Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere. The document they considered, and which would later become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was taken up at the first session of the General Assembly in 1946.  The Assembly reviewed this draft Declaration on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms and transmitted it to the Economic and Social Council “for reference to the Commission on Human Rights for consideration . . . in its preparation of an international bill of rights.” The Commission, at its first session early in 1947, authorized its members to formulate what it termed “a preliminary draft International Bill of Human Rights”. Later the work was taken over by a formal drafting committee, consisting of members of the Commission from eight States, selected with due regard for geographical distribution.

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The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – leads the UN’s global efforts to promote and protect all human rights for all people. We empower people to realize their rights and assist governments in meeting their responsibilities to protect and respect these rights. Human rights are key to developing sustainable societies because only when people are protected by state law and free to exercise their rights can destructive cycles of poverty, discrimination and indignity come to an end.Established in 1993 through General Assembly resolution 48/141, OHCHR provides a forum for identifying, highlighting and developing responses to today’s human rights challenges, and acts as the principal focal point of human rights research, education, public information and advocacy within the United Nations.Our 1,100 staff are equally divided between our Geneva headquarters, New York and Brussels offices and field presences in almost 60 countries. Approximately one-third of our budget is covered by the UN member states (e.g. the UN regular budget) so we rely heavily on voluntary contributions from governments, foundations, companies and private individuals for the remaining two-thirds.

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Mainstreaming Human Rights

Different intergovernmental bodies and interdepartmental mechanisms based at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, address a range of human rights issues. Intergovernmental bodies such as the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary organs make policy decisions and recommendations to Member States, the United Nations system and other actors.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights interacts with and provides advice and support on human rights issues to these bodies and mechanisms. The Office also works to mainstream human rights in all areas of work of the Organisation, including development, peace and security and humanitarian affairs.

The UNDG Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism 
Created in 2009 at the request of the UN Secretary General, the UN Development Group’s Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (UNDG-HRM) advances human rights mainstreaming efforts within the UN development system.  With OHCHR as the Chair, the UNDG-HRM aims to strengthen coordinated UN responses to requests from Member States for support in fulfilling their human rights commitments.  Key priorities of this inter-agency mechanism are strengthening coherence, delivering results and ensuring impact at the national level.

In line with the overall UNDG Strategic Priorities, the HRM focuses on:

  • promoting policy and operational coherence;
  • providing direct support to Resident Coordinators and UN country teams in driving mainstreaming efforts at the country level and in supporting Member States fulfill human rights commitments;
  • supporting the strengthening of national human rights protection systems at the request of governments;
  • contributing to the integration of human rights issues in the overall UNDG advocacy on the development agenda and global issues.

The UNDG-HRM is pursuing these four priorities in a holistic approach targeting various levels, including system-level, regional and country level, with an overarching component of knowledge management informing all levels.   To maximize impact on the ground, the OHCHR and the 18 agency members continue to collect evidence on what is happening on the ground and to feed it back to country teams and HRM practitioners.
Recommended Video on Human Rights Mainstreaming:

in ‘search‘ UN Videos >> write >>  freedom from fear-and-freedom-from-want
then you see it >> 2 Oct 2012 >> click on it, first 10 minutes will give good overview.

The 2013  Practical Guide for Civil Society: Human Rights Funds, Grants and Fellowships

The Practical Guide is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish from >>