Technical Cooperation

Global review of the OHCHR Technical Cooperation Programme (Synthesis Report)

Since the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the importance of ensuring that human rights are protected under the rule of law has been emphasized by the United Nations and has guided its activities for the promotion and protection of human rights. Accordingly, the United Nations Technical Cooperation Programme in the Field of Human Rights has been engaged since 1955 in assisting States, at their request, in the building and strengthening of national structures that have a direct impact on the overall observance of human rights and the maintenance of the rule of law.

The programme is comprehensive, providing practical assistance for the building of national and regional human rights infrastructures.

Components of the programme focus on the incorporation of international human rights standards in national laws and policies; on the building or strengthening of national institutions capable of promoting and protecting human rights and democracy under the rule of law; on the formulation of national plans of action for the promotion and protection of human rights; on human rights education and training; and on promoting a human rights culture. Such assistance takes the form of expert advisory services, training courses, workshops and seminars, fellowships, grants, provision of information and documentation, and assessment of domestic human rights needs.

Technical cooperation is a key area of activity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), an area in which the Office makes a substantial contribution to integrated development cooperation, realization of the right to development and "international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all".

Technical cooperation activities are seen by the United Nations as a complement to, but never a substitute for, the monitoring and investigating activities of the human rights programme. As emphasized in various reports of the Secretary-General on the subject and in Commission on Human Rights resolutions, the provision of advisory services and technical assistance does not reduce a Government's responsibility to account for the human rights situation in its territory and, where applicable, does not exempt it from monitoring through the various procedures established by the United Nations.

The Programme is funded from the regular budget of the United Nations and from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. The Voluntary Fund became operational in 1988 and is administered by a Board of Trustees.

Programme development, implementation, support and follow-up are carried out by the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the OHCHR in close cooperation with relevant Divisions. A coordinator of technical cooperation activities, in cooperation with the geographic desk officers, ensures the maintenance of a programmatic framework for the technical cooperation programme and consistency in the application of existing technical cooperation practices and procedures.