The mandate of OHCHR derives from Articles 1, 13 and 55 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and General Assembly resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993, by which the Assembly established the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In connection with the programme for reform of the United Nations (A/51/950, para. 79), the OHCHR and the Centre for Human Rights were consolidated into a single OHCHR on 15 September 1997.
The objectives of OHCHR are to:
Promote universal enjoyment of all human rights by giving practical effect to the will and resolve of the world community as expressed by the United Nations
Play the leading role on human rights issues and emphasizes the importance of human rights at the international and national levels
Promote international cooperation for human rights
Stimulate and coordinates action for human rights throughout the United Nations system
Promote universal ratification and implementation of international standards
Assist in the development of new norms
Support human rights organs and treaty monitoring bodies
Undertake human rights field activities and operations
Provide education, information advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights
The OHCHR is divided into organizational units, as described below. The OHCHR is headed by a High Commissioner with the rank of Under-Secretary-General.
High Commissioner for Human Rights (Under-Secretary-General)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, accountable to the Secretary-General, is responsible for all the activities of the OHCHR, as well as for its administration, and carries out the functions specifically assigned to him or her by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993 and subsequent resolutions of policy-making bodies. It advises the Secretary-General on the policies of the United Nations in the area of human rights, ensures that substantive and administrative support is given to the projects, activities, organs and bodies of the human rights program, represents the Secretary-General at meetings of human rights organs and at other human rights events, and carries out special assignments as decided by the Secretary-General. As well as those human rights that are currently included in legally binding treaties, the High Commissioner also promotes human rights yet to be recognized in international law (such as the adoption of economic, social and cultural rights as a strategic priority, which are not all currently recognized in international legal instruments).
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights (Assistant Secretary-General)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the performance of his or her activities, is assisted by a Deputy High Commissioner who acts as Officer-in-Charge during the absence of the High Commissioner. In addition, the Deputy High Commissioner carries out specific substantive and administrative assignments as decided by the High Commissioner. The Deputy is accountable to the High Commissioner.
The current Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights is the Australian national Kate Gilmore.
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (New York)
The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (not to be confused with the Deputy High Commissioner, who is also an Assistant Secretary-General) based in New York heads the New York Office of the High Commissioner. They represent the High Commissioner in New York and promotes the integration of human rights in policy processes and activities undertaken by inter-governmental and inter-agency bodies at the United Nations headquarters.
The current Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights is Ivan ?imonovi? from Croatia.
Staff Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Staff Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is headed by a Chief who is accountable to the High Commissioner. The core functions of the Staff Office are to:
assist the High Commissioner in the overall direction and supervision of the activities of the human rights program
assist the High Commissioner in the formulation, communication, implementation and evaluation of policies, practices and activities for the promotion and protection of human rights
assist the High Commissioner in maintaining relations with Governments, other United Nations agencies and entities, international organizations, regional and national institutions, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia
assist the High Commissioner in maintaining liaison on policy matters with the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and other relevant offices at Headquarters, as well as with the spokespersons of the Secretary-General at New York and Geneva and the media
carry out fund-raising functions and special projects as assigned by the High Commissioner
assist the High Commissioner in developing and maintaining a framework for the management and planning of the activities of the human rights program and facilitating the development of the overall work program, and in preparing annual management reports on activities and achievements
represent the High Commissioner at meetings and making statements on his or her behalf
The Administrative Section is headed by a Chief, Kyle F. Ward, who is accountable to the Deputy High Commissioner. The core functions of the Administrative Section, in addition to those set out in section 7 of Secretary-General's bulletin ST/SGB/1997/5, are ato:
advise the High Commissioner on the budgetary, financial and personnel matters relating to the human rights program
assist the High Commissioner and appropriate staff in the discharge of their financial, personnel and general administrative responsibilities and administering the associate expert and internship programs
New York Office
The New York Office is headed by an Assistant Secretary-General who is accountable to the High Commissioner. The core functions of the New York Office are to:
represent the High Commissioner at Headquarters, at meetings of policy-making bodies, with permanent missions of Member States, at interdepartmental and inter-agency meetings, with non-governmental organizations and professional groups, at academic conferences and with the media
provide policy advice and recommendations on substantive matters to the High Commissioner
supply information and advice on human rights to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General
provide substantive support on human rights issues to the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other policy-making bodies established in New York
provide materials and information to the permanent missions, United Nations departments, agencies and programs, non-governmental organizations, the media and others regarding the human rights program
provide support to the High Commissioner and other officials, and to Special Rapporteurs and Special Representatives when on mission in New York
undertake other specific assignments as decided by the High Commissioner
Research and Right to Development Branch
The Research and Right to Development Branch is headed by a Chief who is accountable to the High Commissioner. The core functions of the Research and Right to Development Branch are to:
supporting intergovernmental groups of experts on the preparation of the strategy for the right to development
assisting in the analysis of the voluntary reports by States to the High Commissioner on the progress and steps taken for the realization of the right to development and on obstacles encountered
carrying out research projects on the right to development and preparing substantive outputs for submission to the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights and treaty bodies
assisting in the substantive preparation of advisory service projects and educational material on the right to development
providing substantive analysis and support to the High Commissioner in his or her mandate to enhance system-wide support for the right to development
carry out substantive research projects on the whole range of human rights issues of interest to United Nations human rights bodies in accordance with the priorities established by the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action and resolutions of policy-making bodies
provide substantive services to human rights organs engaged in standard-setting activities
prepare documents, reports or draft reports, summaries and synthesis and position papers in response to particular requests, as well as substantive contributions to information materials and publications
provide policy analysis, advice and guidance on substantive procedures
manage the information services of the human rights program, including the documentation centre and library, enquiry services and the human rights databases
prepare studies on relevant articles of the Charter of the United Nations for the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs
Treaties and Commission Branch
The Treaties and Commission Branch (formerly Support Services Branch) is headed by a Chief who is accountable to the High Commissioner. The core functions of the Treaties and Commission Branch are to:
ensure that substantive support is provided in a timely manner to the human rights treaty body concerned, drawing on the appropriate resources of the human rights program
prepare state party reports for review by the treaty body concerned and following up on decisions and recommendations
prepare or coordinate the preparation and submission of all substantive and other documents and the support from other management units to the activities of treaty bodies serviced, and following up on decisions taken at meetings of those bodies
plan, prepare and service sessions of board of trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and implementing relevant decisions
process communications submitted to treaty bodies under optional procedures and communications under the procedures established by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1503 (XLVIII) of 27 May 1970 and ensuring follow-up
Capacity Building Branch
The Capacity Building Branch (formerly Activities and Programmes Branch) is headed by a Chief who is accountable to the High Commissioner. The core functions of the Capacity Building Branch are to:
develop, implement, monitor and evaluate advisory services and technical assistance projects at the request of Governments
Managing the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights
Implementing the Plan of Action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, including the development of information and educational materials;
provide substantive and administrative support to human rights fact-finding and investigatory mechanisms, such as special rapporteurs, representatives and experts and working groups mandated by the Commission on Human Rights and/or the Economic and Social Council to deal with specific country situations or phenomena of human rights violations worldwide, as well as the General Assembly's Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories
plan, support and evaluate human rights field presences and missions, including the formulation and development of best practice, procedural methodology and models for all human rights activities in the field
manage voluntary funds for human rights field presences
manage the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations and United Nations Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People
(Source: ST/SGB/1997/10, 15 September 1997, SECRETARY-GENERAL'S BULLETIN, ORGANIZATION OF THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS)
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