The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), guided by the mandate provided by General Assembly resolution 48/141, OHCHR represents the world’s commitment to the promotion, protection and realization of the full range of rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
OHCHR has a central role in safeguarding the integrity of the three pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights and development. For the four year period from 2018-2021, the Office has identified six thematic pillars, four major shifts, with person centered spotlighting particularly women, young people and persons living with disabilities. The six thematic pillars that
from the continued solid base on which the work of the Office stands include (1) Support to the United Nations human rights system; (2) Mainstreaming human rights within the United Nations other pillars, namely development and (3) peace and security; (4) Advancing the core human rights principles of non-discrimination, (5) accountability, (6) participation. The Four major ‘Shifts’ in OHCHR mandate focus on key threats to rights and key opportunities for leveraging support to better protect and promote rights. This means that across our six thematic pillars, OHCHR will also work to take steps to help prevent conflict, violence and insecurity; Help protect and expand civic space; Support and further develop a global constituency for human rights; Deliver human rights in the context of emerging concerns (‘frontier issues’).
All the six areas have a strong focus on women’s human rights and gender issues, including in line with OHCHR internal policies on gender equality and the Secretary General System Wide Strategy on Gender Parity.
Institutionally, OHCHR is committed to strengthening the United Nations human rights programme and to providing it with the highest quality support. OHCHR is committed to working closely with its United Nations partners to ensure that human rights are at the center of the work of the United Nations.
See gender-related resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, and relevant subsidiary bodies.
The mission of OHCHR is to work for the protection and promotion of all human rights for all people; to help empower people to realize their rights; and to assist those responsible for upholding such rights in ensuring that they are implemented. In carrying out its mission with respect to violence against women, and within the overarching strategies to ensure country engagement, leadership, partnership, and support and strengthening of the Office and the human rights machinery, OHCHR is focusing on:
*Gender sensitive administration of justice, through the provision of expert legal analysis of international (and, where appropriate, regional and national) jurisprudence with commentary, relating to the effective prosecution of gender-based violence as well as legal analysis of obligations in relation to social and economic rights and the impact of the enjoyment of such rights for women on access to justice for victims of sexual violence.
*Piloting of integrated and thematic gender strategies for country engagement, including on violence against women.
*Mainstreaming gender and women’s human rights in OHCHR and with UN system partners.
OHCHR is an active member of UN Action against sexual violence in conflict. Since August 2008, the Coordinator for UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, previously based with UNIFEM in New York, is hosted on OHCHR premises in Geneva. Since 2009, OHCHR has chaired the Resource Management Committee of the UN-Action Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
Human rights monitoring and investigations, including in relation to sexual violence, are also key features of the field presences of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), particularly country offices and human rights components of UN peace operations.
Monitoring of the human rights situation, including advocacy and public reporting, is a fundamental tool for OHCHR to assess human rights problems, support the identification of adequate solutions, promote accountability and deter further violations. In particularly serious human rights violations including collective rape cases, the Office also conducts human rights investigations, by conducting detailed interviews with victims and witnesses, when possible visiting the location of the violations, and undertaking circumstantial analysis of facts, mapping of perpetrators to promote accountability through follow up with judiciary authorities.
OHCHR supportsthe Human Rights Council and its special procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, as well as human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
In its’ work, the Committee on the Elimination on the Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) urges States parties to give priority attention to eliminating all forms of violence against women and to adopt comprehensive measures to address it in accordance with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 35.
OHCHR supported the convening of the fourth session of the Forum on minority issues, established by Human Rights Council resolution 6/15, which took place on 29 and 30 November 2011 in Geneva and focused on "Guaranteeing the rights of minority women and girls.” Over 400 participants attended this fourth session, including persons belonging to minorities from all regions, representatives of non-governmental organizations, academia and experts as well as delegates from United Nations Member States. During the two-day discussions, the multiple discriminations faced by minority women as members of minorities and as women, and other barriers, including violence against women, were highlighted. The outcome document contained practical and concrete measures and recommendations aimed at guaranteeing the rights of minority women and girls, including to better protect them and raise their awareness on violence against women and girls.Hide
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign, the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences issued a joint press statement highlighting how political transitions are unique opportunities to ensure that women participate equally in public life and that their rights in legal and social systems, including the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence in law and in practice are addressed. Also in connection with the 16 Days of Activism and the Human Rights Day, OHCHR posted a number of stories on its website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Manuptoendviolenceagainstwomen.aspxHide
OHCHR continued supporting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, in its active engagement with civil society organizations, including through participation in regional consultations. In June 2011, the Special Rapporteur participated in consultations held in Brussels with European civil society organizations, including representatives of European observatories on violence against women.Hide
OHCHR raised awareness amongst women human rights defenders In North Africa and the Middle East (Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen) on the UN framework on the protection of human rights defenders, including gender dimensions. OHCHR also organised a workshop in Beirut on the role of the UN in supporting the work of women human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa region.Hide
In Macedonia, OHCHR organised awareness raising for the public around the CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35 (adopted in 2017)
In Honduras, OHCHR organised several conference and meetings addressing challenges in combatting VAW, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the promotion of the work of women’s networks. It also organised information campaigns on gender based violence and women human rights defenders.
