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UN Human Rights in West Africa

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The West Africa Regional Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Dakar, Senegal (OHCHR-WARO) is the main UN institution in charge of the protection and promotion of human rights in West Africa, with particular focus on Senegal and other West African countries where OHCHR has no presence, such as Benin, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana and Togo.

Type of engagement Regional Office
Year established 2008
Field offices Dakar
Number of staff 20
Annual budget needs US$ 6,447,000


  • Through the implementation of the Support Project for the Protection of Child Victims of Rights Violations (PAPEV) WARO, in collaboration with ECOWAS through its Gender Development Centre, has encouraged the governments of the countries covered by the project: the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, and Senegal to include in their response plans children, especially those in street situations, who constitute an important segment of the population left behind. Thus, COVID 19 was an opportunity for WARO, through the implementation of the PAPEV, to support the efforts of governments in their response strategies against COVID 19.
  • The Regional Office has greatly contributed to the establishment and strengthening of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) to improve the national protection systems, and enhance the monitoring of and protection against human rights violations, with a special focus on women's rights and human rights in the electoral context.
  • While advocacy continues to reform the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, the adoption in January 2020 of the law criminalizing rape constitutes an important milestone in the fight against sexual violence in Senegal.
  • WARO has broadened its network of partners working on the human rights of LGBTI at the regional level to ensure the establishment of an alert system in case of violations of the human rights of members of relevent community. Furthermore, the office has embarked into deepening the understanding of challenges faced by the LGBTI community as exemplified by the study being finalized on LGBTI and employment.
  • The NHRC of the Gambia also submitted its 2019 report that included a situational analysis of human rights in The Gambia and recommendations to the government through the National Assembly select committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters.
  • Cote d'Ivoire - The OPCAT has been ratified but the instrument of ratification has not yet been deposited at the level of the United Nations General Secretariat. As for the CMW, the process of ratification is ongoing. The country also finalized its first report on the implementation of the CAT expected since 1997, through the implementation of the Peace Building Fund project "Etat de droit et Droits de l'Homme".
  • In Senegal, the national mechanism of prevention of torture further strengthened its capacity to monitor the level of compliance with international standards for the treatment of detainees through the implementation the OPCAT  Project. WARO supported the Government through the Ministry of Justice to develop a national human rights strategy for the period 2021-2026.
  • In 2020, OHCHR was selected to be part of a PBF project entitled "Strategic Support of the National Security Sector Reform (SSR) Process in the Gambia Towards an Effective, Responsive and Accountable Security Sector." This is a joint project with UNDP and UNODC.
  • In 2020, the Office has positioned itself as an essential actor in the women's rights architecture as shown by its election as the Chair of the Regional Gender Thematic Group.
  • In 2020, WARO has continued to play an important role in the promotion and the protection of the rights of migrants in West Africa through the PROMIS project that has provided direct support, including via the PROMIS grants project, to migrants who became victims of human rights violations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • WARO has taken up a leading role in the development of the work plan of the Regional UN Network on Migration, which it is co-chairing. Highlights of the WARO commitment are ensuring full participation of all stakeholders, including CSOs, migrant associations and NHRIs, in the work of the Network and the GCM regional review processes as well as ensuring an inclusive consultation process to identifying thematic priorities for the region.
  • WARO ERT played a key role in the Regional Office's COVID-19 pandemic response by gathering and analysing information on potential human rights violations linked to the COVID-19 crisis and focusing its engagement in the regional working groups on efforts to ensure a human rights-based approach was mainstreamed throughout the COVID-19 response in West Africa. It created an interactive dashboard []to keep an almost real-time overview of COVID-19 related developments in the region. WARO ERT also set up an information management system to enable up-to-date human rights analysis for UN decision-making at various levels, including by using its daily media monitoring of nine countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) and categorizing the information in accordance with the Regional Monthly Reviews (RMR) risk framework. Based on its daily media monitoring, WARO ERT produced a monthly early warning media analysis that encompasses a regional overview of trends and patterns. At the one-year mark of its daily media monitoring (December 2019 – November 2020), WARO ERT produced a visualization on the main risk areas and risk factors identified based on the analysis of 2260 media articles.

Partners and Donors

Partners: UN agencies, Human rights field presences, International and regional organizations, National human rights institutions in West Africa, ECOWAS, ACPHR, Governments through relevant sector ministries o, Parliaments, Law enforcement official, judiciary, Civil Society Organizations.

Donors: UN Peace Building Fund, Italy, Kingdom of the Netherlands.

UN Human Rights Focus Areas

Thematic pillars
  • Mechanisms: Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms outcomes
  • Development: Integrating human rights in sustainable development
  • Accountability: Strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations
  • Non-discrimination: Enhancing equality and countering discrimination
  • Participation: Enhancing and protecting civic space and people's participation
  • Peace and Security: Early warning, prevention & protection of human rights in situations of conflict & insecurity
  • Prevention
  • People on the move
  • Climate change
  • Civic space
Spotlight populations
  • Women
  • Young people
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Children
  • Migrants

 Last reviewed: December 2020


Contact information

Regional office website