At the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, the international community decided to establish a more robust human rights mandate with stronger institutional support. Accordingly, Member States of the United Nations created OHCHR by a General Assembly Resolution in 1993.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner
and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people. The United Nations human rights programme aims to ensure that the protection and enjoyment of human rights is a reality in the lives of all people. UN Human Rights also plays a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of the three interconnected pillars of the United Nations – peace and security, human rights and development.
UN Human Rights provides assistance in the form of technical expertise and capacity-development in order to support the implementation of international human rights standards on the ground. It assists governments, which bear the primary responsibility for the protection of human rights, to fulfil their obligations and supports individuals to claim their rights. Moreover, it speaks out objectively on human rights violations.
UN Human Rights is part of the United Nations Secretariat, with a staff of some 1300 people and its headquarters in Geneva, as well as an office in New York. It has field presences that comprise regional and country/stand-alone offices. Furthermore, UN Human Rights supports the human rights components of UN peace missions or political offices and deploys human rights advisers to work with the United Nations Country teams.
The Geneva-based headquarters has four substantive divisions:
the Research and Right to Development Division, which develops policy and provides guidance, tools, advice and capacity-strengthening support on thematic human rights issues, including for human rights mainstreaming purposes;
the Human Rights Treaties Division, which supports the human rights treaty bodies;
the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, which is responsible for overseeing and implementing the Office’s work in the field;
and the Human Rights Council Mechanisms Division, which provides substantive and technical support to the HRC, the Council’s UPR mechanism and the Council’s special procedures.
Dedicated services and sections, which report directly to the Deputy High Commissioner, handle core management, planning, coordination and outreach functions.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The High Commissioner heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts.