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19 January 2022
UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet, has made an appeal to UN Member States and private donors to support her 2022 “agenda of rights” through the work of her Office’s 1,600 staff at headquarters and 103 field presences, as well as her Office’s global partners.
“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,” Bachelet said while outlining her Office’s financial requirements to Member States during the launch of the UN Human Rights Annual Appeal.
“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,” she added. “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.”
Bachelet requested financial assistance to cover the USD 400.5 million extra-budgetary resources needed this year to combat inequalities the COVID-19 pandemic uncovered by advancing sustainable development through human rights; advance her Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality; enhance civil society participation online and offline and protecting civic space; strengthen accountability for human rights violations; leverage data to improve analysis and decision making for the protection and promotion of human rights; and develop concrete guidance for a gender-responsive recovery from pandemics, environmental crises and conflict.
These priority areas of work were laid out in UN Human Rights’ 2018-2021 Office Management Plan that was extended through 2023 to address the setbacks sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, UN Human Rights’ appeal amounted to USD 385.5million. That year, 89 donors, including 59 States, had demonstrated their commitment to human rights by donating USD 227.4million.
These donations allowed, among others, the funding of a number of life changing initiatives, including the rehabilitation of 47,469 victims of torture in 79 countries and providing assistance to 15,862 victims of contemporary forms of slavery in 31 countries; supporting the work of human rights bodies that monitor State Parties’ compliance with the international human rights obligations; promoting the engagement of civil society actors with these bodies and the Human Rights Council; and ensuring that UN Human Rights presences across the globe could assist Governments and other entities with responsibility to protect human rights to fulfil their obligations and individuals to realize their rights.
“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,” Bachelet said. “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 re¬quests for assistance, or to identified needs.”
Bachelet reiterated her Office’s commitment to the UN Secretary-General’s vision of a “renewed social contract anchored in human rights,” as outlined in his report Our Common Agenda, presented examples of activities planned in her field presences and with her Office’s partners, and committed to strengthen support with the UN Human rights system.
“We cannot do this without your assistance,” Bachelet told member States. “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.”