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Human Rights for All

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Human Rights Priorities Today

Countering discrimination, in particular racial discrimination, discrimination on the grounds of sex, religion and against others who are marginalized

Equality before the law and freedom from discrimination are basic legal principles that underpin the protection of all human rights. The roots of most human rights abuses lie in severe violations of these principles. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the main international human rights treaties all contain clauses prohibiting discrimination and establishing State obligations to refrain from discriminatory policies and practices and to take steps to eradicate discrimination in both the public and private spheres.

The Convention on disappearances enters into force endorsed by States

On 23 December 2010, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance received enough ratifications for it to enter into force. A new treaty body, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, will be established to monitor States compliance with the provisions under the Convention. Since the beginning of the UN’s campaign on disappearances 30 years ago, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances has examined more than 50,000 cases of enforced disappearances from some 80 countries. This is only the tip of the iceberg in the actual number of disappeared.

Combating impunity and strengthening accountability, the rule of law and democratic society

Without the foundation of the rule of law and accountability, human rights cannot be protected and violations cannot be addressed effectively. Under international human rights law, States are required to investigate allegations of all serious human rights violations with the aim of identifying perpetrators and bringing them to justice. Several international human rights treaties contain provisions guaranteeing the right to an effective remedy for victims of all human rights violations.

Pursuing economic, social and cultural rights and combating inequalities and poverty, including in the context of the economic, food and climate crises

As part of OHCHR’s mandate to promote the indivisibility, interdependence and inter-relatedness of all human rights, including the right to development, OHCHR strongly supports the integration of human rights into poverty-reduction efforts that recognize the importance of protecting the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the poor as a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.

Protecting human rights in the context of migration

Every country is affected by migration, whether as country of origin, transit, destination or as a combination of these. While migration is, for many, a positive and empowering experience, for others, the reality is one of discrimination, exploitation and abuse. The escalation of human trafficking globally is another area of serious concern.

Protecting human rights in situations of armed conflict, violence and insecurity

The most serious human rights violations are frequently committed during periods of armed conflict. Armed conflict is often seen as offering parties to the fighting carte blanche to employ any means necessary to win, regardless of basic human rights obligations. In fact, international human rights law, whether established by treaty or custom, applies at all times, including during armed conflict and in other situations of violence and insecurity.

Even in the absence of armed conflict, in situations of violence and insecurity populations are often exposed to widespread human rights violations, such as killings, torture, sexual and gender-based violence and arbitrary detention. Natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies can also create situations of general insecurity and are also considered within this strategy.

A general view of the 15th Session of the Council of Human Rights.  UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.

A general view of the 15th Session of the Council of Human Rights. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.

Strengthening human rights mechanisms and the progressive development of international human rights law

Over the past five years there has been substantial reform of the international bodies and mechanisms that make up the UN human rights system, with wide-ranging implications for OHCHR’s work. Key developments since the Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the Human Rights Council in 2006 include the 2008 launch of the Council’s new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism; the review of the Council’s special procedures system, with a reduction in the number of country-specific mandates, an increase in the number of thematic mandates, and additional mandates provided to existing special procedures, including in response to crisis situations and special sessions; the adoption of several important new international human rights treaties; and the establishment of new treaty bodies.