​​​​​How we make a difference 2019

Kenya’s social justice movement expands its reach
With the support of UN Human Rights, the social justice centres movement is flourishing in Kenya, and community human rights defenders are making their voices heard and their impact felt.
Breaking cycles of sexual violence linked to elections in Kenya
UN Human Rights is working with survivors, the Government and civil society to prevent the recurrence of sexual violence ahead of the upcoming 2022 polls.
Experts: time is right to push for better inclusion LGBTI people in Caribbean
The LGBTI community in the Caribbean faces significant challenges, but there are still opportunities to work toward their human rights, said a UN independent expert.
Trans rights are “not subject to referendum.”
For the last 30 years, Karina Pankievich has fought for the rights of transgender people in Uruguay, most recently in the fight to keep from repeal the country’s first law on rights for transgender people. “An activist is the person who knows that she has the ability to help and fight for rights that other people do not have.”
Report: Impacts of climate change seriously compromising human rights
“Climate change constitutes a clear, present and intensifying threat to the full and effective exercise of all human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, during the launch of a new publication on the contribution of the Latin American and Caribbean region to the fight for climate justice.
OHCHR works with Jordanian police to train future peacekeepers on human rights
Peacekeeping today is all about protecting civilians and their human rights. UN Human Rights and UN Police trainers are joining hands to prepare Jordanian police officers for their future tasks in conflict and post-conflict peacekeeping scenarios.
Reported reprisals increase against those who cooperate with the UN
“People around the world are punished for cooperating with the UN, punished for cooperating with mechanisms set up by Member States,” said Assistant-Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour. “The fact that most of the punishment is carried out by Member States has always seemed to me strikingly wrong.”
Concerns over States contracting private security companies in migration situations
Human rights experts describe the appalling human rights impacts of the privatisation by certain States in the Americas, Europe and Oceania of different aspects of immigration and border management, notably privately operated immigration detention facilities.
Human rights education strengthens our humanity
“For me, human rights education is a transformative process,” said Elisa Gazzotti, chairperson of the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education and Learning. She made her comments during the launch of the Fourth Phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education.
Business after conflict: respecting human rights to help sustain peace
Since 2011, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have provided the authoritative global framework to address business-related human rights abuses. Now there is increasing attention on how States, companies and investors can help build and sustain peace in post-conflict contexts by protecting and respecting human rights.
Seeking effective protection of migrants' rights in Niger
Most West African migrants heading to North Africa or Europe transit through Niger. The UN Human Rights presence in Niamey aims to strengthen effective protection of their rights.
Venezuela: High Commissioner Bachelet details plans for new human rights assistance
Briefing to the Human Rights Council on important human rights issues in Venezuela, and prospects for a newly signed human rights cooperation agreement
“To us, there are no migrants . . . there are people”
Wednesday 18 December marks International Migrants’ Day. Alina Lyapina, a young activist from Germany who began a major grassroots movement to welcome more people to her country, is calling for more action from governments.
Bachelet: International Migrants Day
On International Migrants Day, High Commissioner Bachelet reflects on the human desire to belong, and calls for celebration of our shared humanity.
Report on Chile crisis describes multiple police violations and calls for reforms
Report on the mass protests and state of emergency in Chile concludes the police and army failed to adhere to international norms and standards, and calls for reforms.
Human Rights Committee gives top grades for follow-up to five countries
The Human Rights Committee has given top ratings to five countries for satisfactorily implementing its recommendations.
Humanizing the prison world: A diplomatic victory in Madagascar
Madagascar has made the humanization of the prison world a national priority. The diplomatic approach to human rights and support from UN Human Rights has significantly contributed to that.
Young people are at the forefront of standing up for human rights
Human Rights Day celebrates and encourages the activism of young people standing up for human rights. “This has been a year of tremendous activism, most notably by young people,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Urging business actors to grasp the scope of climate-related impacts on human rights
At the COP25 in Madrid, the High Commissioner detailed human rights-based actions that States, businesses and investors should employ
Young people's advocacy and activism for climate justice brings us all hope for climate action
At the COP25 in Madrid, the High Commissioner applauds youth movements for climate justice, pledging help to uphold young people's human rights
Bachelet: We salute youth for standing up on climate
We owe a debt of gratitude to the millions of children, teenagers and young adults who have been standing up and speaking out more and more loudly about the climate crisis facing our planet.
Our climate crisis makes labour rights and activism even more crucial, the High Commissioner said at the COP25
Trade unions' combat for dignity will be invaluable to ensure that adaptation to climate change creates new jobs, and lifts people out of poverty.
Kristeena Monteith: “Enough is enough. It’s time for change”
Kristeena Monteith is encouraging Jamaican youth to use their voice for rights by connecting more with their own culture. She runs a youth-led radio show, and is also a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Minority rights need more support and promotion
“The populist nationalist narratives that are being exploited by would-be politicians across the world…is worsening the situation for [minorities],” said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore. “There is nothing new about it. It has been the basis of cruelty, exclusion and discrimination for centuries. What is remarkable though is that we know so much better now.”
“Be compassionate towards those you don’t agree with”
Arizza Nocum chose to defeat violent extremism in her native Philippines by bringing communities together through her interfaith libraries.
Indigenous youth fight for the human rights of all generations
For indigenous youth, it is important to talk about their rights, as well as how to improve their living situation, said Dalí Silvia Angel, an indigenous youth rights activist with Red de Jóvenes Indígenas (Indigenous Youth Network) in Mexico. “We like to say, nothing for us without us. If you want the situation to be visible, then we have to be there and your voice has to be heard.”
Enslavement: a ‘shocking indictment’ on our societies
2 December marks the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Around the world, more than 40 million men, women and children are enslaved. One of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to eradicate slavery in all its forms by 2030. The UN Slavery Fund has being channelling support to slavery survivors since 1991.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum is crucial for climate action, High Commissioner says
Climate change threatens people's livelihoods, communities, health, development – even their lives, and nowhere is this clearer than in small island States and other members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.
Turning the tide on gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa
Through her innovative approach to healing and transformation, Thokozani Ndabaand and the young women she supports bring new hope to the survivors of sexual violence in Setswetla, just outside Alexandra township in South Africa.
Counting groups left behind: a stellar step for inclusion in Kenya
The 2019 census in Kenya counted people who were never counted before. OHCHR’s human rights based approach to data influenced this recognition of communities that have historically been marginalised.
Engaging business and investment institutions to end human trafficking and slavery
There’s a new realisation that financial institutions may also be involved in slavery and trafficking – and can help end these crimes, which currently victimise “one in every 185 people alive”.
Governments need to step up action for human rights in business activities
We need stronger frameworks for accountability and governance, to ensure business activities don't involve exploitation of workers and users of their products; land grabs and other abuses of the rights of local communities; increased inequalities and damage to our right to a healthy environment.
“For every child now and in future generations” - Michelle Bachelet
During the celebration of the 30 years of the child rights Convention in Geneva, children human rights defenders and their supporters make a plea for what matters: that their rights be protected and their voices heard.
Bachelet calls for "a multilateralism which expresses people’s needs, and which protects and advances their human rights"
"If Governments and security forces treat their people as enemies, enemies is what they may become," High Commissioner Bachelet said, of today's mass protests. "The excessive use of force breaks bones, breaks lives, and it also breaks trust – in institutions; in leaders; in the rule of law."
When sport becomes a dangerous playing field for children
A report by the Special Rapporteur on the sale and exploitation of children looks at child rights violations in the world of sport.
Ceremonies in Geneva and New York underscore the urgency of stronger action to uphold children’s rights
Bridging two events on either side of the Atlantic to mark 30 years of the child rights convention, High Commissioner Bachelet emphasised the need for action to stem the “deprivation, misery, exploitation and violence” so many children suffer.
“We are the future men and women”
20 November marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Dea’a, a 16 year old teenager from Yemen, is fighting for a brighter future for the children of his country.
Mass protests cry out for more effective and sustainable policies and governance based on human rights
High Commissioner Bachelet looks at the human rights issues at the core of today’s mass protests -- and suggests ways they can be solved
“It is my right to raise my voice. Do not underestimate me.”
Saadah, a visually impaired teenager, is a member of the Children’s Parliament of Yemen. She uses her voice to stand up for the rights of other visually impaired children in a country torn apart by war.
Accelerating the world's promise of accountability for sexual and reproductive health and rights
At the Nairobi Summit to mark the 25th anniversary of the ground-breaking International Conference on Population and Development, the High Commissioner called for a “more explicit human rights approach, to hold ourselves and our Governments accountable”
Advocating for Somali marginalised communities’ inclusion via radio
In a Somali society marked by clan-based divisions, inequalities & exclusions, marginalized communities’ activists strive for inclusion with a media campaign supported by the UN Human Rights & Protection Group.
Chris Mburu, winner, 2019 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
Right to education defender and former UN Human Rights staff, Chris Mburu, receives the 2019 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award.
Northeast Nigeria: addressing impunity for sexual violence amidst a decade-long conflict
As the decade-long conflict persists in northeast Nigeria, sexual violence against women and girls has escalated. UN Human Rights is working to ensure those responsible are held accountable.
Ukraine: justice pending for killings of journalists and activists
In the last five years, Ukraine has suffered from a string of attacks against journalists and activists. Families are demanding investigations and fair trials.
Expert: Reparations for victims of rights violations not optional
“Reparations for serious human rights violations are not matters that depend on political will, they are clear legal obligations,” said Fabián Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations during the Human Rights Council.
The human right to safe and healthy working conditions
UN expert on human rights and toxics, Baskut Tuncak, presents 15 groundbreaking principles to help end the exploitation of workers by exposure to toxic substances.
Dakar retreat: Paving the way for the future of the Human Rights Council
Dakar retreat addresses challenges likely to underpin the work of the Human Rights Council in coming years, including climate change, mass migration, social corporate responsibility, growing inequalities and emerging digital technologies.
“The day I stop believing is the day I stop fighting.”
Erika Aifán is a leading figure in the fight against impunity in Guatemala. The judge at Guatemala’s Criminal High Risk Tribunal, believes that making sure that justice is done helps both the government and more importantly, the citizens.
Cyberspace cannot be an ungoverned zone, or a 'human rights black hole'
High Commissioner Bachelet issues a strong statement on digital risks – and potential solutions
“The lifeblood which sustains every healthy society”: human rights-based solutions to today’s challenges
As a new global and digital landscape comes into sharper focus, the challenges we face are tightly intertwined, the High Commissioner told students at Harvard's Kennedy School – and they require a coherent approach that is principled, grounded in a very broad consensus, and which has demonstrated its value for decades.
Many indigenous languages are in danger of extinction
Around 40 percent of the world’s 6,700 spoken languages are in danger of disappearing, and many of them belong to indigenous peoples. But this trend can be reversed, said Mona Rishmawi of the UN Human Rights Office. Rishmawi made her statement during a panel discussion at the Human Rights Council.
55 sentenced to life imprisonment: A victory against impunity in DRC
Following violent tensions in Northeastern Congo, the Bunia Military Court, supported by the MONUSCO Joint Human Rights Office, sentenced 55 people to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
Rohingya refugees and the right to education
A learning centre in Malaysia is giving Rohingya refugees a chance to have an education. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet visited the centre on a recent trip to the country.
Maximizing the transformative power of education
Victoria Ibiwoye struggled with education as a student. Now, she works to create a more inclusive learning environment that would provide better prospects for the youth in her country, Nigeria.
Public spaces and workplaces left behind in the right to water and sanitation
While many States have made progress in increasing access to water and sanitation in households, it is often the people who rely on services in public spaces and workplaces who are being left behind.
Katura Halleday: “The youth today are the leaders of tomorrow”
Young Australian rights defender, Katura Halleday, is helping reduce education inequality. On the International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October, we celebrate her and the countless other girls who are proving they are unscripted and unstoppable.
Education has the power to transform lives
“As the global refugee crisis deepens, children are often most affected,” said Maya Ghazal, 20-year-old Syrian refugee. “But they are also extraordinarily resilient. They find ways to cope, to progress and if given the opportunity, thrive!” Ghazal was a featured speaker during the 2019 Social Forum in Geneva.
Navigating uncertainty and change with a human rights approach that embraces dialogue, clarity, principles – and justice
In Australia, the High Commissioner weighs today's turbulence with that of past eras – and advocates global engagement and the implementation of human rights.
