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The Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation (VFTC) in the Field of Human Rights was established in 1987 by the Secretary General. It is funded from voluntary contributions and provides technical cooperation to countries upon Governments’ request. Programmes are implemented within the framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme, administered by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. A Board of Trustees (BoT) was created in 1993 to assist in fund-raising and to provide expert advice and support for the Voluntary Fund. Members are appointed by the Secretary-General for three years and are chosen for their independence and wide experience in the field of human rights and technical cooperation.
Based on equal representation from the five regional groups and upon recommendation by the HC, the Board Members are appointed by the SG for a maximum of two three-year terms. The Board meets twice a year. It formerly held both sessions in Geneva but since 2011, one is held in countries where OHCHR has a field presence to ensure better exposure to the realities, challenges and opportunities on the ground. Meetings outside Geneva have been held in:
The annual report of the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the VFTC, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 18/18, provides an update of the Board’s activities and discussions, including status of donor contributions and extra-budgetary income/expenditures. The latest reports of the Fund can be found here.
In view of the relevance and complementarities of the VFTC and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the implementation of the universal periodic review (hereinafter referred to as the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation), the Secretary-General requested the Board to also oversee the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation. In 2003 the Board changed its focus from a more detailed review of individual projects to advising OHCHR on policy orientation and strategy in strengthening its technical cooperation programme in the field of human rights. The Board had observed that the work of OHCHR field presences in the area of technical cooperation is of critical importance and therefore it should be the priority for support from the VFTC. This approach was presented to Member States in the annual report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Human Rights Council and it was endorsed [A/HRC/16/66]. The Board in its recent reports, has reaffirmed its continuing support to the use of the resources of the VFTC to finance Human Rights Advisers (HRA) in UN Country Teams (UNCT), human rights components of UN peace missions and OHCHR country/stand-alone offices. The Board sees this dimension of the work of the OHCHR as a very significant contribution to achieving the goals of the UN in the protection and promotion of human rights and of the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2022, the total expenditure of the Fund amounted to US$25,079,879. The Voluntary Fund provided resources for technical cooperation programmes designed to build strong human rights frameworks at the national level in 69 regions, countries and territories (from 64 in 2021), through 53 HRAs and human rights mainstreaming projects in Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar (based in Bangkok), Nepal, Nigeria, the Republic of North Macedonia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, the Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Samoa, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Caucasus (Georgia), Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe; seven human rights components of peace missions in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Somalia; and six country offices in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mexico, Niger and the State of Palestine*.
* Reference to Palestine should be understood in compliance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19.