Skip to main content

UN Human Rights in Malawi


The Senior Human Rights Adviser works with the UN Country Team (UNCT) to: integrate human rights into their programmes and activities, to develop strategies and programmes aimed at building and strengthening national capacities and institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, and to promote human rights as a common UN value and uphold international norms and standards through advocacy and awareness-raising; Conducts situational assessments and a mapping of UNCT capacities and needs; and Supports the RC and UNCT and national partners in their engagement with international human rights mechanisms.

Type of engagement
Human Rights Adviser
Year established
Field offices
Number of staff
Annual budget needs
US$ 302,000


  • In March 2019, UN Human Rights, jointly with the UN Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs deployed a multi-disciplinary team to strengthen the UNCT's joined up analysis, monitoring, communications, advocacy, coordination and capacity building by supporting National authorities and Institutions and civil society in the run up to the May general elections.
  • In September 2018, the UNCT established a Prevention Platform, co-led by the Human Rights Adviser and the Peace and Development Adviser. The Platform is monitoring agreed human rights based risk factors to identify emerging trends in Malawi aimed at providing an evidence base to enable the UNCT to take informed decisions on advocacy, good offices and/or programming.
  • The visit of the UN Independent Expert on Albinism to Malawi in 2016 proved to be catalytic in bringing increased attention to the human rights situation faced by persons with albinism in Malawi and it also helped to sharpen the focus of the UN, including through the design of comprehensive programme to address issues highlighted in the Independent Expert's report. With technical advice and support of the Senior Human Rights Adviser, UN Malawi established a programme in 2016 to strengthen the protection of the rights of persons with albinism, and to prevent further violations, involving the UN, the Association of Persons with Albinism, the Disability Department, the Ministry of Justice, the Police, local authorities and traditional leaders.
  • In terms of current status and impact of this work, the UNCT's interventions supported by the Senior Human Rights Adviser have contributed to an overall downward trend in the attacks in Malawi: for example in the first six months of 2017 three murders of Malawians with albinism were reported as against seven persons with albinism in the same period for 2016, and the Government has adopted a National Plan of Action on Albinism. The UN's leadership role in this area of human rights work has been recognized.  There has also significantly increased awareness today amongst communities on the ground by the police of the need to protect persons from albinism including through community policing forums which have been revamped.  We continue to support the Government in terms of the current backlog of crimes affecting persons with albinism before the courts.
  • The Senior Human Rights Adviser has actively supported the establishment of a human rights defenders coalition in Malawi, and has sought to provide a protective umbrella for civil society partners, in an environment that remains precarious for human rights defenders.
  • The Senior Human Rights Adviser has also strengthened the UNCTs engagement in legislative review processes through UNCT comments submitted on various Bills, such as the Food and Nutrition Bill. With the support of the SHRA, the UNCT in Malawi continues to advocate for the Food and Nutrition Bill to go to parliament.
  • The Senior Human Rights Adviser has also actively participated in the development of the "Spotlight Initiative" Country Programme for Malawi. The Spotlight Initiative is an EU-UN multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in 13 countries globally and eight countries in Africa, including Malawi. The overall goal of the Spotlight Initiative in Malawi is to accelerate efforts towards the elimination of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices by addressing their structural roots and linkages to SRHR. The Malawi programme will run from 2018 to 2022.

Partners and Donors

Partners: UN agencies, International and regional organizations, Government of Malawi, Parliament of Malawi, Law enforcement and judiciary, Malawi Human Rights Commission, civil society.

Donors: UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, WFP, FAO, UNAIDS, UNPRPD, Government of Flanders.

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 & protecting civic space and people's participation
  • Prevention
  • Civic space
Spotlight populations
  • Women
  • Young people
  • Persons with disabilities

Last reviewed: June 2020