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Human rights, peacebuilding and sustaining peace

OHCHR and prevention

“The international human rights framework, in particular Member States’ obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provides a critical foundation for sustaining peace. The collective work of the United Nations system to advance human rights should help to identify the root causes of and responses to conflict. In that respect, it will remain imperative for the peace and security and development pillars to make better use of the existing human rights mechanisms, such as special procedures, the treaty bodies and the universal periodic review, and their recommendations in support of Member States.”

-Secretary-General’s Report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace,
January 2018 (A/72/707-S/2018/43)

The United Nations Human Rights system was created in the aftermath of the Second World War to help the United Nations to build sustainable peace and security and prevent future conflicts. In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. Human rights and peacebuilding are two complementary objectives of the United Nations.

OHCHR has engaged with the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture (the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Fund) since its creation in 2005 in support of post-conflict peacebuilding. In 2016, the General Assembly and the Security Council adopted twin resolutions that broadened the United Nations approach to peacebuilding to ensure that it addresses the root causes of conflict and crisis and focuses on sustaining peace. The Secretary-General has said that human rights are “a critical foundation of sustaining peace”. The twin resolutions encouraged Member States to consider the human rights dimensions of peacebuilding in their participation in the Universal Periodic Review.

In recent years, OHCHR has strengthened its engagement with the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) in a developing strategic partnership at the programmatic, policy and institutional levels, reinforcing the linkages between human rights, the sustaining peace agenda and the 2030 Agenda. OHCHR and PBSO are working together to support the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights as well as follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 45/31, in which the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission is invited to brief the Human Rights Council on an annual basis. OHCHR is a major recipient of funds from the Peacebuilding Fund, which supports projects in a number of contexts, including on transitional justice, dialogue and reconciliation, access to justice, civic society engagement, gender and youth participation in peace processes and support to national institutions.

As part of the 2020 review of the Peacebuilding Architecture, OHCHR prepared a series of thematic papers setting out in detail key contributions of the human rights system to peacebuilding and sustaining peace.


  • Secretary-General’s report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace (A/72/707–S/2018/43)
  • Report of the three rapporteurs appointed under HRC Res 38/18 on the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations (A/HRC/43/37)

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