In Haiti, OHCHR funds helped for the development and production of communication tools (audio-visual)/ messages to build resilience and prevent natural disasters for groups and populations at risk with a gender approach.
In Liberia, during the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, OHCHR and the UNCT provided support for the organisation of a conference on “Consolidating National Efforts against FGM’, with the participation of government officials, traditional and community leaders and other stakeholders.
In March 2014, during the 25th session of the Human Rights Council, OHCHR partnered with UNFPA, UNICEF and others to bring the award winning exhibition, “Too Young to Wed” to the Palais des Nations in Geneva on the issue of child View More
In March 2014, during the 25th session of the Human Rights Council, OHCHR partnered with UNFPA, UNICEF and others to bring the award winning exhibition, “Too Young to Wed” to the Palais des Nations in Geneva on the issue of child marriage.Hide
In 2014-2015, OHCHR continued supporting the mandate of the Rapporteur on violence against women, in its active engagement with civil society organizations, including through participation in regional consultations. She participated in three View More
In 2014-2015, OHCHR continued supporting the mandate of the Rapporteur on violence against women, in its active engagement with civil society organizations, including through participation in regional consultations. She participated in three regional consultations, held in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, on the topic of “closing the normative gap” in addressing violence against women at the international level.Hide
A number of stories on violence against women, such as violence against albinos in Tanzania and violence against female domestic workers in Brazil, were posted during the Durban Review Conference, held in April in Geneva, on both the OHCHR and the Conference sites. Another story focused on the side event “Double Odds: Women Overcoming Multiple Discrimination” including a presentation by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Other stories were posted in 2009 in relation to human trafficking. In March 2009, the OHCHR Women’s Rights and Gender Unit co-organized a side event on “Honour Killings” during the Human Rights Council. On the occasion of the 12th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UNHCR and OHCHR organized a side event entitled “A Modern day "Crucible" - Witchcraft accusations against women and children in the 21st Century” to draw attention to witchcraft accusations, often targeting marginalized groups, including refugees and IDPs. OHCHR participated in the organization of an awareness-raising workshop on human rights and national laws related to women's rights in May 2009 for an Arab settlement in Zeina, in Sudan. OHCHR’s Regional Office in Central Asia produced leaflets, in Kyrgyz and Russian languages, with information on the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, including the template individual communications form. In order to celebrate International Women’s Day and the anniversaries of the adoption of the CEDAW Convention and its Optional Protocol in 2009, the OHCHR in Uganda featured an article in Uganda’s main daily newspaper, calling for speedy enactment of pending bills, including the ones on domestic relations, sexual offences and domestic violence.. OHCHR’s country office in Uganda, in cooperation with Pader NGO Forum and the Civil-Military Coordination Centre (CMCC), sensitized internally displaced persons (IDP) community leaders on the human rights of women, focusing on ending sexual and gender-based violence, forced and early marriages, and promoting inheritance and property rights. In February and July 2009, in Kitgum District/Uganda, the Office facilitated sessions on sexual, gender-based violence and human rights. The Country office also gave a presentation on the role of international organizations and civil society organizations in preventing sexual and gender-based violence during activities organized by the Refugee Law Project. In February 2009, the OHCHR Regional Office for Eastern Africa commemorated the International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation through a range of activities. In March 2009, it participated in the launch of the “Leave No Woman Behind Project”, implemented by the Ethiopian and Spanish Governments and UNFPA, including also elements on ending violence against women. OHCHR supported financially awareness-raising and advocacy programs implemented by the human rights components of various United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. On International Women’s Day 2009, the human rights component in the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire organized training and sensitization sessions through its nine regional offices, in close cooperation with other UNOCI components, the UN Country Team and a wide range of stakeholders. The mission has focused on raising awareness of gender-based violence in Côte d’Ivoire, such as rape and female genital mutilation, early and/or forced marriages, as well as of the legal provisions contained in the Ivorian Penal Code. The Human Rights and Protection Section of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, in collaboration with County Gender Coordinators and women’s organisations, continued to raise awareness of women’s rights, female genital mutilation and sexual and gender-based violence, targeting also traditional leaders.Hide
The OHCHR in general and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in particular have continued to raise the issue of violence against women on various occasions, including in connection with the discussion, by the Security Council, of follow up to resolution 1325, in October 2007.Hide
The UNiTE Group for the Americas and the Caribbean, including 9 agencies -PAHO, UNDP, OHCHR, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, ECLAC, WFP and UN Women- and the IDB and the OAS, developed 12 Key Messages to Eradicate Violence Against Women and Girls in Latin View More
The UNiTE Group for the Americas and the Caribbean, including 9 agencies -PAHO, UNDP, OHCHR, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, ECLAC, WFP and UN Women- and the IDB and the OAS, developed 12 Key Messages to Eradicate Violence Against Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. This unprecedented effort led by UN Women, systematized the lessons learned from all the publications and knowledge produced in the context of the UNiTE Campaign in the last 7 years. These messages were launched in the framework of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in Montevideo in October of 2016. Thereafter, the messages were the basis for the celebrations of November 25th at regional and country level.Hide