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 is currently engaged in the development of the UN policy on conflict-related sexual violence for peace operations.
In Ukraine, OHCHR jointly with UN Women led the drafting and finalisation of the UN View More
OHCHR is currently engaged in the development of the UN policy on conflict-related sexual violence for peace operations.
In Ukraine, OHCHR jointly with UN Women led the drafting and finalisation of the UN Country Team Submission to the CEDAW Committee. It also participated in the consultations organised CSOs shadow reports to the CEDAW Committee. The Office thereby participated in the confidential briefing of the CEDAW committee, which led to the insertion of some of their recommendations in the Committee concluding observations – followed by the dissemination of the recommendations.
In 2017, OHCHR supported the elaboration by the CEDAW of General recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19, including through the active participation of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women. Support was also provided for the development of global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration envisaged in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (A/71/1) of the General Assembly. Including during the Fifth Informal Thematic Session on “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, held on 5 September 2017 in Vienna. Besides this, the SRVAW campaigned for the inclusion of the human rights aspects of possible victims of trafficking, especially women and children from among migrants and refugees, via high-level bilateral discussions.
In September 2007, OHCHR provided support to the sixth session of Human Rights Council, on gender integration, where an expert panel considered ways to ensure the integration of a gender perspective into the work of the Council. During its resumed sixth session in December 2007, the Council adopted a resolution on integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations system in which it decided to incorporate into its programme of work as a minimum an annual full-day meeting, to discuss the human rights of women. The responsibility to provide support to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was formally transferred to the OHCHR as of 1 January 2008. In addition to logistical and over-all support, discussions were held with the Committee on the provision of analytical assistance on specific thematic issues, such as sexual violence, honour killings, domestic violence and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325.Hide
OHCHR submitted a report to the Human Rights Council on creating and/or strengthening synergies and linkages on violence against women and girls (A/HRC/23/25) at its 20th session (June 2012) which includes recommendations on the means to reinforce the links between the Council and its mechanisms as well as between the Council and other intergovernmental processes. OHCHR, in partnership with the Mission of Canada, other Member States and NGOs, also promoted a series of discussions on how to strengthen cooperation and synergies between Geneva-based actors to feed into the work of the Human Rights Council. OHCHR supports the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which held two sessions in Geneva, in which women’s rights, including violence against women, in 15 countries (Andorra, Afghanistan, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Seychelles and Tajikistan) was discussed and analysed. In a statement adopted during its fiftieth session on the role of women in the process of political transition, the CEDAW Committee urged Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to ensure that custom, tradition, and cultural or religious considerations are not invoked to justify non-compliance with their legal obligations under the CEDAW Convention. OHCHR also supported national actors and civil society organisations activities on the implementation of UPR and CEDAW recommendations on violence against women, including in Togo and Chad.Hide
Leveraging existing accountability mechanisms for legal and policy action, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Women and OHCHR jointly organized a briefing of the CEDAW committee on the link between HIV and violence against women.Hide
OHCHR entered into a partnership with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in order to contribute to shaping policy in the areas of addressing violence against women, the promotion of gender equality and ensure respect of individual gender identity.Hide
OHCHR, as a member of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) and United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UNGIFT) ensured a human rights based approach was mainstreamed throughout all the policy papers developed by ICAT including the joint paper on the intersection between legal regimes to combat trafficking was produced. OHCHR also continues to promote the application of the Recommended Principles and Guideline on Human Rights and Human Trafficking through the organisation of regional and sub-regional launchings of the Commentary (an in depth analysis of the legal and policy frameworks on trafficking) in parallel with capacity building workshops. OHCHR provided support to the CEDAW Committee in its regional consultations on the drafting of a general recommendation on the realization of women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict, also providing financial support for two regional women’s NGO groups to participate in the consultation in Africa.Hide
OHCHR submitted two papers on the application of a human rights approach to prevention of violence against women and human rights based approach to multi-sectoral responses as part of the preparation of the SG’s reports for the 57th CSW session.Hide
OHCHR submitted two reports to the Human Rights Council’s 17th session (June 2011), respectively on the expert workshop on challenges, good practices and opportunities in the elimination of all forms of violence against women (A/HRC/17/22), and a Compilation of good practices in efforts aimed at preventing violence against women (A/HRC/17/23). OHCHR supported the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences in developing and presenting a thematic report on multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination (A/HRC/17/26) which proposes a holistic approach to addressing the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that contribute to and exacerbate violence against women. The Special Rapporteur also submitted her reports to the Human Rights Council on missions undertaken to El Salvador, Algeria, Zambia and the United States. OHCHR further supported the Special Rapporteur in convening a side event on regional standards and violence against women during the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2011. The objective of this event, which brought together representatives of regional human rights mechanisms from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Inter-American region, was to analyse the different provisions on violence against women elaborated in the regional human rights instruments and relevant jurisprudence developed by the regional mechanisms.Hide
The OHCHR office in Brussels, together with the UN Country Team, actively participated in the elaboration and adoption of the European Union (EU) Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting Its Victims. A commentary on implementing the Directive has been developed and submitted to the EU. This Commentary is aimed at assisting EU countries in interpreting the Directives in a more human rights-based approach. UNICEF also contributed to the Joint UN Commentary on EU Directive. OHCHR continued to promote the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking through the organization of regional launchings of the Commentary of the Recommended Principles and Guidelines published at the beginning of 2011 with capacity building activities in Moldova (November 2011) and in the United Arab Emirates (December 2011). The Commentary is an in-depth analysis of the legal and policy frameworks on trafficking. The Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice of the Human Rights Council was appointed in March 2011 and assumed its functions on 1 May 2011. During the reporting period, the Working Group held two sessions in Geneva, decided its working methods and thematic priorities. These relate to women’s right to equality in participating in public and political life including at times of political transitions (2012) and women’s right to equality in participating in economic and social life including at times of economic crisis (2013). More information can be found at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WGWomen/Pages/WGWomenIndex.aspxHide
In August 2014, OHCHR and UN Women launched the Latin American Protocol for the investigation of Gender-Motivated Killings of women, which provides guidance for investigations to comply with due diligence standards (promoted in Argentina, Colombia View More
In August 2014, OHCHR and UN Women launched the Latin American Protocol for the investigation of Gender-Motivated Killings of women, which provides guidance for investigations to comply with due diligence standards (promoted in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and Peru).Hide