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Briefing to Member States on the Launching of OHCHR Management Plan 2014-2017

14 April 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to present OHCHR’s Management Plan for 2014-2017. This document is the product of a consultative and strategic planning process in which many members of the audience have taken part, and I would like to start by expressing my appreciation for your interest and contribution.

This Plan’s aim is to ensure that OHCHR makes the best possible use of resources in implementing the human rights mandate of the United Nations, particularly the human rights section of Secretary-General’s Strategic Framework. It gathers the different components of OHCHR’s mandate around a set of thematic priorities, to increase synergies between them and avoid unnecessary overlaps. It also presents the specific results that we expect in the next four years within each of those thematic priorities; the key actions that we plan in order to achieve them; and the indicators and targets that OHCHR will deploy to measure our progress, when we report back at the end of 2017.

This is the first time that OHCHR is articulating thematic priorities for a four year-period. The decision to extend our programming cycle was based on our recognition that human rights results take longer than two years to achieve. We also hope that a four-year cycle will create greater predictability for our international, regional and national partners. At the same time, in order to maintain maximum transparency in the important area of budgets and resources, OHCHR is now providing budget information every year through an Annual Appeal.

The process of identifying our thematic priorities has been a very enriching one. I sought your contributions last April, and I and my colleagues also met with civil society organizations in Geneva and New York. In addition, OHCHR commissioned a review of forecasting studies. We distributed an on-line questionnaire among OHCHR staff and United Nations human rights experts, including experts from special procedures, treaty bodies, and the human rights-related trust funds. Meanwhile, five office-wide regional consultations in our field offices gathered the views of external partners.

Each of the six thematic priorities that were established through this process has implications for civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights and the right to development. They are relevant, in various ways, to countries in different regions, at different phases of development and across diverse cultures. And, crucially, they ensure that our scarce resources are spent on human rights issues where we can add most value and maximize our impact on people’s lives. As it is the case for human rights, these priorities should be seen as interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

The priorities are:

  • Strengthening international human rights mechanisms;
  • Enhancing equality and countering discrimination;
  • Combating impunity and strengthening accountability and the rule of law;
  • Integrating human rights in development and the economic sphere;
  • Widening the democratic space; and
  • Early warning and protection of human rights in situations of conflict, violence and insecurity.

I met with you last October to present these Thematic Strategies in draft form which constitute the backbone of this document. They have now been sharpened, including through incorporation of your comments. We have strived to achieve greater balance within each strategy between economic, social and cultural rights and political and civil rights, as well as between technical cooperation and monitoring activities. We have also sought a clearer perspective on the role of regional organizations and to better mainstream migration issues.

A few words on some of the changes from the thematic priorities in our previous two-year cycle.

“Widening the democratic space” is identified as a new thematic priority. It is not a new area of work; it was previously included as part of rule of law. But clearly we seek to further sharpen our focus on public freedoms; participation in political, economic and cultural life; human rights education; and the work of human rights defenders and the media.

Integrating human rights in development and in the economic sphere” represents an expansive focus from our previous strategy on poverty. We intend to give further emphasis to the right to development; the rights to land, water and housing; and the role of the private sector. Human rights law and standards must become more thoroughly integrated into States’ development policies and the workings of the private sector. Human rights must also be at the forefront of the post-2015 development agenda and other international policies relevant to development.

Early warning and protection of human rights in situations of conflict, violence and insecurity”: here we are focusing on armed conflict; humanitarian crisis; situations of violence and insecurity; and sexual and gender-based violence.

Strengthening the international human rights mechanisms” will continue to be a priority of my Office. To enhance the remarkable expertise that the mechanisms have developed, OHCHR will seek to improve their visibility and accessibility, and to enhance the coherence and synergies among them. We will also focus on establishing national mechanisms for reporting and follow-up to recommendations and enhancing their early warning role, while also facilitating systematic engagement with these mechanisms by UN country teams.

Discrimination and accountability are both fundamental priorities for OHCHR, within these priorities we have sharpened our focus in areas where the work we do adds great specific value. Notably, the thematic priority of “Enhancing equality and countering discrimination” seeks to ensure that national laws, policy and practice comply with anti-discrimination and equality standards, and that effective and participatory mechanisms advance equality and counter discrimination. It also focuses on integrating human rights in international and regional processes relevant to migration.

Combating impunity and strengthening accountability and the rule of law” emphasizes our work to strengthen national justice systems; the establishment of transitional justice and accountability mechanisms; the legal and judicial protection of economic, social and cultural rights; and the compliance of national laws, policies and institutions with human rights standards regarding deprivation of liberty, torture, death penalty and counter-terrorism.

I am convinced that the consultative planning process to which you contributed has significantly improved the relevance, focus and ownership of OHCHR’s six Thematic Strategies. By focusing and aligning the work of all our staff in every geographical zone for the next four years, this common, results-based framework will help increase the coherence and effectiveness of our operations.

By 2017, OHCHR will be reporting to you on our achievements and failures in pursuing the results that are outlined in this document. These results will not, of course, be under our full control. Nevertheless, we are committed to making the best use of our resources, and to do everything in our power, to achieve our targets. In measuring our performance, we are making it possible to learn from our experiences, so that we can sustain the successes and rectify the deficiencies. In measuring our performance, we are also responding to your queries and those of other stakeholders. We are accountable to you, and we are accountable to the women, men and children whose human rights we promote and protect.

This Management Plan is my last as High Commissioner, but as the first plan that spans four years it represents a new venture for the Office. I believe that this horizon will enable our teams to work with clear goals and a sense of perspective, as OHCHR engages with all partners to pursue the enjoyment of all human rights for all.

Thank you.