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The role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is accountable to the Secretary-General and is responsible for all the activities of OHCHR, as well as for its administration.

The High Commissioner:

  • Carries out the functions specifically assigned to him or her by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993 and subsequent resolutions of policy-making bodies;
  • Advises the Secretary-General on the policies of the United Nations in the area of human rights;
  • Ensures that support is given to the projects, activities, organs and bodies of the human rights programme;
  • Represents the Secretary-General at meetings of human rights organs and at other human rights events; and carries out special assignments as decided by the Secretary-General.

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/141, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and approved by the General Assembly, with due regard to geographical rotation for a fixed term of four years with a possibility of one renewal for another fixed term of four years.

Current High Commissioner

Volker Türk of Austria is the current High Commissioner for Human Rights, and took up his duties 17 October 2022. He was appointed as High Commissioner for Human Rights by the United Nations Secretary-General, following the General Assembly’s approval on 8 September 2022. He is the eighth High Commissioner to lead the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Read his biography