​​​​​How we make a difference 2021


Moderating online content: fighting harm or silencing dissent?
As countries introduce new rules to regulate online content, UN Human Rights calls on governments and companies to anchor any such efforts in human rights.
23-07-2021
The transformative power of sport can unite us all
“The Olympic ideal is anchored in human rights: it embodies fairness, non-discrimination, respect and equal opportunities for all,” said Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights at a high-level panel discussion on promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal during the Human Rights Council.
22-07-2021
Anti-racism activists should be supported and protected- racial justice report
The groundswell of support across the world after the death of George Floyd in May 2020, and the continued activism of people of African descent, their communities, and others in standing up against racism across the world should be supported, says UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, adding that their voices must be heard and protected.
19-07-2021
High Commissioner: Acknowledging and confronting historical legacies crucial for racial justice
UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet calls on States to acknowledge the legacies of enslavement, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and colonialism and to engage in a concrete path towards racial equality and justice for Africans and people of African descent.
16-07-2021
Children’s right to privacy in the digital age must be improved
A new report presented to the Human Rights Council says that maximising children’s privacy in the digital age means acting in their best interests, actively seeking children’s views and treating those views seriously.
15-07-2021
Guinea pursues a healthy environment and development for human rights
The third edition of the Hernán Santa Cruz Dialogue looked at the contribution of development to human rights in Guinea. Like many countries across the globe, Guinea has enshrined the right to a healthy environment in its Constitution.
14-07-2021
“A victim of torture is one too many,” says UN expert
Since 1981, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture has helped an average of 50,000 victims of torture every year in countries in every region of the world. A special webinar was organized to mark the 40th anniversary of the Fund and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, by the four UN mandates working against torture, in partnership with UN Human Rights and the American University, Washington College of Law, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law.
13-07-2021
Bachelet calls for "much stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice and equality."
The High Commissioner presented her Office's report on the the human rights of Africans and of people of African descent and excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers. The report presents recommendations for ways to "achieve transformative change and end profound injustices, inflicted for generations."
12-07-2021
Pushbacks of migrants on land and at sea must end, says UN expert
In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Felipe González Morales said that States must put an end to pushback practices and ensure that current COVID-19 travel restrictions do not deny effective access to asylum and protection under international law.
09-07-2021
Human rights approach needed for internally displaced people’s housing, land and property
A report presented to the Human Rights Council is calling for more long-term efforts to address the housing, land and property rights of people who have been displaced within their own countries.
06-07-2021
The case for global vaccination is unquestionable – Bachelet
Recovering from COVID-19, we a have a once in a lifetime opportunity to “depart from models that have generated inequalities and fragility, and steer our world towards a more inclusive future,” the High Commissioner said. “And we should open this door with vaccine multilateralism.”
05-07-2021
"Your skin colour should never be seen as a weapon"
After hearing the testimonies of the families of those who died during or after an encounter with law enforcement, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet calls on States to"reimagine policing, and reform the criminal justice system, which have consistently produced discriminatory outcomes for people of African descent."
02-07-2021
Gender equality: the need for action and solidarity has never been stronger
In a speech to the Generation Equality Forum event in Paris, the High Commissioner committed to actively promoting, strengthening and supporting women human rights defenders
02-07-2021
“Female genital mutilation can be stopped,” says HC
“The silence must be broken — all voices must be heard, all realities known. We must act united against this dreadful practice,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a high-level panel on female genital mutilation at the Human Rights Council.
01-07-2021
Greater international solidarity still needed to fight pandemic, says expert
In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity Obiora Chinedu Okafor said that more international cooperation is required to combat the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, now and in the future.
30-06-2021
Seminal UN report offers an agenda to dismantle systemic racism
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet’s newly released Agenda towards transformative change for racial justice and equality highlights a way forward towards reversing cultures of denial, dismantling systemic racism and accelerating the pace for action.
29-06-2021
New report calls for transformative action for racial justice
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet published a report Monday, calling on States to uproot systemic racism. “The status quo is untenable. Systemic racism needs a systemic response,” she said.
