How we make a difference 2015
Sanitation acknowledged as human right
More than 2.5 billion still lack access to adequate sanitation, leaving them vulnerable to a variety of challenges. Sanitation is now being recognized as a distinct human right.
ICERD: Fighting racism for 50 years and beyond
For 50 years, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms or Racism and Discrimination (ICERD) has been at the forefront of the fight against racism and discrimination in the world.
Migrants voices: We are not criminals
“I hope there is an amnesty for the illegal migrants, just because for me I am not a criminal...,” said Eladet Arcade a domestic migrant worker, who shared her experience at a recent panel discussion on migration and promoting tolerance.
Towards 30 years of the right to development
The 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development “emphasizes the dignity of the human person,” said Craig Mokhiber, head of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch of the UN Human Rights Office.
Ending child marriage: affected girls speak for themselves
“Child marriage started before me and will end with me,” said one of the participants during a safe space discussion for former child brides held at the First African Girls Summit to End Child Marriage, in Lusaka, Zambia.
Burning Down the House
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights likens man-made climate change to being an arsonist burning down one’s own home. In this opinion piece, he urges solutions rooted in climate justice.
Join us to mark Human Rights Day on 10 December
Events to mark Human Rights Day in New York include: a symbolic ceremony at the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, a panel discussion on the Secretary-General's Human Rights up Front initiative, and a discussion on the economic cost of LGBT exclusion.
Making human rights fashionable
How do you make human rights fashionable? For one South African fashion designer, you do it by having a real stake in the production chain process, from the designers all the way to the weavers of the cloth.
Making progress on business and human rights
Preventing and addressing business-related human abuse is the focus of the UN Business and Human Rights Forum, a three-day conference that brings together over 2,000 representatives from all sides of the issue.
Boko Haram’s path of destruction
The UN Human Rights Office recently launched a report on the atrocities committed by Boko Haram. Some of these malicious acts, if confirmed by a court of law, could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Better data, better lives
A meeting organized by the UN Human Rights Office focuses on a human rights-based approach to data collection ahead of World Statistics Day.
A name, a nationality, an identity: Registering Indigenous Peoples in Panama
Hundreds of members of the Mama Tata religious group of the Ngäbe-Bugle indigenous people in Panama have been recently officially registered by members of the country’s Electoral Tribunal. The registration was assisted by the UN Human Rights Office for Central America as part of a project to improve birth registration among indigenous populations funded by the Universal Periodic Review Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance.
UN chief on LGBT rights: “Leave no one behind”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls on Governments to use the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals to end the marginalization and exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Honouring human rights defenders
Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor from the United Arab Emirates is this year’s recipient of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award. The Geneva-based award is presented every year to an individual who has an outstanding record of fighting against human rights violations.
Death penalty victims’ families deserve respect, panellists say
As more nations move toward abolishing the death penalty, more needs to be done to ensure the rights and needs of victims and their families are met, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Mr. Ban’s statement was part of the event Moving Away from the Death Penalty: Voices of Victims’ Families, an event which took place during the UN General Assembly in New York.
During UN’s busiest week, human rights is focus of many debates
As the annual gathering of world leaders representing the 193 member states of the United Nations gets under way at UN headquarters in New York, here are the three main human rights related events to follow - on the death penalty, LGBT, and Sustainable Development Goals . All three events take place on Tuesday, 29 September.
Crying Out for Justice: the Continued Plight of Syrian Civilians
The latest UN Commission of Inquiry report on the Syrian Arab Republic calls for urgent action to ensure the effective protection of civilians caught up in protracted fighting. The report, the tenth from the Commission, was presented during an interactive dialogue at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council.
Who has the right to land in Burundi?
Is it possible to solve the issue of land by making another person landless? This is the dilemma the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi has documented and helped the Government deal with as those who fled the country’s many conflicts between 1962 and 1993 return seeking the land they lost.
Criticism is no threat to sovereignty
“Sovereignty cannot be damaged by carefully evaluated commentary,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in his opening address to the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva this month.
Togo: The road towards human rights
In 2005 the death of hundreds people during the post-election related violence in Togo prompted a UN investigation. A decade later we look at the success of the UN Human Rights Office in the country.
Central African Republic: the fight against impunity
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is in the Central African Republic on an official visit to reiterate support and make a plea for support for human rights. During the four-day visit Zeid will meet with various representatives of the country’s transitional government, NGOs and internally displaced people as well as take part in a seminar on preventing impunity.
New Independent Expert on Albinism Takes Up Post
Ikponwosa Ero has been appointed as the United Nations first-ever Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by People with Albinism. Ero, from Nigeria, was appointed by the Human Rights Council during its 29th Session.
Promoting LGBTI equality in the Pacific
The UN Human Rights Office for the Pacific, along with other UN agencies, civil society organizations and diplomatic missions, launched the Free & Equal campaign to recognize sexual and gender diversity in the region and promote respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex Pacific Islanders.
Empowering indigenous peoples in Nepal
UN Human Rights Office Senior Indigenous Fellow Subha Ghale from Nepal is working on empowering women from indigenous communities in her home country.
Living in a state of fear
ISIL has engaged in widespread and systematic human rights violations of the most serious kinds in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq, according to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on countering terrorism. Civilians living under ISIL have furthermore suffered from the airstrikes conducted by the international coalition of States.
Protection of cultural heritage must include views of indigenous peoples
The voices of indigenous peoples need to be heard during all aspects of current and future negotiations on sustainable development and human rights, said UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussien. Zeid made his comments during the Eighth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which took place in Geneva.
Greater ambition needed to improve financing for development
Financing for development is not dependent on money as much as it is on will, ambition and compassion. In a statement read on his behalf on the last day of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on States, civil society, private business interests and others to seize the opportunity to provide freedom from fear and want to people across the world.
More satellite images to assist human rights work
Satellite imagery plays a vital role in helping to substantiate and help corroborate other sources of information, including witness testimonies, of human rights violations. A recent agreement between the UN Human Rights Office and UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) hopes to expand the use of this technology for human rights work.
All rise! The Moot Court is in session
The third edition of the Summer School on Human Rights ends in Kazan, Republic of Tartastan, with a Moot Court Competition based on the European Court of Human Rights.
UN Human Rights Office researches abuses of Boko Haram
The atrocities and human rights abuses committed by Boko Haram are the focus of a special investigation by the UN Human Rights Office. The investigation, authorized by the Human Rights Council earlier this year, will interview provide background information for an oral report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
UN Human Rights Chief opens new office in Seoul
The UN Human Rights Office has opened its newest office this week in Seoul. The Seoul office works on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Supporting victims of torture and rebuilding lives
On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commits to leading the United Nations in denouncing torture and defending human rights around the world.
Girls’ education key to eliminating discrimination
To achieve the fundamental principle of equality between men and women, we need to dismantle outmoded and harmful stereotypes that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential, said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Zeid made his comment during a panel discussion on girls’ education, which took place during the 29th session of the Human Rights Council.
Migrants need protection, not push-backs
The plight of thousands of migrants attempting to make their way to safety and dignity needs global attention and effort, said UN High Commission for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his remarks during an interactive dialogue on the human rights of migrants which took place during the 29th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Message is clear: Human Rights Still Matter
“Let the message go out that we will defend the victim and the voiceless,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The message was given during his opening statement of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva this week.
Discrimination has no place in football
Sport is one of the few activities that can bring people together across all boundaries, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein. But unfortunately, discrimination is also common in this pursuit. Zeid made his remarks as part of a stakeholder meeting on anti-discrimination and racism in football held in Moscow.
Films help educate students about human rights
For ten years the UN Human Rights Office has supported the use of films as a way to educate about human rights. In partnership with the Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, the Office co-organizes special screenings of films aimed at Geneva schoolchildren.
Fight against torture: “Are we doing enough?”
Ending torture means ending impunity for those who commit it, as well as providing rehabilitation and reparation to victims, practitioners told a large audience of representatives from Member States and the public during a public meeting convened by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
‘Callous’ EU politics on migrants costing lives, UN rights chief warns
Following the loss of some 700 lives after a boat carrying migrants sank over the weekend, the UN human rights chief has urged European Union governments to take a “more sophisticated, more courageous and less callous approach” to coping with the flows of migrants towards Europe.
Doha: At Crime Congress, UN experts cite ‘shift’ as more States move away from death penalty
“The world is certainly moving away from the death penalty, in just the way the world moved away from slavery, from judicial torture and from other such practices”, UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns said at the Doha Crime Congress special event on the death penalty, recalling that in 1948, only eight States had taken the death penalty out of their laws and now 99 have done so.
Rebuilding lives torn apart by torture
Fund recipients will join board members during a meeting of the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture. The meeting, which takes place in Geneva in April, gives a chance for Fund recipients to exchange best practices and meeting with the Fund’s Trustees.
Children living on the street to receive special focus
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is developing a General Comment on Children in Street Situations. The Comment, which is a comprehensive review of how the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be applied to children living on the street, was prompted by a recommendation of a report by the UN Human Rights Office and the Consortium for Street Children.
Learning from historical tragedies to end racism
The Human Rights Council says that commemorating past human rights tragedies through the use of archives, historical research and other educational activities, will help combat the old ideologies that continue to feed racism today.
