Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights

Technical Cooperation, San Antonio de Loreto and Induction training for the commissioners and staff of the National Human Rights Commission in Niger @ OHCHR photos 


The Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights was established in 1987 by the Secretary General. It is funded from voluntary contributions and provides technical cooperation to countries upon Governments’ request. Projects are implemented within the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme, administered by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. A Board of Trustees (BoT) was created in 1993 to assist in fund-raising and to provide expert advice and support for the Voluntary Fund.

Members are appointed by the Secretary-General for three years and are chosen for their independence and wide experience in the field of human rights and technical cooperation.

  • Commission on Human Rights resolution 1987/38
  • Commission on Human Rights resolution 1991/49
  • ECOSOC decision 1987/147


Based on equal representation from the five regional groups and upon recommendation by the HC, the Board Members are appointed by the SG for a maximum of two three-year terms. The BoT meets twice a year. It formerly held both sessions in Geneva but since 2011, one is held in countries where OHCHR has a field presence to ensure better exposure to the realities, challenges and opportunities on the ground. 

Meetings outside Geneva have been held in:

  • Burundi and Kenya in 2011
  • Mauritania and Tunisia in 2013 and
  • Mexico in 2014 and
  • Cambodia and Thailand in 2015
  • Ukraine 2016
  • Guatemala 2016
  • Lebanon and Occupied Palestinian Territory 2017
  • Colombia 2018

The annual report of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the VFTC, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 18/18, provides an update of the BoT’s activities and discussions, including status of donor contributions and extra-budgetary income/expenditures. The latest annual report, in 2013, is A/HRC/23/16.

In view of the relevance and complementarities of the VTFC and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the implementation of the universal periodic review (hereinafter referred to as the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation), the Secretary-General requested the BoT to also oversee the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation. This decision was based on the importance of ensuring consistency in the operations of these two Funds as both support States in fulfilling their international obligations through technical assistance and cooperation. During its 38th Session in Geneva in November 2013, the Board commenced its new functions regarding the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is tasked with submitting an annual written update on the operations of the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation to the Human Rights Council. Its first consolidated update is A/HRC/24/56. 

In 2003 the BoT changed its focus from a more detailed review of individual projects to advising OHCHR on policy orientation and strategy in strengthening its technical cooperation programme in the field of human rights. The BoT had observed that the work of OHCHR field presences in the area of technical cooperation is of critical importance and therefore it should be the priority for support from the VFTC. This approach to technical cooperation was presented to Member States in the annual report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Human Rights Council and it was approved by them [A/HRC/16/66]. The BoT, in its recent reports, has reaffirmed its continuing support to the use of the resources of the VFTC to finance Human Rights Advisers (HRA) in UN Country Teams (UNCT), human rights components of UN peace missions and OHCHR country/stand-alone offices (per attached financial overview). The BoT sees this dimension of the work of the OHCHR as a very significant contribution to achieving the goals of the UN in the protection and promotion of human rights. The BoT has noted that OHCHR’s assistance to UNCTs an increasingly important part of the TC provided in support of national human rights protection systems. The Board has been advised that this approach is highly appreciated and furthers the inclusion of technical cooperation as an integral part of the OHCHR strategic planning process. 

As part of changing the focus of its work, the Board has sought to ensure that the High Commissioner has access to the experience, expertise and wisdom of its members. It has expanded the opportunities for the BoT as a whole and members individually to offer strategic and other advice to OHCHR at the global and regional levels. 

The BoT members also participated through 2013 in all the OHCHR regional consultations in the context of the new strategic planning process for 2014-2017.


Ms. Lin LIM (Malaysia)
Mr. Morten KJAERUM (Denmark)
Ms. Valeriya LUTKOVSKA (Ukraine)
Ms. Carmen Rosa VILLA (Peru)


The total expenditure of the Fund at 31 December 2017 was $12,362,447. The reductions compared with previous years largely corresponded to the reduction of a number of programmes to better align expenditures with income. By 31 December 2017, the Fund had received a total of $11,002,141. The deficit was covered through the Fund reserves.  

The Fund provided resources for technical cooperation programmes designed to build strong human rights frameworks at the national level in 28 regions, countries and territories through 14 human rights advisers/human rights mainstreaming projects (in Chad, Kenya, Madagascar, the Niger, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Rwanda, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and the South Caucasus region (Georgia)); 10 human rights components of peace missions (in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Libya, Somalia and the Sudan (Darfur)); and 4 country/stand-alone offices in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Mauritania, Mexico and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

Through the Fund, the Office has facilitated efforts made at the country level to incorporate international human rights standards into national laws, policies and practices, including through follow-up to recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms, and contributed to the establishment and strengthening of national structures, institutions and capacities to ensure adherence to these standards. Strengthening the administration of justice, including support in increasing access capacities for individuals and groups facing discrimination and exclusion, and increasing capacities to promote gender equality and women’s rights, have also featured prominently in numerous programmes receiving support from the Voluntary Fund. The establishment and functioning of responsive national human rights institutions compliant with the Paris principles and human rights education programmes continued to receive support. United Nations resident coordinators and country teams have also seen their human rights capacity strengthened by the deployment of human rights advisers.



1. All references to Kosovo in the present document should be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights