The 20th Anniversary of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
“As we continue to strive towards a world that acknowledges the rights of all human beings, the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, still sets the agenda for much of our work. The Declaration, which led to historic advances in the promotion and protection of human rights, is the most significant overarching human rights document produced in the past 40 years”
– UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay
In 2013, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights marks 20 years since its establishment. A programme of special events commemorating the anniversary has been scheduled throughout the year in the lead-up to Human Rights Day in December.
The United Nations General Assembly created the mandate of High Commissioner for the promotion and protection of all human rights in December 1993. The GA was acting on a recommendation from delegates to the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna earlier the same year. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA booklet - PDF), adopted by the World Conference, marked the beginning of a renewed effort in the protection and promotion of human rights and is regarded as one of the most significant human rights documents of the past quarter century.
The extraordinary political, social and economic events of the past two decades have helped unlock the potential of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, revitalizing the human rights movement and generating progress in the implementation of human rights principles into common law, at a pace few could have imagined in 1993.
In the past 20 years, there has been fundamental progress in the advancement of women’s rights, the development of international law to achieve accountability for human rights abuses, the protection and promotion of the rights of marginalized groups and a much greater understanding of the universality and indivisibility of human rights.
Human Rights Day 2013
Human Rights Day 2013 is of special significance in this anniversary year.
Building on the theme 20 YEARS: WORKING FOR YOUR RIGHTS Human Rights Day will be celebrated in all regions of the world including special events being held at the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Office in both Geneva on 5 December and in New York on 10 December
Human Rights Day 2013
Human Rights Day will be celebrated in all regions of the world including special events at the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Office in both Geneva on 5 December and in New York on 10 December.
A number of events are being planned and organized in Geneva, Vienna and New York and around the world.
Human rights achievements
Find out 20 of the many important human rights achievements that have been accomplished since the Vienna Conference.
World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993)
Learn more about the World Conference on Human Rights that took place in Vienna in 1993 and read the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
Statements and messages
Statements by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Use social media to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Office! Join the conversation using #UNRightsAt20.
Logo and promotional materials
Download downloadable images to mark the 20th anniversary of the Office.
Read our feature stories and find out how the UN Human Rights Office promote and protects human rights all over the world.
Videos are a powerful tool to tell the human rights story. Check out the videos produced by the Office.