​​​​​How we make a difference 2018

Reprisals: Targeting Human Rights Defenders
"The horrendous impact on the victim and their families aside, reprisals against people for cooperating with the UN sends a chilling message to others of what will happen if they do the same thing. As they are designed to do," said Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour.
Genocide: "Never again" has become "time and again"
“Nothing can prevent hate crimes such as genocide, more than the existence of societies where human rights are fully enjoyed” said Fabian Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.
The unspoken servitude of women domestic workers
The integration of women in the global labour market and ageing societies have created a gap in households filled by migrant domestic workers whose rights can be gravely violated, says Urmila Bhoola, UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery.
To combat the ‘odious scourge’ of genocide, we must make every effort to promote justice
The genocide convention matters as much today as it did 70 years ago, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said.
"The truth can be recovered" - the methodology behind fact-finding in Myanmar
Human rights experts of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar reveal the methodology they used to assess the credibility of allegations against Myanmar authorities.
"Human rights are a powerful medicine" to heal wounds and develop resilience
High Commissioner Bachelet opens the Human Rights Council session with a statement of hope for universal rights.
Bachelet applauds Indian Supreme Court LGBT ruling
As Indian LGBT activists celebrate, Bachelet urges courts in other countries to follow unanimous Supreme Court decision to decriminalize consensual same-sex relations
Michelle Bachelet becomes new UN Human Rights Chief
On 1 September 2018, Michelle Bachelet assumed her functions as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The UN Human Rights Office was established in 1993 and Ms. Bachelet is the seventh High Commissioner.
"This is what true leaders look like" - High Commissioner Zeid's parting message
A note of courage and defiance on behalf of human rights defenders, and "a longing for the leadership of the just".
Nicaragua rights crisis demands action and accountability
Repression and retaliation continue in the wake of protests in Nicaragua as the world looks away, Zeid warns, as he calls for urgent action to tackle the country’s human rights crisis.
Myanmar Fact Finding Mission: accounting for the gravest international crimes
The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found patterns of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, amounting to the gravest crimes under international law. The report calls for Myanmar military generals to be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Kofi Annan: the epitome of human decency and grace
The United Nations Human Rights Office is deeply saddened by the passing of Kofi Annan. He will always be remembered for his leadership as a courageous, dynamic and charismatic Secretary-General.
"A piece of me died that day"
"No matter how many years go by, there is always that one moment, like a secret drawer where the pain is still intact," said Laura Dolci. Her husband, Jean-Sélim Kanaan, was among the 22 UN staff who were killed during the 2003 UN compound bombing in Baghdad.
Migration nightmare for an indigenous woman in Mexico
The UN Human Rights offices in Guatemala and Mexico advocate for the rights of an indigenous migrant who faces prolonged detention in a State prison in Mexico, after she was kidnapped by smugglers near the country’s border with the US.
Michelle Bachelet appointed to lead UN Human Rights Office
UN Human Rights staff look forward to welcoming Michelle Bachelet and working under her leadership for the promotion and protection of all human rights, for everyone, everywhere. She will succeed Zeid when his mandate ends on 31 August.
Human Rights Council Advisory Committee marks tenth anniversary
The Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council marked its tenth anniversary with a commemorative event at its 21st session to reflect on the Committee’s contributions to the Council since it was established in 2008.
A reflection on past war crimes and today’s crimes against humanity
Zeid and Nuremberg prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz, reflect on progress achieved in protecting human rights since the end of World War II. “We are all inhabitants of a single planet … I regret that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being violated … more than it is being accepted,”Ferencz says.
"Nothing they can do will stop me."
Investigative journalist and human rights defender Rana Ayyub was the subject of an intense online hate campaign because of her outspoken views and stories on the majority Hindu government. She spoke with the UN Human Rights Office about combatting hate speech online.
SIDs Trust Fund honours Tonga
Tonga delegate Elsie Fukofuka has become the 100th beneficiary of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund. The Fund provides support for delegates from least developed countries and small island nations to attend the Human Rights Council.
Team Human: Making the New Case for the UDHR
"We are now making a defence for universal rights, (something) which we thought was a discussion that was already won," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. "I would submit we must make the case for a world where we combine our efforts. We have to be team human and not team us."