Thanks A Million
The UN Human Rights Office Facebook page has passed the one million “likes” mark. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called the milestone symbolic of the public’s trust in the work of the Office.
Copyright should not infringe on cultural rights
Copyrights are not normally associated with human rights, but these laws can have a profound effect on the lives of communities if not properly managed, says UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights Farida Shaheed.
Climate change is a human rights issue
A human rights-based approach to climate change would render climate policy more effective because it would identify and satisfy the most pressing needs of vulnerable people, said Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The exhibition “Blanc Ebène – White Ebony” at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, raises awareness of the human rights of persons living with albinism through 30 images by photographer Patricia Willocq.
Expert says key housing rights responsibility lie with local authorities
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, is concerned about the billions of people worldwide living in inadequate housing. In her report at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council she called on States to guarantee access to justice and effective remedies for violations of this right.
Experts in Argentina 35 years after
To mark the 35th anniversary of its creation, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances hosted its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Group was created to investigate disappearances specifically in the wake of massive human rights violations in Argentina. The meeting marked the Working Group’s 105th session.
Honouring Women Human Rights Defenders
Being a human rights defender can mean extraordinary acts and risks, which can multiply if that defender is a woman. A campaign by the UN Human Rights Office has highlighted the work done by these defenders and encouraged solidarity with them.
Protecting and promoting minority rights in Kyrgyzstan
Utkir Dzhabbarov believes that learning how to better use the UN human rights instruments and mechanisms is key to help improve the lives of ethnic minority communities in Kyrgyzstan. Dzhabbarov, who belongs to the Uzbek minority community in Kyrgyzstan, was a participant in the UN Human Rights Office Minority Fellowship Programme.
States must renew dedication to inalienable human rights
The near daily news of atrocities and needless human suffering at the hands of terrorists and others demands a stronger and more inspired leadership from Member States toward upholding human rights, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his comments at the opening of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Climate change impacts enjoyment of human rights
Recognizing the intrinsic link between human rights and climate change, experts on both issues took part in the “Climate Justice Dialogue.” The Dialogue, which took place in Geneva in early February, aimed to strengthen the links between human rights and climate change action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Paris later this year. The Dialogue was sponsored by the UN Human Rights Office and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
Rise in unregistered marriages in Kyrgyzstan called “worrying”
Unregistered marriages are on the rise in Kyrgyzstan. The marriages, usually performed by a local religious leader, can put the women who participate in them at risk by undermining their rights and economic position, according to the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Central Asia. The office is working with local NGOs, and government officials to raise awareness of and to help curb the practice.
Attacks against girls’ education on the increase
A new report by the UN Human Rights Office looks at the increase in attacks against girls accessing education. The study, by the Women’s Human Rights and Gender section, found an increase in the number of attacks specifically aimed at girls trying to go to school. It makes recommendations for prevention and reparations.
“We need people with PH D level compassion”
“We need people who are kind. People with PhD level compassion,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his remarks during a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. as part of an event looking into the causes of atrocities.
Fashion used to show human rights
“We invite you to wear your human rights 365 days every year,” said Liliana Valina, Human Rights Adviser with the UN Human Rights Office. She is referring to wearing clothing designed as part of the Derechos Humanos, Son Para Protegerte (Human rights, they are protecting you) campaign, which used fashion to help raise awareness of human rights issues.
Helping to inform and improve the lives of Afro-Nicaraguans
Shaun Carol Campbell Bush believes that Nicaraguans of African descent need to be more proactive to have their rights recognized. As a participant in the UN Human Rights Office Minority Fellowship programme, she believes she will learn how to use human rights mechanisms to assist her community to do this.
Traditional slavery: Said and Yarg’s story
Brothers Said and Yarg both inherited the status of ‘slave’. They had no choice but to obey their master’s orders and were not allowed to go to school. They were also frequently subject to beatings. They were eventually able to escape and with the assistance of two anti-slavery organisations, they have been able to pursue legal action against their former master and begin their schooling.
Taking a human rights approach to psychosocial disability
Getting the issues concerning persons with psychosocial disabilities or mental health problems dealt with from a human rights perspective has been the focus of work by the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe. A recent event of the “Forgotten Europeans” series looked at human rights challenges faced by these groups.
Rebuilding Lives After Torture – Ahmed’s Story
Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Amin, executive director of WCHAN – Trauma Rehabilitation and Training Center of Iraq, counsels torture victims from across the country and from neighbouring Syria.
Religious and belief tolerance necessary for workplace
Religious practice in the workplace needs to be accommodated to ensure all employees are free to exercise this human right, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief says. To do this, Heiner Bielefeldt calls on employers and employees should establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.
Stories by year