A Human rights conversation in Australia
"Ambitious human rights gains are achievable and Australians can be mobilised to uphold the rights of others, as they showed the world in legislating marriage equality. Reason, evidence and empathy can help temper visceral emotional responses and advance rights for all. We need a conversation," Bachelet.
First-ever visit by UN Human Rights Chief to Malaysia
Bachelet calls on the people of Malaysia to celebrate the kaleidoscope of ethnicity, religion, language and other identities that make the country so special by standing up for the rights of those whose beliefs and backgrounds differ from their own.
The fight against ‘popular justice’ in Cambodia
In Cambodia, violent acts of popular justice are occurring year after year. UN Human Rights is urging the government to condemn publicly the violence, and to ensure effective investigation and prosecution.
Children at the centre of the child rights convention anniversary celebration
Children human rights defenders join in the celebration hosted in Geneva, Switzerland, by the Committee on the Rights of the Child for the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Older persons invisible and vulnerable in emergencies
Lack of data, exacerbated inequalities and concerns for mobility and safety are some of the issues facing older persons in emergency situations, said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment and exercise of human rights of older persons. This lack of assistance and programmes renders older persons invisible during emergencies.
Interview with Special Advisor on Genocide Adama Dieng on Hate Speech
“Hate speech should never be confused with suppression freedom of expression,” said UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng. Dieng heads the United Nations’ new push to counter hate speech.
Transparency and oversight needed for security arrangements in extractive industries
Human rights abuses by private security actors working for extractive companies, including private military and security companies need firmer accountability and oversight by States, said Chris Kwaja, chairperson of the Working Group on the use of Mercenaries. Kwaja presented the Working Group’s report during the Human Rights Council.
High Commissioner signs “milestone agreement” to open UN Human Rights Office in Sudan
With an agreement to open UN human rights offices in Sudan, we are poised to accompany the country through an important moment in its history.
“Universal health coverage is achievable,” says High Commissioner
High-level meeting on universal health hears that healthy societies are the key to unlocking sustainable development
10,000 people a day must be freed to end slavery by 2030
In her latest report to the Human Rights Council, UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery, Urmila Bhoola, says that emerging global issues are putting more people of risk of being exploited or enslaved.
“The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope”: High Commissioner's update highlights climate threats
Michelle Bachelet's wide-ranging update to the Human Rights Council outlines human rights gains and setbacks across the world, and urges greater partnership
Oral Update on the Human Rights Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
At the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Bachelet details continuing and serious human rights concerns in Venezuela
Courts rather than spears used to defend indigenous territories
Nemonte Nenquino and Omanca are land human rights defenders from the Waorani people in Ecuador. The group recently won a landmark court ruling against the Government preventing oil exploration on their land.
"The cost of doing nothing is far too expensive": High Commissioner informally briefs States
A wide-ranging statement details many human rights and procedural concerns, days before the Human Rights Council opens session.
Relatives of missing migrants never lose hope
“For me he is alive because I have not found anything different. I am continuing to talk about him in the present,” said Maria Elena Larios. Her son, Heriberto Antonio Gonzalez Larios went missing nearly ten years ago while trying to make his way from El Salvador to Mexico, looking for better a better life.
New Partnership: UN Human Rights Office and Wikimedia Foundation
United Nations Human Rights and Wikimedia Foundation signed a partnership agreement to improve the quality and quantity of human rights content on Wikipedia multilingual platforms.
A tribute to humanitarians who have lost their lives in serving people across the world
We mourn the deaths of the selfless humanitarians and human rights defenders who have been killed in their service to save lives and ensure respect for human rights
Indigenous women balance identity, gender and politics when in power
For indigenous women, positions of political power are about balance – how to balance being a woman, being indigenous and being a representative of a larger community. In a recent meeting at the United Nations in Geneva, seven former and current politicians, all indigenous women, shared how they not only maintained the balance, but thrived because of it.
Summer School Programme in Russia focuses on SDGs and human rights
Students in the Human Rights Summer School programme in Russia say that States achieving the SDGs will guarantee them a bright future. They learn why promoting human rights is crucial in leaving no one behind.
More than 40,000 Scouts learn to Stand Up for Human Rights
More than 40,000 scouts from across the globe gathered to promote peace, mutual understanding and learn about the sustainable development goals, during the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, USA.
Wikipedia marathons: editing for rights in Argentina
UN Human Rights is partnering with Wikimedia to promote access to quality information on human rights through Wikipedia. A first event was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, gathering contributors to edit content about women and LGBTI rights.
Leprosy survivor, Rachna Kumari: “Every person has the right to live life with dignity”
A new United Nations report looks at leprosy – a disease which historically has ostracised millions – and how stigma can ‘dehumanise’ those affected. Rachna Kumari, a survivor, is fighting against the pervasive stereotypes and bringing hope to others.
Older people need stronger human rights protection
Older persons need a dedicated convention to protect their human rights, experts told the Human Rights Council. “We are leaving older people behind, they tend to be forgotten,” said Idah Mukuka Nambeya from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers programme, which supports older women working in communities across Africa.
New labour Convention to tackle violence against women at work
UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet has welcomed a new Convention adopted by the International Labour Organisation on the elimination of violence and harassment against women at work.
Powering the 2030 Agenda with Sustainable Development Goal 16
The construction of peaceful and just societies, with effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, drives development that is sustainable because it is deep, broad, and self-regenerating.
Local governments unite to defend and promote human rights
A first time consultation in Geneva, Switzerland brought together local governments from around the world and UN Human Rights to discuss the growing human rights challenges in cities, especially in the face of massive and rapid urbanisation.
Venezuela: High Commissioner Bachelet calls for dialogue and change
Briefing the Human Rights Council, she outlines the "dramatic impact" of the crisis on fundamental rights
A rights environment for the highest standard of mental health
UN expert on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, says that good mental health must be defined by the creation of environments where people can live their lives in dignity in the equitable pursuit of their full potential.
Climate change: highlighting the need for gender-specific action
Climate change has specific adverse impacts on women and girls – but women also have much to contribute to climate action.
Forced sterilisations in Peru: one woman’s fight for justice and redress
In the late 1990s, some 300,000 Peruvian women were subjected to a programme of sterilisation, ordered by the government’s National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme. Maria Elena Carbajal Cepeda was one of these women. She now heads an organisation which is defending the rights of survivors.
First UN Human Rights presence in Venezuela
Ending the first-ever visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Venezuela, Michelle Bachelet left a team of two staff to advise on, assist with, and monitor the rights situation in the country.
Upholding human rights in a hostile climate
UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, highlights the results of her office in 2018 in a report that includes a new format and innovative features.
Tunisia's Fundamental Covenant, at 150 years old, is a precursor to the UDHR
One of the oldest and most far reaching visions of equality stems from the Arab world.
From North Korea defector to human rights defender: the story of HanByeol Lee
HanByeol Lee escaped the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) when she was 17. A survivor of severe hardship and famine, she is now living in Seoul, and heads an organisation which fights for human rights and change in North Korea.
"I am striking for climate"
Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a Ugandan student and environmental rights activist, has sacrificed her Friday lessons at Kampala International University to protest against lack of action to tackle climate change.
Reporting Back to Myanmar’s Rohingya: The Most Important Report of All
International fact-finding mechanisms set up by the Human Rights Council investigate human rights crises globally and issue reports relying heavily on testimony from survivors and victims. In a rare move, the UN’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar returned to those communities and reported back to them.
Women’s activism has kept every kind of human rights struggle 'alive and fertile, like the earth'
The advancement of women's rights can lay claim to be one of the most far-reaching social revolutions the world has seen.
Preventing incitement to hatred and violence in the Central African Republic
On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, we highlight the work of UN Human Rights to prevent discourse by public figures that target particular communities and fuel or trigger violence in the Central African Republic.
To shape a life, and a world, which hold steady to core principles
The High Commissioner speaks to students graduating from Columbia University
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia: Justice and protection, no matter whom you love
“Justice and protection should be guaranteed for all, no matter who you are or whom you love,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. Today, 17 May, marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
The "art" of law goes deeper than rules: it is justice
In St. Petersburg, the High Commissioner urged work to provide effective, accountable justice institutions for all.
'Stop the War on Children': an important new campaign
"This is about who we are, and the kind of society we want to live in," the High Commissioner said.
Wai Wai Nu, Rohingya activist: "I am not free. My community is not free. My country is not free."
Wai Wai Nu is a human rights advocate from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya community. A former political prisoner, today she dedicates her life to fighting for human rights in her country, specifically focusing on Rohingya women and girls.
Apps can help fight impunity for sexual violence
Technology can help survivors of sexual violence, said Peggy Hicks Thematic Director at the UN Human Rights Office. The key is ensuring the needs of survivors are paramount in the design. Hicks was speaking during a recent round table discussion on the subject.
Afro-Chileans' recognition: from denial to pride
After centuries of being made invisible and suffering stigma, Afro-Chilean communities push forward a new law that recognizes their cultural identity and contributions to society.
"People do not lose their human rights because they use drugs"
High Commissioner Bachelet delivers a keynote to an important global conference on drug use.
Healing the wounds of torture survivors through 'rights-based mental healthcare'
Dr. Sonali Gupta is a clinical psychologist who has over 10 years’ experience working with torture survivors, most of whom were asylum seekers.
Ensuring that supply chains for mineral extraction are free from human rights harms
"The interests of the mining industry do not diverge from the interests of humanity", High Commissioner Bachelet tells a key meeting at the OECD.
Shaping greater justice, equality and dignity across the world
Today’s threats to human rights – and human life – are connected ; but so are the solutions, the High Commissioner tells law students in Washington DC.
Working to eradicate torture in Afghanistan
Rates of torture and ill treatment for conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan have declined since 2016, according to a new report from UN Human Rights. However, there is still a long way to go to fully eradicate the practice.
Experts recognise sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture
Recognising that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) may amount to torture empowers victims to seek redress and rehabilitation as well as holds States accountable for better provision for victims, said Gaby Oré Aguilar, a member of the Board of Trustees the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
I fight for the rights of the most vulnerable
Aneta Genova Mircheva doesn’t think of herself as a human rights defender. Yet as a member of Validity, an international NGO that uses the law to secure equality, inclusion and justice, she fights for the rights of those with mental disabilities in Bulgaria.
The Right to Voice: sexual violence survivors from Colombia tell their stories
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence from Colombia tell their stories in a photo exhibition being displayed at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Victims mount as extreme nationalism fuels racism
From Montenegro to New Zealand, racist intimidation and violence cast a dark shadow over this year’s global commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
"Because your voice is valid"
Law student and UN Human Rights Fellow, Mary Consolata Namagambe, has decided to challenge the exclusion she and other people of African descent endure in a majority-white Danish society.
Brazilian environmental defenders fight for recognition and justice
Moises Borges and Leticia Oliveira are environmental human rights defenders with the Movement of those Affected by Dams (MAB), a Brazil-based grassroots movement that fights for the rights of communities affected by dams. They were recently in Geneva highlighting the plight of those dealing with a recent dam collapse.
"Housing is a human right, not just a commodity."
"What we are trying to do is build a multi-stakeholder global movement of people who know that housing is a human right and who want to reclaim it," said Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing. Farha was talking about The Shift, an initiative to move away from treating housing as a commodity to housing as a place to live in peace, security and dignity.
Breaking taboos to better human rights
Oyungerel Tsedevdamba is a human rights defender and leads an NGO called Local Solutions, which provides sanitation solutions for local communities in Mongolia. Her aim, to stop toilet from being a dirty word in Mongolia.
"Racism is the opposite of everything we stand for"
All of us need to call out and openly condemn all messages – especially political messages or discourses – which disseminate ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, or which incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Wherever it occurs, we can counter populist extremism
Experts discuss the various forms of populist extremism that have emerged around the world and what responses can be brought to create more inclusive and more peaceful societies.
Sri Lanka needs "more consistent, comprehensive and accelerated" measures for accountability and reform
High Commissioner Bachelet updates the Human Rights Council on continuing human rights concerns.
Venezuela’s far-reaching human rights crisis calls for common agreement on a political solution
High Commissioner Bachelet discusses the human rights situation in the country.
A source of life – or a cause for conflict: water is a human right
Surely no development priority speaks more directly to fundamental human dignity than the availability of safe drinking water
Poetry to inspire the fight against racism
21 March is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To mark that day, UN Human Rights associates itself with poets, musicians and lyricists to inspire us all to fight racism.
