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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

'Human Rights Up Front' Initiative

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Malala Yousafzai, the young education rights campaigner from Pakistan. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Briefing Member States in November 2013, the Secretary-General said he had launched an initiative to improve UN response to complex crises to "prevent horrendous human suffering." UN Photo

A new initiative by the Secretary-General to improve UN action to safeguard human rights around the world


The Human Rights up Front (HRuF) initiative was launched by the UN Secretary-General in late 2013. Its purpose is to ensure the UN system takes early and effective action, as mandated by the Charter and UN resolutions, to prevent or respond to large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. It seeks to achieve this by realizing a cultural change within the UN system, so that human rights and the protection of civilians are seen as a system-wide core responsibility. It encourages staff to take a principled stance and to act with moral courage to prevent serious and large-scale violations, and pledges Headquarters support for those who do so.

HRuF also calls for operational changes that promote system-wide analysis, early warning and early action in response to situations of concern. By ensuring the UN system is working together, HRuF helps the Organization use the full breadth of its mandates and capacities to address complex risks that affect people and Member States. HRuF also seeks to change the way the UN System engages politically, by proposing an earlier and more forthright sharing of information with Member States on human rights violations and wider UN concerns and greater engagement with regional actors.

Collectively, these changes will help to transform the way the UN approaches situations of serious violations of human rights. The initiative has been progressively rolled-out since late 2013. The Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General have presented HRuF to the General Assembly and to staff and UN system leaders. It re-affirms the UN’s core purposes and values, and ensures the Organization is more effective in its aim to protect human rights and prevent conflict.