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OHCHR and good governance

"Our pledge to achieve sustainable development, and our obligation to fulfil human rights, compel us to at last take tough action against corruption – both in terms of its confiscation of what should be common goods, and also its facilitation of abuse of power for private gain."

– Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
European Forum Alpbach, 1 September 2020

About good governance and human rights

Good governance is the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law. The true test of 'good' governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Read more about good governance and human rights.

The cost of corruption

Every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP. In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance. Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.

The United Nations is fighting this global scourge through initiatives like the global campaign launched jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted in 2003, exists as the only legally-binding, universal anti-corruption instrument.  Read more about corruption and human rights.

OHCHR's work on good governance

OHCHR is committed to working with States, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society to foster an environment that respects and protects human rights through good governance. This means ensuring legal frameworks, institutions, political, managerial and administrative processes respond to the rights and needs of the population. Human rights standards provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors – and also ensure they can be held accountable.

Latest reports, publications and resources

Praia Handbook on Governance Statistics (2020): Produced by the Praia City Group, established under the auspices of the UN Statistical Commission. OHCHR took part in this collective effort, leading in particular the work on the crosscutting chapter on human rights and on the specific chapter on non-discrimination and equality.
PDF: English

Challenges faced and best practices applied by States in integrating human rights into their national strategies and policies to fight against corruption, including those addressing non-State actors, such as the private sector
View report page | View document A/HRC/44/27

The human rights case against corruption (2013): A basic foundation for rights-based advocacy against corruption for those with an interest in fighting the negative impacts of corruption on the enjoyment of all human rights.
PDF: English

Good Governance practices for the protection of human rights (2007): 21 case studies of governance reforms that have helped to better protect human rights.
PDF: English