Zeid disturbed and concerned by current human rights situation in OPT
“Only an end to occupation can bring about lasting peace an establish the conditions in which the human rights of all can be fully respected and each side respects the humanity and equality of each other,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
UN Expert: Content moderation should not trample free speech
Both States and companies have a duty to ensure that moderation of content online does not infringe on free expression, said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression. The best way to do this, is to use human rights as the basis for any rules.
Deportation is an unworkable solution for migration
Involuntary returns and reintegration in countries of origin have repercussions on the human rights of migrants, says UN migration expert, Felipe González Morales.
Bridging the digital gender divide
The potential of technology to help women and girls exercise their human rights has yet to be realised because of a persistent and growing digital gender divide. But experts say this divide can be bridged through concentrated efforts to educate, ensure access, and improve the skills of women and girls.
Civilians in South Sudan killed, raped by Government forces
There must be consequences for the men who reportedly gang-raped children, slit the throats of elderly villagers and shot fleeing civilians in the swamps where they hid, High Commissioner Zeid urges.
An unresolved uprooted life
Internally displaced persons in Japan and Mexico look to their Governments to recognize their displacement.
Digital misogyny is personal and fixable
For women and girls, the internet can be an empowering space. It can also be dangerous, as online abuse escalates. But a group of experts and activists say the abuse can be challenged using human rights and technology.
Ethno-nationalism denies millions their citizenship rights - anti-racism expert
States have used access to citizenship and immigration status as a discriminatory tool to deny the human rights of minorities, the UN expert on racism, Tendayi Achiume, says.
Nicaragua: Act now to end violence, Zeid urges authorities
Zeid calls on the Nicaraguan government to take meaningful steps to prevent further loss of life, address impunity and guarantee justice for victims after weeks of protests and bloody violence in the country.
Thousands of Rohingya refugees continue to flee violence
"No amount of rhetoric can whitewash the facts", the High Commissioner says, urging referral of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.
What choice will you make – for yourself, and for our world?
True patriotism consists in viewing humanity as a community of mutual responsibility, with shared needs and goals.
Stop using civilians as pawns in Syria
High Commissioner Zeid calls on each side of the Syrian conflict to protect civilians and their right to flee to safety. He condemns the use of civilians as “pawns” for advancement in Daraa.
Centre puts human rights and sports on same team
A coalition of sporting bodies and human rights groups launched the Centre for Sport and Human Rights in Geneva this week. The independent Centre will promote effective ways to mitigate, prevent and remedy the human rights impacts associated with sports and sporting events.
What to know about detention and the right to health
The UN right to health expert, Dainius Pūras, says that over 10 million people detained in prisons and confined in other institutions are denied their right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Sports and human rights natural teammates
Sport has the unique ability to attract and inspire people. During a conversation, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee discussed how human rights and sport make natural teammates.
Venezuela: Impunity amid dismal human rights situation
UN report details Venezuelan authorities’ failure to hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights violations and the grave impact of the economic and social crisis on the rights to food and health.
Refugees and other migrants do not lose their rights by crossing borders
Current migration policies and populist rhetoric dehumanise people on the move across the globe and criminalise migration, a fundamentally human phenomenon.
Global update at the Human Rights Council on access for human rights
High Commissioner appeals to Council members "to do more, to speak louder and work harder" for human rights and peace
UN human rights report on Kashmir details multiple violations
First-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for an international inquiry as part of efforts to address multiple violations and deliver justice for all people in Indian-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir.
UN expert on albinism: "We are gaining ground"
Regional steps for rights protection and individual achievements by people with albinism themselves are celebrated on this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day.
"The one core lesson brought home to me by this extraordinary mandate"
This is the way that wars are made: with the snarl of belligerence and the lash of injustice.
The High Commissioner is proud of the UN Human Rights Office in 2017
The UN Human Rights Report 2017 outlines the achievements of his Office both in Geneva and in the field.
“We have no choice but to keep going”: environmental activism in Kenya
Environmental rights activists in Kenya have faced harassment, threats and intimidation as they push for justice for environmental pollution in their community. “The issue is not over,” said Phyllis Omido, environmental human rights defender. “We have no choice but to keep going.”
