OHCHR partnering with UN Volunteers


Since 1995, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been partnering with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme to uphold the human rights standards that are guaranteed under international law. Some 247 UN Volunteers have served with OHCHR in 34 countries over the past ten years supporting OHCHR’s mission to “prevent human rights violations, secure respect for all human rights and promote international cooperation in the protection of human rights”.

Yura Bak (left) UN Youth Volunteer Legal and Policy Assistant with OHCHR visits resettlement sites in Cambodia to assess the inhabitants’ living situation. (UNV, 2016)

UN Volunteers are experienced personnel available to support OHCHR’s mandate to promote respect of human rights and international law. UN Volunteers work within communities, making them well-placed to monitor and document human rights violations, support research analyses, and improve inclusion, participation and engagement with affected populations, supporting OHCHR’s efforts to advance the protection of human rights.

A team of 10 international UN Volunteers monitored the human rights situation, documenting and analysing information. The team played an important role in the Totonicapan case, contributing to the observance, monitoring and reporting of human rights violations, and technical assistance in support of national authorities, civil society and individuals. --André Sánchez, OHCHR Deputy Representative, Guatemala

Through their dedicated field assignments, UN Volunteers serve to promote respect for human rights for all. In their service, they enhance equality and counter discrimination, monitor and document human rights violations, support research analyses and build capacity, and improve inclusive participation and engagement of communities.

UN Volunteers serving with OHCHR support the monitoring of detention facilities that deprive citizens of liberties in Guinea. They promote and advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples in Bolivia and enhance fact-finding procedures following human rights violations in Guatemala. UN Volunteers also perform sensitive field interviews and collect data such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In many of their assignments, UN Volunteers support OHCHR in constitutional and electoral assistance, legislative development and improvement of national institutions, justice and human rights administration and promotion, and conflict resolution between citizens and State organs.

OHCHR’s partnership with UNV was formalised through the signing of an institutional Strategic Framework in 1995, which was built upon the existing relationship between UNV and the Centre for Human Rights. Today, UNV and OHCHR further join forces to increase the advocacy of rights for persons with disabilities by integrating a stronger inclusion of persons with disabilities as UN Volunteers both within OHCHR and throughout the UN system.

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