28-06-2021
Strategic litigation can be a force for gender justice
A new network of attorneys, activists and academics across Latin America, have come together to share expertise and good practices, and advocate for ways to use the courts to best provide justice and reparations for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
25-06-2021
Pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for work to combat torture, Bachelet says
At the Annual Forum of the Convention Against Torture Initiative, the High Commissioner noted additional obstacles to judicial oversight and heightened risks to detainees, among other critical areas
24-06-2021
Bachelet calls for leaders to "come to grips with root causes"
At a high-level discussion of humanitarian issues at the UN Economic and Social Council, the High Commissioner outlined work underway in Yemen, Myanmar and the Tigray province of Ethiopia, and urged a strong focus on human rights-based action for prevention
23-06-2021
Bachelet outlines implementation of SG's "challenging – and absolutely vital" Plan of Action
Opening the 47th session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner said the Secretary-General's Plan of Action creates "unprecedented leverage to deploy the force of partnerships" for human rights
21-06-2021
"Home is the people around you."
Meet Nhial Deng – refugee, peace-builder and human rights advocate. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, Nhial is calling for a rethink on how we talk about refugees and migrants.
20-06-2021
“There’s more that unites us than divides us”
As the media becomes increasingly saturated with negative images of migration, Zino Akaka and other young migrants are working with journalists to spark narrative change, and improve media coverage on migrants’ experiences.
18-06-2021
An authoritative global framework on business and human rights turns 10
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have led to game-changing progress on how to do business with respect for human rights. The Guiding Principles, which were published ten years ago, were unprecedented in their wide endorsement and effect. “This has become a globally accepted framework that everyone can rally behind,” said Lene Wendland, Chief of the UN Human Rights Office’s Business and Human Rights Unit.
17-06-2021
UN guidelines on business and human rights reach milestone anniversary
At this crucial time for human rights around the world, the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights call for a strong renewal of our work to ensure their implementation, the High Commissioner said.
16-06-2021
Promoting a human rights-based approach to digital tech is essential, HC says
At a high-level panel discussion linked to the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Bachelet said ensuring that the digital space upholds and advances human rights is "an essential priority"
15-06-2021
A call for solidarity with all persons with albinism, in their struggle to live free from discrimination and violence
On the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day, the High Commissioner noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the discrimination, marginalisation, bullying and violence, including ritual killings, that many people with albinism are subjected to around the world.
11-06-2021
Annual report 2020: Human rights at the heart of COVID-19 response and recovery
Anchoring human rights in COVID-19 responses was a core component of the work of UN Human Rights in 2020. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented the 2020 Annual Report of the Office to Member States during a virtual meeting.
10-06-2021
Tahere Siisiialafia-Mau: “Youth inclusion is much more than having voices heard”
Tahere Siisiialafia-Mau, a youth activist from Samoa, advocates for youth inclusion and rights in her country and the Pacific.
07-06-2021
Recovering better with human rights and solidarity
“Foundations can play a key role in the worldwide effort to recover better” from the pandemic, the High Commissioner stressed in her keynote statement to the 20th SwissFoundations Symposium, considered the largest philanthropy event in Switzerland. She emphasized the need to scale up cross-sector alliances, including those between the UN and the philanthropic community.
02-06-2021
HC: Human rights and sustainable development advance each other
"I am convinced that human rights and sustainable development are interlocking and conjoined: at best, they advance each other,” the High Commissioner said during a seminar on the subject. "True development generates greater social justice."
28-05-2021
HC: Root causes must be addressed in violence escalation in Gaza
“Appalling events in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territory have once again called this Council into Special Session,” the High Commissioner said, noting the “most significant escalation in hostilities” since 2014. “While I welcome the ceasefire of 21 May, it is clear that unless the root causes of this violence are addressed, it will sadly be a matter of time until the next round of violence commences, with further pain and suffering for civilians on all sides,” she stressed.
27-05-2021
Report: A call to safeguard migrants in central Mediterranean Sea
“I feel as if I have gone from hell to uncertainty. I thought my journey would come to an end and I would find a safe place in Europe,” said Daraja, a Nigerian migrant. A new report by UN Human Rights delivers first-hand accounts of migrants facing the perilous journey through Libya to Europe. It also calls for an urgent reform of search and rescue policies and practices and more robust protection of migrants at sea.
