OHCHR in the World: making human rights a reality on the ground
Over the years, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) has increased its presence in the field, reaching out more and more and giving a voice to the people who need it the most. The Office’s presences away from Headquarters are a strategic entry point for promoting and protecting human rights at the country level; mainstreaming human rights, that is, integrating a human rights perspective into the work of United Nations Country Teams and United Nations peace missions; and helping strengthen national institutions and civil society.
There are a number of ways in which UN Human Rights field presences assist in efforts to make human rights a reality; not only do they monitor the human rights situation in countries, but they also help build the capacity of Member States and other duty-bearers to address human rights issues. The following are UN Human Rights field presences:
* Reference to the State of Palestine should be understood in compliance with UNGA resolution 67/19.
** Reference to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.
18 Country/Stand-alone Offices
In establishing country offices and stand-alone offices, UN Human Rights negotiates with the host government a full mandate that includes both human rights protection and promotion. In 2020, UN Human Rights had offices in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Syria, State of Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, Ukraine, Chad, Guinea, Niger, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda, Mauritania, OHCHR Structure in Seoul, Cambodia.
Activities by country offices include monitoring, public reporting, provision of technical assistance, and the monitoring and development of long-term national capacities to address human rights issues.
12 Human Rights Components in UN Peace Missions
The Office is the lead United Nations entity for the protection and promotion of human rights, but all UN actors have a role to play in protecting and promoting human rights in their operations. In this respect, UN Human Rights seeks to integrate human rights in all components of UN peace missions.
In 2020, UN Human Rights supported nearly 900 international and national human rights officers and support staff in 12 Human Rights Components of UN peace missions in
Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
12 Regional Offices and Centres
In 2020, UN Human Rights had 12 regional offices covering East Africa (Addis Ababa), Southern Africa (Pretoria), West Africa (Dakar) Central America (Panama City), South America (Santiago de Chile), Europe (Brussels), Central Asia (Bishkek), South East Asia (Bangkok), Pacific (Suva) and the Middle East and North Africa (Beirut). UN Human Rights also has a Regional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy for Central Africa in Cameroon (Yaoundé) and a Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region in Qatar (Doha).
Regional offices have a crucial role to play in promoting and protecting human rights in countries of their region, including by working with regional bodies, such as the African Union.
44 Human Rights Advisers
Human Rights Advisers are experts deployed by the office to the field to support UN Country Teams following the request of UN Resident Coordinators. They follow up and analyze the human rights situation in the country in which they serve and advise the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team as a whole on strategies to build or strengthen nations' capacities and institutions in promoting and protecting human rights. They also engage with national actors (governments and civil society) on how to best promote and implement human rights standards. In 2020, OHCHR had 44 Advisers in the Dominican Republic, Belize, El Salvador, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Barbados, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Madagascar, Kenya, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Philippines, Mongolia, South Caucasus, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Belarus, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina.
Rapid response to emerging human rights Crises
A Rapid Response Unit supports the work of UN Human Rights by swiftly deploying personnel to the field. The Unit manages an internal roster of staff who can be rapidly deployed in human rights and humanitarian emergencies, and can provide surge capacity to UN Human Rights field offices. At the request of Member States, UN Human Rights often conducts or supports fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry that investigate serious allegations of human rights violations and abuses.
The Rapid Response Unit has, in recent times, conducted or coordinated the establishment of fact-finding missions or commissions of inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on the events in the Kasai regions, South Sudan, Burundi and Myanmar; as well as the Commission of Inquiry on Mali mandated by the Secretary-General.
The Rapid Response Unit manages the Contingency Fund that was established to implement the priorities and strategies of the High Commissioner to respond to human rights emergencies by deploying human rights personnel and providing logistical support.
In 2020, UN Human Rights used its Contingency Fund to deploy staff to the following countries or regions: Angola to monitor the human rights violations committed in Kasai, DRC; Bangladesh, to monitor the human rights violations against the Rohingya in Myanmar, Yangoon and the Rakhine State; Qatar to gather information on the impact of the Gulf crisis; Guatemala to assist the country office in monitoring the crisis in the child welfare system; Honduras to assist the country office in monitoring the aftermath of the post-election crisis; Mauritania to strengthen human rights expertise in the humanitarian context; and the remote monitoring of the human rights situation in Venezuela.
In 2020, staff was deployed to monitor the deteriorating human rights situation in Nicaragua and Ecuador; and in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to provide human rights advice to the humanitarian organisations that assist the Rohingya refugees.