Human Rights Council debates racism, nationalism and populism
"You can care about your country and still care about the world": High Commissioner Bachelet vows to fight "all forms of racism, every day of every year"
Monica Benicio, widow of murdered Rio city councillor, Marielle Franco, vows to keep fighting
A year after the murder of Rio Council member, Marielle Franco, her widow brings the struggle of Brazil’s marginalized groups and human rights defenders to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
'Ghost of corruption' leads to torture and ill-treatment, UN expert says
The tolerance of abuse of power and corruption in places of detention creates ‘spaces that are not controlled’ according to a new report by Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer.
Attacked because of who they are and what they do
“In the current political climate there is a backlash against human rights. Women defenders are often the first to come under attack,” Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders told members of the Human Rights Council.
On International Women’s Day, Stand With Her
Generations of courageous women and feminist movements have together stood up for social change by fighting for human rights. On International Women’s Day, they are being recognised and honoured. The #IStandWithHer campaign will tell some of their stories.
High Commissioner Bachelet calls on States to take strong action against inequalities
Human rights build hope. And measures that uphold the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights create powerful synergies, with better outcomes for everyone.
From Benin to Florida: Dr Joannie Bewa’s global fight for women’s education
A young physician and human rights defender, Joannie Bewa advocates for girls’ and women’s health and education rights in her native Benin. She is also globally promoting the Sustainable Development Goals as a UN Young Leader.
20 years of the Mine Ban Treaty
The Treaty’s focus on the protection, dignity and rights of individuals makes it an outstanding example of multilateralism
"Human rights-based policies are effective. They deliver better outcomes. They prevent conflicts, and build hope"
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet opens the 40th session of the Human Rights Council
High Commissioner condemns Venezuela violence
Michelle Bachelet condemns the “disgraceful” violence in Venezuela, urging the Government to stop its forces from using excessive force and to rein in armed pro-Government elements that are attacking protestors.
"I will bring back hope to people."
A Sudanese refugee activist is the 2019 Martin Ennals Award Laureate. Abudul Aziz Muhamat highlights the situation of refugees in offshore detention by the Australian government. Two other finalists included an Afro-Colombian rights campaigner and a human rights lawyer from Turkey.
Bachelet tells "good human rights stories."
"Human rights are useful. Respect for human rights generates practical benefits in everyday life," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told an audience recently. She made her comments at the Geneva launch of the “Good Human Rights Stories” initiative, a partnership of 13 organizations and countries dedicated to showing that human rights matter.
When you stand up for girls, you stand up for everyone
Francis Oko Armah is a student who stands up for the right for young people to have access to and be educated about reproductive and sexual health. He works for the Young Leaders for Change Foundation in Accra, Ghana.
Tortured lives after the death penalty
At the screening of the BBC documentary “Fallout” at the UN in New York, exonerated death row victims narrate their struggles to piece together their broken lives without government compensation or support.
Benjamin Orenstein, Holocaust survivor
Benjamin Orenstein, 93, is one of the last witnesses of the Holocaust and the only surviving member of his family who were all executed in the camps. He tells us his story.
"Anyone can use their voice. Believe in yourself."
At 14 years old, water rights activist Autumn Peltier, of the Wikwemikong First Nations community in Ontario, Canada, says helping the environment is something anyone can do at any age. Her activism has earned her a nomination for the 2019 International Children’s Peace Prize.
Missing persons receive attention and help healing in Kosovo*
The Multi-Ethnic Resource Centre on Missing Persons in Kosovo* provides a place for families and representatives from associations across all ethnic lines to cooperate and gather information those missing as a result of the 1998-1999 conflict. The centre was opened with the help of the UN Human Rights Office of UN Mission in Kosovo*
Showcasing human rights success in daily lives
Defending cultural rights of indigenous weavers in Guatemala; challenging discrimination against minorities in Moldova; supporting families of missing persons in South Korea and Kosovo*. As the UN Human Rights Annual Appeal kicks off for 2019, witness the difference our everyday work in human rights makes in people’s lives.
Annual Appeal presentation
The Office is a vital tool for greater prevention, and better protection, around the world.
1,111 days into the 2030 Agenda, are we succeeding in meeting its great goal of leaving no-one behind?
"We need a greater sense of urgency about achieving the Agenda's promise to the world's people," the High Commissioner says.