26-05-2021
“Our work is fundamental"
For Marvin Del Cid and Sonny Figueroa being a journalist in Guatemala has been an exercise in creativity, strength and persistence. The two, who are part of Article 35 – an association dedicated to protecting journalists, have been subjected to harassment both on and off line including slander, unlawful detention and death threats. “The information we public becomes a public good,” said Del Cid. “Our work is fundamental.”
20-05-2021
Advancing justice and rights for children in crisis and conflict
For many children globally, conflicts and crises are all they have ever known, the High Commissioner said at the launch of a report on children in conflict. The report by Save the Children and the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University show where protection and accountability gaps lie and “which steps we can take toward justice for children,” she said.
19-05-2021
Bachelet calls for equality in the access to vaccines and health services
At the WHO Global Forum, the High Commissioner discussed how research can contribute to a healthier world for vulnerable populations, in the context of COVID-19. She focused on two areas: equality of access to health services, goods and facilities, including vaccines; and the need for disaggregated data to tailor appropriate and specific policies, during the pandemic and beyond
13-05-2021
Experts: Urgent Action can help save lives
“The three days that my enforced disappearance lasted were eternal for me and my family,” Reyna Patricia Ambros Zapatero, a survivor of a kidnapping told the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. “Unfortunately...[around the world] there are thousands of disappeared people who have not been as lucky as me. I admire the constant struggle of their families and friends who search for them every day.”
07-05-2021
Young people need their sexual and reproductive health and rights
Poppy Stanbury, Advocacy Coordinator at CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, says that young people should be empowered to participate meaningfully in the decision-making processes that affect all aspects of their lives, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
06-05-2021
“We won’t give up or stop reporting until we have a real democracy”
“They’re doing everything they can to stop information flowing to the Myanmar people and the rest of the world,” says Thar Lun Zaung Htet, a journalist who has fled his country in fear for his life. On World Press Freedom Day, Thar Lun, and thousands of other journalists around the globe, continue to face grave danger.
03-05-2021
"The silencing of a journalist is a loss to society as a whole."
Attacks on journalists "impoverish public debate and hamper our ability to respond effectively to societal challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic," High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said in a statement marking World Press Freedom Day. In order to "fully celebrate the bravery of journalists in their determination to keep the public informed, we must demand that their rights are respected, protected and fulfilled."
02-05-2021
Mongolia: New law to protect human rights defenders
Mongolia has recently adopted a new law for human rights defenders, the first of its kind in Asia. Paving the way for other countries in the region, the milestone law aims to protect and encourage their critical voices and actions.
30-04-2021
COVID-19 and longstanding gender and racial discrimination in the Americas
“Exclusionary policies, rather than inclusive ones, have been tolerated in the region for generations,” the High Commissioner told Oxford University students during a lecture on discrimination in the Americas. Focusing on gender and racial discrimination, she stressed that the brunt of both the health and the socio-economic crises brought by COVID-19 “is being borne by those who have not reaped the development benefits experienced by many countries in the region.”
27-04-2021
Fact sheet unpacks and links human rights and climate change
A new fact sheet sets out how the harms caused by climate change translate to human rights violations. Frequently asked questions on human rights and climate change also provides guidance for States on how to address the climate crisis while respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights.
22-04-2021
Experts: Drug policy needs a human rights-based approach
A new report advocates a more people-centred approach when creating drug policy. The report, Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring, was the focus of a recent event organized at the margin of the last session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
21-04-2021
Verdict is testament to courage, perseverance and justice
“This is a momentous verdict. It is also a testament to the courage and perseverance of George Floyd’s family and many others calling for justice,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
21-04-2021
To combat racism in Europe, Bachelet urges strong structural action and reparatory justice
Securing the equality and genuine inclusion of Roma, people of African descent, Jews, Muslims and others will require action on structural issues, including racial profiling and socioeconomic disparities, as well as reparatory justice, the High Commissioner told an EU conference
20-04-2021
The Dalit: Born into a life of discrimination and stigma
For centuries, the Dalit minority in South Asia have faced discrimination, marginalisation, stigma and violence. Beena Pallical is the General Secretary of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India. She dedicates her life’s work to fighting for Dalit rights.
