to international human rights standards and protect human rights weakens peace- making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. Global efforts to counter terrorism and prevent the spread of violent extremism suffer from this failure. The UN’s renewed focus on prevention and sustaining peace is key to both this and the previous pillar on advancing sustainable development. We can help to sustain both peace and development by showing how applying human rights norms can address grievances, reduce inequality and build resilience. This pillar also addresses potential threats posed by new technologies in a security context.

From 2018-2021, together with our partners, we will work so that:

Parties to conflict and actors involved in peace operations increasingly comply with international human rights and humanitarian law and provide greater protection to civilians.

We will monitor human rights violations committed during armed conflicts, including civilian casualties and incidents of sexual and gender-based violence; bring facts and evidence to the parties’ and public attention, and advocate for changes in policy, practice and conduct; provide training and technical advice to integrate international human rights and humanitarian law in military and peace operations; strategically engage with parties to conflicts to reduce human rights violations and integrate human rights in political decision making and peace agreements; facilitate the participation of diverse groups, including women, in peace negotiations; and cooperate closely with regional and UN peace missions to ensure integration of human rights.

Efforts to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism comply with international law.

We will gather evidence and undertake further research, monitoring and reporting to support our strategic advocacy on the role of human rights violations in driving violent extremism and terrorism, and the role of human rights protection in prevention. We will build the capacity and commitment of State authorities and other actors to respect international law in their efforts to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism, and ensure accountability and respect for victims’ rights.

Strategies to prevent and respond to conflict consistently integrate human rights protection.

We will actively engage with UN entities, regional bodies, and individual Member States to show that protection and promotion of human rights contribute to more effective conflict prevention, conflict management, and post-conflict peace. To this end, we will monitor the implementation of relevant strategies, provide advice on what is needed to ensure effective human rights protection; and provide training, operational guidance and technical advice on how to integrate human rights operationally in prevention and peacebuilding activities.

Justice mechanisms, including for transitional justice, provide increased accountability for conflict-related violations.

We will document, map and report human rights violations and abuses, and breaches of international humanitarian law in the context of conflict, including through our assistance to inquiry mechanisms established by UN intergovernmental bodies; support justice mechanisms that seek to enhance accountability for conflict-related violations in different jurisdictions, including through universal jurisdiction; and continue to support comprehensive transitional justice processes and the right of victims to an effective remedy. We will develop guidance and tools on victim and witness protection and participation; and enhance the effectiveness of our support to justice institutions. By promoting justice and remedies for past violations, we aim to help prevent new cycles of violence and conflict.

Human rights information and analyses are integrated in early warning and analysis systems and influence international and national policy-making, strategies and operations to prevent, mitigate or respond to emerging crises, including humanitarian crises and conflict.

We will further develop information management practices and systems in order to provide real time early warning analysis that can inform UN human rights prevention, early warning, and intervention strategies. This capacity will strengthen our ability to identify potential crises and support responses. The development and launch of the ‘Rights View’ platform will provide access to OHCHR information and other credible human rights sources and media. In addition, we will progressively deploy emergency response staff to regional offices. Our work in this area will be an integral element of United Nations action on the ground, leveraging the Platform for Prevention, the Human Rights Up Front Action Plan, the New Way of Working, and initiatives of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.

United Nations’ support to national and regional security forces, law enforcement agencies, and non-state actors integrates human rights and complies with the human rights due diligence policy.

We will provide support, advice and training to United Nations partners to implement the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP). This policy sets out measures that all United Nations entities should take to ensure support provided to non- United Nations forces is consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and with their responsibility to respect, promote and encourage respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. These measures require United Nations entities to monitor and report on the conduct of security forces they support and assess the risk that grave violations may be committed by them. We will work to strengthen accountability for implementation of the policy, support the development of standard operating procedures, risk assessments and mitigation measures, and ensure that the HRDDP is applied systematically to all forms of UN support to security forces, including actions to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism, regional and peacebuilding operations, and border control.

The use of private military and security companies, and the development and deployment of new technologies, weapons and tactics, are increasingly consistent with and respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

We will deepen our understanding of the human rights and gender implications of the development and deployment of new technologies, weapons and tactics. We will articulate an Office-wide strategy to address the human rights challenges posed by these developments and their use in conflict and non-conflict situations. We will also assist States and relevant stakeholders to put in place strong international accountability frameworks to address human rights violations and abuses by private military and security companies (PMSCs), and support national efforts to develop legislation, policies and practices that ensure PMSCs comply with human rights standards.

Work under all six pillars covers the core components of our mandate, enabling universal but strategic coverage (given resource limits) of human rights in all countries. The thematic pillars are indivisible, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

Through four major Shifts to our approach, we will better adapt our work to the changing external context.

These shifts will help us focus on key threats to rights and key opportunities for leveraging support to better protect and promote rights. The shifts we will make across our six pillars are to:

i.  Support prevention of conflict, violence and insecurity.
ii. Protect and expand civic space.
iii. Support and further develop the global constituency for human rights.
iv. Deliver human rights in the context of emerging global concerns (‘frontier issues’).

These Shifts’ will further unify our efforts as one Office; driving coherence, scale and measurable human rights impact in an uncertain world.

Our work will be ‘people-centred’. Across everything we do, including when we focus on the human rights of other population groups, we will shine a spotlight on the human rights of women, young peopleand persons with disabilities. In support of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda’s human rights-based commitment to ‘leave no one behind’, we will highlight the human rights concerns of women, young people and persons with disabilities, including as defenders of rights.