Useful Information

OHCHR Human Rights Programme for the Middle East and Northern Africa Region

Country Mandates Established
by the CHR/HRC

Standing invitations to Special Procedures

Regional Members of the Human Rights Council:

Egypt 2019
Iraq 2019
Qatar 2020
Saudi Arabia 2019
Tunisia 2019
United Arab Emirates 2018

Voluntary Pledges and Commitments


UN Human Rights Report 2017 UN Human Rights Report 2017
OHCHR Management Plan 2018-2021 OHCHR Management Plan 2018-2021
Brochure: Human Rights in action Human Rights in Action (PDF)
Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR - Human Rights Programme for the Middle East and Northern Africa Region

Regional human rights context

A new era of increased openness has prompted OHCHR to adapt its work in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, in view of opportunities and challenges to promote and protect human rights.  A lack of freedoms, social justice and democratic participation has been central to the uprisings witnessed since late 2010.  In several countries, protests culminated in the departure of long-standing leaders.  These countries are now engaging in far-reaching and promising political, legal and institutional reforms.  Smaller-scale protests demanding political change and improved socio-economic conditions have been witnessed elsewhere.  The region is also affected by long-standing conflicts/disputes, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Further, significant numbers of migrants and stateless persons face discrimination in many countries.  Discrimination of women is a long-standing and urgent concern.  Inequalities throughout the region, in terms of economic and social human rights, require effective responses.  Against this backdrop, OHCHR’s strategy will be implemented with due regard for the specific human rights situation and needs in each particular national context.



Over the next five years OHCHR will focus on the following over-arching priorities:

  1. The protection civilians through monitoring and reporting;
  2. The development of human rights capacity of Government officials, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders and civil society organizations;
  3. The mainstreaming of human rights through partnerships with United Nations and regional mechanisms; and
  4. Advocacy and public communications aimed at promoting and protecting human rights. 

 Within these over-arching priorities, MENA will dedicate special efforts in regard to:

  1. Transitional justice, accountability, and rule of law: democratic deficits are key challenges that will continue to be addressed in the next five years, especially through partnership with other UN entities and national actors. Transitions to democracies that respect human rights and the rule of law are at risk unless new governments address past violations and embark on institutional and legal reforms. Such efforts will be informed by the inclusive and genuine national consultations.    Investigations into the violations of the past will be prioritized with a view to ensuring a meaningful accountability for those responsible, truth-seeking, and reparation for those affected. Institutional reforms will prioritise the security and the justice sectors.  Legal reforms will include repealing provisions of an array of laws that restrict free expression, association, and assembly, and that discriminate against or fail to protect women and vulnerable groups, including minorities. It may also include identifying and responding to the impact on human rights of corruption.

  2. Conflict and insecurity: armed conflict and insecurity, coupled with violations of the right to life, physical integrity, and economic and social rights continue to affect countries across the MENA region. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law are common, including violations amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity. Civilians are often the main victims. Journalists, government officials, human rights defenders, minority, ethnic and religious groups, displaced persons and refugees are often targeted. In some contexts, gender-based violence is prevalent.

  3. Discrimination and gender inequality: another priority challenge is the status of women in the region, where discrimination is often still inscribed in the law and perpetuated through traditional values and interlocutors. At the same time, women and youth have played an important role in the protests, and the challenge is now to ensure that this is translated into genuine participation in public affairs that ensures representation in decision-making processes. Sectarianism and social divisions increasingly divide societies, which makes work to address discrimination even more important. Rights of people belonging to minorities, people living with disabilities and other groups vulnerable to acute discrimination in the region remain issues of concern. The rights of non-citizens, including refugees, stateless persons and migrant workers are a matter of serious concern in several countries across the region. OHCHR will encourage and support specific protection initiatives for groups under national legal frameworks in conformity with international human rights norms. 

  4. Economic and social rights: the root causes of the on-going upheavals are closely related to the economic and social disparities that characterized many governance and social systems in the region. In response, OHCHR has pushed for inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights in the legal frameworks, including new Constitutions. OHCHR will seek to ensure that new systems are built on an understanding that in relation to the rights to work, education, social security, food security, water, adequate housing and health, authorities must 1) assess the status of enjoyment of relevant rights, 2) take corrective actions immediately in case where discrimination impedes the enjoyment of relevant rights or where minimum essential levels of the enjoyment of relevant rights are denied, 3) formulate strategies and plans incorporating indicators and time-bound targets, adopt the necessary laws and policies, and use maximum available resources to fully realize relevant rights, 4)  put in place mechanisms to regularly monitor progress, and 5) establish grievance mechanisms through which people can seek remedies in case of violation of these rights. OHCHR entry points range from focusing on specific economic, social and cultural rights, to addressing the cross-cutting principles of non-discrimination and gender equality, or integrating economic, social and cultural rights in existing national planning processes, policies, legislation and practices. 

Contact Information


Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Middle East and North Africa Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9153

Regional Offices/Centres

Middle East
(Beirut, Lebanon)
OHCHR Middle East Regional Office
Arab African International Bank Building
Banks Street, Downtown
Beirut, Lebanon
P.O.Box: 11-3216
Tel: 00 961 1 962 542
Fax: 00 961 1 962 555

North Africa
(Temporary in Beirut, Lebanon)
Arab African International Bank Building
Banks Street, Downtown
Beirut, Lebanon
P.O.Box: 11-3216
Tel: 00 961 1 962 542
Fax: 00 961 1 962 555

Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region
(Doha, Qatar)
P.O. Box 23514, Doha – Qatar
Tel: +974 44932544 – 44935791
Fax: +974 44935790

Other OHCHR Offices

Palestine (Occupied territories)
Saudi Arabia (Technical cooperation project)


United Nations Country Teams in Middle East and Northern Africa Region

Other UN links

Security Council resolutions

Secretary-General reports to the Security Council

External links

International Criminal Court

Geneva Conventions

ILO Conventions

Refugee Conventions

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