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 initiated research on how human rights mechanisms have addressed harmful gender stereotypes and wrongful gender stereotyping aimed at informing further work to promote greater attention to states obligations and promising practices. The organization also continued its support to female human rights defenders through awareness-raising on the UN framework on the protection of human rights defenders; a regional workshop in Lebanon on women human rights defenders from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco which brought together women human rights defenders and UN country representatives, including the SRVAW; an internship for two women human rights defenders from Papua New Guinea in Nepal in order to strengthen their monitoring and documentation capacity on sorcery-related killings of women and violations against women.Hide
In the context of the Swiss week to combat trafficking in persons, OHCHR, in cooperation with ILO, IOM and UNHCR organized an expert panel on all forms of human exploitation, including trafficking.Hide
OHCHR Regional Office for Europe provided a briefing (21 October) on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women at an International Conference on Violence against Women in Central America which took place in London and was organized by the Central America Women's Network (CAWN).Hide
The OHCHR/Human Rights Adviser in the Russian Federation contributed to activities of the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” in partnership with the UN Gender Theme group. The OHCHR Regional Office in Central Africa participated in a conference/debate ("causeries éducatives"), organised by the UN Theme Group on Gender, on 8 December 2010, in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where several issues were discussed, including early and forced marriages; female genital mutilation and gender-based violence and HIV/Aids. Several stakeholders participated in the event. The Human Rights Section of MINUSTAH in Haiti, in collaboration with the MINUSTAH Multimedia Center held a session on the different types of violence against women, with representatives of the civil society (November 2010).Hide
A number of stories related to violence against women were posted on the How We Make a Difference section of OHCHR’s home page throughout 2008 and 2009. On International Women’s Day 2008, OHCHR’s home page featured a story on the launch of the Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign. The Office also proposed and contributed a story on violence against women to DPI’s 2008 “Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About” web page.Hide
In March 2018, CEDAW adopted General recommendation No. 37 (2018) on the gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change. The General Recommendation provides guidance to States parties on the View More
In March 2018, CEDAW adopted General recommendation No. 37 (2018) on the gender-related dimensions of disaster risk reduction in the context of climate change. The General Recommendation provides guidance to States parties on the implementation of their obligations under the Convention in relation to disaster risk reduction and climate change. The General recommendation recognises that women and girls also face a heightened risk of gender-based violence during and following disasters. In the absence of social protection schemes and in situations in which there is food insecurity combined with impunity for gender-based violence, women and girls are often exposed to sexual violence and exploitation as they attempt to gain access to food and other basic needs for family members and themselves.
On 18 September 2018, CEDAW published its inquiry report into so-called “bride kidnapping” in Kyrgyzstan. CEDAW found that women and girls suffer grave and systematic violations of their human rights due to a culture of abduction, rape and forced marriage. In 2018 and 2019, OHCHR supported the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in its engagement with CEDAW for the elaboration of a General Recommendation on trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration. The Special Rapporteur intervened in the context of CEDAW informal consultations in December 2018 and produced a written submission in the context of CEDAW Half-Day of General Discussion in February 2019.Hide
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.
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
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
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