The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, set the foundation for the development of the corpus of international human rights law. Human rights and obligations are set forth in a series of treaties and other documents, and their implementation is supported and monitored through the system of treaty bodies.

In the Declaration of the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law, Member States reaffirmed commitment to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for, and the observance and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. They noted that the universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question [para. 6].

One of the key areas in which the United Nations supports human rights is in providing accountability for serious violations of humanitarian law and gross human rights violations. Addressing such atrocities through the rule of law strengthens peace and security and development. In the Declaration of the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law, Member States reaffirmed a universal commitment to ensuring that impunity is not tolerated for the worst human rights violations: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, or for violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of human rights law [para.22]. The rule of law is essential to addressing such atrocities, which can otherwise undermine peace and security and hamper development.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports Member States with implementing human rights standards in national laws and programmes, monitors that justice and accountability mechanisms are established in accordance with international human rights standards, investigates and seeks to redress civil and political, as well as economic, social, and cultural human rights violations and works to integrate human rights standards and principles into the UN system policies and programmes.

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