19-04-2021
High Commissioner: "Social Protection is a fundamental human right"
"Taking immediate steps to build a better, more comprehensive social protection system is crucial to providing immediate, life-changing assistance," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. She made her statement as part of Hernan Santa Cruz Dialogue on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, taking place in Ukraine.
15-04-2021
Malagasy children to receive human rights education in schools
The UN Country Team and the Ministry of National Education of Madagascar have signed a landmark agreement to provide human rights education in primary and secondary schools across the country.
13-04-2021
Surge in violence against children must be addressed with a rights-based approach
The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effect on an entire generation is examined in a new report on increased violence and abuse against children in the last year.
29-03-2021
Guidance establishes children’s rights carry into digital world
The Child Rights Committee published new legal guidance on how governments should protect children’s rights in the digital environment. General Comment 25 on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment says States have a clear responsibility to provide oversight on how children fare in the digital world.
26-03-2021
People of African descent must be part of the climate solution, High Commissioner says
"Generation upon generation of discrimination" shaped today's "immense and disproportionate impacts" of the climate crisis on the rights of people of African descent, the High Commissioner said, in her opening speech to the Working Group of Experts on People of African descent. These roots must be systematically addressed
24-03-2021
Report: Online hate increasing against minorities, says expert
A new report by the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, looks at how to address rising online hate speech against minority groups.
23-03-2021
"Systemic racism needs a systemic response", says Bachelet on meeting about police violence
The High Commissioner updated the Council on her report on systemic racism by law enforcement agencies, which was mandated after the killing of George Floyd. "Despite the heightened visibility around this issue, incidents of police brutality and racial discrimination against people of African descent continue to occur. It is imperative to end police violence," she said.
19-03-2021
Peace One Day Anti-Racism Live Digital Experience
Tune in on 21 March, International Day for the Elimination of Racial discrimination, for the Anti-Racism Live Global Digital Experience from 1.35 p.m. to 10.02 p.m. GMT, presented by our partner Peace One Day.
18-03-2021
Youth are standing up against racism
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March) we celebrate the young human rights defenders who, through their global engagement for equality and inclusion, build solidarity, lead change and stand up against racism.
16-03-2021
The water crisis has a “major impact on human rights” expert says
In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, describes safe and sufficient water as one of the substantive components of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
15-03-2021
Syria: Truth and justice needed more than ever after 10 years of conflict – Bachelet
As Syria marks a decade of violence and conflict, we owe it to the victims to step up the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations, Bachelet says, calling for a particular focus on the plight of the missing and their families.
11-03-2021
Syria’s missing: the search for truth, justice and reparation
The families of the tens of thousands of people forcibly disappeared in Syria are demanding answers. Two women tell their stories.
11-03-2021
Artificial intelligence ensuring human rights at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals
Propelled by the common goal to make human rights more accessible, an innovative partnership is ensuring human rights guidance is incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals. How? It’s all thanks to a machine learning algorithm.
10-03-2021
Minority rights and the power of art and protest amidst the pandemic
Minorities have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and art and protest have been seminal to their fight for human rights. However, at the same time, their artistic freedom and cultural rights have been placed at severe risk.
09-03-2021
International Women's Day: "It's about time we changed course."
In her address to the Human Rights Council on the occasion of International Women's Day, the High Commissioner said that "the responsibility of our lifetimes is upon us: to create more equitable, inclusive, just, and sustainable post-pandemic societies."
08-03-2021
International Women’s Day: Women leaders driving change in a post-COVID-19 world
For more than a year now, women leaders across all ages and walks of life have been instrumental in the response to COVID-19. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating their achievements, their inspiring battles for the human rights of women and girls, and sharing their demands for a better post COVID-19 world. Join us.
