Human Rights

Strength beyond all odds

Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially, and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster stigma, marginalization, and social exclusion. The right to freedom from discrimination requires States to ensure that persons with albinism are afforded equal protection under the law and in practice. This International Albinism Awareness Day (13 June) aims to highlight the achievements of people with albinism and to show that people with albinism can defy all odds.

Nathalie, a nurse by profession, has made her albinism a great strength, especially in her work. Her difference intrigues people, who come to meet her by curiosity and to greet her commitment.
Photo:UNICEF / Sibylle Desjardins

Guterres: Vaccines should be considered 'global public goods'

11 June 2021 — Lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines should be considered “global public goods”, the UN chief told journalists on Friday, covering the G7 Summit of leading industrialized nations taking...

UN elects five new members to serve on the Security Council 

11 June 2021 — Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were elected by the 75th session of the General Assembly on Friday to serve as non-permanent members of the UN...

UN rights chief urges accountability for escalating ‘catastrophe’ in Myanmar

11 June 2021 — Escalating violence across Myanmar including attacks on civilians must be halted to prevent even greater loss of life and a deepening humanitarian emergency, UN rights chief ...

UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.

Decade of Action

With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.

Thomas the Tank engine

Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.

More from the
United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

A collage of images of people waiting for or getting the vaccine. UNDP, Health

The case for vaccinating everybody

Scientists have developed safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines much faster than was first predicted. However, that progress will be in vain if we cannot ensure they are made quickly available for everybody, everywhere. This requires a combination of urgency, political will, technology, money, and manufacturing, logistical and administrative capacity. UNDP is committed to working closely with the UN family and partners to ensure everybody receives a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense.

Hands using a tool to work with a red coral FAO, Oceans and Marine Life

The future of precious red coral in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean is just one of the regions where FAO is supporting countries to sustainably manage and protect marine environments, while counteracting overfishing of coral, fish, and other species. Through the regional GFCM, FAO is working with Italy and other countries to improve control and surveillance of fishing while seeking to keep red coral harvesting at sustainable levels. The management measures are designed to ensure the sustainability of red coral fishing, the job viability of the fishers, artisans and others in the industry who depend on it.

Portrait of Tahere Siisiialafia OHCHR, Youth

“Youth inclusion is much more than having voices heard”

Tahere Siisiialafia has been “invested in human rights” since she was a child. She has been actively partaking in community activities, as well as conducting empowerment classes for children and junior young people in her community. Today, at age 31, she is president of the Pacific Youth Council, an organisation which works to foster and promote the interests and needs of young people in the Pacific. OHCHR spoke to Tahere about the human rights issues in the region, why young peoples’ voices are so critical, and her vision for a better future for youth.

ILO, Employment

Long-term COVID-19 scarring

ILO’s WESO Trends 2021 projections highlight the danger of a COVID-19 labour market legacy of increased geographic and demographic inequality, rising poverty and fewer decent jobs.

UNCTAD, Trade and Commerce

Opening a business in under a minute

A new government platform in Bhutan using UNCTAD's online single window technology powers business registration in record time, supporting livelihoods during the COVID-19 crisis.

UNFPA, Gender Equality

Sexual and reproductive rights for all

UNFPA works to ensure the sexual and reproductive health and rights of, and access to HIV programmes for, gender-diverse communities in Bangladesh, a largely conservative country.

ICAO

Aviation sustainability potential

ICAO states how the aviation community sees an opportunity to do things differently and build back better and stronger, such as through the increase of net-zero commitments.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).

The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.

Women at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.

young children smiling at camera

The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 arrived at a time of great upheaval and peril. To secure a world where everyone can thrive in peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet we need a multilateral system that is inclusive, networked and effective. "Our Common Agenda" will build on the 12 commitments contained in the UN75 Declaration.

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

World Blood Donor Day 2021 is focused on young people and their contribution to saving lives by donating blood. This year’s slogan, “Give blood and keep the world beating”, underscores the energy young people bring to their communities and highlights the way blood donations keep the world healthy and hearts beating. It also reinforces the global call for more people all over the world to donate blood regularly and contribute to better health.

What action can you take today to save our oceans?

On this World Oceans day, Lewis Pugh took a dip with some Cape Fur Seals off the tip of Africa near Cape Town. During his swim, the UN Patron of the Oceans asks us to consider our impact on oceans and what we can do to make a positive difference to save our seas.

Nuclear Science for Ocean Health

As the largest ecosystem on the planet, the world’s ocean is a pillar of climate regulation and a powerful source of solutions to the changing climate. IAEA scientists use nuclear and nuclear derived techniques to understand the processes and mechanisms that control the oceans and propose strategies to protect people and the marine environment from the impacts of climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss.

UN Podcasts

A tablet, with Rabbi Arthur Schneier on view, is leaning against Marc Chagall's colorful stained glass window at UNHQ.

United We Prevail, Divided We Fail

"I could have gone on a Kindertransport to London, where the British were ready to receive 10,000 Jewish children. But I'm the only child, [and my mother is a] widow. She said, ‘No, we’re going to stick together’. So it was a matter of trying to find ways to get out of hell. [...] And strangely enough, at that time in 1938, Hitler just wanted the Jews out. But there was no place to go. At the Évian conference, we heard many, many nations saying, ‘We cannot afford to take in so many refugees’"

In this episode of Awake at Night, we meet Rabbi Arthur Schneier; a Holocaust survivor and a human rights activist. He shares harrowing memories of his childhood. Many of his family members were murdered. Yet, through his daily life, his diplomatic work, and his Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Rabbi Arthur Schneier is working hard to make the world a better, more tolerant place. He has dedicated a lifetime to promoting peace, reconciliation, and inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue. He fights for remembrance but also for religious freedom and human rights.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has called him "an inspiration for the world and for the United Nations."

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

smiling boys on beach forming a pyramid
Photo:ILO/A.Tamayo

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

12 June is the World Day Against Child Labour. Today, more than 152 million kids are stuck working, sometimes in hazardous conditions. It’s time for change. More than 300 global stakeholders, from governments to organizations, have made 2021 Action Pledges. These practical plans outline the steps each stakeholder will take toward ending child labour. Global celebrities are doing their part. Samuel Eto’o, A.R. Rahman, and Laura Pausini among others, have already raised their voices for children. And individuals are, too! Anyone can join the global campaign to make a difference for children. Are you in? Get started!
 

A group of local women collect plastic waste on the beach in Watamu, Kenya.
Photo:UNEP/Duncan Moore

Clean Seas Campaign promotes the right to a healthy environment, including plastic-free oceans

On World Oceans Day 2021, UNEP’s Clean Seas Campaign renews its global efforts to tackle marine litter and plastic pollution, now with a focus on how individuals can use both national and international laws to push for change. The campaign aims to break humanity’s addiction to unnecessary and avoidable plastic, nearly 11 million tonnes of which end up in the ocean annually. The Clean Seas Campaign is calling on citizens across the world to reduce their plastic footprint and speak up for their right to a healthy environment, including pollution-free oceans using the hashtags #BeatPlasticPollution for #CleanSeas.