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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
19 January 2022
As we enter 2022, I wish you all a safe, peaceful and healthy beginning to the New Year.
Today, I am pleased to present my Office’s Annual Appeal for 2022, outlining the financial requirements critical to ensure human rights remain central to the work and vision of all nations.
Firstly, I would like to thank the 89 donors, including 59 Member States, who generously demonstrated their commitment to human rights and their support to the work of my Office, by donating US$227.4 million last year.
Your assistance has been vital.
These essential funds – in addition to the funds provided by the UN’s regular budget - allowed my colleagues around the world to support States and other stakeholders to anchor human rights in their activities and achievements.
Even in the face of ongoing crisis, it was possible to take tangible actions to end discrimination, to advance the rule of law, to ensure access to the right to healthcare and education, or to protect freedom of speech.
Today, my Office’s 2022 Annual Appeal is calling for a total of US$400.5 million to carry out its human rights work.
Amidst a period of massive global upheaval and crisis, this funding will be critical to protect, promote and uphold human rights in every corner of the world.
This year, we will build on the foundation established by the OHCHR Management Plan. At its core, are the six pillars that underpin our work to advance human rights.
We remain committed to enhancing equality and countering discrimination, and to strengthening the rule of law and accountability for human rights violations. We will work to enhance people’s participation in civic space, and to advance sustainable development through human rights. And we stay dedicated to the promotion of peace and security, and to implementing the outcomes of the international human rights mechanisms.
No matter how free individuals are to speak out and protest, they are not truly free if they lack food, education or adequate housing. And when people have access to fundamental social protections, decent work and economic opportunities, societies are less vulnerable to fracture. The protection and promotion of economic, cultural and social rights will continue to be another core focus of our work this year.
We will further strengthen the Surge Initiative, that has helped to expand our work on economic, social and cultural rights and sustainable development in the field, with targeted advice on development and macroeconomic policies that place human rights and gender equality at their centre.
We are entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a protracted global emergency that has laid bare and exacerbated deep-seated inequalities around the world.
My Office is committed to combat these inequalities, and to support disadvantaged groups who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including older people and people with disabilities.
In 2022, we maintain our commitment to actively partake in the UN Secretary-General’s vision of a “renewed social contract anchored in human rights,” as outlined in his report Our Common Agenda.
And, in his Call to Action for Human Rights, the Secretary-General promotes a transformative human rights vision that speaks directly to every human being. We will advance this work in every country where we work.
We will strengthen our efforts to embed human rights at the heart of COVID-19 response and recovery. We will ensure that human rights gaps are addressed in countries’ efforts to build back better and to transition towards greener and more sustainable societies.
And we will continue to advocate for equal access to vaccines, including an end to vaccine nationalism, and for universal health coverage.
My Office will also strengthen its focus on people of African descent, who have long endured the damaging effects of discrimination and violence. Reversing systemic racism, and strengthening accountability for law enforcement officials involved in the deaths of people of African descent, will be at the core of this work. Our Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality lays out this roadmap.
Another area of attention will be leveraging data for human rights. With better data comes stronger analysis and decision-making on human rights. My Office will scale up its support to States in their efforts to collect data on human rights indicators, including on COVID-19, as well as indicators on early warning, inequality and structural causes of racism and racial discrimination.
In the digital domain, we will also reinforce data-driven human rights advocacy by harnessing the potential of digital platforms to advance human rights. Through this and other elements of our digital transformation strategy, we will be able to increase the speed and efficiency at which we identify and analyse human rights trends and incidents.
Staff in my Office are working tirelessly all around the world to strengthen, promote and protect human rights. With a presence in 103 countries, this year, we will build on what we have already achieved, and continue to ensure no one is left behind.
In the Americas, my Office will strengthen its current capacity in Peru, Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean, as well as on monitoring the situation of the more than six million Venezuelan migrants and refugees. At the request of countries in the region, and with our UN partners, we will expand our technical assistance in priority areas including the support of national efforts towards socio-economic recovery from COVID-19. We will also support efforts on early warning and prevention, protection and we will continue to address discrimination and inequalities.
In Africa, we will open a new office in Burkina Faso. During my visit there in December last year, when I also travelled to Niger, I renewed my Office’s commitment to strengthen its work with partners on promotion and protection of human rights in these two countries, and throughout the whole Sahel region. In particular, we will continue to advocate with States to strengthen rule of law and accountability for human rights violations.
In Chad, my Office will continue its work to promote human rights as part of the Government’s roadmap and National Inclusive Dialogue. And throughout the Sahel region, where temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average, we will expand our efforts to address the enormous human rights challenges posed by climate change induced migration, with particular focus on the right to food.
In Central Asia, we will combat rising racial discrimination with increased digital outreach work. We will also establish an Early Response Team to strengthen our prevention efforts, and two International Human Rights Advisors will be deployed to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
In Iraq, my Office has trained some 200 human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists to strengthen the safety of digital and civic space amidst a context of online threats and attacks. In 2022, we will expand these cyberspace protection efforts and our work to protect journalists, including improving accountability for violations committed against them.
In Syria, over 100,000 people remain missing or detained, with grave and traumatic consequences for victims, including their families. Many families across the country continue to tell my Office that progress on this will be an essential step towards peace and reconciliation. We will continue to heavily engage on this issue throughout the year.
In 2022, in Ethiopia and Fiji, my Office will establish two more emergency response teams, in addition to the six already stationed around the globe. These teams produce human rights risk analysis and support the UN’s wider early warning system in crisis or conflict zones.
All around the world, we will reinforce our partnerships within and outside the UN system as well as our work with the private sector. We will work to strengthen regional and national human rights protection systems. Through our ongoing collaboration with major social media and digital companies, we will aim to better protect human rights defenders, and respond to content that might constitute incitement to hostility, discrimination or violence.
My Office will also continue to build and strengthen our support to the Human Rights Council mandated commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions, as well as other human rights deployments to potential, emerging or current crises.
These are just a small selection of examples of our efforts to advance human rights. The Annual Appeal that you have received today contains further details on our work around the world.
Although overall funding to my Office increased last year, the stark reality is that it does not match the additional needs that crises such as COVID-19 and protracted conflicts have exposed.
My Office relies heavily on voluntary contributions, which last year represented around 62 per cent of our overall budget. They were insufficient to respond to all requests for assistance, or to identified needs.
This year, I appeal for your support, particularly to provide unearmarked funds so that we can work to allocate resources to where they are most urgently needed.
We cannot do this without your assistance. To work towards resilient societies where equal opportunities are universal, where the rights and freedoms of all human beings are respected, the commitment of States is not only important, it is urgent.
My Office is committed to providing continued support to States so they can place human rights front and centre of their policies and approaches. Human rights benefit us all, and they require collective action.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.