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[Answered] Discuss the structure, functioning and objective of the ‘Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR).

Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss the structure, functioning and objective of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Conclusion. Way forward.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. It works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. It work towards prevention of human rights abuse by raising voice against it.

Structure of OHCHR: UN Human Rights is part of the United Nations Secretariat. It has following substantive divisions:

  1. Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division (TESPRDD): It develops policy and provides guidance, tools, advice and capacity-strengthening support on thematic human rights issues, including for human rights mainstreaming purposes; and provides support to the Human Rights Council’s special procedures.
  2. Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division (CTMD): It provides substantive and technical support to the HRC and supports the human rights treaty bodies.
  3. Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD): It is responsible for overseeing and implementing the Office’s work in the field.
  4. Dedicated services and sections: These report directly to the Deputy High Commissioner, handle core management, planning, coordination and outreach functions.

Objectives of OHCHR:

  1. Human rights: The mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is to ensure universal enjoyment of all human rights.
  2. International cooperation: To promote international cooperation at state level and throughout the United Nations system for human rights.
  3. Implementation of international standards: Promote universal ratification and implementation of international standards and to remove obstacles to their effective implementation.
  4. Response: To appropriately respond to serious violations of human rights and support human rights organs and treaty monitoring bodies.
  5. Services: Provide education, information advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights.
  6. Human rights infrastructures: Promote the establishment of national human rights infrastructures and undertake human rights field activities and operations.

Functioning of OHCHR:

  1. Human rights violations: As the principal United Nations office mandated to promote and protect human rights for all, OHCHR leads global human rights efforts and speaks out objectively in the face of human rights violations worldwide.
  2. Human rights research: OHCHR also provides a forum for identifying, highlighting and developing responses to today’s human rights challenges, and act as the principal focal point of human rights research, education, public information, and advocacy activities in the United Nations system.
  3. Work with national governments: 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.
  4. Partnerships: OHCHR work with civil society, national human rights institutions and other United Nations entities and international organizations, such as the International Labour in their efforts to promote and protect human rights.
  5. Working especially against AIDS: As human rights are intimately linked with the spread and impact of AIDS, OHCHR endeavours to contribute to an effective and sustainable response to the epidemic by raising awareness and understanding. OHCHR has worked in close collaboration with UNAIDS towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of AIDS.
  6. Provides technical expertise: 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.

Over the years, OHCHR has increased its presence in the field, reaching out to the people who need it the most. But organisation is criticised for being soft on developed countries for repeated human rights violations. It has failed mainly in raising its voice against human rights violations in the Middle East.

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