Preventing continuation of human rights violations

Preventing escalation of human rights violations
Curbing human rights violations
Responding to serious violations of human rights

The General Assembly entrusted the High Commissioner with the responsibility of playing an active role in preventing the continuation of human rights violations throughout the world, as reflected in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The activities of the High Commissioner in this regard opened a new avenue of United Nations action. His or Her appeals addressing specific problems or cases created a new framework for a continuing dialogue on human rights with all the actors involved.

The High Commissioner responded with a comprehensive action to the tragic human rights situation in Rwanda. He undertook two missions to this country and urged in May 1994 from its capital all the protagonists to put an end to the massive violations of human rights, to conclude a cease-fire without delay and to allow humanitarian aid to be dispatched to all those who needed it. On 24 and 25 May 1994, at the request of the government of Canada, following a suggestion by the High Commissioner, the Commission on Human Rights held its third special session, to consider the human rights situation in Rwanda. Pursuant to Commission resolution S-3/1, a special rapporteur for Rwanda was appointed and was requested to report to the Commission on the human rights situation in that country and to gather and compile information on possible violations of human rights and acts which might constitute breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity, including acts of genocide. The High Commissioner presented to the Commission at its third special session a report on his mission to Rwanda and the region (E/CN.4/S-3/3), and made recommendations for specific action to bring the cycle of violence in that country to an end. On 15 September 1994, after his second visit to Rwanda, the High Commissioner presented a detailed preliminary operational plan for the human rights field operation in Rwanda, designed to support the work of the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Experts established pursuant to Security Council resolution 935 (1994), and to provide advisory services. That plan described the legal and conceptual framework for the High Commissioner's activities in Rwanda and laid out the resource requirements. A revised operational plan was presented during the UNDP round table on Rwanda on 18 and 19 January 1995.

Through his local office, the High Commissioner is conducting a human rights field operation in Rwanda (a) to carry out investigations into violations of human rights and humanitarian law, (b) to monitor the ongoing human rights situation, essentially for the purposes of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, (c) to cooperate with other international agencies in re-establishing confidence and thus facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons and the rebuilding of civic society, (d) to implement programmes of technical cooperation in the field of human rights. In the framework of this human rights field operation, more than 100 personnel are employed in Rwanda at present. The High Commissioner participated on 18 and 19 January 1995 in a round table on assistance to Rwanda, organized by UNDP, and on 20 January 1995 in a consolidated appeal on Rwanda organized by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs. Both events took place at Geneva. The case of Rwanda exemplifies the spirit in which the High Commissioner may act in emergency human rights situations.

Since his appointment, the High Commissioner has been in close contact with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the former Yugoslavia, whose mandate is served by a field operation of the Centre for Human Rights. He has also established contacts with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the former Yugoslavia with a view to strengthening and enhancing human rights activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the light of the request of the government for assistance, following the establishment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the terms of the December 1994 agreements on cease-fire and cessation of hostilities, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, after consultation with the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, took the initiative of convening a meeting on 3 February 1995 to develop, in close cooperation with other UN bodies operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a coordinated and more effective response to human rights requirements in the country.


The cooperation of countries is strongly required in securing support needed to carry out activities rapidly and effectively in situations of serious human rights violations and where preventive action is necessary. The following areas are of particular importance: (a) logistical assistance capacity on a standby basis to provide material, communications and other support for emergency or preventive field missions; (b) the establishment and maintenance of an international roster of specialized staff to be available at short notice for human rights field missions (investigation teams, human rights field officers, legal experts, etc); (c) increased contributions to the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in order to cover the financial needs of field missions and advisory services assistance. The response of governments, international organizations and UN agencies and programmes, as well as non-governmental organizations, to the re qu est by the High Commissioner for assistance in the above-mentioned areas has been very encouraging. However, meeting these needs requires continuous cooperation.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being