Keeping the peace – human rights on the ground
Meet Mamadou Bah and Christian Lumbala, two of our human rights officers working in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
Flying to freedom - new guidelines to cut aviation route for human trafficking
Commercial aircrafts is one of the means of transportation used by traffickers to move their victims. The UN Human Rights office and the International Civil Aviation Organization have collaborated to produce guidelines to train aviation personnel to spot and report trafficking.
Zeid hails key step in transitional justice in Tunisia
Zeid hails the start of a new era in the fight against impunity in Tunisia as a specialized chamber begins hearing the first case of gross human rights violations committed by past Tunisian regimes.
What place for human rights, in a world of deepening divisions?
Resurgent hostility is an existential threat to the human rights movement -- and a very real threat to humanity.
Zeid urges Mexico to act to end wave of disappearances in Nuevo Laredo
Zeid urges Mexico to take urgent steps to end a wave of enforced disappearances in Nuevo Laredo, amid strong indications that these crimes have been committed by federal security forces.
Seventy years of peacekeeping and human rights
Meet Nicole Ngoy, one of our human rights officers working in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo.
Knocking down walls to live independently
Matthieu Chatelin has surmounted countless hurdles to live independently and be included in the communities where he has lived.
Mental health is a human right
People with mental health conditions and those with psychosocial disabilities worldwide endure treatment that no other strata of the population is subjected to. Current mental health practices impact their dignity, autonomy and the enjoyment of their human rights.
Libya: Health care under attack in conflict
Continued violence in Libya is having a devastating impact on health care in Libya. A new report released by the UN Human Rights Office shows how attacks on hospitals, medical facilities and medical personnel have contributed to a failing health-care system.
"To honour the Vienna Declaration, States must act on it"
High Commissioner urges a defiant movement for rights
High Commissioner calls for international investigation in Gaza violence
"End the occupation, and the violence and insecurity will largely disappear", he argued before the Human Rights Council.
New UN Human Rights office continues work in Liberia
After the United Nations ended its Peacekeeping mission in Liberia in March this year, the United Nations Human Rights Office stayed open, forging a new agreement with the government to continue improving human rights protection and advocacy.
Major rethink needed for the prevention of mass atrocities
The UN’s approach on atrocity prevention is in need of radical reform, said the former Special Rapporteur on transitional justice, Pablo de Greiff. In a recent study presented to the Human Rights Council, he suggests a way forward.
Syrian victims seek justice against their torturers
Khaled Rawas and 21 other Syrians survivors look to a German court to seek redress for the inhuman treatment they suffered at the hands of their torturers in Syria. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is supporting their quest for justice.
Supporting Yemen human rights NGOs help bring peace and tolerance
For the first time, the UN Human Rights Office in Yemen sponsored three local NGOs whose work helps to better promote, embed and empower human rights activism at the grass roots level.
Dialogue with the African Union, a "mighty force" for rights
During talks in Addis, the High Commissioner offered human rights expertise to help promote sustainable peace and development.
"We need to be brave": HC hails the Amnesty International Conscience award
"Despite the xenophobia, bigotry and nationalism metastasising across the world, I am confident we can come together to build societies that are truly strong -- because they are fair"
The Universal Declaration works to stem the "insatiable machine" driving conflict
Why is recognition of the inalienable rights of all human beings the basis of freedom, justice and peace in the world?
Human rights monitoring in Yemen for the victims’ voices
When it comes to gathering the true facts behind the headlines of human rights violations, UN Human Rights Office monitors in Yemen put their lives on the line to ensure victims’ voices are heard.
Upholding rights through development is cost effective - and urgent
At the World Bank, the High Commissioner said human rights monitoring and assistance boost the sustainability of development work.
Access to justice is a form of rehabilitation for torture victims
Despite remarkable progress made in the international framework to prohibit torture, there needs to be greater focus on victims being able to access justice through victim-centered work, stated the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore. Gilmore made her remarks during a panel discussion on access to justice for victims of torture organized by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
UN report details scale and horror of detention in Libya
Armed groups in Libya, including those affiliated with the State, hold thousands of people in prolonged and unlawful detention, and submit them to torture and other human rights violations, according to a UN report published on Tuesday.
New database explores links between human rights and sustainable development goals
A new interactive database allows people to explore how countries following up on recommendations by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that will also contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals. The database, developed by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, is based on the more than 50,000 recommendations made during the first two UPR cycles, which are linked to SDGs and their targets
Collective shrug to chemical weapon use in Syria outrageous – Zeid
The world – and in particular the veto-wielding States on the Security Council -- need to wake up, and wake up fast, to the irreparable damage that is being done by the normalization of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Report: No one unaffected by sexual and gender-based violence in Syrian conflict
“It is utterly repugnant that brutal acts of sexual and gender-based violence have been perpetrated throughout Syria for over six and a half years,” said Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. He made his remarks during an event launching a report that looked into the pervasiveness of the issue in the Syrian conflict.
To truly honour the victims of trans-Atlantic slavery, we must take action
Slavery is not only a horror of the past. We need to end modern slavery and address the poverty, deprivation, discrimination and labour conditions which are its roots.
People of African descent demand action to end racial discrimination
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on everyone to act to ensure the full realization of the rights of more than 200 million people of African Descent.
One country’s example of promoting inclusion, justice, and respect for diversity
The UN Human Rights Office engages with Canada’s Governments and civil society to promote the rights of people of African descent.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The embrace of diversity is the great marker of strong and stable societies; we can push back against the forces of hatred and violence.
Tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity
Experts at the Human Rights Council mark anti-racism day by discussing ways to tackle global manifestations of racial discrimination and successes in promoting tolerance.
Profound violations amid Turkey’s state of emergency
Staggering numbers of people have had their human rights violated under the routine extensions of the state of emergency in Turkey, UN report finds, including hundreds of thousands arrested and arbitrarily dismissed.
“The Syrian crisis is breaking our world”
In an Arria briefing for members of the Security Council, the High Commissioner demanded justice for perpetrators of "mind-numbing" crimes in Syria.
Syria: the most dangerous place for children?
Civil society actors give the Human Rights Council information on violations of children’s rights in Syria and recommendations on how to protect rights of these children.
Mexico: Torture and cover-ups in Ayotzinapa investigation
Zeid urges Mexican authorities to continue search for truth and justice in the case of the 43 missing students, as UN report says strong grounds to believe people detained during the investigation were tortured and this in turn was covered up.
2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize call for nominations
The 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize will be given out at the United Nations in New York on Human Right Day, 10 December, coinciding with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nominations are open until 6 April 2018.
Emergency powers should be limited and proportionate - UN anti-terrorism expert
In her latest report, UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, addresses the human rights challenges of states of emergencies in the context of countering terrorism.
"We are at a pivotal moment in history" - HC Zeid
At Geneva's International Human Rights Film Festival, the High Commissioner outlines major global issues.
Honduras: excessive force used against electoral protests
Members of the Honduran security forces used excessive – even lethal - force to control protests that erupted after the controversial presidential elections last November, new UN report finds.
Human rights of women and girls of African descent: achievements and triumphs
A new publication by the UN Human Rights Office looks at the challenges and progress made on the enjoyment of human rights by women and girls of African Descent. The booklet was launched on International Women’s Day in Geneva by the UN Library.
Diverse stories key to improving women’s rights
Changing how women are treated globally is as simple and as difficult as changing the stories we tell about women, said best-selling author and women’s rights champion Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She spoke to the UN Human Rights Office to commemorate International Women’s Day.
High Commissioner’s global update of human rights concerns
At the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner spotlights more than 60 countries which have seen recent significant improvements – or negative trends.
A conversation on “kindness and generous accommodation”
A high-level conversation was hosted on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and celebrate his legacy to the world.
The role of women in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Women shaped the narrative of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through their influence on the language and the inclusion of particular rights, a new book to be published later this year contends.
In conflicts and disasters, children's rights are among the worst hit
Tolerance for the abuse of children is so high that no matter what we learn of its scale, and the deep and long-lasting damage it causes, still we struggle to put our responsibilities to children front and centre.
Syria crimes: Perpetrators must be held accountable – Zeid
Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court, Zeid tells an urgent debate at the Human Rights Council, as civilians continue to be pounded into submission and death by airstrikes and shelling despite Security Council resolution.
The universality and inseparability of human rights are key to peace
Governance which serves rather than silences, and economic systems rooted in dignity, are the responsibility of every government, and underpin the legitimacy of every government.
High Commissioner calls to end pernicious use of the Security Council veto
“It has been the honour of my life to have come to know many human rights defenders – to have worked with them, and for them,” High Commissioner Zeid tells the high-level March session of the Human Rights Council.
Efforts to build and sustain peace must uphold and promote human rights
Colombia, Mali and Myanmar exemplify how human rights measures can uphold peace – and the existential threats of violations.
South Sudan: Possible war crimes and crimes against humanity
UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan calls for reparations for victims of human rights violations in the ongoing conflict.
Freedom of expression vital for peace in South Sudan
People must be free to express opinions regardless of political or ethnic affiliations to achieve peace in South Sudan, UN report says, as ‘chilling’ crackdowns continue and millions suffer from conflict.
Stop the “monstrous annihilation” of Eastern Ghouta – Zeid
How much cruelty will it take before the international community can speak with one voice to say enough dead children, enough wrecked families, enough violence?
Afghanistan: 10,000 civilian casualties in 2017
More than 10,000 civilians lost their lives or suffered injuries during 2017, with a high number of casualties caused by suicide bombings and other explosive attacks, according to the latest annual UN report documenting the impact of the armed conflict on civilians in Afghanistan.
Asma Jahangir: "A giant within the global human rights movement"
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein paid tribute to former UN human rights expert and human rights defender Asma Jahangir, following her death in Pakistan earlier this month.
In Pacific Islands, human rights can help to navigate through challenges
Ending discrimination will benefit everyone, the High Commissioner tells Pacific Island students
Yemen civilians under fire from all sides - Zeid
Zeid voices alarms at how civilians in Yemen are under fire on all sides, as Houthi and affiliated forces carry out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling, and the Saudi-led Coalition continues to conduct airstrikes.
Zeid urges international action as violence soars in Syria
Zeid calls for urgent international action after a week of soaring violence and bloodshed in Syria, saying the past seven years of conflict have been an “epic failure of global diplomacy”.
Zeid visits Papua New Guinea
High Commissioner Zeid calls on mining and logging companies to stop trampling on the human rights of the communities where they operate, and urges the Government to strengthen rule of law and combat corruption.
Victims of Nochixtlán: a cry for justice
A year and a half after a clash between police and protestors in Nochixtlán, Mexico left six people dead. The UN Human Rights Office in Mexico works with human rights institutions and victims to bring about justice.
Indonesia’s tradition of tolerance can prevail – Zeid
Zeid calls on Indonesia to move forward on human rights, voicing hope that the strong tradition of tolerance of the Indonesian people will prevail over populism and political opportunism.
Maldives state of emergency assault on democracy – Zeid
The state of emergency in the Maldives has swept away the checks and balances and separation of powers necessary in a functioning democracy, potentially leading to a greater number of human rights violations, Zeid warns.
In Asia, upholding human rights is crucial for peaceful coexistence
Crackdowns, discrimination and other violations undermine the basis of sound development and security, the High Commissioner tells policy-makers and diplomats in Jakarta
Telling climate change stories for people and planet
An online platform gives everyone a chance to share their experiences of climate change and views on addressing its devastating effects.
We remember and honour the victims of the Holocaust by upholding human rights
If humanity is to thrive we must uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was forged from the horror of global warfare and genocide.
UN expert: despite medical cure leprosy causes stigma and discrimination
"For me it is so obvious, leprosy has always, through the centuries, been an issue with human rights violations," said Alice Cruz, the new UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members. Cruz made her comments as part of the observance of World Leprosy Day.
Zeid condemns upsurge in civilian casualties in Syria
The suffering of the people of Syria knows no end, says Zeid, as he condemns the upsurge in civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib amid escalations in airstrikes and ground-based attacks.
How to train cabin crews to identify trafficking victims
The UN Human Rights Office and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) develop set of guidelines to train cabin crewmembers on how to identify safely and report suspected cases of human trafficking.
Zeid urges Iranian authorities to defuse tensions
UN human rights chief urges Iranian authorities to respect rights of protesters, to investigate all deaths and serious injuries, and to take care not to inflame violence and unrest.
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