Adapting United Nations human rights machinery

Streamlining United Nations human rights machinery
The mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Human rights includes specific responsibility for rationalization, adaptation, strengthening and streamlining of the UN machinery in the field of human rights with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness. The World Conference on Human Rights recognized the necessity for a continuing adaptation of the UN human rights machinery to current and future needs in the promotion and protection of human rights, as reflected in the [Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action], within the framework of balanced and sustainable development. In line with the [Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action], measures should be taken urgently to make the human rights machinery: (a) more effective and cost efficient; (b) able to act swiftly and to respond appropriately to human rights situations; (c) stronger, through international cooperation in the field of human rights, based on mutual confidence; and (d) more transparent and understandable to the outside world. The activities of the machinery should be supported by an easy accessible and efficient overall system of information and documentation based on modern technology. Paragraph 9 of General Assembly resolution 49/208, in which the Assembly requested the High Commissioner to submit a report with a detailed plan of the human and financial resource requirements for the implementation of the recommendations of the [Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action], requires an integrated approach to the reform of the UN human rights machinery.

The High Commissioner bases his activities related to the adaptation of the UN machinery to the current and future needs in the field of human rights on the following premises:< (a) The adjustment of a given organ or body to the new needs remains the primary responsibility of this organ or of another organ vested with a special competence to take proper decisions. The High Commissioner thus assists and facilitates human rights organs and bodies in their endeavours;< (b) In cooperation with the relevant organs and bodies, the High Commissioner will analyse the existing UN human rights machinery with a view to working out proposals for its overall adaptation to current and anticipated needs and for better coordination of human rights activities;< (c) The High Commissioner in cooperation with these organs and bodies will undertake measures to strengthen the implementation of their recommendations and decisions (for example, cooperation with special procedures and treaty bodies in this regard).

The adaptation of the machinery should be perceived as a multidimensional and continuing process in the framework of which reforms relating to specific organs or procedures are placed against the background of the overall adaptation of the UN human rights machinery. New solutions should be introduced gradually, taking into account the need for practical verification and the possibility of change, if necessary. It is of vital importance to start the process of adaptation in practical terms without unnecessary delay.

In accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/141, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has responsibility for the overall supervision of the Centre for Human Rights. The Centre, as the principal unit of the Secretariat dealing with human rights issues, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights represent a unity of action whereby the High Commissioner sets the policy directions and the Centre implements those policies. The High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Centre for Human Rights maintain an office at UN Headquarters in New York.

The High Commissioner will assess needs related to the adaptation of the UN secretariat structures dealing with human rights, including the Centre for Human Rights. In that regard, the Office for Inspections and Investigations, the predecessor of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, carried out, in June 1994, a review of the programme and administrative practices of the Centre for Human Rights which gave rise to a number of recommendations, concerning inter alia: the translation of the [Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action] into strategic priorities and objectives; the reappraisal and restructuring of the Centre's programme of work; the reorganization of the Centre's secretariat to respond more adequately to the programme of work and facilitate the implementation of its interrelated objectives and priorities; the strengthening of the Centre's administrative services; and the training in management and administration of the staff of the Centre. The Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services discussed those recommendations with the High Commissioner and the Centre for Human Rights. The High Commissioner, within the context of his mandate, has decided on the following approach in order to implement the recommendations of the June 1994 review. As a first step, a discussion at the level of the Centre's secretariat will assess the Centre's experience in the implementation of its work programme, identify the gaps and weaknesses in the existing methods, and determine the changes needed to address the issues raised in the June 1994 review. Parallel to that, consideration will be given to basic themes under which the mandates of the Human Rights programme as reflected in the [Vienna Declaration], the High Commissioner's mandate and the specific mandates given to the Centre by policy making organs could be organized. Based on the information and ideas so generated, a detailed study will be carried out on how best to adapt the structure of the secretariat to the new priorities of the [Vienna Declaration] and Programme of Action and to respond to the gaps and weaknesses identified [inter alia] in the June 1994 review. The recommendations will then be reviewed and implemented. The time-frame for the above exercise is expected to be from mid-March to the end of June 1995. In addition to the above, steps have already been taken to strengthen the administrative services of the Centre and to provide training to staff in administration and management.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal