The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been present in Kenya since 2008 in the aftermath of the 2007/08 elections’ violence. The Senior Human Rights Adviser’s mandate focuses on assisting national actors to comply with human rights obligations under international law and strengthening the capacity of the United Nations Country Team in Kenya to integrate human rights in their programs and policies.
Type of engagement
Human Rights Adviser
Annual budget needs
- Through a combination of advocacy (quiet and public diplomacy) and capacity building, OHCHR has effectively supported prevention and accountability for human rights violations perpetrated by security agencies, achieved protection of civil society organizations at risk and promoted legislation to counter a dangerous pattern of shrinking space.
- As part of its strategy of institutional strengthening, OHCHR has played a leading role to develop formal collaboration between the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). The Memorandum of Understading signed between KNCHR and KNBS in 2017 provides a pioneering framework to integrate Human Rights (HR) in data collection and measurement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as in the upcoming population census.
- The Office of the Attorney General Office has also benefited from capacity building and significantly enhanced its ability to engage with the Universal Periodic Review and other UN Human Rights mechanisms. For instance, OHCHR supported the Government in developing a Universal Periodic Review implementation matrix after review in 2015. The matrix has been used by the Government and various stakeholders to check on progress and as an advocacy tool.
- Amidst a stalemate in the area of justice and accountability for victims of gross HR violations during the 2007/8 post-election violence, OHCHR succeeded to trigger the development of a government reparation policy framework which, once finalized, will provide much due remedy to victims and survivors including of SGBV.
- OHCHR has advised the Government of Kenya on the development of a national action plan (NAP) that implements the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The office advocated for the visit of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights in 2018, which provided timely recommendations and impetus to the NAP as it enters its final phase. In this area of work, OHCHR has also provided support to a landmark class action litigation case on the right to healthy environment and redress for an informal settlement of 3,000 people who were subject to lead poisoning by a nearby factory and faced threats and intimidation to prevent them from pursuing legal action.
- Finally, OHCHR has advised towards robust integration of human rights in the new United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) (2018-2022). Since 2016, the office has managed a platform of 12 UN entities in Kenya and compiled quarterly integrated risk analysis. This has proved to be a key platform to share data on emerging trends requiring UN collective attention. For instance, during the elections, the UN exchanged timely information on risks of election-related violence from a security, political, human rights and humanitarian perspective and jointly agree on preventive action and recommendations to the leadership of the UN.
Partners and Donors
Partners: UN Agencies, Office of the Attorney General, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), civil society, Development Partners.
Donors: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, United Kingdom.
UN Human Rights Focus Areas
Mechanisms: Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms outcomes
Development: Integrating human rights in sustainable development
Accountability: Strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations
Peace and Security: Early warning, prevention & protection of human rights in situations of conflict & insecurity
Participation: Enhancing & protecting civic space and people's participation
Last reviewed: July 2020