The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lay down the principles that brought human rights into the realm of international law. Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.
How does the UN promote and protect human rights?
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
The office supports the human rights components of peacekeeping missions in several countries, and in addition to its regional offices, has HR Centres, Country/Stand-alone Offices and Human Rights Advisors all over the world.
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Leilani Farha warns of widespread homelessness
OHCHR Regional Offices
Asia and the Pacific
Europe and Central Asia
The Middle East
Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council, which was established in 2006, meets in Geneva. It replaced the 60-year-old UN Commission on Human Rights as the key independent UN intergovernmental body responsible for human rights.
Human Rights Treaty Bodies
The human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. Each State party to a treaty has an obligation to take steps to ensure that everyone in the State can enjoy the rights set out in the treaty.
The treaty bodies are composed of independent experts of recognized competence in human rights, who are nominated and elected for fixed renewable terms of four years by State parties.
The Human Rights Treaty Body system
The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are prominent, independent experts working on a voluntary basis, who examine, monitor, publicly report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.
UNDG Human Rights Working Group
The UN Development Group’s Human Rights Working Group advances human rights mainstreaming efforts within the UN development system.
Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide acts as a catalyst to raise awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide, and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate action.
The Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect leads the conceptual, political, institutional and operational development of the Responsibility to Protect.