Human Rights

children with portable digital devices

A new guidance establishes that children have rights in the digital world, despite the Convention on the Rights of the Child not stating them explicitly.

Catarina Furtado poses with a woman.

Millions of women and girls are denied their right to have a say in sexual matters, to say yes to contraception and to make their own healthcare choices. This world must become one where every woman and girls’ body is truly her own. Catarina Furtado, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, speaks out to achieve this world  — from educating young people about their bodies and rights, to reforming policies that do not adequately prevent or address gender-based violence, to supporting communities to adopt more gender-equitable practices.

Beach full of trash

Water is the lifeblood of all life on Earth. And yet, over 2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water. Over 4 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation. Water shortages now affect more than 3 billion people. Three quarters of all the natural disasters are water-related, including floods, landslides, and other extreme weather events. A recent OHCHR report describes the global water crisis, focusing on the negative impacts of water pollution, water scarcity and water-related disasters on the enjoyment of several human rights.

Hiba Alhamed is a 26-year-old Syrian refugee, living in France. Her father, Ismail, went missing in 2013. While the exact number is unknown, at least tens of thousands of Syrian men, women and children have been forcibly disappeared, detained, abducted or gone missing in Syria since the outbreak of conflict in 2011.

Illustration of the silhouette of people with floating gear trains and light bulbs.

Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race, or socio-economic status. Appropriate support, accommodation and acceptance allow those on the Spectrum to enjoy full participation in society. The breakdown of support systems due to COVID-19 exacerbated the obstacles that persons with autism face. We must ensure that these disruptions do not result in rollbacks of the rights of persons with autism, including the right to work. On World Autism Awareness Day we celebrate diversity and promote the rights of persons with autism.

A boy with Down syndrome looks out the window of a bus.

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is not yet known why this syndrome occurs, but it exists across the globe and results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics and health. This World Down Syndrome Day focuses on improving connections to ensure that all people with Down syndrome can CONNECT and participate on an equal basis with others. Due to the pandemic we all had to adapt the ways we connect, yet many people have been left behind. Let’s connect in an increasingly inclusive way and to recover better.

Promoting self-esteem and well-being, BTS is renewing their commitment to the LOVE MYSELF campaign in support of UNICEF’s work to end violence and neglect.

children in door frame

UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the opening of the High-level segment of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, with a call to do even more to bring to life the Call to Action for Human Rights. The Call to Action is the Secretary-General’s transformative vision for human rights. Underpinning the work of the entire UN system, human rights are essential to addressing the broad causes and impacts of all complex crises, and to building sustainable, safe, and peaceful societies.

Portrait of a woman.

UNAIDS reports that the Kyrgyzstan Constitutional Court excluded HIV from the list of diseases that prevent people from adopting children or becoming guardians or foster parents. The barrier to parenting for people living with HIV had been in effect for many years. The change—brought about by a joint effort of activists, lawyers and human rights defenders, but primarily by people who personally suffered from discrimination and fought for their rights—is a victory against stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in Kyrgyzstan.

silhouette of a man standing at the entrance to the deck of a ship

IMO welcomed the industry-led Neptune Declaration, which calls for seafarers to be designated as key workers and for cooperation to end the crew change crisis.

A woman covers her face with flowers.

The work of the UN and its partners never stops against human traffickers in West and Central Africa, who force people to risk their lives on dangerous journeys across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea. 


Mukhamadjon and his student prepare for a fight at Uzbekistan’s Taekwondo Federation. Mukhamadjon was born to ethnic Uzbek parents in the Kyrgyz Republic in August 1991, just four months before the Soviet Union collapsed. Towards the end of 1992, the family moved to Namangan, but they were too late to claim citizenship and their son became stateless. “I was the Uzbek champion in kickboxing and there were moments when my coach wanted to send me for international championships abroad, but … there would always be problems with the visa,” he says. “When it came to my sporting career, it was an obstacle.” Mukhamadjon Turgunov became an Uzbek citizen this year after being stateless for 28 of his 29 years.

A boy wearing a facemask uses his phone as a camera in a crowd.

UNESCO has condemned the killing of 59 media workers in 2020, among them four women. With 22 killings each, the Latin America and the Caribbean Region and the Asia and the Pacific Region registered the highest number of fatalities in the profession, followed by the Arab States Region with nine, and Africa with six. Overall, 2020 saw one of the lowest yearly tolls recorded by UNESCO over the past decade, during which 888 journalists and media workers paid the ultimate price for informing the public. In 2019, UNESCO condemned the killing of 57 journalists, 99 in 2018.

We all can do something against racism. You too. Join UNESCO and leading personalities from all over the world in denouncing mounting racial discrimination. UNESCO has been on the forefront of the fight against racism since its creation in 1945. In 1978, it adopted the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice which reaffirms that “All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from a common stock. They are born equal in dignity and rights and all an integral part of humanity.”