The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is a department within the United Nations (UN) system responsible for promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. It was established in 1993 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The OHCHR operates under the authority of the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. Its main objective is to coordinate and support the efforts of the international community in advancing human rights, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
The functions of the OHCHR include:
- Human rights promotion and advocacy: The office works to raise awareness about human rights issues and advocates for the implementation of human rights standards at the national, regional, and international levels.
- Technical cooperation and capacity-building: The OHCHR provides technical assistance and expertise to countries in developing and implementing effective human rights mechanisms, laws, and institutions. It also supports capacity-building efforts for civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and government officials.
- Human rights monitoring and reporting: The office monitors the human rights situation in countries around the world and produces reports and assessments on various human rights issues. It also conducts field missions and investigations to gather first-hand information.
- Human rights education and training: The OHCHR promotes human rights education and training programs to enhance knowledge and understanding of human rights principles and standards among different stakeholders, including government officials, civil society organizations, and the general public.
- Support for the UN human rights system: The office supports the work of the UN Human Rights Council, including by preparing reports and facilitating the participation of civil society organizations in its sessions. It also cooperates with other UN entities and specialized agencies to mainstream human rights into their work.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, who is appointed by the UN Secretary-General, heads the OHCHR. The High Commissioner serves as the principal advocate for human rights within the UN system and plays a crucial role in addressing human rights violations, promoting accountability, and seeking justice for victims.
Overall, the OHCHR plays a vital role in promoting and protecting human rights globally, working towards a world where every individual can enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms.