OHCHR - Cooperation between the United Nations and regional mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights

The United Nations (UN) recognizes the significant role played by regional and subregional human rights arrangements in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, endorsed efforts to establish, strengthen and increase the effectiveness of these arrangements while at the same time stressed the importance of their cooperation with the UN human rights system. This has been reconfirmed by the UN General Assembly in several of its resolutions requesting the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the exchanges between the UN and regional intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights (A/RES/32/127 and A/RES/63/170).

In 1993, the then Commission on Human Rights adopted the first of a number of resolutions on the subject, which inter alia requested the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen exchanges between the UN and regional intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights and invited the treaty bodies to explore ways to increase the exchange of information and cooperation with regional human rights mechanisms (CHR Resolution 1993/51). The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has reiterated this through a number of resolutions which have requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to bring together regional and UN human rights mechanisms to exchange views on good practices and lessons learned with a view to enhancing cooperation between them. (HRC resolutions A/HRC/RES/6/20 of 2007; A/HRC/RES/12/15 of 2009, A/HRC/RES/18/14 of 29 September 2011 and A/HRC/RES/24/19 of 8 October 2013.)

Consequently, the OHCHR held three biennial workshops in November 2008, May 2010 and December 2012 with the participation of UN experts from the human rights treaty bodies and the HRC special procedures; representatives of regional human rights mechanisms in Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and ASEAN; as well as National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The workshops have focused on various themes including: 1) Good practices, added value and challenges’ for regional human rights mechanisms (2008); 2) Strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements to overcome obstacles to human rights promotion and protection at the regional (2010); 3) strengthening cooperation on information-sharing, joint activities and follow-up to recommendations from United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms with special focus on prevention of torture, women’s rights and children’s rights (2012).

During the workshop held in 2012, participants recognized the need to continue holding the biennial workshops and made 11 recommendations to State, the UN and Regional Human Rights Mechanism and 2 recommendations to other stakeholders in particular NHRIs and NGOs. The workshop recognized the need to strengthen cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms through various cooperation mechanisms including establishment of focal points, systemized information sharing, cross-referencing of jurisprudence and recommendations of human rights mechanisms, replication of best practices and enhanced cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms and other relevant stakeholders including national actors such as NHRIs and NGOs.

OHCHR presented a report on the conclusions and recommendations of this workshop to the 23rd session of the HRC (A/HRC/23/18) and subsequently, the HRC requested OHCHR to hold another workshop in 2014 to take stock of developments since the workshop in 2012. The HRC also requested OHCHR to include 3 thematic discussions on (a) the mainstreaming of economic, social and cultural rights; (b) the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities; and (c) the economic, social and cultural rights of women, based on concrete and practical experience of regional mechanisms in order to share information on best practices, lessons learned and new possible forms of cooperation (A/HRC/RES/24/19). Click here for the report of the meeting.

International workshop on enhancing cooperation between United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms, 4 and 5 October 2016, Geneva, Palais des Nations

Following Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 30/3, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights organized a workshop on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, which took place on 4 and 5 October 2016.  Participants discussed the implementation of recommendations made at the 2014 workshop and the lessons learned and  challenges encountered during that process. Concrete proposals for interaction between United Nations, regional human rights mechanisms, civil society and human rights defenders were discussed based on practical experiences  in the following thematic  panel discussions: Procedural  Aspects of cooperation, Cooperation in relation to promoting women rights;  the rights of minorities, refugees, migrants, IDPs, children, persons with albinisms, persons disabilities,  and LGBTIs; specific  challenges experienced by CSOs and HRDs at the national level; freedom of assembly and association; and follow up to UN and RHRMs’ recommendations and decisions.

The High Commissioner will present the Report of this workshop to the Human Rights Council in March 2016.


The workshop  gathered members of the African Commission and Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the East African Court of Justice; the ECOWAS Court of Justice; the Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights; the Council of Europe , the; the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR); the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the Arab Human Rights Committee; United Nations independent experts, including Special Procedures mandate-holders and Treaty Body members, representatives of governments, NHRIs, civil society organisations and academia.


Regional Consultation – Europe, September 2016

Regional Consultation - Asia, August 2016

Regional Consultation - Africa, July 2016

Regional Consultations - Americas, April 2016

2015 Workshop of Regional and Sub-Regional Courts, European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, 20 and 21 October 2015

2014 Workshop: Geneva, 8 and 9 October 2014: