How we make a difference 2017
Human rights education key to overcoming conflict and inequality
As the world experiences more conflicts and inequalities based on ethnic, religious and socio-economic identities and differences, now more than ever, there is a need for approaches that promote understanding, respect, participation and inclusion. And a key element in this strategy is human rights education.
Human Rights Day celebrated across the globe
Around the world, States, civil society, NGOs, celebrities, communities and individuals celebrated Human Rights Day with art, song, and performances. Here is a snap shot of a few.
Education in mother tongue a key element in success of minority youth
“Language is the key to inclusion. Recognizing the kind of importance that people place on their own language fosters the kind of participation in development that achieves long lasting results,” Elzbieta Kuzborska from the Association of Polish Academics in Lithuania told the Minority Forum which took place recently in Geneva.
Somalia conflict exacting terrible toll on civilians
Respect for human rights and protection of civilians are essential to build a strong, legitimate State that works for all, Zeid says as UN report details the terrible toll on civilians of Somalia’s conflict.
A world for all
The wider inclusion of persons with disabilities and the meaningful commitment of the international community to uphold their rights is the only way forward to equality, panellists say at the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Soumayya’s story: A bold fight against female genital mutilation
“This is a practice that is injuring the bodies of women, the bodies of girls,” said Soumayya, who took a courageous stand against female mutilation and was imprisoned and tortured for her resistance to the widespread practice. Her fight continues to this day. Here is her story.
Protecting the reproductive rights of adolescent girls
Restrictions on adolescent girls’ reproductive choices are an especially hurtful form of gender-based discrimination and violence, women’s rights experts told Member States at a high-level panel discussion of the Human Rights Council.
Zeid hails conviction of Mladic, the epitome of evil
Ratko Mladic presided over some of the darkest crimes to occur in Europe since World War II, Zeid says, hailing the conviction of the former Bosnian Serb army commander at the International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Rights situation in Venezuela remains critical
The human rights situation in Venezuela deserves the attention of the UN Security Council, High Commissioner Zeid says, given the continuing violations and the potentially destabilizing influence it could have in the country and in the region.
Plight of civilians in Eastern Ghouta "an outrage" – Zeid
The plight of people besieged in Eastern Ghouta is an outrage, Zeid says, as he reminds all parties to the conflict that they must allow the free and regular passage of food and other humanitarian relief into the area.
Protecting human rights defenders in the Americas
The UN Human Rights Office and Inter-American Commission launch a new joint action plan to address one of the most pressing problems in the Americas: the protection of human rights defenders.
Death penalty and transparency – what's to hide?
“The death penalty has no place in the 21st century,” says UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, at a UN Human Rights Office event on the lack of transparency in in how the death penalty is carried-out in countries that execute.
Activists use human rights to advance sexual and reproductive health
“Human rights mechanisms are a way to hold governments accountable, especially at a time when there is shrinking space,” said Catherine Nyambura, of the pan-African women’s rights organization FemNet. She made her comment after a recent training session on sexual and reproductive health and rights, organized by the UN Human Rights Regional Office in East Africa.
Experts: Stereotypes and fear continue to block access to health care for some
For many, access to health care is a problem compounded by many factors including stigma, lack of adequate or any health care facilities or even expense of treatment. But during the Social Forum, participants talked about ways human rights can combat discrimination and improve access to health care for all.
Losing your land to climate change
Climate change threatens the very existence of Kiribati and other small island states in the Pacific. “If we have to migrate because of climate change, we will have no land to return to. We don’t want to lose our fundamental rights – if our country goes under water because of climate change,” says Kiribati youth activist Rae Bainteiti.
Youth involvement key to indigenous peoples human rights
Youth involvement and increased State action are key to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, indigenous rights experts told the UN Human Rights Council during a recent panel discussion.
Sustaining peace through human rights
"Human rights law is a load-bearing pillar of peace," High Commissioner Zeid said at a high-level event in New York on the importance of human rights in sustaining peace. In recent years, the UN Human Rights Office has ramped up efforts to provide early warnings of risks of severe human rights violations.
Children call for healthy environment to play
A traveling exhibition giving a child’s-eye view of a small Scottish community, sponsored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and recently shown in Geneva, explores children’s views on the environment and how it impacts their lives.
Let individuals love whom they choose
High Commissioner Zeid tells a high-level UN General Assembly gathering that where equality for LGBTI people is a difficult topic to broach, given hostile public opinion, it is even more urgent for governments to act to protect the rights of LGBTI people.
UN report details catastrophic rights violations in Yemen
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says it is crucial for an independent international investigation to be established into the very serious human rights and humanitarian law violations in Yemen - to put on notice parties to the conflict that the international community is watching.
Burundi - A knife or a steel bar? How would you prefer to be killed?
In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for another term as head of state of Burundi. Since then, real or suspected government opponents have been hunted down, tortured or killed. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi talks of crimes against humanity.
End in sight for “marry your rapist” laws
Three countries in the Middle East and North Africa- Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia - repeal legislation that allowed rapists to avoid criminal charges if they marry their victims.
Honouring lives lost in the service of human rights
"Today we honour our colleagues who have fallen; we cherish their memory and share their determination to continue to do what is right for our fellow human beings." - High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
Kenya at critical juncture – Zeid
Kenya's political leaders should do their utmost to calm a volatile political climate. If there are claims about the conduct of the elections, they should be made through constitutional and legal means. Zeid called for civil society actors and media to be allowed to work without hindrance or fear of retaliation.
Missing persons receive renewed attention in Kosovo*
The search for missing persons in Kosovo received a boost when the Human Rights Office of the UN Mission in Kosovo reached an agreement with Belgrade and Pristina authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross to redouble efforts to find and identify remains.
Widespread, systematic use of excessive force in Venezuela
A UN human rights team has identified a pattern of human rights violations in Venezuela since April 1, amid mass protests, with a breakdown of rule of law and constant attacks by the Government against the National Assembly and the Attorney-General’s Office. High Commissioner Zeid says the responsibility for these violations lies at the highest levels of Government.
Escaping the bonds of human trafficking: Pamela’s Story
The trafficking of human beings is one of the world’s most lucrative businesses, generating billions of dollars while destroying millions of lives. OHCHR’s UN Fund for Contemporary Forms of Slavery provides legal, social and psychological assistance to thousands of people subjected to human trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Gross violations in Kasai to be examined by international experts
International human rights experts Bacre Ndiaye (Senegal), Luc Côté (Canada) and Fatimata M’Baye (Mauritania) have been appointed to look into reports of harrowing human rights violations against civilians in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
South African radio stations stand up for human rights
Community radio stations across South Africa were encouraged to join the “Stand up for someone’s rights today” campaign during a recent radio competition. The winning station solved a compensation issue for a local farm worker injured on the job.
Men and boys in the fight to eliminate violence against women
“We believe that men and boys are part of the solution (to the problem of violence against women)…and we need them engaged to stop violence against women,” said Lana Wells, a professor at the University of Calgary, Canada during a panel discussion on involving men and boys in the fight for gender equity at the Human Rights Council.
Civilians mustn't be sacrificed for rapid military victories
"The intense bombardment of Al-Raqqa over the past three weeks has reportedly left civilians terrified and confused about where they can seek refuge as they are caught between ISIL’s monstrosities and the fierce battle to defeat it,” High Commissioner Zeid says as he appeals for their protection.
Migrant survivors of torture: A ‘silent epidemic’ of trauma
Two-thirds of the 50,000 torture victims assisted by the UN Fund for Torture Victims are migrants and refugees. Experts stress that migrants and refugees who have experienced torture must be identified and offered treatment as soon as possible upon their arrival in border areas and reception centres.
Basic income possible solution to human rights problem of poverty
“Universal basic income could offer the solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably heading,” UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston said.
Zeid welcomes international investigation into DRC
The creation of an international investigation into allegations of gross violations in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo sends a strong message to perpetrators that the international community is serious about bringing them to justice.
Uncertain prospects for Boko Haram survivors
As more women and girls are freed from the violence of terror group Boko Haram, those returning to their communities do not always receive a survivor’s welcome. How can local authorities improve their reintegration into their communities and ensure their rehabilitation?
Crossing borders: A child’s journey
The numbers of refugee and migrant children travelling alone have hit a record high, with at least 300,000 unaccompanied minors recorded in nearly 80 countries during 2015-2016, a fivefold increase from 2010-2011. One former child migrant tells his story.
Women’s health at the heart of sustainable development
When women’s right to health is upheld, their access to all other human rights are enhanced, triggering a process of transformative change and greater development for all, said Tarja Halonen, co-chair of the High-Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights.
New NGO law deeply damaging for human rights in Egypt
A repressive new law issued in Egypt leaves human rights defenders even more vulnerable to sanctions and reprisals than they already are. Muzzling dissent can only lead to further instability, High Commissioner Zeid says.
After more than half a century, a community receives justice
After more than 50 years, the Rastafari community of Coral Gardens in Jamaica have received recognition, recompense and an expression of regret of the human rights violations against hundreds of Rastafarians across the island. The UN Human Rights Advisor assisted the community in their advocacy to honour the commitment to justice.
Airstrikes, ISIL causing civilian casualties in Syria
The same civilians who are suffering indiscriminate shelling and summary executions by ISIL, are also falling victim to the escalating airstrikes, particularly in the northeastern governorates of Al-Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zor.
Stand up for human rights to – and through - health
Human rights cannot be fully enjoyed without health, nor can health be fully realized without the dignity upheld by human rights. A new report launched by a group of UN experts calls on Governments to stand up for the human rights to health through health by taking concrete actions to deliver on existing promises to fund, protect and expand health care provision.
Stand up for human rights to - and through - health
A report by the High-Level Group on health and human rights calls for tangible action to advance the right to health of all, in particular women, children and adolescents. Health workers, as human rights defenders, can play an indispensable role in making this happen.
Towards a global compact on migration
A huge step forward for migrants, as UN Member States begin discussions to reach a new international agreement in 2018 to uphold the human rights of migrants. “We have effectively broken the barrier of silence,” say human rights expert on migration François Crepeau.
Landmark partnership with Microsoft
The UN Human Rights Office's five-year agreement with Microsoft is an opportunity to develop and use advanced technology to better predict, analyse and respond to critical human rights situations, and highlights the private sector's role in helping advance human rights globally.
Violence and insecurity spreading in CAR
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expresses grave alarm over the expanding attacks by armed groups against the civilian population in several parts of the Central African Republic in recent months, as well as attacks against UN peacekeepers in the southeast.
High Commissioner Zeid visits Uzbekistan
High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the human rights reforms initiated by the new administration in Uzbekistan could, if successfully implemented, have a transformational impact on the country's future.
War-weary civilians at imminent risk of further violence
Women, children and men who fled violence in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan in the most horrifying circumstances are now trapped in Aburoc town, at imminent risk of gross human rights violations and inter-ethnic violence.
Protecting the rights of detainees in Syria
Protection of detainees and the disappeared in Syria was the focus of a recent panel discussion held during the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The discussion focused on the experiences of former detainees as well as providing some ways forward.
Hunted for their body parts
The killing of human beings and the use of their body parts in amulets and potions in “traditional medicine” and in witchcraft is a crime, says the UN expert on the rights of people with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero.
Preserve separation of powers, Zeid urges Venezuela
Zeid stresses the importance of the separation of powers for democracy and human rights, as he urges Venezuela’s Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers.
Access to essential medicines is a fundamental element of the right to health
“Millions are unable today to access essential medicines not due to any inherent lack of these commodities, but to entirely man-made policy deficits and entrenched practices,” said UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore at a panel discussion on access to medicines during the recent UN Human Rights Council.
Two years of war, 13,000 civilian casualties in Yemen
The violent deaths of refugees fleeing yet another war, of fishermen, of families in marketplaces, millions of people desperate for their basic rights to food, water, health and security - this is what the conflict in Yemen looks like two years after it began.
Serious rights violations in southeast Turkey
The displacement of thousands of people and the wholesale destruction of neighbourhoods in southeast Turkey during Government security operations are detailed in a UN report.
Zeid calls for immediate halt to DRC killings
Zeid calls on the DRC Government to act amid credible allegations of massive human rights violations in the DRC, including people being targeted by soldiers for their alleged affiliation with a local militia.
Film festival: the road to safety
The 2017 edition of the Global Road Safety Film Festival marks 10 years of raising awareness of safety of the world’s road and preventing road traffic casualties and injuries.
Ukraine conflict: End impunity for sexual violence
“What’s the point of saying what happened to me? No one will punish them.” UN report documents how survivors of sexual assault in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine are often denied justice.
Civilians in Yemen caught between warring parties
Civilians were trapped and targeted during fighting in Al Mokha, and there are real fears that the situation will repeat itself in the port of Al Hudaidah, to the north of Al Mokha, where air strikes are already intensifying, Zeid warns.
Record number of child casualties in Afghanistan
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2016. More children than ever have been killed, blinded, crippled while playing with unexploded ordnance negligently left behind by parties to the conflict.
Devastating cruelty against Rohingyas in Myanmar
A mother witnessing her child’s murder as she herself was being gang-raped is one of many shocking accounts of violence and violations told to UN Human Rights staff by Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar.
Commemorating the victims of the Holocaust
As we honour the victims of the Holocaust, we must also acknowledge the need to prevent the recurrence of anti-Semitism and all forms of racial and religious hatred and discrimination today.
Davos: Business leaders must stand up for human rights
High Commissioner Zeid calls on business leaders at Davos to use their considerable influence to stand up for human rights and to join in the fight to defend the global values that are currently under threat.
Engaging in critical dialogues for human rights and peace in Mali
Members of an armed separatist group listen to a presentation by the UN Human Rights and Protection Division in Ber, northern Mali. The meeting is part of a critical strategy to engage extremist groups in human rights dialogue, said Division Director Guillaume Ngefa.
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