03-03-2021
International Women’s Day: Five women human rights leaders demand a more equal post-pandemic world
Ahead of International Women’s Day, we spoke to five women leaders who have been instrumental in the response to COVID-19. From the climate crisis, to prevention of domestic and sexual violence, to better access to healthcare for minority groups, these inspiring women are leading efforts for a more just, more sustainable ‘new normal.’
03-03-2021
We must “revitalise our forces for racial equality and justice,” says COVID-19 panel
While commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, panellists at the Human Rights Council urge Governments and the UN to step up efforts to address the structural racism and racial discrimination revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionally affect racial and ethnic minorities.
02-03-2021
"The people of Yemen look to us for hope, for help – for life," Bachelet says
At an event to raise funds for humanitarian support to Yemen, the High Commissioner pointed out that the consequences of prolonged hunger – or famine – on the current scale "will reach across the region, and for many generations"
01-03-2021
Bachelet updates Human Rights Council on recent human rights issues in more than 50 countries
Focusing on the urgent need to expand people's participation in decisions-making, the High Commissioner deplored that “in every region of the world, people are being left behind – or pushed even further behind – as the coronavirus pandemic gathers pace". "This makes us all weaker," she observed, calling for Council members to "speak out against measures that silence civil society”
26-02-2021
Responding to the needs of women, ‘first responders’ to Egypt’s COVID-19 crisis
Entisar Elsaeed, Founder and Director of the Cairo Foundation for Development and Law, has seen the increasing burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in Egypt. She decided to focus the work of her Foundation on the country’s most vulnerable during the crisis.
25-02-2021
On Sri Lanka, Bachelet urges Human Rights Council to step up efforts for accountability and redress
In light of the failure to advance domestic justice for human rights violations in Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner called on the Human Rights Council to consider new ways to support accountability at the international level, including for collection and preservation of evidence
24-02-2021
Secretary-General Guterres calls for a global reset, "to recover better, guided by human rights"
In a powerful speech to the Human Rights Council that focused on racism, women and the pandemic's impact on human rights, Antonio Guterres said "recovery gives us an opportunity to generate momentum for transformation"
22-02-2021
Bachelet calls for stronger support for social protections, free press and public participation in decisions
"The pandemic has ripped the mask off the deadly realities of discrimination; deep inequalities; and chronic under-funding for essential services and rights," the High Commissioner said
22-02-2021
Revitalise our action for racial justice, Bachelet tells the Human Rights Council
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration, the High Commissioner called for strong action to end discrimination, and address its role in "manufacturing poverty"
22-02-2021
Myanmar coup is a "profound setback" to human rights; power should be returned to civilian control
Opening a Special Session of the Human Rights Council, the Deputy High Commissioner noted, "The indiscriminate use of lethal or less-than-lethal weapons against peaceful protestors is unacceptable. More violence against Myanmar’s people will only compound the illegitimacy of the coup, and the culpability of its leaders."
12-02-2021
Keeping women and girls in Kenya safe during COVID-19
Beatrice Karore, a community mobiliser who helps survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya, says that violence against women has increased during COVID-19 and uncovered unprecedented mental health needs.
02-02-2021
Sri Lanka on alarming path towards recurrence of violations
New report highlights worrying trends, including political obstruction of accountability, militarization of civilian governmental functions and intensified surveillance and harassment of civil society.
27-01-2021
The right to education for girls in post-ISIL Iraq
A new report by UN Human Rights looks at girls’ access to education in areas formerly controlled by ISIL in northern Iraq.
24-01-2021
Workshop on human rights helps indigenous people battle the pandemic
Indigenous people from several regions in Brazil took part in a workshop to help them better promote and protect their rights during the COVID-19 crisis. The workshop was led by UN Human Rights Senior Indigenous Fellows.
15-01-2021
Tackling COVID-19 in Nigeria from a safety education angle
The safety education tools that Ugochi Obidiegwu, Managing partner at The Safety Chic, develops for children and adults have been helping teachers and pupils in Nigeria resume school with minimised danger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
08-01-2021
The Quest for Justice: A Former Prison Guard from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea speaks out
A former prison guard from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) turned human rights activist is playing an important role in shedding light on human rights violations in the DPRK.
04-01-2021
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